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23 December 2017 | Draft

Jerusalem as a Symbolic Singularity

Comprehending the dynamics of hyperreality as a challenge to conventional two-state reality

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Introduction
Challenge of communicable comprehension of Jerusalem
Implication for Jerusalem of supraposition versus superposition
Comprehending the nature of a potentially hyperdimensional Jerusalem
Imagining the "architecture" of the temple of Jerusalem
Cognitive implications of "pre-fixing" Jerusalem "solutions": co-, hyper-, super-, meta- ?
Artificial intelligence and the Middle East peace process?
Revisiting "death ground" strategy?
References

Development of an argument presented previously (Symbolic Relocation of United Nations HQ to Jerusalem Vicinity: revitalization of Middle East peace process enabled by US-Israel initiative, 11 December 2017). Later amendments to that text have been removed from there for presentation below -- in the light of decisions by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly,


Introduction

The preceding argument focused on the decision of the President of the United States of America to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The decision has since been strongly opposed in historic processes within the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly -- 128 countries opposed (83% of world population), 56 abstained/absent (12%), 9 in favour (5%).

The overwhelming opposition was evident despite the explicit threats made by the US against those failing to support the decision, and against the UN agencies in enabling such rejection (Trump threatens to cut aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote, The Guardian, 21 December 2017). The US has since claimed it will go ahead anyway. Israel continues to assert that Jerusalem is unquestionably the capital of the Jewish people -- has always been so, and will continue to be so (Netanyahu: Jerusalem "only ever the capital of the Jewish people", The Times of Israel, 17 May 2005; Netanyahu: "Many" More Countries Will Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital, The Algemeiner, 7 December 2017).

As argued previously, the highly controversial initiative of Donald Trump potentially offers an unprecedented opportunity to reframe the Middle East peace process and the highly problematic relations between Israel and Palestine. These relations have a particular focus in the symbolic status of Jerusalem for the Abrahamic religions. The current situation was of course originally engendered by the United Nations in envisaging its own administration of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. The US policy regarding such a relocation had however already been made by the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by the 104th Congress of the US (23 October 1995).

The previous argument regarding the controversial implications of the Judeo-Christian recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel -- highly contested by those of Muslim faith around the world -- focused on the possibility of a fruitful reframing through a counter-intuitive balancing strategy with its own symbolic significance. Whether or not the US Embassy is moved to Jerusalem, there is the possibility of relocating the United Nations Headquarters to the Jerusalem vicinity. In terms of political credibility, those critical of the current US proposal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel are likely to favour relocation of the UN to its immediate neighbourhood -- despite having been previously indifferent to any such move at all.

The credibility and desirabiity of such a move is now all the greater following the increasing disregard of the US for the UN and the manner in which it has been demonstrably isolated in the processes of the UN Security Council and General Assembly -- irrespective of other arguments of US constituencies against the UN. The case for moving the UN HQ from New York is all the greater with the Prime Minister of Israel labelling the UN as a "House of Lies", and the US Ambassador to the UN interpreting the votes as a mark of insulting disrespect for the US and its people (Israel's Netanyahu calls U.N. "house of lies" before Jerusalem vote, Reuters, 21 December 2017; US ambassador attacks UN for "disrespecting" America with Israel vote, The Independent, 22 December 2017).

Those seeking an optimistic interpretation of the outcome to the UN resolutions have focused closely on the declarations of both Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the continuing possibility of a two-state solution -- irrespective of how unrealistic this quest has as yet proven to be.

What follows calls into question the essentially outdated language through which the current situation is defined and in terms of which possible solutions are envisaged and discussed. The argument is introduced by the transformation to a knowledge-based civilization through the exponential development of information systems, currently exemplified by the emergence of social media and virtual reality. These points were developed in the previous discussion on Moving the United Nations into cyberspace and into virtual reality. This noted the importance of recognizing the opportunities offered by augmented reality now that widespread release of virtual reality headsets and smartglasses is expected within a year or so, if not in the coming months. The technology is predicted to develop very rapidly thereafter and will naturally be integrated into the so-called internet of things (Blake J. Harris, How the United Nations is using Virtual Reality to tackle Real-World Problems, Fast Company, December 2015). The question is how the United Nations and its processes might be "reformed" within that context and how "states" themselves might come to be perceived and defined.

The focus here is with the cognitive challenges to comprehension and communication of the symbolic nature of "Jerusalem" -- and of "Israel" and Palestine as "states". In particular it asks whether it continues to be appropriate for the UN to frame understanding in terms of "states", their creation, their independence, their boundaries, and the possibility of a "two-state" solution. Might it be the case that the very language -- through which the opportunities for the future are envisaged -- is obsolete in some way, progressively less capable of communicating the subtlety of significance?

The point can be made otherwise by assumptions with regard to repeated calls by Benjamin Netanyahu for recognition of the "reality" of Jerusalem as capital of the State of Israel -- effectively espousing a process of "realpolitik". By contrast, much has been made of the "surreality" engendered globally by Donald Trump. The nature of reality is however a continuing matter of active debate and speculation in a number of disciplines. This is especially the case in fundamental physics, in which both the US and Israel are proud to have particular expertise. Entrepreneurs and leaders generally -- including Donald Trump -- are increasingly appreciated or deprecated for their capacity to engender reality distortion fields (Trump's Reality Distortion Field is Shattering, Washington Monthly, 27 March 2017).

In his own formal declarations, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN made strong assertions with regard to historical "facts" dating back over 3,000 years. No consideration is given to the "fact" that such facts, and their significance, are variously contested -- especially by the other Abrahamic religions. This appreciation of facts takes no account of the challenging emergence of "post-truth politics" and "fake news" catalyzed by Donald Trump. It fails to consider the progressive obsolescence of facts, notably as documented in terms of the half-life of knowledge by Samuel Arbesman (The Half-life of Facts: why everything we know has an expiration date, 2012). It is within this context that the subtly enduring metaphysical significance of Jerusalem calls for imaginative consideration -- at least commensurate with that accorded to fundamental physics.

There is therefore a case for exploring comprehension of the purported singularity of "Jerusalem" in the light of modes of creative thinking similar to those with which cosmology, the Theory of Everything, and quantum mechanics are explored. The latter is especially relevant to richer understandings of "state" and "two-state" conditions and the dynamics of what may need to be comprehended as "hyperreality" as an appropriate context for "Jerusalem". What are then the implications for any "two-state" negotiation -- worthy of the complex dynamic within which "Jerusalem" may indeed be embedded as a singularity?

