Post-Apocalyptic Renaissance of Global Civilization
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 8 Oct 2018
Engaging with Otherness Otherwise?
Part II of Collapse and Renaissance of Civilization: Dilemma of Communication and Engagement Understood Otherwise
This argument is the counterpart to that developed in Imminent Collective Communication “Info-death”? (2018). That focused on the collapse of global civilization understood otherwise than in terms of the many current arguments regarding an impending collapse, whether that of the economic system (as some kind of replica of 1929 or 2008), of the ecosystem (notably as a consequence of climate change), or of overpopulation and other post-peak implications (notably the exhaustion of non-renewable energy resources), as can be variously recognized (Checklist of Peak Experiences Challenging Humanity, 2008). Dystopian fiction has extensively explored the process. Possibilities envisaged include extinction of the human race.
As noted in the introductory paper, rather than being a purely hypothetical exercise, an understanding of collapse could be recognized in the widely discussed disastrous effects of President Trump’s actions as de facto leader of global civilization. However, from a systemic perspective, greater insight might be derived from interpreting his role in terms of the trickster archetype of which the Norse deity Loki is perhaps the most relevant example. As portrayed operatically by Richard Wagner, Loki’s ambition is to destroy the realm of the Gods — Valhalla in Norse mythology. In the final opera Götterdammerung, the realm of the Gods is indeed set on fire, resulting in their destruction.
Mythology aside, “Valhalla” then lends itself to recognition as the realm of the highest human values — arguably now in process of global collapse. An allusion to fire is evident in the title of a documentary film on the psychosocial context engendering the election of Donald Trump (Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 11/9, 2018). This deliberately recalls the title of a renowned dystopian novel alluding symbolically to the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1953). Indicative of the challenge, The documentary has been remarkably reviewed by Glenn Greenwald (Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise, The Intercept, 21 September 2018). Missing from both the film and the commentary is any sense of how global civilization might be governed otherwise and how it might rise again following its collapse — “from the ashes of Valhalla”.
The emphasis in the introductory argument was on “information”, as it might be understood by physics, as being more fundamental than the more conventional preoccupations with collapse. This includes the intangible loss of confidence and an ever an ever greater focus on the shortest-term — to the exclusion of long-term considerations within which the trends towards collapse are more readily recognized. As such it can be explored more specifically in terms of individual and collective attention and the many competing efforts to attract and exploit that resource. However it may be argued that increasingly attention will be withdrawn from the processes which depend on it and on the confidence with which it may be associated.
The focus here is on Renaissance, necessarily on a New Renaissance, long awaited and on which many hopes have been placed. As such this exploration can only be a continuing exercise, following a trail of previous efforts, perhaps most notably the compilation by David Lorimer and Oliver Robinson (A New Renaissance: transforming science, spirit and society, 2010):
- Global Renaissance Alliance
- New Renaissance Magazine
- The New Renaissance (CSSS Talk Explores the Parallels between Historical and Modern Scientific Inquiry. Online: News about the NPACI and SDSC Community)
- Science and the New Renaissance
- New Renaissance Group (Statement from an International Multi-disciplinary Workshop “Beyond Sustainable Development”, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, July 2001)
The quest has of course been framed in terms of a new paradigm Dialogue among Civilizations; A New Paradigm (United Nations Headquarters, 6 May 1999. The exploration can be variously framed (Challenges of Renaissance: suggestive pattern of concerns in the light of the birth metaphor, 2003; Renaissance Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community. 2003; Missing the New Renaissance? No Room at the In? 2010).
The questions asked here are to do with the ways in which one might engage fruitfully with that process, if only as an exercise of imagination — which may well be the key to enabling whatever it constitutes as an archetype cherished by many. Imagination may also be vital to exploring the necessary complexity it must embody to be adequate to the challenges of the present time, as previously suggested (Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007).
The introductory argument anticipated some form of Apocalypse following what has been imagined or prophesied as an Armageddon, Acharit Hayami, Yawmid Din, Ragnarok or Götterdammerung (2004). The following addresses the possibility of a subsequent reconfiguration as previously explored (Imaginative Reconfiguration of a post-Apocalyptic Global Civilization: engaging cognitively with the illusion of the “End of the World”, 2012).
A probable characteristic, necessarily paradoxical, is any collapse and rise may not bear a conventional relation to one another in terms of the “arrow of time“. Rather they may coexist or be entwined in a topology variously envisioned in traditions of the past — now to be recognized as consistent with the subtle complexities of the space-time hypothesized by astrophysics and cosmology. Consistent with any traditional sense of Eternal Return, time may indeed be better understood as cyclic (Roger Penrose, Cycles of Time: an extraordinary new view of the universe, 2011). This may call for understanding the present otherwise, as separately argued (Re-imagining the future through the present: re-engaging Dreamtime, 2012).
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