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Phantom Time

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Phantom Time

Andrew Ryan

Some of you may know (or maybe remember) that around 5 years ago, I was all but obsessed with the whole 2012 doomsday thing. I’m pretty sure the reasons for giving so much of a shit about the idea were that a) I have never really felt comfortable with/been a successfully functioning member of this society and the idea of everything collapsing so we can start over was incredibly appealing (still is!), and b) I used to smoke a lot of… herbs. I also found (still find) the timing an interesting coincidence- the supposed date of the big thing is the 21st of December, two days before my 25th birthday.

But, you know, things seemed WAY more interesting as a… herb enthusiast. I still occasionally get little flash backs to thinking INTENSLY, SORT OF, about the significance of things. Like with this thing- 25 years old, a quarter of a century… that’s important right? All those 2’s and 1’s and a zero, that means SOMETHING right? Life can’t be absolutely meaningless and I’m definitely living in an important time and I’m special right?

But this week I stumbled onto a concept that is far more believable than a cataclysm predicted by a bunch of human sacrificing astronomers living in the jungle: phantom time. Or, more specifically, the theory- developed in 1991- that the middle ages, from around 600AD to 900AD actually didn’t happen, that an extra three hundred years has been falsely injected into the Gregorian calendar, through “the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence”, which means we are in fact living in the 1700s. WOAH NOW.

This conclusion made by Heribert Illig and his contemporaries, made in an attempt to explain why this period of European history is so comparatively murky, is completely left field and pretty fucking out of sync with every other idea about history for this period, which is why this fascinating (and I find it kind of exciting?) suggestion is one that can easily be lumped into conspiracy theorizing, which many mainstream historians have. The introduction of this video certainly doesn’t help either.

And that is unfortunate because radical thinking like this should be applauded. It seems incredibly likely that we could be technically “out” by a few decades, and given that the period in question, commonly referred to as the “dark ages”, is named so because barely anyone was literate and the church was in charge of fucking everything, it would not be such a stretch to think that, well, maybe the Pope DID fuck with the calendar things a little.

I suppose this leads to the question of motivation. Why would you insert 300 years into a history? What were they hiding? And again we encroach on conspiracy theory territory, as we try desperately to conceive what the hell these guys were thinking. One suspicion is that Otto III could have modified the calendar so that he was ruler during the year 1000AD, which has something to do with Christian millennialism, and decided to invent Charlemagne to fill in the gap his switch forward left. It’s not hard to imagine something like that happening in a time when illiteracy in Europe was as common as flea bites and rotten food; being a king or a pope was one of those things where you fucking KNEW people would be reading about you in the future, so it would make perfect sense to want to make things look clean and nice. The majority of the population wasn’t going to notice because they were too busy getting on with their lives, surviving and everything, so the nobles had free reign to do whatever they wanted. Everyone kind of knows that parts of history are exaggerated, ignored, are made up anyway. Not everything, sure, but lots of little things.

So how did this Illig fellow and his followers/contemporaries arrive at this crazy ass conclusion? Apparently it has a lot to do with counting tree rings, and their understanding that the commonly used dating system is flawed to the point where tests can be off by ridiculous amounts, which, when combined with architectural and archaeological incongruities, as well as the discovery that many middle age documents are faked led them to seriously reconsider everything we have ever been taught about European history, and the way we got that information in the first place. If you’re interested, take yourself here: It will explain all, and is definitely worth getting past the bit about the tree rings; while the content is interesting, the words next to each other- all the details and things- get boring very quickly, but then it talks about why it could have happened and it’s GREAT, which is why I’m passing the information on to you!

If this is real, and we do actually live in the 17th century, then that means 2012 isn’t for another 300 years. It means me being this age in this time isn’t of any particular significance, at least not to the Mayans, and that’s totally fine with me because if these guys have really figured this out and it’s the truth, it means that someone has the balls to question a hugely important aspect of our understanding of our species (our recent history), and make an important change. Inspired more people to do the same etc. The fact that they publicly questioned it all in the first place is a feat in itself. If (super recent) history has taught us anything, it’s that radicals are rarely appreciated fully in their lifetime. Maybe it will take a few more years for people to start looking into this phantom time thing with an open mind.

By the way, if anyone is fluent in German and wants to translate some essays into English for me, let me know- I want to read more about this.