To what extent is "Jerusalem" a conceptual surrogate for an integrative aspiration -- a strange attractor -- to which the Abrahamic religions have been unable to give fruitful form appropriate to a global civilization?

Challenge of communicable comprehension of Jerusalem

Mathematical theology: There is the further possibility that the structural dynamics and flexibility rendered possible by relocation of the United Nations to the Jerusalem vicinity would offer new ways of reframing the physically constrained territorial thinking with regard to the complex Israel-Palestine issue, most notably from a space-time rather than a purely space perspectives (And When the Bombing Stops? Territorial conflict as a challenge to mathematicians, 2000; Strategic Embodiment of Time, 2010; Middle East Peace Potential through Dynamics in Spherical Geometry, 2012).

As these arguments emphasize, the "solution" to Jerusalem and the "Middle East" may not be territorial in the conventional sense -- especially given the symbolic importance associated with territory by the Abrahamic religions most concerned. Rather any solution may benefit from being imbued with perspectives from mathematical theology, as variously argued (Mathematical Theology: Future Science of Confidence in Belief, 2011; Reframing Relationships as a Mathematical Challenge -- Jerusalem: a parody of current inter-faith dialogue, 1997; Framing Global Transformation through the Polyhedral Merkabah, 2017).

The fundamental significance, so fundamental to the Jewish tradition regarding the "land" promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18), now merits careful new thinking in the light of the insights of topology into the nature of surfaces, especially for a civilization that perceives itself as global. Rather than the prevailing "flat earth" perspective, might a spherical -- or hyperspherical -- understanding be more appropriate (Irresponsible Dependence on a Flat Earth Mentality in response to global governance challenges, 2008).

The subtlety of insights of religion may perhaps best be recognized now in terms of so-called hyperreality, namely the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence -- one in what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together (Engaging with Hyperreality through Demonique and Angelique? Mnemonic clues to global governance from mathematical theology and hyperbolic tessellation, 2016). As a means of encompassing "all the nations" however, their disparate insights are to be understood, this may be more fruitful from a theological perspective in order both to distinguish and to reconcile those insights which engender continuing conflict between the Abrahamic religions and their denominations -- after millennia.

A similar argument can be made with respect to the "static" reinforcement of "state" -- framed as fundamental to "two-state" and similar solutions -- in a civilization which is fundamentally dynamic (Dynamic Transformation of Static Reporting of Global Processes: suggestions for process-oriented titles of global issue reports, 2013). The complex dynamics of civilization such that "state" is a totally inappropriate misrepresentation of the nature of the fundamental attractors with which people collectively identify -- better understood in terms of the so-called strange attractors of chaos theory and the complexity sciences (Human Values as Strange Attractors, 1993; Faith as a strange attractor, 2009). Such identification merits far greater respect as a mysterious cognitive process.

"Jerusalem" as a fundamental challenge to human comprehension: To what extent is it beyond doubt that the nature of "Jerusalem" and "Israel" is appropriately comprehended at this time? There is of course no possible doubt on the matter in the light of the vigorous assertions in that regard by the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations on the occasion of the debate in the UN Security Council regarding the decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

However, if only in the light of the subtlety of the theological perspective, its mystical underpinnings, and its historical origins, would those now held to have accorded exclusivity to the Jewish people approve of their interpretations at the present time? Will the future reframe such understandings otherwise -- or is the matter set in stone unquestionably for all time?

Is exclusivity an inherent characteristic of each of the Abrahamic religions -- lacking any capacity or motivation to challenge their incapacity to articulate their disparate understandings of Jerusalem more fruitfully? Is this perhaps indicative of the inherently constrained capacity of human comprehension?

The matter lends itself to more fruitful reflection through generalization of "Israel" and "Jerusalem" as concepts. This can be extended to the archetypal nature of a set of "12 tribes" and to that of the aspirations of "Zionists" (Generic Reframing of the 12 Tribes of "Israel": "We have met the Zionists and them is us", 2009). Failure to consider the psychosocial implications of more generic insight can only reinforce the tendencies to restrictive understandings and their consequences, as notably favoured by Christian Zionism in promoting current developments through the policies of the USA..

It is curious to note the extent to which it is the Abrahamic religions, and especially the relations between them, which have both engendered conflicts at every level of society and sustained processes which exacerbate the problems of society (Root Irresponsibility for Major World Problems: the unexamined role of Abrahamic faiths in sustaining unrestrained population growth, 2007; "Be Fruitful and Multiply" the most tragic translation error? 1995).

Arguably the Abrahamic religions have trapped themselves in a way which only the future will be able to clarify. The nature of the trap is potentially clarified by the adage of Geoffrey Vickers: A trap is a function of the nature of the trapped (Freedom in a rocking boat: changing values in an unstable society, 1972). The current cycles of violence are similarly clarified by the adage of George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Territorial possession, containment and closure -- by divine right? It is remarkable to note the territorial possessiveness articulated by the Israeli Ambassdor to the UN -- presented as unquestionably beyond any rational challenge. More extraordinary is the manner in which that right is traced back to a declaration by King David 3,000 years ago. The righteousness of that claim is in no way called into question by the slave holding with which it was associated -- and the strange parallel that offers to the treatment of Palestinians at this time.

It is claimed that no appropriate comparison can be made with the territorial claims made by many kings and emperors in centuries past and by colonising powers more recently. Potentially more relevant and tragic are the claims of indigenous peoples in many countries, most strikingly in countries in which treaty disputes are a continuing matter of controversial debate. In the case of Australia, the indigenous people claim rights dating over 30,000 years -- their lands having been righteously reframed as Terra Nullius. Such possessivesness is echoed in an extraordinary manner among the Christian denominations within the extremely limited domain of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Given the level of anticipation of eventual contact with extraterrestrials, it can be imagined that they may well lay claim to Earth according to some similarly unquestionable understanding, framed millions of years ago -- possibly by some form of galactic deity or emperor.

Irrespective of claims framed by legality, the fundamental need to possess and contain as an unquestionably appropriate vehicle for collective identity would seem to call for continuing reconsideration in the light of the most creative insight. Such possessiveness was challenged in the case of the German understanding of Lebensraum (living space) and the Japanese understandings of Hakko ichiu and Dai Toa Kyoeiken (Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere), for example. More recent traces, in a more modern, form are evident in aspirations to spheres of influence and full-spectrum dominance. With respect to Israel, this is framed by understandings of Greater Israel -- justified by historical and religious arguments and aspirations. The issue takes specific form when reinforced by the construction of walls: Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, Israeli West Bank barrier, and the planned Mexico-United States barrier. Many cities of the past have been protected by walls -- a process of current significance in relation to the Western Wall of Jerusalem.

