Global implications of betwixt and between and liminality (Part #1)
This is an imaginal exploration of living between conventional sides, modes or choices -- living on the bridge between them, or as that bridge. It conflates significance potentially associated with the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte Sospiro) and the Ponte Vecchio -- both of them variously covered. Both are iconic "musts" for tourists travelling to Venice and Florence. Both have offered inspiration elsewhere and down the centuries. The Ponte Vecchio dates notably from the Renaissance period and its historical origins in Florence.
The question here is whether they together point to a context through which to explore the possibilities of living "in between" the divisive choices by which society is currently faced -- at a time when there are many calls for new thinking and reflections on a "new Renaissance". A concern is whether the requisite cognitive nature of such collective emergent insight might well be "missed" in some way, as previously discussed (Missing the New Renaissance? 2010; From Changing the Strategic Game to Changing the Strategic Frame: missing cognitive possibility in changing the system not the planet, 2010)
The need for bridges is typically obvious. They provide a means of traversing from one "side" to another across a modality which cannot be readily traversed otherwise. The essentially binary cognitive mode associated with walking, which is natural on either side, cannot be used on the medium which separates them. Furthermore each side is typically associated with a different perspective. The bridge is the means of transition between such perspectives across what may well be a psychosocial discontinuity -- a boundary with even a price to pay, as in toll bridges. There is an element of choice in being on one side or the other. Typically one cannot choose to be in the "middle" -- between them. Such considerations have all been exploited through metaphor.
The quest for integrative new thinking has variously focused on interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, on a global ethic, or on the potentials of the complexity sciences. These aspire to offer bridging explanations transcending conventional modes of understanding. However, whatever such efforts at "transcendence", they significantly fail to address the existential confusion which characterizes the lived experience of many, irrespective of the value attached to such possibilities. That experience is associated with the need in practice to live "in between" such explanations (even despite them) to the extent that they fail to address the experiential complexity of daily life. It is the cognitive quality and potential of that "in between" space which is of concern here, especially in the light of the suffering and creative stimulus which may be associated with it.
For many, especially the young, the challenge to be faced is the sense of going nowhere and with no sense of when one might get there -- of being "betwixt and between", neither here or there. Reference may also be made to living in a "twilight zone". This condition is exemplified as much by massive confusion at airports in a weather crisis as by crises of personal relationship, neurosis, unemployment, or the experiences of the marginalized, the so-called indigenous peoples, or issues of inequality and injustice. The pattern is also to be detected in global governance in response to a crisis of crises -- any insightful plot having seemingly been lost, despite claims that remedial efforts have been redoubled. Deliveries on promises, like flights from such airports, have been "delayed" or "cancelled" (Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009).
Here the reality of such existential confusion is addressed and reframed -- notably in terms of liminality -- as offering a potential that is the cognitive antithesis of what have been promoted in many domains as integrative, universal panaceas.