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
An Experience Of Distinction
The Culinary Institute Of America At Greystone, St Helena,
April 23, 2007
Ultimately life is simple. I also like simple explanations. I don't
always explain things simply, and some things I can't explain at all.
Nonetheless the best explanations are simple ones. Simple explanations
are the best explanations to give and they're the best explanations to
get. Yet the truth of any explanation is often this:
I assert we really can't explain anything. I assert we simply
get to a point in our conversations where we stop drilling
down and agree we've reached bedrock, at which point
we question no further. That doesn't mean we've explained anything. It
just means we don't question beyond that point.
Try it on with something we all know about: walking. Explain it. How do
you walk? First you move one leg. How do you do that? You bend your
knee slightly and lift it. How do you do that? You
contract your thigh muscle. How do you do that? etc
At some point you realize even though we all know about walking and
even though you do it every day, you can't explain how you walk, a
corollary of which is you can't explain anything
That doesn't mean we're never going to be called on to explain things.
We don't live that way. One of the things I'd like to explain is
What do I say to someone who asks what it is? How do I
explain it to them?
In the normal course of events the receiving component of
explaining is understanding. You explain something. I understand
(or not, as the case may be). But when it comes to
understanding is the booby prize.
isn't received by understanding. Instead it's received by
getting or by grokking (as Robert Heinlein
may have said).
I'm clear a lot of explaining
is given by who I'm being as a result of experiencing it. I'm
clear a lot of explaining
is given by dancing in the speaking and listening of it. I'm clear a
lot of explaining
is given by enrolling people in the possibilities I've invented for
myself and my life as a result of participating in it. But I'm also
interested in something brief, in something terse, in something pithy,
in something to the point I can say in response to the
question and request "What exactly is
Explain it to me in ten words or less.".
which is the
ongoingly evolves from the expanding speaking and listening a hundred
and sixty thousand and more new
a year bring to it around the world, adding to the
millions whose lives have already been touched by Werner's
no matter where, no matter when, no matter how, no matter who. That's a
given. That's axiomatic. What was possible for
in 1971 may not have been as widely spoken as it is today
even though arguably it's always been and always will be the same
possibility: the possibility of being for human being.
has been described as "a rich body of distinctions" each of which
triggers and gives access to one of the many facets of
It's holographic. You can start anywhere, at the beginning or in
the middle or at the end, and you still end up in the same place. Every
component of the whole is embedded in every other component, and the
whole itself is embedded in every component. You could talk about it
forever and still not describe all of it.
That said, I've looked at what I would say about it if I had to choose
only onething to say about it ie if I had
to explain it in ten words or less. This is what I'd say:
There it is. In ten words or less. Of all the distinctions in the rich
body of distinctions, I assert that's the source
distinction. That's square one. Everything else stems from it.
Everything else starts there. All
are fueled by the power of that distinction. All invented possibilities
extrapolate to that distinction. The possibility of possibility
itself predicates on that distinction.
is, before all and after all, an experience of distinction.
is an experience of the distinction "who you are" as distinct from your
mind, I own that's how it shows up for me. It may not be the
official point of view. And even if by some coincidence it
is, here I'm not speaking the official point of view. I'm simply
sharing my experience. I'm simply stating what for me is the core
distinction, what for me is a really useful response to the question
and request "What exactly is
Explain it to me in ten words or less.". If it explainsWerner's work
to you, that's great. Just remember, all that implies is we've reached
bedrock so we won't question beyond this point. Also
remember, if my explanation works for you, if you
understand it, the best I can offer you is the booby
prize. To get it completely, to experience it like a
possibility, you'd have to participate in it. That's another
Distinguishing understanding from experience, especially when delivered
like this in writing, won't end neatly wrapped with a ribbon and a bow.
I'm leaving it rough and raw. I'm going to finish it like
this, ridden hard and put away wet.