The question is whether identity is necessarily associated with bounded physical territory in an era in which intellectual and cultural property have become of such importance. Spiritual belief and religious faith may indeed be only incidentally associated with specific locations, if at all. The issue is remarkably highlighted with respect to the understanding of diaspora -- and possibly the right of return, as is especially evident in the case of Israel. In a world of multiple passport holders, multiple residences, expatriats, and the like, identity itself may be understood as "multiple" in ways which may be of far greater significance in the future. These call into question the constrained approach to democratic voting which may or may not accord rights to non-residents in the diaspora, as discussed separately (Affinity, Diaspora, Identity, Reunification, Return: reimagining possibilities of engaging with place and time, 2013).

"Blasphemous" understanding? Are the purported understandings of "Jerusalem" from the perspectives of the Abrahamic religions a far greater insult to its fundamental nature than that claimed by the US Ambassador to the UN following UN rejection of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? This rejection is claimed to be an insult "not to be forgotten" (U.N. Security Council Takes Aim at U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem, Foreign Policy, 18 December 2017; US outnumbered 14 to 1 as it vetoes UN vote on status of Jerusalem, The Guardian, 18 December 2017; Haley slams defeated UN measure on Jerusalem as 'an insult', The Hindu Times, 18 December 2017; Full text of Nikki Haley's 2 speeches at UN Security Council debate on Jerusalem, The Times of Israel, 18 December 2017).

The explicit threat of not forgetting has now been reinforced by the announcement that particular notice will be taken of those states who fail to support the US position when the matter is debated in the UN General Assembly (UN Jerusalem vote: US 'will be taking names', BBC, 20 December 2017). The threat has an added dimension (Trump threatens to cut aid to U.N. members over Jerusalem vote, Reuters, 20 December 2017). This has the unfortunate implication that the US sees its use of aid primarily as a process of vote buying (Frederico Finan and Laura Schechter, Vote-Buying and Reciprocity, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2011).

It is understandable that, both from a US perspective and that of member states of the UN, relocating the UN becomes increasingly credible -- especially if the US is to cut further any funding to a body (or to its members) through failure to accede to the US worldview. The previously enunciated US foreign policy that either you are with us or against us suggests that this would justify the cessation of US membership of the United Nations, perhaps together with that of Israel. Shunning those in disagreement has a long tradition -- even to the point of criminalizing it as treasonous (Learnings from variants of shunning, 2008).

It could however be asked whether it is indeed the Abrahamic religions which have variously long forgotten the elusive integrative significance of Jerusalem -- vigorously misrepresenting their very particular insights as constituting comprehension of the whole. Ironically each of the Abrahamic religions would readily claim that the others are insultingly blasphemous in their misrepresentation -- effectively sacrilegious. It could be said that this is indicative of the curious nature of the fundamental bond between them as siblings, namely the manner in which each frames the other as not even wrong -- in the language of fundamental physics.

Understanding the significance of "Jerusalem" might be considered at least comparable to that of the comprehension of the subtlety of quantum mechanics as a cognitive nexus -- currently upheld as fundamental to the future development of civilization. In that respect Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman famously declared: If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics. Could this equally be said of "Jerusalem" and of those who claim to understand its significance -- whilst being quite unable to reconcile their understandings with contrasting views? Given his Jewish origin, of particular relevance is Feynman's own clarification of its significance (Richard Feynman on Judaism, Jewish Atheism Munich, 8 October 2008).

Implication for Jerusalem of supraposition versus superposition

Reality and supraposition? In celebrating and promoting the historic decision of the USA to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Prime Minister of Israel is now widely cited as indicating the need for all to recognize the "reality" of that situation (Netanyahu: Palestinians must face reality over Jerusalem, BBC, 10 December 2017; Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu urges EU to recognize 'reality' of Jerusalem status, Deutsche Welle, December 2017). It is appropriate to recall the vision of David Ben-Gurion, as the first prime minister of Israel:

In Jerusalem, the United Nations will build a shrine of the prophets to serve the federated union of all continents; this will be the seat of the Supreme Court of Mankind, to settle all controversies among the federated continents, as prophesied by Isaiah...(Life Magazine and Look Magazine, 16 January 1962),

By contrast, it is notably the President of the USA who has made "surreality" the new norm of global leadership (Surreal nature of current global governance as experienced, 2016). The question is whether Israel is now somehow conflating and confusing "surreality" and "hyperreality" with the "reality" of "realpolitik", whether deliberately or inadvertently. This confusion seems not to be informed by the insights from quantum "superposition" -- potentially especially relevant to the cognitive challenges of the matter, and in which Israeli physicists have particular expertise.

Intriguingly much is made of the claim from an Israeli-US perspective that the decision "makes peace possible" -- in contrast to the perspective of critics that it is a "threat to peace" (Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital 'makes peace possible': Netanyahu, AFP|, 11 December 2015; Macron tells Netanyahu that US recognition of Jerusalem is threat to peace, The Guardian, 10 December 2017). Few care to discuss what "peace" might mean in the emerging global reality and whether it is readily comprehensible in a world of binary thinking in which its nature is considered to be obvious and unworthy of discussion -- despite the challenge it clearly constitutes for the quarrelling theologians of the Abrahamic religions. Exceptions include: John Hagelin and David Lynch (World Peace from the Quantum Level, TM Blog® Transcendental Meditation®, 4 August 2010) and Vic Mansfield (The Physics of Peace: quantum nonlocality and emptiness, Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia). How are trademarked and copyrighted solutions to be reconciled with the transcendent nature of any "peace" -- as highlighted with respect to the latter? As the essence of "non-peace", how is disagreement with any such perspective to be more fruitfully reframed?

The primacy currently accorded to the "supraposition" of any one perspective does of course invite speculation on the possibility of locating the UN HQ deep underground beneath Jerusalem, as argued separately (From Lateral Thinking to Voluminous Thinking: unexplored options for subterranean habitats in dense urban areas, 2007). Any "two-state" solution for Israel-Palestine could invite similar speculation -- in contrast to any proposals for their "juxtaposition". Understood otherwise in these physical terms, the US might seek to construct its own embassy deep underground in Jerusalem for security reasons -- and to encourage other countries to follow suit and to extend a "diplomatic compound" there.

