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


Constituted In Language

Kenwood, California, USA

April 18, 2006



This essay, Constituted In Language, is the fourth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
in that order.

I am indebted to my son Christian Laurence Platt and to Katryn Jehane Price who inspired this conversation.



Werner's idea that who you are is constituted in language  is, for the most part, tough to grasp - at first. Indeed this notion that transformation is a function of language  is unpalatable. It implies transformation is merely a function of what you speak. It implies transforming your life and transforming Life itself is simply a function of your speaking.

If that indeed is the case, this notion of enlightenment as language  is an acquired taste.

If you tell someone they can transform their entire life just by altering the conversations they have about it, in all likelihood you would be met with a degree of disbelief, with skepticism - at first.

For the sake of conversation, whatever the path to enlightenment or salvation is or isn't construed to be, if you ask people to tell you the truth about how they personally construe it to be, they will almost never include language as its facilitator. And here I'm not using language in the sense of speaking that talks about  enlightenment or salvation. I'm using language in the sense of speaking that generates  it.

Speaking for human beings mostly implies speaking about  something. In other words, speaking is mostly a means to describe. We consider we speak about  something in existence. We hardly ever consider we speak something into  existence. We have it that speaking is narrative. It's hardly ever generative  for us. Actually it's worse than that. Speaking, the way we hold it, has no possibility  of being generative, of being anything other than narrative, than descriptive.

Yet we recognize generative speaking when we hear it. And when we do recognize generative speaking (even if we don't call it that) we say the speakers are gifted, ahead of their time, etc. We almost never consider those gifted, ahead of their time abilities to be normal, to be quite ordinary, to be freely available to ourselves and to any and every human being.

Martin Luther King, referring to equality for all races, spoke "the promised land". It came to pass. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, by inventing the possibility with his speaking, literally spoke the colonial British out of India. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spoke the end of apartheid. What's more, he also spoke it as the non-violent  end of apartheid when anyone who knew anything about politics at the time was certain that if apartheid did indeed ever end, it would involve a blood bath simply as a matter of course. Amazingly too, apartheid ended just as Nelson said it would. On September 12, 1962 John Fitzgerald Kennedy spoke a man onto the moon by the end of the decade. That possibility didn't exist up until the moment of his speech. Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, not even ten years later.

Martin, Mohandas, Nelson, and John didn't just speak about  something. It was their speaking itself which brought forth a new possibility and ultimately a new reality. Their speaking generated new possibilities for things not now possible to become possible, and then even to manifest.

To an extent, I know who you are when I see you. But truth be told, I really know who you are  when I listen to you speaking. Speaking narratively ie as a commentator you can only be in the realm of what's already  happened. However speaking generatively  not only brings forth what's not yet happened to happen like a possibility, but it also brings yourSelf forth into the picture. You can't bring forth possibility without bringing forth yourSelf at the same time. That's because who you are is constituted in language. Once who you are is brought forth ie who you really  are is brought forth, that's enlightenment.

I'm not saying that like it's the truth, by the way. In fact if you want to completely devalue the idea that who you are is constituted in language, just make a rule out of it, just make a belief out of it. That's deadly. That will kill it deader than dead. What I'm suggesting is if you stand in the idea that who you are is constituted in language and try it on, you'll notice the correlation between who you really are as you come forth into the world, and your speaking.

So is there really a definitive way  to enlightenment? The jury has been out for centuries on that one. Could it be simply speaking? Is speaking your way to enlightenment  really available as a possibility for human beings? I mean really? The question is intriguing ...




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