Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


All There Is Is This

Rincon, California, USA

August 28, 2011



"There are only two things in the world: nothing, and semantics."  ... 
This essay, All There Is Is This, is the thirteenth in a group of fifteen on Nothing: I am indebted to Nassrin Haghighat who inspired this conversation.



6:44pm Friday July 15, 2011
Werner Erhard
Nothing has changed since the last weekend of August 1978.

<aside>

Wait! Unless you read that sentence with the emphasis on "has changed" and not on "nothing", you'll miss what this is about.

<un-aside>

Prior to that weekend, I would diminish the impact of a hostile or dangerous event, situation, or circumstance by saying "This is nothing!". Prior to that weekend, I would trump  someone's bragging by saying "That's nothing!". Prior to that weekend, if you asked me what was bothering me, I may have replied "It's nothing!". Prior to that weekend, if something was the very best in its category, class, or genre, I would say "There's nothing  like it!". Prior to that weekend, the worst  thing you could say to me, the most insulting  thing you could ever call me, the most disparaging  thing you could ever say about me was "You're nothing!".

Since that weekend, I've distinguished the nothing  as spoken in all of the above situations isn't nothing. The nothing  as spoken in all of the above situations is nothing as a something. The nothing  as spoken in all of the above situations isn't nothing as nothing:  it's nothing as a something. Nothing as a something  isn't nothing. True nothing is clearly (and obviously) nothing as nothing. Since that weekend, I've distinguished it's nothing as nothing  which is truly awesome - magnificent  is more like it.



NOTHING
Werner Erhard asserts we're convinced if we peel back the layers of our lives like an onion, if we peel back one layer, then we peel back another layer, and then we keep on peeling back layers and layers all the way down to the last  layer, we're convinced we'll get to a core, we're sure there's a kernel  in there, and we're totally convinced that core, that kernel is what gives meaning  to our lives. We're totally convinced that core, that kernel is in fact the substance  of our lives.

But there isn't a core. There isn't a kernel. When you peel back the last layer of the onion, there's nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing. And that's who we really are. If you can stop making that mean  something, it's an opportunity for enormous  freedom.
SEMANTICS

If it can be said syntax  and grammar  describe the rules which govern how words are joined together and combined to create phrases, sentences, and expressions, then semantics  could be said to describe how joining words together and combining them into phrases, sentences, and expressions creates meaning.

There's no meaning  inherent in Life. You say you're looking for "the meaning of Life"? You say you've spent a long time  looking for "the meaning of Life"? Here's why you haven't found "the meaning of Life" yet (and it's not because you haven't looked long enough, hard enough, or deep enough): you haven't found "the meaning of Life" yet because Life has no meaning. "Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless.". That's vintage Erhard.

So what can be said about the meaning which we're adamant goeswith  Life (as Alan Watts may have said)? It lives in and is given by the semantics of our words. It lives in and is given by the semantics of our language.

Be careful. When I say "Life has no meaning", it doesn't eliminate the possibility of Life being coherent and working for us. What it does do is place the responsibility for whatever meaning we assign to Life  fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the semantics of our words and language.

<aside>

When, from time to time in conversation, debate, or friendly argument, someone says to me "Laurence you're just playing with semantics", I say "Yes that's true: it's all  semantics.".

<un-aside>



There are only two things in the world: nothing, and semantics. No I'm not about to add any more. That's it. Only two things: nothing, and semantics. Out of nothing (ie out of the nothing that's all there is), out of the nothing I am (ie out of the being I am), and out of the semantics I am (ie out of who I am as my word), comes what's next. Spoken with a slightly different emphasis, out of who I am as my word comes whatever can  come next. Whatever can come next out of who I am as my word, I call forth with my language. This is the nature of possibility.

So there's
 1)  NOTHING 

and there's

 2)  SEMANTICS 

which are the only two things in the world.

From nothing and semantics comes

 3)  POSSIBILITY 

The first possibility, the possibility of being the space in which people and things are the way they are and the way they aren't, is the possibility of

 4)  I LOVE YOU 
Nothing, semantics, possibility, I Love You - all there is is this.



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