Quantum superposition: Transcending the limitations of binary thinking, how might UN location be understood within a timesharing framework given its fundamental role in the organization of cyberspace and distributed computing? Both intriguing and ironic in that respect is the specific association of Jerusalem with "superposition" as variously understood (Ora Limor, Jerusalem: Its Sanctity and Centrality to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Jewish Quarterly Review, 94, 2004).

Insights into quantum superposition appear to have long been a focus in Jerusalem (Next Decade in Information Technology, Proceedings of the 5th Jerusalem Conference on Information Technology, 1990). The relevance is potentially highlighted by James Hartle (Quantum Cosmology and Baby Universes, Proceedings of 7th Jerusalem Winter School, 1991):

The reason, specifically, that we do not see Mars spread out in quantum superposition of different positions is that we have evolved to use, in perception, a coarse graining in which such superpositions rapidly decohere (p. 101)

Arguably current sociopolitical positions with regard to Jerusalem indeed reflect "coarse graining" and a condition of "decoherence" -- a degradation into competitive dynamics for "supraposition". As illustrated by the mysterious potential of quantum computing, the distinction between superposition (or supraposition) and quantum superposition has yet to be understood in psychosocial terms. as intimated by Alexander Wendt (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015; video; interview), and discussed separately with respect to religious symbols (Quantum consciousness implications of fundamental symbol patterns, 2017). This failure sustains the tragic prevailing condition usefully described metaphorically as one of quantum decoherence and collapse of the wave function.

Given the physical expertise in Jerusalem, it could be considered profoundly curious that so little attention has been devoted to the reframing offered by such possibilities -- following the concluding question raised earlier by Maurice Yolles and colleagues:

... it might be expected that sociocultural effects likewise have a quantum counterpart...So how do we go about exploring the possible nature of a putative quantum theory in sociocultural effects? To do this we really need to consider some of the properties associated with wave quanta and see if they have any sociocultural counterparts. (M. Yolles, B. R. Frieden and G. Kemp, Toward a formal theory of socioculture: a yin-yang information-based theory of social change, Kybernetes, 37, 7, pp.850-909)

Such insights are seemingly a cognitive prerequisite essential to global civilization. Curiously it is left to speculative "non-philosophy" to explore the potential relevance of "superposition" to the theological implications of Jerusalem (François Laruelle, Christo-Fiction: The Ruins of Athens and Jerusalem, 2015). This is a period in which states in the Middle East and elsewhere are increasingly claimed to have achieved a "quantum leap" in their bilateral relations (Taylor Owen and Robert Gorwa, Quantum Leap, Foreign Affairs, 7 September 2016; Brian Whitmore, Europe, Russia, and Quantum Mechanics, Radio Free Europe, 29 May 2017; Reva Goujon, Quantum Geopolitics, Stratfor Worldview, 2017; Radek Trnka and Radmila Lorencová, Quantum Anthropology: man, cultures, and groups in a quantum perspective, 2017).

Somewhat surprisingly, the relevance of some kind of "quantum" frame is made from a Palestinian perspective by Mark LeVine (The Quantum Mechanics of Israeli Totalitarianism):

... I'm talking about a much deeper level of control, at what can only be described as the quantum level of Palestinian daily life. To understand how it feels to live as a Palestinian today you need to think like a particle physicist, not a social scientist. (Al Jazeera, 7 May 2015)

Visualizing the contrast between superposition and quantum superposition
with respect to two states -- that on the right indicates possibilities for any future "two-state" solution
(the "standing wave" on the left may illustrate the sterility of frozen "peace process" negotiation)
Superposition Quantum superposition
(illustrated by two waves travelling in opposite directions across the same medium combing linearly; here both waves have the same wavelength and the sum of amplitudes results in a standing wave. Animation indicative of possibility of
an atom being
both excited and unexcited
at the same time
Animation indicative of possibility of
an atom being
in two places
at the same time
Animation of 2-state quantum superposition Animation of 2-position quantum superposition
Reproduced from Wikipedia Animations adapted from Wikipedia from screen shots of a video
by J. Bobroff (Quantum superposition of states and decoherence, 2014)

Comprehending the nature of a potentially hyperdimensional Jerusalem

Four-dimensional Jerusalem? Rather than such possibilities in three dimensions, how is it that the reality of "Jerusalem" in more than three dimensions is so seldom considered? One clarification in this sense is offered by Gil Troy (Bring Judaism and Freedom into the Eternal Fourth Dimension):

When [the] Jewish experience really works, it enters an eternal fourth dimension. Being properly rooted, centered and steeped in meaningful Jewish experiences inevitably adds to the identity what Einstein noted in space: the cosmic element of time and timeliness. Judaism resonates because it is not just a construct located in the moment. Rather, as a 3,500-year-old heirloom building toward the future, it has an eternal, timeless dimension as well. That added dimensionality makes it cosmic, extra powerful, even if you don't believe in God. (Jerusalem Post, 20 June 2017)

Jerusalem in the light of string theory? Is "Jerusalem" not worthy of being considered "hyperdimensional" -- possibly of even greater dimensionality than the 10-fold hypotheses of string theory? The point is made in aesthetic terms in reflection on the poem Jerusalem by William Blake, in the commentary of Jules van Lieshout -- ironically inspired by a ball of string:

While the smooth geometric rounds are solidly three-dimensional in total isolation and perfect autonomy, the ball's dimensionality varies according to perspective, as illustrated in the description of a ball of twine that [James] Gleick offers to bring home the idea of fractals: From a great distance, the ball is no more than a point with zero dimensions. From closer, the ball is seen to fill spherical space, taking up three dimensions. From closer still, the twine comes into view, and the object becomes effectively one-dimensional, though the one dimension is certainly tangled op around itself in a way that makes use of three-dimensional space... Nor is there a clear boundary between the dimensions.

