Enabling the “New Normal” through “Renormalization”


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Space-Time Crystals as Metaphorical Clues to Global Governance of the Surreal


6 Sep 2021 – The pandemic and its consequences have highlighted widespread concern with the increasingly elusive possibility of conditions returning to “normal”. This is now framed as “the light at the end of the tunnel”. Recognition that it is becoming unreasonable to expect to return to that old “normal” — whether or not that is desirable — discussion has however shifted to understanding the nature of the so-called “new normal” (The New Normal – what needs to be different than before? UNESCO Futures of Education; The New Normal and Coronavirus, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Hans Eicholz, Defining the “New Normal” after Covid-19 will Require More Just Scientific Expertise, EconLib; Covid-19: What does the ‘new normal’ mean? The Star, 21 May 2020).

The radical changes associated with the strategic responses to the pandemic have also been seen as the opportunity for a Great Reset, as explicitly promoted by the World Economic Forum and its constituency. This agenda has aroused predictable criticism from those suspicious of an underlying agenda of the elites associated with that reset — namely those potentially configured in the World Social Forum. The question is how any “new normal” might be related to the paradigm shift of any “reset” — whatever form it takes.

Global governance of the multiplicity of crises — at this time and as foreseen — has however become increasingly problematic, if not chaotic. Given the uncertainty with which many are now expected to live, it can be readily experienced as surreal (Surreal nature of current global governance as experienced, 2016). It could be said that surrealism has become a defining characteristic of international politics, if only to some degree (as argued on a website Surrealism in Politics).

The unprecedented global consensus with regard to the strategy of universal vaccination can indeed be optimistically seen as a “silver bullet” through which a return to normality will be enabled. Whether this is more than a pious hope, remains to be seen — especially given the emerging shift in the strategic goal posts to the necessity of “learning to live with COVID”, as with flu (Patrick Durkin and Finbar O’Mallon, Why now is the time to learn to live with COVID-19, Financial Review, 19 August 2021; Jamie Ducharme, Why COVID-19 Might Be Here to Stay — And How We’ll Learn to Live With It, Time, 12 August 2021; Peter Lewis, Morrison’s bold new ‘Living with Covid™’ pitch sounds breezy, but the devil is in the detail, The Guardian, 31 August 2021).

It is however becoming clear that there are few clues to a new mode of global governance to address the divisive polarization by which civilization is now characterized. This polarization is variously framed in terms of right-or-left, positive-or-negative, included-or-excluded, good-or-evil, true-or-false, right-or-wrong, and “headless hearts”-or-“heartless heads” — with such distinctions conflated according to circumstance. The capacity to transcend such polarization is itself problematic, to the very limited extent that it is explored.

In the meantime people could be said to be obliged to adapt — however they can — to the polarization and the surreal in ways which tend to defy description. They are essentially experiential, as implied separately (Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty: re-cognizing the varieties of non-comprehension and misunderstanding, 2012; Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: global implications of “betwixt and between” and liminality, 2011). Reality can no longer be said to “make sense”. Coherence has become elusive — although it is claimed that “everything is connected to everything”, if only by the so-called Internet of Things (Engaging with Elusive Connectivity and Coherence: global comprehension as a mistaken quest for closure, 2018).

The following argument explores clues offered by a recent major breakthrough with regard to fundamental order, as framed by so-called space-time crystals. As a highly obscure preoccupation of mathematicians, the potential significance of the breakthrough with regard to governance of polarization can only be explored (and comprehended) as a metaphorical clue. It is a development beyond the familiar crystals in space via the known (but highly unfamiliar) time crystals.

A time crystal is held to be a quantum system of particles whose lowest-energy state is one in which the particles are in repetitive motion. Some implications of the quantum paradigm for governance have been explored by Alexander Wen dt (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015; The mind-body problem and social science: motivating a quantum social theory, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 48, 2018, 2).

The familiar crystals of space are of course widely valued as symbolic of transcendent order — as with precious stones, and especially the diamond (Gemstones as an accessible metaphoric exemplar of the dynamics of coherence, 2002). In the spirit of science fiction, the notion of Spaceship Earth has long been evoked as offering strategic clues. This has since evolved into the possibility of a “timeship” by which the universe might be travelled. This too suggests an alternative strategic possibility — one of engaging otherwise with time (Timeship: Conception, Technology, Design, Embodiment and Operation, 2003; Embodying a Timeship vs. Empowering a Spaceship, 2003; Strategic Embodiment of Time: configuring questions fundamental to change, 2010).

Reference to “space-time crystals” therefore has the great advantage of provoking the imagination and evoking connotations from science fiction, fantasy and myth. They suggest the possibility of a meaningful quest, as is evoked by reference to an archetypal riddle, a Gordian Knot, the Holy Grail, or the mythical Conference of the Birds (Global Governance as a Riddle, 2018; In Quest of Sustainability as Holy Grail of Global Governance, 2011; Mapping grossness: Gordian knot of governance as a Discordian mandala? 2016; Insights from the Conference of the Birds? 2012). However even the possibility of any meaning remains challenged by the sense of pointless nothingness, exemplified by the current chaotic reversal in Afghanistan after two decades (Emerging Significance of Nothing, 2012; ¿ Embodying a Way Round Pointlessness ? 2012).

The argument here can be introduced by calling into question the use of “global” as a metaphor considered appropriately descriptive of a civilization bound to a spherical planet. This can be contrasted with continuing preoccupation of cosmologists with the shape of the universe. Extreme hypotheses are defined in terms of its “curvature”: whether zero (namely flat), positive (namely spherical), or negative (namely hyperbolic). This suggests the unexplored question as to the “shape of society” or civilization — “flat” being currently deprecated in favour of “global”, with little attention to hyperbolic. It is however the unusual nature of hyperbolic which is potentially most relevant to encompassing the current experiential sense of surreal — and the existential challenge of otherness and alterity, especially when the subject of “hype”.

Especially problematic in the case of the hyperbolic form is the sense in which it indeed embodies visually what is experienced as polarization. The topology of that form divides into two separate parts which seemingly never touch. It is however fundamental to the combination by physics of three-dimensional Euclidean space and time into a four-dimensional manifold — known as Minkowski space-time.

The breakthrough regarding space-time crystals offers a means of transforming that (“incoherent”) hyperbolic form (back) into a coherent spherical form, through a mathematical process termed “renormalization“. Of particular importance to the breakthrough is a special treatment of the “negative” by which the hyperbolic is otherwise distinguished mathematically.

In the quest here for metaphorical clues, it is the process of renormalization which is suggestive of the nature of the possible transition to a “new normal” — effectively a “new global”. As “new”, of particular relevance is the manner in which this holds, if only by implication, the hyperbolic form embodying the paradoxical sense of polarization — and its hyperreality as experienced.

The argument which follows is necessarily speculative since the subtleties of the mathematics are beyond the comprehension of most, and especially this author. The focus here is on the familiar visual forms by which the topological transformation might be represented — and which are far more readily comprehensible.

As a speculative exercise, however, the coherence of the argument derives from a degree of “aesthetic licence”. This would appear to be justified in a period in which physics has otherwise little to offer with respect to more appropriate modes of governance — consistent with the unity and coherence variously upheld as fundamental to transcendence of polarization. Little is to be expected from physics in that regard, despite the major warning offered by the IPCC to the forthcoming COP-26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, August 2021).

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