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


Leadership II:

Your Mouth / My Brain

Napa Valley, California, USA

October 31, 2013



"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." ... old adage first uttered by an anonymous slave, circa 1862

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can recreate me." ... new adage first uttered by Laurence Platt, circa 2013
This essay, Leadership II: Your Mouth / My Brain, is the second in the trilogy Leadership inspired by Werner Erhard and The Leadership Course: Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model: I am indebted to Joseph Kempin and to Sarah Thomas and to the creators of The Leadership Course and to the participants in The Leadership Course and to the graduates of The Leadership Course who inspired this conversation.




Foreword To The Leadership Trilogy:

The three essays which comprise this Leadership trilogy aren't about The Leadership Course per se. Neither do they purport to authoritatively recreate any of the underlying abstracts of it or any of the specific ideas disseminated in it or any of the distinctions distinguished in it.

Rather what they are ie their raison d'etre  is they're inspired by ie each of them come from conversations with participants in The Leadership Course and with graduates of The Leadership Course who generously shared their experience of it with me.



Ordinarily we think of a conversation as something we do  - which is to say we think of a conversation as something we make  (ie we "make" conversation) or as something we have  (ie we "have" a conversation). However I'd like to assert something much more fundamental than that: what a conversation really is, is actually prior to  having a conversation, and even prior to making conversation. Rather than something we do, a conversation is something we are  - more rigorously stated, who we are is a conversation.

Don't second guess me here. When I assert who we are is a conversation, it's not an analogy  and it's not a euphemism. When I assert who we are is a conversation, I mean it quite literally. The intention of this essay is to enliven the domain  in which who we are is a conversation, a domain which is in contradistinction to the domain in which a conversation is something we make or something we have. In the latter domain, a conversation comprises an exchange of noise  (basically, yes?), often an exchange of entertainment, and perhaps an exchange of information.

Try this on for size: to deem a conversation only an exchange of noise (first you make noise at me, then I make noise back at you, then you make noise back at me, etc - and sometimes as we all know, we both make noise at each other at the same time)  is to trivialize the possibility of who we are as a conversation. To deem a conversation only an exchange of entertainment  (first you say something which entertains me, then I say something back at you which entertains you, then you say something back at me which entertains me, etc) is also to trivialize the possibility of who we are as a conversation. Even if we escalate our view of what a conversation is beyond an exchange of noise and / or entertainment, to an exchange of information, while closer to what a conversation really is, it still trivializes the possibility of who we are as a conversation. It trivializes the full possibility of what a conversation can be.

When you and I are in a conversation, what actually happens is your speaking (ie your mouth)  programs my brain and alters my way of being and acting. Your protocol ie the machine code  for doing this, is language. Your mouth is causative in the neurons of my brain where I'm standing (as Werner Erhard may have said), and my mouth is causative in the neurons of your brain where you're standing. The ramifications of this are vast. This  is the full possibility of what a conversation can be.

The neurons of my brain react when you speak. That's what they do - and it's critical to get the fundamental choicelessness  of it. It's not "The neurons of my brain react when you speak great things.". Neither is it "The neurons of my brain don't  react when you don't  speak great things.". And it's definitely not "Today's the day the neurons of my brain are off duty  and won't be reacting at all" either. It's when you and I converse, no matter what you speak, no matter when you speak it, the neurons of my brain react. Period. Look and see if that's true for you. There's no on / off  switch which flips to activate (or shut off) the neurons of my brain reacting. The process is entirely automatic. The automaticity is built into the machinery.

The reactions of the neurons of my brain are always automatically directly related to, correlated to, in a dance with  what you speak - in other words, your mouth and my brain are always automatically directly related to, correlated to, in a dance with each other. This is your mouth and my brain. But its actually more immediate  than "this is your mouth and  my brain": it's "this is your mouth / my brain". Similarly the reactions of the neurons of your brain are always automatically directly related to, correlated to, in a dance with what I speak - in other words, my mouth and your brain are always automatically directly related to, correlated to, in a dance with each other. This is my mouth and your brain. But its actually more immediate than "this is my mouth and your brain": it's "this is my mouth / your brain".

What's interesting is how obvious this mutual interactivity  (if you will) ie this mutual interconnectivity  of a conversation is, on close inspection. Yet what's also interesting at worst is how much energy we expend resisting this essential nature of a conversation (by remaining aloof, by disengaging, by feigning disinterest, by claiming shyness, by ego-tripping  if you will, etc), and at best is being totally unaware of it, having never scheduled an occasion to inquire into it. Look closer (don't think  about this: just look  from your experience): given how human beings are, it's simply not possible to live outside the context of its absolute, total, all inclusive  interactive, interconnected, inter-related oneness.

It's no accident the body of work on this website is titled Conversations  For Transformation - not Thoughts  For Transformation, not Disciplines  For Transformation, not Practices  For Transformation, not Readings  For Transformation, not Lectures  For Transformation, not Audios  For Transformation, not Videos  For Transformation, not Books  For Transformation. It's not even titled Essays  For Transformation - the subtitle of the website  notwithstanding. It's Conversations For Transformation. Who we are is a conversation - your mouth / my brain, my mouth / your brain. It's profound. It's very  profound.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2013 through 2016 Permission