[The curves] look like Blake's stylized version of the fractal dimension of the ball of golden string. Jerusalem links up with its beginning, not linearly, but fractally. lt is only in re-reading that Jerusalem is made to roll back on itself in a process of continuous interaction between text and reader that is like the stretching and folding of the croissant dough, or the action in the vortex. Rereading Jerusalem organizes it into an intricately multi-layered and self-embedded structure in which the end is, indeed, far apart from its beginning, and different for every reader. Jerusalem visualizes the interaction... Eternity is recovered in thc reading process, or the reader's interaction with the text, the text itself reflects and refracts the interaction back to the reader, making the theme the structure and the structure the theme. (Within and Without Eternity: the dynamics of interaction in William Blake's myth and poetry, 1994, p. 184)

Is the "peace", of which "Jerusalem" is so hopefully held to be symbolic, a similar challenge to comprehension? It is curious that the string metaphor has been central to a website of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: The String Theory Universe. Is it to be expected that string theorists based at a Hebrew university in Jerusalem would have reflected on the nature of "Jerusalem" in the light of the hypotheses they espouse in their quest for a Theory of Everything?

Further insights into Blake's Jerusalem are offered by Patrick McGee (Political Monsters and Democratic Imagination: Spinoza, Blake, Hugo, Joyce, 2016):

Blake understood that you do not adequately address the infinite truth by constructing some kind of general category that would appear to embrace all humanity through abstraction. On the contrary, the common or true universal must be located in the minute particulars, and so instead of generalizing he deconstructed his own particular location by insisting that the truth of England's or Albion's identity lies in the singularity of each and every other nation, as they are all composed from the singularities of the multitude. Jerusalem embodies the thought of this singularity, the thought or understanding from which Albion and all nation states have become alienated. (p. 103)

Jerusalem as a fractal? Comprehension of complexity through fractal organization has of course been intriguingly framed through the much-cited Mandelbrot set. Naming it as the "Jerusalem set" could have engendered even more fruitful reflection (Psycho-social Significance of the Mandelbrot Set: a sustainable boundary between chaos and order, 2005; Understanding the Monster through the Mandelbrot set -- Moonshine connectivity?, 2007).

An animation of renderings of the Mandelbrot set is reproduced below from Animations variously suggestive of "being a waveform" (2013). Appropriately a very particular form of fractal has been named the Jerusalem cube -- a cube repeatedly penetrated by crosses, but known more generally as the Menger sponge. Wikipedia provides access to an interactive variant from which the form of the Star of David variously emerges (see animation below).

Fractal organization of Jerusalem?
Mandelbrot set Jerusalem cube Menger sponge Sierpinski-Menger snowflake.
Menger sponge animation
Generated from changing parameters in Xaos: realtime fractal zoomer Image and animations reproduced from Wikipedia

In quest of extraordinary forms to sustain requisite imagination: Temple design traditionally relies extensively on the geometry of the cube with the symbolism and cognitive constraints that this implies. It is therefore useful to explore how the basic polyhedra might be nested together within a global framework as a means of enabling the variety of insights that the associated symbols may imply. This is illustrated by the animation (below left) discussed separately (Psychosocial Implication in Polyhedral Animations in 3D: patterns of change suggested by nesting, packing, and transforming symmetrical polyhedra, 2015). As an architectural challenge, how might the traditional forms of temple, church and mosque be reconciled -- beyond the cubic conventions?

The apparent geometric incommensurability of Judaism and Islamic world views is exemplified by identification with 6-fold and 5-fold symbols. It is only through the spherical form of the truncated icosahedron that these can be reconciled as indicated in the animation (below centre), derived from a separate argument (Middle East Peace Potential through Dynamics in Spherical Geometry: engendering connectivity from incommensurable 5-fold and 6-fold conceptual frameworks, 2012). Does this constitute a form of requisite complexity for the design of a Jerusalem temple?

As animated, the diagonal sections through the Menger sponge (below right) offer an unusually simple indication of the relation between contrastng symbols by which the Abrahamic religions are identified and distinguished. The cubic form as a whole offers a particular insight into the central symbol of Islam in Mecca, namely the Kaaba -- with a similar role to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies of Judaism..

Examples of reconciling polyhedral forms as a cognitive challenge for "Jeusalem temple" design
Rhombic Triacontahedron (green)
as a nesting framework for platonic polyhedra
(videos: "pumping" mp4; "rotation" mp4)
Animation of a reconciliation of 5-fold and 6-fold frameworks within a truncated icosahedron Animation illustrating relationship between disparate forms as diagonal sections through a Menger sponge
Platonic polyhedra nested within Rhombic triacontahedron Animation of Islamic star and Star of David into icosahedral form Animation of diagonal sections through Menger sponge

Developed with X3D Edit and Stella Polyhedron Navigator(virtual reality variants static: vrml or x3d;
mutual rotation: vrml or x3d; "pumping": vrml or x3d )

Animation developed with Stella Polyhedron Navigator Animation based on screen hots from an interactive variant in Wikipedia

Of potential relevance are the following forms reproduced from separate discussions variously suggesting the inherently dynamic nature of such forms (Visual representations of globality of requisite variety for global governance, 2015; Framing Cyclic Revolutionary Emergence of Opposing Symbols of Identity, 2017). The examples below are 3D representations of 4D polyhedra (polychora). Both these and the drilled truncated cube, discussed extensively there as a mapping surface, merit consideration in relation to the Menger sponge in terms of their "drilled" characteristics and how these might relate to any Temple design (Proof of concept: use of drilled truncated cube as a mapping framework for 64 elements, 2015).

Jerusalem as a 4D polychoron: selected polyhedra with 64 vertices based on truncation of a tesseract?
3D projection of the 4D polychoron Truncated tesseract ("Tat") 3D projection of the 4D polychoron Rectified tesseract ("Rit")
of 48 faces (7 types), 112 edges (15 types), 64 vertices (8 types) (animation) of 64 faces (4 types), 96 edges (4 types), 64 vertices (4 types) (animation)
Animation of truncated tesseract Animation of truncated tesseract Animation of rectified tesseract Animation of rectified tesseractx
Images and animations prepared using Stella Polyhedron Navigator

As argued in their presentation, such forms are indicative of how centrality and singularity may be framed within a complex but comprehensible pattern of symmetry. Their unusual nature in 4D, of which the above are 3D projections, suggests ways of exploring containment and closure in relation to opennness. They offer a reframing of possible tendencies to possession and the strange function of any cognitive hole as can be variously argued (Cognitive mystery of holes, lacunae and incompleteness, Nature of metaphysical and theological holes, Cognitive and experiential black holes)

Imagining the "architecture" of the temple of Jerusalem

Third Temple? Jerusalem is especially significant to the Abrahamic faiths in terms of its places of worship -- including that implied for Judaism by the possibility of constructing a Third Temple, as attempted at various times in the past. If Jerusalem is the spiritual nexus of Israel, a "temple" is that of Jerusalem for those faiths, whatever form it may take. Very considerable controversy surrounds those places of worship, whether between faiths or within them -- whether in historical terms or with respect to the future, most notably in the light of prophecies to which importance is variously attached (Tim McHyde, The Third Temple Prophecy: what's holding back its fulfillment? 2 June 2017). The latter notes the prophecies regarding two such temples, rather than one.

