Why is pagination (outside the data table context) not covered by Material Design specs?
Is this Google's way of telling us that "traditional" pagination is a bad idea, and maybe, infinite scroll is the future?
Material design guidelines are primarily focused on mobile interfaces.
And, in mobile interfaces scrolling is much easier than pagination. So, they haven't included it yet as a pattern because it has inferior usability than scrolling for mobile UI's. In general, material design guidelines lack a lot of desktop UI patterns, but they will probably come up with more in the future.
This spec is a living document that will be updated as we continue to develop the tenets and specifics of material design.
The philosophy of material design is that everything takes place in a single environment. All interactions flow from one place to the other, transforming but not breaking the continuity.
Pagination is a practise where you go from one context to the next. While this can be molded to still look like material design, it doesn't fit their narrative.
There are pros and cons to pagination and infinite scroll, but that's a different topic from material design itself.
Material Design guideline is just a... guideline. What was already covered in the guideline are based on best design practices and principles that are able to provide great user experience when they are done right, and contextually (using the right pattern for the right situation).
I don't see where it says 'pagination' is a bad idea in Material, in fact, a tab-bar based screen are in fact pagination, or the onboarding screen. And really, you don't have to limit yourself to what is stated in the 'living document', if pagination in your context make a lot of sense for the users and it's possible to interact with great experience, I don't think there is anything that can stop you from doing that.
As long as the new pattern (if it is) feels cohesive to Material environment and made because it is the best pattern for the user to interact with your product.