entering the liminal
The world is going through a period of unprecedented uncertainty. Many aspects of our lives which we thought were a given turn out to be provisional.
COVID-19 is giving the whole world a visceral understanding of the fragility of our civilization. And this embodied understanding – which goes much deeper than a conceptual understanding – means that the world can never go back to normality, irrespective of the actual outcome of this particular pandemic.
To some degree, people were already aware of the uncertainty and precariousness of our existence – with much learning about threats to our civilization – even before COVID-19. Climate change was on everyone’s mind. Wealth inequality was becoming intolerable. The growth of authoritarianism around the globe was deeply concerning. As were fears about mass migration, cyber-security, extreme weather conditions, eco-system collapse, global debt/financial collapse, misaligned AI, biological warfare, nuclear accidents, nuclear war, pandemics (it happened!), water shortages, corruption and crony capitalism… the list is long and includes thousands of concerns specific to individuals.
And all those threats are still there, waiting in the wings.
But now it’s very different. The difference is in our perception of those threats. They are no longer abstract potentials, disconnected from our day-to-day existence. One of those boxes has been ticked, and our experience – not theory – tells us that the consequences are devastating. It’s now MUCH easier to conceive of other boxes being ticked. Even multiple boxes simultaneously – especially since many of these threats can easily trigger others, as we are already seeing.
This incident is having a remarkable effect. Perhaps for the first time in our history, almost every soul on the planet is embodying the same perspective. Although there are millions of variants, at the very deepest level we are all internalizing these truths:
- humanity is global:
we are inextricably interconnected and intertwined (the global spread of COVID-19)
- all individuals are equal
(biologically at least, COVID-19 ignores wealth and status and rank)
- our civilization is fragile
(the repercussions of COVID-19 are massive and are likely to reverberate for a very long time and many more people now truly accept the likelihood of one or more of those other threats continuing or compounding the disruption)
To repeat: the difference now is that this is an embodied understanding for billions of people.
To make it as clear as I can: whether COVID-19 turns out to be the trigger, or whether it’s something else, our civilization, like all others in the past, is on a trajectory to dissolution. The fact that it is a global civilization has consequences for the whole of humanity, not just part of it.
Which brings us to the idea of
“At a boundary or transitional point between two conditions, stages in a process, ways of life etc.”
The old order is fading. The new order has yet to form.
We can barely conceive of the nature of the new order. Most likely, it will be extreme – in one direction or another. Most likely it will be preceded by a period of chaos – no order – whose length we cannot predict.
We are entering a liminal place. A liminal time. A “time between worlds”, as Zak Stein describes it.
It’s incredibly scary and uncertain: every assumption is being challenged; every action and decision we make could be more consequential than we realize. The future could be dark and desolate for decades – perhaps centuries.
It’s also unimaginably exciting: we DO have the required understanding of all the key disciplines needed to transform our future into something inconceivably wonderful. If we can steer this the right way, many believe it will be
the biggest transformation of humanity in our 70,000-year history.
Some have gone further and compared the potential of this transformation to the most dramatic step in the evolution of life: the transition from single cells to multi-cellular organisms.
The Liminal Learning Portal
The difference between the two futures, desolation or transformation, is the degree (and nature) of participation.
Participation in what? And how? And who says so?
Answering those questions – and more – is the purpose of this site. But not directly.
Many insightful researchers and thinkers have been working on these issues for decades. Systems and complexity theorists, philosophers, evolutionary biologists, cultural evolutionists, entrepreneurs, cognitive scientists, behavioural psychologists, educationalists, futurists, cultural and personal developmentalists… and many other ….ists.
As a result, there are many websites and channels and podcasts and discussion groups talking about and publishing content covering these issues.
The goal of TLLP is not to replicate any of that, but to provide a Content Curation service across this domain – learning about threats to our civilization and options for solutions. This will help more people find, learn about and engage with all the other sites.
Learning precedes participation, and since participation is essential for determining our future, learning about what these thinkers and researchers are talking about is the most important learning for anyone over the age of 16. My hope is that this site will significantly speed up that learning, and encourage more people to accept the challenge. (BTW – don’t assume too much about ‘participation’: it can be a lot less, or a lot more than you might think.)
Here’s something to be going on with:
Depending on when you visit, there may be nothing other than this page and a few blog posts where I record the development of the site and my ideas about it.
Or I may have started creating some structures or even publishing content. (Just setting expectations here.)
Who am I?
If only I could fully answer that….
More helpfully, I’m Alex Goodall, based in Oxford, UK. I’m a semi-random being who stumbled across these ideas during 2019, via a long-standing interest in Integral Philosophy and, more recently, Metamodernism, both of which feed into the overall theme here.
My background in knowledge management, digital marketing and a bit of WordPress hacking led me to the compulsion to start working on this site.
I don’t mean the planet. I mean this site. Where will the resources come from to develop it to its full potential and maintain it?
Right now, I don’t know. I’m assuming that will work itself out. It’s not a reason to hold back from working on it.
Comments, Questions, Requests To Be Listed etc.
I’m VERY interested to get views and feedback and ideas, both from established members of the “community” and from any random person who happens to stumble across this early on and has an opinion. Please use this form or contact me via any of the social media channels. This form will NOT add you to the Stay Informed list: please complete that as well.
Staying informed of developments
This will add you my email list. Initially, I’ll only use this to send updates about this site’s development. Later on, I’ll also send out notifications relating to the sites, resources and people I list here.