With respect to any reconstruction, some hold very strictly to the indications of scriptures with respect to its physical design and location (Ben Sales, Laying the groundwork for a Third Temple in Jerusalem, The Times of Israel, 16 July 2013; Architectural Plans for Third Temple Have Begun, Arutz Sheva, 26 July 2015; Jake Wallis Simons, The rabbi, the lost ark and the future of Temple Mount, The Telegraph, 12 September 2013). Others consider that it will only prove possible following prophesied events -- of which the current isolation of Israel is seen as part of that pattern. Others consider that the temple already exists in some psychospiritual form -- or that it is an emergent form, perhaps to be understood through metaphor. Others envisage the construction in virtual reality.

This multiplicity of conflicting frameworks lends itself to multiple interpretations, to questionable mystification, and to conspiracy theories of every kind -- a complex system reflecting the challenges only too evident in society. Especially problematic for some is the intention of rebuilding the Temple as an appropriate location for ritual animal sacrifice, as required by theological strictures. This is a feature of two of the Abrahamic religions, whereas the third could be said to have "outsourced" that process to secular society. Whilst assiduously claiming the contrary individually, together the Abrhamic religions can be recognized as having constituted a pattern for engendering violence and human sacrifice (Systemic Reliance of World Religions on Human Sacrifice: covert use of fatal conflict to ensure vital resource management, 2014). With the massive extinction of animal species now underway, outsourcing of animal sacrifice has effectively been taken to unsustainable extremes.

Such ritual sacrifice could however be understood as a subtle form of transcendence of dynamics by which forms of coherence are "bedevilled". In economic terms this is usefully recognized in terms of the "animal spirits" to which John Maynard Keynes drew attention in describing the instincts, proclivities and emotions that ostensibly influence and guide human behavior (The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936). Understood otherwise, it suggests the fundamental cognitive challenge of how humanity might cognitively "embody" the natural environment in all its variety -- of which unconstrained consumption of non-renewable resources is a perversion.

Scriptural ambiguity: As summarized by Peggy Overstreet (Greek Words), two Greek different words are both translated by the one word temple. Each has a distinctive meaning and refers to a particular thing. Hieron comes from a word meaning holy, hallowed, consecrated, and was used of earthly things devoted or dedicated by man to a god. It was later used in the New Testament to designate the temple at Jerusalem. It includes the entire sacred enclosure with its porticos, courts, and other subordinate buildings. It is never used figuratively. Naos referred to the inner sanctuary, composed of the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. Only priests could lawfully enter. Naos was used among heathen to denote a shrine containing the idol (Acts 17:24; 19:24). When referring to the Jerusalem temple, Josephus, Philo, the Septuagint, and the New Testament always distinguished hieron from naos. After describing the building of the naos by Solomon, Josephus wrote: Outside the temple (naos) he constructed a sacred enclosure (hieron) in the form of a square.

The ambiguity is relevant to any understanding of embodiment of insight, most notably the sense of the body as the temple of the spirit. The challenge of Jerusalem might be said to be how disparate insights, seemingly incommensurate, could be fruitfully embodied.

Temple as a form of container? As is evident with respect to the competing architectural claims of the Abrhamic faiths in Jerusalem, any "temple" is readily conceived as the ultimate container for truth of the greatest profundity. This has the unfortunate implication that truth must necessarily be contained and protected -- to the point of being "walled in", if not immured. Access must be highly controlled and potentially restricted to exclude those who do not subscribe to that truth or fail to comprehend it in some way.

This raises the question as to whether there are other kinds of container more appropriate to the most elusive truths. Especially interesting are the reflections which embody a degree of cognitive paradox, as suggested by the Möbius strip and the Klein bottle. These call into question the notions of boundedness and sidedness. There is no conventional distinction between one side and the other in the case of the Möbius strip, or between inside and outside in the case of the Klein bottle, The latter can be readily associated with the symbolism of the Ouroboros, as discussed separately (Complementary visual patterns: Ouroboros, Möbius strip, Klein bottle, 2017). Such containers recall the alchemical quest for a container for that which can dissolve everything. It is in this sense that the Temple can be seen as functioning cognitively as a Klein bottle -- as might be inferred from the phenomenological arguments of Steven Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld, 2006).

The issue can be presented in terms of openneness in contrast with closure -- now played out with respect to their extremes in organizations and information systems, exemplified by issues of secrecy and confidentiality (Orrin Klapp, Opening and Closing: strategies of information adaptation in society, 1978). The issue features in the language by which the Holy of Holies is presented by Tzvi Freeman (The Temple Mount as Sacred Space: at the threshold of reality, Chabad, December 2016):

In halachah (Torah law), there is much discussion on the status of twilight -- the gray area between when day stops and night begins. A gateway is one of the most common metaphors of Torah: a place where you are neither in nor out, but part of both.... Read that as "the origin of something from nothing, and the place where the two meet". What happened in that space? It met with anti-space.... Space and non-space met, but neither canceled out the other.... But at the essence of everything is something that is beyond all of them. Something that cannot be defined as the perfection of them, nor as the absence of them. Something that cannot be defined at all.... But we could go even further: Is space a static thing? Or is it an event which is continually being renewed out of the void?

How are these extremes to be embodied in the design of a temple where closure is readily called into question and openness results in loss of fundamental coherence? How indeed do these relate to "two-state" thinking which features so significantly in discourse in relation to Israel-Palestine? The paradoxical vulnerability of delicate integrity can be usefully explored through the metaphor of a bubble and its hyperdimensional possibilities (Pricking the Bubble of Global Complacent Complicity, 2017).

Temple design frames the question as to what process the temple design is framing -- beyond questioning itself. The mystery of a "twilight" zone, as a form of gateway, can be explored in terms of liminality (Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: global implications of "betwixt and between" and liminality, 2011). As with the fascination of tales for children, the gateway can be understood as a magical mirror (Stepping into, or through, the Mirror: embodying alternative scenario patterns, 2008).

