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


It's Both Not Either

Sonoma, California, USA

May 29, 2015



"Don't expect someone to knock on your door and say 'Here's a million bucks. Go make your film.'." ... Robyn Symon, Emmy award winning producer of Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard

This essay, It's Both Not Either, is the companion piece to Context Is Decisive.

It is also the sequel to It's All Unfolding - No Need to Figure It Out.

It was written at the same time as I am indebted to Peter Fiekowsky and to Robyn Symon who inspired this conversation and contributed material.




Life keeps on turning out all by itself  the way it's been turning out all by itself for millennia. My input isn't required. No, my input doesn't matter at all. I don't make any difference. Things just turn out the way they've always turned out anyway. Why do anything? In any case, I have no control over any of it. So why bother?

It's an existentialism  thang. All of the above are characteristic of a malaise which could be called "existential angst".

To a child, it may not sound like much fun being told to go outside where it's windy, and play with sticks, some paper, and a piece of string. But if we add the context "fly a kite" to the suggestion, it bodes hours and hours of pure fun and pleasure. The context is decisive. The same suggestion made without the context ie the same suggestion taken out of context, is found to be lacking. When something is taken (quote unquote) "out of context" it's likely to be misleading, that is if it isn't outright misunderstood. When the same content (wind, sticks, paper, string) is considered out of context, it doesn't sound like much fun. When it's considered in an appropriate context ("fly a kite"), entirely new possibilities come alive.

When expressed as content, the idea that life keeps on turning out all by itself the way it's been turning out all by itself for millennia, has one implication which may indeed invoke a certain ennui, an existential angst ie the malaise which asks "In that case, why do anything? Why bother?". But notice what happens as soon as it's expressed as context. In the context of "life turns out the way it's always been turning out", I'm left with a profound opportunity for enormous personal freedom, an opportunity to live a life of choice and creativity.

The context is decisive. In the context of "life turns out the way it's always been turning out", there's the possibility of choosing and of being creative, of independence and of Self-expression. Then instead of evoking angst, "life turns out the way it's always been turning out" becomes a background, a backdrop, a stage  ... all of which goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) the possibility of me being an actor on the stage rather than merely sidelined as an angst-ridden victim of circumstance.

Wow! Look what just happened: I'm inspired to act - by the same condition that once immobilized me. All I did was distinguish a context. And the context is decisive.

So life keeps on turning out all by itself the way it's been turning out all by itself for millennia, and if I don't have that as a context, then it all devolves into content. And if it's devolved into content, the likelihood that it can be counted on to provide what I want, is slim to none. As Robyn Symon, Emmy award winning producer of Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, says: "Don't expect someone to knock on your door and say 'Here's a million bucks. Go make your film.'." She's bang on the money (no pun intended). "Life keeps on turning out all by itself the way it's been turning out all by itself for millennia" doesn't mean what will turn out is someone knocking on your door offering you a million bucks just in time for you to make that film you always wanted to make but didn't have the finances for.

We're free to create and we're free to choose and we're free to take the initiative and we're free to act ... and  ... life keeps on turning out all by itself the way it's been turning out all by itself for millennia. It's both not either. In the absence of having life be an empowering context, it inexorably devolves into angst-ridden content.



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