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


Carpinteria, California, USA

August 27, 2011

This essay, Eschew, is the ninth entry in The Laurence Platt Dictionary: The Laurence Platt Dictionary is the companion piece to A Certain Quality Of Communication.

Eschew. Esh-shoo. It's one of my favorite words, both for it's onomatopoeia  ie for the way its sound imitates what it's saying, as well as for what it actually refers to. Onomatopoeic words include "splash", "bang", "whizz", "burp", and "roar". When I eschew  something, I intentionally grow away from it. When I eschew something, I shoo  it away (so to speak) - hence its onomatopoeia.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


to avoid something intentionally, or to give something up

There's something missing for me from this dictionary definition of "eschew". It doesn't go far enough - or deep  enough, for that matter. It doesn't really get to the heart what I'm doing when I eschew something. It doesn't really nail  it for me. It doesn't express it fully - on two counts:

 1)  I've avoided  something - a dark alley when I'm alone at midnight in a strange town on the wrong side of the tracks, for example. And even though I did so intentionally, I wouldn't describe my action as eschewing  anything.

 2)  I've given something up  when I've made a hopeful new year's resolution (which turned out to be non-enduring). But whatever I was doing when I made that new year's resolution giving something up, wasn't eschewing  anything. It wasn't coming from the same place  as eschewing, if you will.

top It's always risky business second guessing the dictionary. The dictionary is the dictionary. Words are what they are. You can't go reinventing the English language the way Linux  programmers reinvent Linux  by adding to, changing, and tweaking  its open source code.

But that's exactly what I do, unabashed, from time to time. The English language, for the most part, wasn't designed with languaging transformation  in mind. So from time to time the rules of its syntax and grammar don't permit me to say what I intend to say ... in which case I'll say what I intend to say anyway, even if my syntax and grammar are outside its rules. And from time to time I'll rewrite the dictionary definition of words to better fit the way I say them.


What's more, especially given my background as a computer programmer, I'll occasionally punctuate  in ways which are outside the rules, yet which work better than the rules allow.

But that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.


Before I rewrite the dictionary definition of "eschew", these are a few of the things I eschew:

What's missing  for me from the dictionary definition of "eschew", in fact what's mis-leading  about it is when I eschew these things, there's something else in play, something else other than  I avoid them intentionally, something else other than I give them up. What's really  going on is they  avoid me  intentionally. What's really going on is they  give me  up - and I honor  that they avoid me intentionally. I honor  that they give me up.

What's more, it's not merely that they avoid me intentionally. It's that they avoid me intentionally in the process of Life itself. It's that they give me up in the process of Life itself. It's in the ongoing transformation  of my life that I gradually notice certain things (like gossip, for example) no longer have a place. Gossip, in the process of Life itself, shows up as no longer having a place in my life. I honor that process. I intentionally choose  that process. I'm present to  that process, and I'm present to choosing that process. I allow  that process to dictate the direction of my life. I've not given up gossip per se. Yet I notice the process of Life itself  has given up gossip, so I get present to and intentionally choose and honor that process.

There's one more piece to this: when I eschew something in the process of Life itself in this way, it shows the act of eschewing something is a way of Life in addition to  an act of intention - a distinction not completely articulated by the dictionary definition of "eschew". And it's eschewing as a way of Life which is the context for ie which includes eschewing as an act of intention.
Werner Erhard famously says on this score "An untransformed life is not worth living.". If I were to ask him if I can eschew my transformed life, my guess is he would say something like "You can eschew your transformed life, and what you get then is your old untransformed life back.". It's a well taken cautionary note. I bin there before (as Huckleberry Finn may have said). It's sage counsel.

So  ... here it is, hot off the press of The Laurence Platt Dictionary: "eschew".

to be present to intentionally growing away from something in the process of Life itself

What this further implies is everything  I eschew in this way, collectively comprises a way of Life  eschewed. This is how it is with transformation: in living Life transformed, I eschew the way of my entire untransformed life. The way of my entire untransformed life is a way eschewed ... in the process of Life itself.

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