A pointer is offered by the work of Arthur Koestler (The Act of Creation, 1964) with its emphasis on bisociation, as summarized by Maria Popova (How Creativity in Humor, Art, and Science Works: Arthur Koestler's Theory of Bisociation, Brain Pickings, 20 May 2013):

The pattern underlying [the creative act] is the perceiving of a situation or idea, L, in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference, M1 and M2. The event L, in which the two intersect, is made to vibrate simultaneously on two different wavelengths, as it were. While this unusual situation lasts, L is not merely linked to one associative context, but bisociated with two. I have coined the term 'bisociation' in order to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single "plane,", as it were, and the creative act -- which always operates on more than one plane. The former can be called single-minded, the latter double-minded, transitory state of unstable equilibrium where the balance of both emotion and thought is disturbed.

Modes of imagining "temple design": Rather than a restrictive traditional architectural approach, the nature of any design can be explored in the light of the method introduced by Gareth Morgan (Images of Organization, 1986). He distinguished perceptions of organizations using the metaphors of a machine, an organism, the brain, a culture, a political system, a psychic prison, flux and transformation, and a domineering entity. Appropriately, the 2006 edition edition is reviewed in Complicity: an international journal of complexity and education.

In that spirit a temple for humanity could imply all of the following "mentalities", and none of them -- with the aspirations of each potentially seen as a surrogate for constructing the "Temple" and the quest of "Next Year in Jerusalem":

Functionally, and in terms of the behaviours engendered, each invites recognition as an "Israel" (with its exclusively protective closure), centered on a "Jerusalem", a "Temple" and an "Ark of the Covenent" -- namely degrees of the sacrosanct with which the "Ultra-Orthodox" and the "Zionists" are preoccupied. Each has its disruptive "Palestinians", carefully "walled off" as an unresolved fundamental contradiction -- a voice that cannot be heard, or reconciled with an understanding of the "sacrosanct". In the quest for a superordinate expression of the "spirit" of its initiaitive, each may have some form of symbolic mandala or merkabah used as a focal symbol (Framing Global Transformation through the Polyhedral Merkabah, 2017; Cognitive Implications in 3D of Triadic Symbols Valued in 2D, 2017).

Each however "partakes" of the other, as might be presented in systemic terms as follows:

Interconnectivity of Temple design "mentalities" ?

Rather than taking definite form, the Temple could be designed to imply degrees of insight and the sense of indwelling intelligence, enabling and ordering a variety of modalities such as those variously distingished above. The indefiniteness of its form could be usefully clarified in terms of a dynamic between a variety of patterns, whether 8-fold (as above), 10-fold, 6-fold, or 12-fold, or otherwise (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). An aesthetically appreciable mode of framing this is that of Keith Critchlow (The Hidden Geometry of Flowers: living rhythms form and number, 2011), especially in the light of his earlier work (Islamic Art and Architecture: system of geometric design, 1999). In this light, ironically, civilization and its collapse can be framed in floral terms (Flowering of Civilization -- Deflowering of Culture, 2014). As "floral" patterns these are necessarily intended to function as attractors -- in anticipation of "pollination".

Especially intriguing is the ability to embody the paradox of locality and non-locality in a global context -- and to give comprehensible form to these extremes. This is especially evident in the traditional sense of a sanctum sanctorum and its architectrural forms -- together with what is engendered thereby as suggested by the ambiguity of the term enceinte with its connotations of fortification and pregnancy (more evident in French, from which it is derived).

In addition to the contrasting insights from each such modality, there is the further dimension of the behaviours associated with grasping cognitively a particular modality assertively, with a degree of comprehension, and condemning all others as wrong and misguided (if not evil). How extremely wrong is it possible to be -- in being totally right? Or conversely, how extremely right is is it possible to be -- in being totally wrong?

Cognitive implications of "pre-fixing" Jerusalem "solutions": co-, hyper-, super-, meta- ?

Rather than framing the challenge of "Jerusalem" as one that calls for the situation to be "fixed", there is merit in reframing the cognitive challenge by "pre-fixing" it. This avoids the trap of pre-determining a definitive form and introduces the dynamics of a temporal dimension, thereby avoiding colonisation of the future and precluding future insight. It is perhaps consistent with the arguments of Moshe Dror as coordinator of the Jewish/Israeli node of the World Network of Religious Futurists (Judaism: Into the 21st. Century; Jewish Exploration of the Future, The New Vision for Israel and Zion, 1 September 2013) and of Yitzhaq Hayut-Man (The Temple Vision of Shabbat Hazon, Global Report, 21 July 2010).

From such a perspective any preference for "co-organization" and "co-existence" might be challenged as reflecting a degree of conceptual inadequacy -- exemplified by their use in the current strategic situation. As noted above, organization in terms of "supra-organization" can also be usefully challenged. The argument for superposition invites reflection on "hyper-organization" and "super-organization" -- as implied by understandings of quantum superposition. These variously point to understandings of higher forms of order consistent with mathematical insights into higher degrees of symmetry. In this sense, Jerusalem as "super-ordinate" is potentially fruitful, as argued separately (Using Disagreements for Superordinate Frame Configuration, 1992).

Further insight is offered by use of "meta-", as in consideration of Jerusalem in terms of meta-cognition (36,600), meta-logic (3,850), meta-theory (10,700), meta-epistemology (1,440) meta-discourse (4,240), meta-design, meta-dialogue (213), meta-language (24,000), meta-organization (419,000) or meta-framework (916) -- in addition to meta-physics (401,000). The figures are those of unfiltered web search results at the time of writing for: Jerusalem metacognition, etc. These include studies by institutes based in Jerusalem -- potentially misleadingly.

Such consideration would follow from the credibility of Jerusalem as metaphor (573,000) -- which many have explored (Jerusalem: City and Metaphor, YU News, 15 June 2017). This is especially relevant when understood in terms of the cognitive insights of the classic study by Gregory Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By, 1980). The relevance of one such approach is illustrated by the study of P. T. Coleman (Characteristics of Protracted, Intractable Conflict: toward the development of a metaframework, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 9, 2001, 1, pp. 1-37).

There is the further intriguing possibility that use of metaphor, especially in creativity, may come to be recognized as a form of quantum cognition, notably in the light of the work of by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013), as a further development of Hofstadter's earlier work (Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, 1995).

Artificial intelligence and the Middle East peace process?

