Book to Film: What’s the meaning behind 12.12.12?

Back in early November, when we first heard the Cosmopolis theatrical release date of 12/12/12, the number hit a chord. Yes, it’s too far in the future and it’s hard to wait but it sure looks interesting. Visually.


The date, however, is now up for debate – a producer (we don’t know which one, no name was provided) told E!Online that is not the Cosmopolis release date. This contradicts the announcement at the Lisbon and Estoril Film Festival and the promotional image seen in Russia … so maybe so and maybe no. We’ll see when the official Cosmopolis site provides the info or there is some other such official announcement.

I kind of like the date 12.12.12 though. It also fits with the roll out schedule followed by A Dangerous Method – a long festival ramp up before general release. I suppose I could also live with the date Dec 21, 2012 and then we could have the band Rush score the film with a rendition of their song 2112. Get it? 21.12.2012.

In any event the year will be 2012 – and that’s cool. What can I say, I like the numbers.

I don’t think I’m the only one.

We had previously noticed the repeated use of the number 22 and talked about it here in the limo. By now, we know everything means something when it comes to Cosmopolis. So, let’s take the limo for a spin and figure out/speculate on the meaning of December 12th, 2012. As with all book discussion posts, spoiler warning.

12.12.12 Save the date.

Whether you believe in the fire and brimstone version of 2012 prophecies or simply think that it’s a portent of major change, the date has captured our attention. The Mayan calendar actually indicates the date December 21st, 2012 as the end of this, the “fourth” world.

Don’t sell the farm yet! There are more predictions, far, far into the future beyond 2012. For example, this date:

is 3 quintillian times the age of the universe. We’ve got loads of time. 😉

However, I did notice some interesting connections between 2012 theories and those of Vija Kinski, Eric Packer’s Chief of Theory in Cosmopolis.

Jose Arguelles is largely credited as the person responsible for drawing attention to the significance of the Mayan calendar. Excerpted from Valum Votan:

After decades of living immersed in the cycles and mathematics of Mayan calendrics, José came to clearly understand the distinction between this “natural time” as contrasted to our modern relationship to time which he called “mechanical time” or “artificial time.” This realization was formalized in 1989 when he made The Discovery of The Law of Time. According to The Law of Time, “modern humanity is out of harmony with our living biosphere because it is immersed in an erroneous and artificial perception of time which causes it to deviate at an accelerated rate from the natural order of the universe. To remedy this situation, Arguelles dedicated his life to promoting the return to a natural timing cycle…” In other words, the message is that humans are the only species that is out of phase with the harmony of the biosphere, and the root cause of this is our disconnection from Nature, which stems directly from our disconnection with natural time cycles…therefore we need to follow a nature-based calendar to shift back into alignment.

This sounded familiar. In Cosmopolis the concepts of time and money are almost interchangeable. Here is what Vija Kinski tells Eric.

“The future becomes insistent. This is why something will happen soon, maybe today,” she said, looking slyly into her hands. “To correct the acceleration of time. Bring nature back to normal, more or less.”

Here’s a theory that I can imagine Eric finding interesting. He tried to make it chart.

“Timewave zero” is a numerological formula that purports to calculate the ebb and flow of “novelty”, defined as increase over time in the universe’s interconnectedness, or organized complexity. According to Terence McKenna, the universe has a teleological attractor at the end of time that increases interconnectedness, eventually reaching a singularity of infinite complexity in 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur simultaneously.

“anything and everything will occur simultaneously”? Like a rapper’s funeral, a presidential motorcade, a global protest, a rave, an assassination attempt (by pie no less!)…

Cosmopolis was published in 2003 and is set in the near future. Could it be set in 2012? Is Eric a symbol of consumerism, ego and the end of world (as we know it)?

Perhaps the Mayan end of the world theory isn’t the joke it’s been turned into. Perhaps it was simply a demarcation in time showing when the beginning of change would start. Maybe it’s more of a transition; change is already happening. Recent market events, the near-collapse of the economies in Greece and Italy and the Occupy (Everywhere) movement. Bogus prophecy or not, the year 2012 seems to be a catalyst for change. A self-fulfilling prophecy?

