Marrying Strategic White Holes with Problematic Black Holes
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 May 2015
Questionable Role of Officiants in the Engagement Process and Nuptial Arrangements
Produced in celebration of the encounter of 28 April 2015 between Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) and Pope Francis (of the Catholic Church) to discuss climate change and Mediterranean migration.
The historic encounter of 28 April 2015 between Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) and Pope Francis (of the Catholic Church) occurred in a week in which considerable concern has been aroused by the unprecedented level of fatalities associated with attempts by migrants to reach Europe from the African coast. Separately, both have expressed deep concern in the past at current problems and their strategic implications (Vatican official calls for moral awakening on global warming, The Guardian, 28 April 2015; Ban Ki-moon attacks EU plans for strikes on Libyan smugglers’ boats, Financial Times, 28 April 2015).
The Pope used the occasion to present a report from the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (Climate Change and The Common Good: a statement of the problem and the demand for transformative solutions, 2015).
The concern in what follows is the manner in which global problems are articulated and calls for global action are made — as they have been made many times over decades past. More specifically it is concerned with the manner in which those framing the problems, or the strategic solutions, present themselves as dissociated from the problem in adopting a role of officiant in what can be seen as an engagement between problem and solution.
There is nothing new to the dynamic between global problems and global solutions, as extensively documented in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential. There is therefore a case for considerable wariness in accepting any new promise of engagement between them. For that reason it is useful to reframe the dynamic in other terms through which the process can be explored with “new thinking”.
It is in this sense that a complex problem — readily recognized as a so-called “wicked problem” in policy terms — can be understood as a black hole in astrophysical terms. That metaphor is notably used for financial deficits, especially those recognized in public finances at the global level (Rodrigue Tremblay, Financial Black Holes and Economic Stagnation, Global Research, 19 October 2011).
Engaging with that global problematique, any global resolutique might then be framed as a strategic white hole. In astrophysics this is a hypothetical region of spacetime which cannot be entered from the outside, although matter and light can escape from it. In this sense, it is the reverse of a black hole, which can only be entered from the outside, from which nothing, including light, can escape. The terms problematique and resolutique have been variously promoted in documents of the Club of Rome, as separately discussed (Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007). Little use has been made of white hole as a metaphor, however, with the notable exception of a work by Peter Russell (White Hole in Time: our future evolution and the meaning of now, 1992).
Mixing metaphors, the issue of the times is how problematique and resolutique — as black hole and white hole — then engage with each other. Within the global community this encounter can be explored in terms of a marriage. The challenge is thern the archetypal one of that between Beauty and Beast, potentially framed as that between poetry-making and policy-making (Poetry-making and Policy-making: arranging a marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993). It is with respect to the manner in which engagement and marriage are framed that the role of the “officiant” is of such apparent significance. Naturally both the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Pope of the Catholic Church are prominently positioned on a moral high ground — seeing thermselves so, and as eminently qualifed to pronounce on the dynamics of the process.
Is there anything that can be learned from mixing metaphors in this way, such as to reframe fruitfully the futile pattern to which so many in the global community are habituated?
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 May 2015.
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