Surface Tension and the Natural Flow-Geometry of Place-Time

Alan Rayner
3 min readSep 23, 2021


A manifestation of the mutually inclusive relationship between receptive spatial influence and energetic current in all material forms

What is it that holds together

What would otherwise drift apart

If not an innermost receptive call

To all around

To come into circulation

In confluent formation dance?


A call that once made

Can then be relayed

With gathering momentum

But decreasing intensity

In swelling circumference

Until the balance is reached

When the call from without

Is equal to the call from within


A call that can only be understood

When natural space is perceived as continuous receptive attractor

Not separator

And natural boundaries as energetic distinctions

Not definitive isolators


Quite a few years ago, now, I became aware that it doesn’t make sense to regard matter-energy and space-time as if they are separable from one another (see, for example, Rayner 2011, 2017). This is simply because if space as an intangible presence is literally everywhere, without limit, and matter is only somewhere, then it follows that matter and space are mutually inclusive, not mutually exclusive in the way that conventional logic presupposes. Furthermore, this is only possible if matter is a dynamic configuration of space in space. In other words natural geometry is a flow-geometry of ‘place-time’, not a definitive geometry of matter and space as three dimensional structure.

So what do I mean by ‘place-time’? Simply this:- a dynamic inclusion of space in place. Nature itself.

Now it becomes possible to understand the mutually inclusive relationship between ‘quantum’ reality and ‘tangible’ reality, which abstract dualism paradoxically splits apart and abstract monism paradoxically conflates.

‘Quantum reality’ is ‘intangible’ — a frictionless and hence immeasurable quality of continuous occurrence. A realm of ‘possibility’ that tangible reality emerges from and subsides into.

Natural ‘space’ is an intangible occurrence of receptive stillness (~darkness/transparency) — not measurable distance

Natural ‘time’ is an intangible occurrence of continuous motion (~light/energy) — not measurable duration

Natural substance (~matter) is a tangible local and temporary expression of receptive-responsive relationship between intangible space and intangible time resulting in ‘surface tension’ of varying intensity in solid, liquid, gas and plasma form and from sub-atomic to galactic in scale.

Distance is tangible length of travel between one locality in space and another.

Duration is tangible interval elapsing between one locality in time and another.

Living bodies are those in which surface tension is sufficient to sustain a high degree of co-ordination around a coherent self-identity as a centre of receptive and responsive awareness (sentience/ consciousness).

Non-living bodies and materials are those in which surface tension is insufficient to sustain a coherent self-identity as a centre of sentience.

Death is the release of surface tension into the receptive grace of space.


All Falls Into Place-Time

When we acknowledge

The receptive spatial hollowness of our interior

And the responsive energetic surfacing of our exterior

As the love in our life

The focal point of gravity within our dynamic situation

As our true self-centre

In natural communion with all



Rayner, A.D. (2011) Space cannot be cut. Why self-identity naturally includes neighbourhood. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science 45, 161–144.

Rayner, A. (2017) The Origin of Life Patterns In the Natural Inclusion of Space in Flux. Springer

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Alan Rayner

Alan Rayner is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist, who is pioneering the philosophy of natural inclusion