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

Man Of The World

The Hess Collection, Mount Veeder, California, USA

March 4, 2012

"I seem to be a verb." ... Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

These two questions sound the same: "Who  am I?" and "What  am I?". They sound so much  the same that their edges blur  and they blend into each other ... as if they're really the same question  posed twice, but each time started with a similar yet different interrogative pronoun.

Actually they're very  different. I've answered the question "Who  am I?"* satisfactorily for myself on various occasions. While my answer to this question has matured over the years, it's stabilized into a core response which suffices for now and for the foreseeable future. As I continue my inquiry, as I gain new and deeper insights into who I am (or, spoken with rigor, as I continue my inquiry into who I'm creating myself to be), I'll continually update this core response.

As for the question "What  am I?", I've not presented an answer to it before. Its answer is a much simpler answer than the answer to the question "Who am I?". Yet it takes longer to lay out.

Here it is: my answer to the question "What am I?" is "A man of the world". Period. Anything else is just commentary.

OK. Having made it clear that anything else is just commentary, allow me, a man of the world, to comment on my answer to "What am I?".

As a man, as a human being, I'm an organism, a complex and sophisticated organism. But to say I'm an organism isn't enough. What defines me as a man, as a living organism, is I'm an organism which moves  (if I don't move, I'm not alive, yes?). The platform on which I move ie the scenario within which I move ie the backdrop  in front of which I move, is the world. Hence "I'm a man of the world".

Setting "I move" aside (I'll come back to "I move" in just a moment), my answer to the question "What am I?" starts with taking the organism I am, into account. Well ... for starters it's a lot of soft tissue, and flesh and bone, all nicely wrapped up in a suitably porous bag of skin - in other words, it's all hamburger  really, yes? At this level I'm simply one of the many species which inhabit Planet Earth. And while it's been said my species is the only one with an ego  (a better distinction may be my species is the only one which utilizes language), at this level I'm simply a long pig  (as humans are known on the Polynesian Marquesas islands) or a hairless goat  (in the case of younger specimens), or a naked ape  (as Desmond Morris espouses). And that's still not enough to completely respond to "What am I?". In order to completely respond to "What am I?", I have to distinguish I move.

Doing this is easy. One of the ways I know my life, in large part, is I notice I move / it moves, which is to say something's happening because everything's moving  (as Werner Erhard may have said).

So I'm more than an organism - way more. I'm an organism which moves. I'm an organism imbued with the power to play the game "Man of the World"  in the world. My body  is the piece, the token I use to be in the game - like the Scottie dog or the race car or the top hat in Monopoly. I'm a man of the world. I move. I'm in action. I travel from country to country. I participate in and am shaped by many different cultures. I move around in the place I call home - which has changed quite a few times. I walk through art galleries stopping in front of exhibits - longer in front of some than others. Occasionally I play a guitar and sing. I walk on the beach at sunset, enjoying the view, the sounds, and the scent of the ocean. I run. I swim. I write - sometimes ending long past midnight, sometimes starting long before the dawn. I spend time with my children, occasionally driving over a thousand miles in a weekend to do so. When I go to the stores to look for new clothes, I select articles based on style, utility, and a reflection of who I am, although not necessarily in that order.

I can discern fine wine from bad wine when I have to. But I don't consume much of either. It's enough  for me to be alive. Life doesn't have to make it fun for me. It's all already  a blast. It's all already alright, whole, complete, and perfect. I can stand for all of it and speak for all of it being OK when it's appropriate to do so. But I also know speaking it's already alright, whole, complete, and perfect can be un-listenable  when human suffering is in play. Demons get out of the way when they see me coming because I've taken responsibility for my own life (they don't like that). I'm a friend of angels but I don't take them too seriously.

I live in the world, a man of the world, because I can't think of a better place to live. I've stopped avoiding  life. Everything I do (and I do mean everything)  is one or another opportunity to participate, one or another opportunity to make a difference, one or another opportunity to experience something new. There's nothing to run away from. There's no holding back. I'm unwilling to waste time being skeptical. Neither am I willing to live an unexamined life. It's not worth the effort to live an unexamined life in the world (as Socrates may have said). It's not worth the effort to live an untransformed  life in the world (as Werner Erhard may have said).

Telling you I'm a man of the world is really redundant, yes? What else  can I be? Where  else can I be it?

* My answer to the question "Who  am I?" is laid bare in the essay titled Who I Am.

Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2012 through 2018 Permission