Could De Lillo have been nodding at these prophecies? David Cronenberg seems to be embracing the date. Eric himself leaves a huge clue near the beginning of Cosmopolis:

“When he died he would not end.

The world would end.”

Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

Psst. Look at the date.

  • lemonie1

    Wow guys I haven’t read the book yet – something about De Llilo puts me off – but I must get to it if I am to understand the film. I have saved all your analysis from the limo so I can check against them whilst I read – and this one is a corker! Well done to who ever put this together – its not the easiest concept to wrap your head around and you have come up with a clear, understandable commentary on the theory of time and its significance! Thanks for not getting to wordy and intellectual on me – I WILL seize the day and get the book – before 21.12.12 just incase!

  • I’m glad you liked the post. The book is interesting… I haven’t read anything else by DeLillo but I enjoyed this. When it comes to concepts like this I wouldn’t say I actually understand what’s going on. I like to think out loud and just put ideas out there and think what you guys think. Hey, even David Cronenberg said he didn’t know what the movie was really about. LOL I do love playing around with the numbers.

    You can find more book discussion posts under “The Story” tab in the header at the top of the post. Let us know when you read. 🙂

  • debbiecdv

    Very interesting comments. I’v been intrigued by that 12-12-12 date since it was mentioned at Lisbon, and tied in with Eric’s fascination with numbers it all seems synergystic. Eric’s thought about when he dies the world would end fits neatly with this scenario as well. Sooo looking forward to this film!!!

  • Kim

    And maybe those Mayans are watching us from that new planet discovery last week! Great post.
    I don’t really know too much about that 2012 theory, not sure I want to, but I do love your idea it is a catalyst for change, the ending of something and new beginnings. Cool. This needs to be a high school class as I’m sure they have this in college, somewhere. THIS just makes this movie even more juicy.

  • insat

    The book is the best I have ever read, and I’ve read a lot so far! The dialogues and narration are sooo damn good, I can’t even describe it. Cold, wonderfully witty and twisted, sexual and cynical… just perfect. I’m so glad Pattinson got this part and I hope with the help of Cronenberg he will nail it. Visually, he IS Eric Packer. If it was not him to get the part, it would have to be some other young hot Brit. Thank God Colin Farell is out – too old and would probably be too emotional in it, whereas Rob has all there is to be a cold calculated self-made son-of****. And I mean that positively. Just look at those picks right above. See what I mean?

  • Dalva

    “The future insists.”…and here we are discussing a date in the future, funny, ha? 🙂
    I believe it was Einstein who said time has no independent existence other than the order of events by which we measure it. But Freud is dead and Einstein is next the books tells us. So Eric’s real time is measured in nanoseconds, zeptoseconds, it’s put to good use to foresee how the yen will chart. Time is money. More time, more money. More time, more productivity, more money. And that’s how the world operates, everything measured by time and productivity, making it not an abstract concept but a very real one, suffocatingly real. What Einstein claimed has become the reverse, events are now measured by time, they are pressured and defined by it, not the other way around. As Vija said, it has become an asset and the present, the now, becomes harder to find. But how does one measure, in time and productivity, thinking, and feeling, by the speed of it, the amount of it?
    “I don’t own a watch or clock”, Benno says. I think of time in other totalities now. I think of my personal time-span set against the vast numerations, the time of the earth, the stars, the incoherent light-years, the age of universe, etc.” Benno doesn’t pass through time, he lets time pass through him,no past, present or future, just him in his now. Where Eric will be in the last monologue, all of his moments past present and future inseparable and all spilling into now. “Have all the worlds conflated, all possible states become present at once?” What was prophesized for 2012 has already happened inside the book.
    I think it’s marvelous that so many things have come together for this movie. The material, the director, the cast, and even the release date. Seems like everything has happened exactly as it’s supposed to.
    I can go as far as to predict the future and say a year from now I’ll be at least as equally excited about the movie as I’m now, yaaaaaay!
    Thanks for another book post 🙂