Much is currently made of the potential of both artificial intelligence and the future role of quantum computing in that connection (Dyllan Furness, From predicting quakes to supercharging farming, how AI could save the world, Digital Trends, 27 June 2017). The theme was a focus of an OECD Conference on Artificial Intelligence: AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies (Paris, October 2017). It is a feature of the The AI Initiative of The Future Society at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The potential has recently been emphasized by the achievement of AlphaGo in competition with humans in playing the game of go (Artificial intelligence: Google's AlphaGo beats Go master Lee Se-dol, BBC News, 12 March 2016).

Of related interest is the current use of games to elicit new knowledge, as might be desirable in the decision-making arenas of governance (AlphaGo Zero: Google DeepMind supercomputer learns 3,000 years of human knowledge in 40 days, The Telegraph, 18 October 2017; Karen Schrier, Knowledge Games: how playing games can solve problems, create insight, and make change, 2016). A review of the latter notes their potential relevance to the solution of the so-called wicked problems of governance:

Indeed, most social and political problems are "wicked": health issues that combine social and biological causes, such as heart disease; how to help children struggling at school; high rates of recidivism among prisoners. Can games help? Why not? Compared with other collective problem-solving activities, they unite people with different experiences in a uniquely structured and motivating way. (Douglas Heaven, Can video games really create new knowledge? New Scientist, 25 May 2016)

Might neural learning networks enable new ways of understanding the subtlety of human relationships and the means of highlighting new possibilities with respect to any peace process -- unexpected windows of opportunity? This is a feature of the Peace Machine initiative of Timo Honkela, as described by (Could artificial intelligence lead to world peace? Al Jazeera, 30 May 2017), citing Pekka Haavisto, the president of the European Institute of Peace and a Finnish parliamentarian:

Machines and artificial intelligence can't substitute human beings, but they can provide knowledge, possibilities and support for peace processes... Those processes are often about understanding the language, culture and marginalisation.

In contrast to the currently conceived applications of supercomputers, they could indeed be developed to highlight new patterns of psychosocial relationships beyond the oversimplistic "two-state" solutions of questionable viability, as currently envisaged (Superquestions for Supercomputers: avoiding terra flops from misguided dependence on teraflops? 2010). If Google's AlphaGo is acclaimed as being able to learn from "3,000 years of human knowledge in 40 days", what might emerge from its learning from 30 years of documentation on the Middle East peace process -- already accessible to Google? Or from the documentation on the variety of interfaith initiatives over the past century?

Would the relocation of the UN HQ to Jerusalem emerge as a "window of opportunity" neglected by conventional framing of the strategic challenge -- an opportunity more characteristic of the counter-intuitive thinking demonstrated by AlphaGo? However there is also the possibility that the integrative meaning of "peace" may be as elusive to artificial intelligence in the future as the elusive meaning of "Jerusalem" has proven to be for Abrahamic religions down the centuries.

Revisiting "death ground" strategy?

There is however great irony to the fact that the competence of AphaGo has been framed in terms of learning to "win" -- a fundamental flaw exemplifying that of supraposition. There is little sense that there is any intention of orienting it towards "win-win" solutions -- presumably a primary requisite feature of any peace process. Its envisaged applications would appear to be exemplified by its widely publicized role in the detection of a new planet in a distant multi-planet solar system (Google discovers new planet which proves Solar System is not unique, The Telegraph, 14 December 2017; Google's artificial intelligence finds two new exoplanets missed by human eyes, The Conversation, 15 December 2017).

That announcement would appear to be timed as an unprecedented exercise in cognitive displacement and trivial pursuit -- by comparison with another made simultaneously by the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council (Dangerous rhetoric, overconfidence, increase risk of conflict on Korean Peninsula, UN chief warns, UN News Centre, 15 December 2017). There is a strange irony to the preoccupation of academia with the existence of life at a distance of 2,545 light-years -- in contrast with the indifference to the proximity of death for many as a consequence of imminent nuclear conflict -- considered increasingly probable (as indicated by the Doomsday Clock).

Given the much-vaunted anticipation of a technological singularity through the evolution of AI, will this in any way be characterized by artificial intelligence actively resisting the allocation of intelligence resources to questionable priorities -- and to "playing around", while "Earth burns" ?

Whether with respect to North Korea or the Middle East, the Security Council could do well to revisit "death ground" as articulated by Sun Tzu in The Art of War. This offers insights deemed of continuing relevance to military strategy and which have inspired a variety of interpretations, in fiction and otherwise. As a psychological phenomenon, death ground is a place of zero options. When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground. There is then no escape route -- to a distant solar system. The imminent possibility of death is then the ultimate motivator for high level achievement. The issue for the Security Council is how to engender that sense of risk in order to engage appropriately with the conditions -- rather than simply sanctioning the annihilation of others.

Is the mindset of the international community and the United Nations "too comfortable" to engender the kind of thinking required at this time? Has the UN HQ become an instance of cocooning? Comments are made to that effect (Ladan Rafii, UN Staff Won't Leave New York, HuffPost; A job at UN HQ? Goodbye principles and philanthropy, hello power and privilege! The Guardian, 4 June 2016; Lili Holzer-Glier, U.N. General Assembly 2012: Leaders Spend Millions As Their Citizens Starve, 100Reporters, 5 September 2012).

Perhaps, in addition to moving the UN HQ to Jerusalem, the UN Security Council should meet in Pyongyang in order to reframe that desperate situation. There is great irony to the fact that, without leaving its own comfort zone, the Security Council has effectively placed North Korea "on death ground", as it has done for the Palestinians. Is risk aversion to be expected of such a body when the world is placed at risk as a consequence of its decisions?

Perhaps as the epitomy of the fake-news modality, is the consistency with which the primary concern of representatives of all faiths is claimed to be the quest for peace, exemplified by regular papal pleas (Urbi et Orbi: Pope calls for peace for Jerusalem, BBC, 25 December 2017). Are these simply to be recognized as dubious forms of self-interested "virtue signalling" (Damon Young, Virtue Signalling, New Philosopher, 31 July 2017)?

The future may recognize an extraordinary complementarity between the isolation of Israel, as a consequence of the US decision rejected by the UN Security Council, and that of the isolation of North Korea, as a consequence of the UN Security Council sanctions unanimously approved following a US initiative (North Korea declares new UN sanctions are "act of war", The Guardian, 24 December 2017). The relationship is all the greater in that one decision immediately followed the other -- whatever complicities this may imply.


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