Questioning the Millennium : A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown
Questioning the Millennium A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown Author:Stephen Jay Gould In Questioning the Millennium, Stephen Jay Gould applies his wit and erudition to one of today's most pressing subjects: the significance of the millennium. — In this beautiful inquiry into time and its milestones, he shares his interest and insights with his readers. Refreshingly reasoned, erudite, and absorbing, the... more » book asks and answers the three major questions that define the approaching calendrical event:
First, what exactly is this concept of a millennium and how has its meaning shifted? How did the name for a future thousand year reign of Christ on earth get transferred to the passage of a secular period of a thousand years in current human history?
When does the new millennium begin: January 1, in the year 2000 or 2001?
Finally, why must our calendars be so complex, leading to our search for arbitrary regularity, including a fascination with millennia?
As always, Gould brings into his essays a wide range of compelling historical and scientific fact, including a brief history of millennia fevers, calendrical traditions and idiosyncrasies from around the world, the story of a sixth-century monk whose errors in chronology plague us even today, and the heroism of a young autistic man who has developed the extraordinary ability to calculate dates deep into the past and the future.
Ranging over a wide terrain of phenomena - from the arbitrary regularities of human calendars to the unpredictability of nature, from the vagaries of pop culture to the birth of Christ - Stephen Jay Gould holds the mirror up to our millennial passions to reveal our foibles, absurdities, and uniqueness - in other words, our humanity.« less