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




From Context To Language

Silverado Country Club, Napa Valley, California, USA

August 8, 2006
Reposted January 5, 2021

"That fish walking up on land for the first time, brought with it elephants and eagles like a possibility."  ... 

Werner's work, like that fish walking up on land for the first time, has landed for me in two distinct iterations. Congruently, I've experienced two major breakthroughs in this conversation I've been in with him for twenty eight years.

The first is distinguishing context. "Context" is my answer to the question "What  am I?".

The second is distinguishing language. "Language (ie my speaking)"  is my answer to the question "Who  am I?".

Getting the answer to a powerful question, isn't necessarily a good idea if the answer is definitive and final. Why stop at one  answer? A question is really  powerful if it generates lots and lots  and LOTS of answers. Having said that, for the purposes of this conversation "Context" as the answer to the question "What  am I?", and "Language" as the answer to the question "Who  am I?", are good enough for jazz.

The very sense of the abstract noun transformation  (replete with its embodiment of the root verb transform)  implies a shift  of something, a shift of state  if you will. I assert that when human beings are transformed (that is to say, when human beings transform their lives), the shift of state is twofold: and then (the difference is subtle) My first breakthrough (the first iteration of Werner's work) is the essential  breakthrough which makes all other breakthroughs possible. It comes in response to the question "What  are you?". An untransformed person may say "I'm a Homo Sapiens.". A transformed person may say "I'm the context for the events in my life.".

Prior to transformation, the difference between what we are and who we are, is blurred. It's also likely that prior to transformation, the distinction distinction  isn't distinguished yet, and it's more than likely that's  not yet known either. Prior to transformation, we know ourselves as our names, as what we do for a living, as our nationality ie in the colloquial sense, as our identity. After transformation, we know ourselves as the context (or, as Werner originally articulated, the space)  in which the events of our lives occur. In other words, when we transform our lives, our sense of what we are  shifts from a content  of our lives, to the context  for our lives.

The line between what  I am and who  I am, is razor thin. If what  I am is the context for my life, then who  I am  is what I speak. Who  I am  is, quite literally, my word  or, from a slightly different cut, who I am is language. I make who I am known, by speaking. You get to know who I am, by listening me speaking. You make who you are known, by speaking. I get to know who you are, by listening you speaking.

My second breakthrough (the second iteration of Werner's work) was creating who I am as language ie living as my word coming from  being what I am as context or, from a slightly different cut, as possibility. In answer to the question "Who  are you?", an untransformed person may say "I'm (firstname) (lastname).". A transformed person may say "I'm the possibility of communication, transformation, and freedom" - or whomever they discover themselves to be.

It doesn't end there. If who we are is language, then by declaring "I'm the possibility of communication", we create an opening for communication. Conversely, without the declaration "I'm the possibility of communication", there's no possibility of communication ... if who we are is language.

When Werner first brought forth context, like that fish walking up on land for the first time, it was a breakthrough of epic, evolutionary proportions for living and for Life itself, especially when along with that fish walking up on land for the first time, came elephants and eagles like a possibility.

Then something even more astonishing happened, something infinitely more awesome: that walking fish started speaking. Since then, anything's  become possible.



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