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


Clos Pegase, Calistoga, California, USA

May 4, 2009

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

The way things turn out is the way things turn out. Things don't always turn out the way they look like  they're going to turn out. Things may not always turn out the way you'd like them  to turn out. Things may not always turn out the way you expect them to turn out. But they always turn out the way they turn out. In fact, looking back, you can tell what your intention  was by the way things turned out. And that's a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

When I started this essay, it started out as an essay on "exuberance", the fourth in a group of my favorite words (they're in The Laurence Platt Dictionary).

It didn't turn out that way. It turns out to be an essay on how transformation recontextualizes language, how dictionary definitions fall short of conveying what words bring forth when spoken in transformed language, how dictionary definitions of words are sometimes inadequate in accounting for transformation.

I looked up the definition of exuberance  in the dictionary. Almost always, the dictionary is a useful reference for the correct usage and meaning of words. But when the dictionary definition omits much of what a word implies, when it falls short  of conveying everything a word can imply, the omission itself makes a convincing point for what's missing.

What's Missing

What's missing is transformation. That's completely understandable. Unless the dictionary is written by transformed men and women, transformation will be missing as a backdrop, as a context  for definitions of words. Transformation recontextualizes words. Transformation recontextualizes language. In a transformed life, language no longer only describes  the world (untransformed language). Instead language generates  the world (transformed language). Dictionary definitions of words which fall short of accommodating transformation may have to be re-thought through and re‑worked entirely to convey the usage and meaning (and, ultimately, the generative effect)  of words spoken in transformed language.

What's also missing from dictionary definitions, directly as a consequence when transformation  is missing, is the sense of presence of Self. One of the reasons dictionary definitions of words written in an untransformed context only cater to untransformed language is because they don't embody presence of Self. Here I'm using presence of Self. (capital ess)  like a context, not like something individual, not like ego. Presence of Self  won't be embodied in dictionary definitions of words when it ought to be embodied for no reason other than it wasn't present in the lives of the writers who constructed the definitions in the first place. Transformed language dictionary definitions will require familiar dictionary definitions to be re-worked and re-written entirely to accommodate transformation and include the context presence of Self.

The deeper I got into this essay, the more I realized "exuberance"  is a perfect case in point of a word whose dictionary definition remains untransformed and will have to be re-worked and re-written.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:


from the adjective exuberant
(especially of people and their behavior) very energetic

It's my opinion the dictionary definition of "exuberance"  doesn't fully express ie falls short  of what "exuberance"  really is. The quality "very energetic" isn't enough. You can be "manic" and therefore have the quality "very energetic". But "mania" and "exuberance" are worlds apart. I assert the dictionary definition of "exuberance"  doesn't go far enough in conveying what "exuberance"  really is. I see I have three options:

  1. I could go to another dictionary to look for a definition I prefer;

  2. I could let the dictionary definition of "exuberance"  be, and instead use it to illustrate my point, to use it as an example of the inadequacy of a dictionary definition in accounting for transformation.

  3. I could write my own dictionary and define "exuberance"  the way I like it defined, the way I think it should be  defined.
So instead of speaking about "exuberance", I'll first speak about the impact of transformation on words and language, then I'll define "exuberance"  the way I like it defined, the way I think it should be  defined.

By the way, it's not a one way street. Transformation impacts words and language. Words and language impact transformation. And that's also a subject for another conversation on another occasion.

Words And Language

Nothing is the same after transformation. I mean that quite literally. I'm speaking, of course, precisely and exactly about "nothing". I'm not speaking (although it may sound like it) about "nothing is the same". I'm speaking about "nothing" as nothing. I'm not speaking about "nothing" as the antithesis of everything.

Try this on for size. Say "Nothing is the same after transformation.".

Say "Nothing  is the same ... after transformation.".

Not "Nothing is the same  after transformation.".

That's the subtlety of words and the power of language for you right there.

But unlike nothing, language isn't the same after transformation. Language after transformation ie language transformed  has at least two essential distinctions which aren't present in language before transformation ie in language untransformed:

  1. generative  power rather than mere descriptive, narrative power;

  2. presence of Self, given the presence of Self in the speaker transformed.
I'd like to say the opposite is also true: that transformation isn't the same after language. But that's patently absurd. Why? Transformation comes forth  through language. Transformation starts  with language. I can't say "transformation isn't the same after  language" because it implies transformation was there before  language. No. Before language there wasn't transformation.

Language Transformed

Werner Erhard's thesis "Human beings are constituted in language" starts an entirely new way of looking at both what (and who)  human beings really are, as well as what language really is. The spoken word has creative power, as in "In the Beginning was The Word", as in "Logos".

Who you are is constituted in language. In an earlier, health conscious time, it was said "You are what you eat.". In a later, wealth conscious time, it was said "You are what you wear.". I would like to propose, instead, "You are what you speak.". You are your Word. You are what you speak. Who you are is constituted in language.

Language generates (or, better, declares)  who you are. Language generates transformation. By transforming your conversation, you transform your life and all of Life. Notice you're only transformed as long as you're in Conversations For Transformation. When you're no longer in Conversations For Transformation, you're no longer transformed.

Exuberance Transformed

When it's spoken ie when it's incorporated in language, "exuberance"  shouldn't only convey an element of transformation, but it should also evoke ie call forth  a sense of the presence of Self.

There's nothing wrong with the existing dictionary definition of "exuberance", even though it doesn't convey an element of transformation or evoke ie call forth  a sense of the presence of Self. It's OK the way it is. However, its existing dictionary definition doesn't account for how "exuberance"  is spoken in (or by, for that matter) language transformed.

So, new from The Laurence Platt Dictionary:


from the adjective exuberant
(especially of people and their behavior) joyfully energetic, enthusiastically driven, powerfully intent, filled with and inspired by the presence of Self

It's a word you want to name a boat after.

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