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


"Not A Bad-Looking Corpse":

Anatomy Of Looking Good

Hillside Drive, East Napa, California, USA

February 7, 2022

"We human beings, we're kind of wired to be admired. We want to look good. We want people to think well of us. And so we try to be authentic. We try to be real with each other because one of the things that everybody knows is admired by others, is if you're authentic - if you're kind of a phony, you know nobody's going to admire you. So we want to be authentic. The beginning of all authenticity is to be authentic about your inauthenticity. And that's how you start to get an honest view of yourself."
...   on authenticity 
This essay, "Not A Bad-Looking Corpse": Anatomy Of Looking Good, is the sequel to Presence Of Self.

Werner coaching a woman he remarks is "not a bad-looking corpse":
"You're kinda dead, Sweetheart. Now, you're not a bad-looking corpse. But that's really fooling."
Let's face it: being present is attractive - that is to say the presence of authentic Self  is attractive. Presence of Self is that mercurial quality which makes us universally attractive. It's that quality which, whenever we unleash it, makes us attractive to others. It's that quality which, when unleashed by others, makes them attractive to us. And look: the Self can be fleeting - which means that when it's present, it may be either naturally present (ie masterfully present) or it may be just present in the moment. Either way, that's what makes attractive people attractive, not what we look like (that is, not what we make our bodies  look like).

For human beings, being attractive / looking good is  attractive. We want to be loved and noticed. We're just wired that way. We want to be attractive to others. We want to be elevated as being good-looking. And given that for the most part, we have no mastery of presence of Self, we settle for trafficking in covert ways of being attractive / looking good - like the way we dress (couture), the way we style our hair (coiffure), the make-up we use (maquillage), or simply by aspiring to sound intelligent. And in unrigorous circles, it works.

Yet without authentic presence, try as we may, we're just fooling ourselves and others by looking good. Trying to look good without being present, has no authenticity. Look: subliminally, you can easily sense it. Without presence of Self, we're dead (ie dead in being)  even though we make "not a bad-looking corpse".

I've confronted the inauthenticity of my own thrown-ness to look good. I've asked myself "What drives  it?". As I've delved deeper and deeper into this question, I've gotten to see the anatomy  of my thrown-ness to look good. Wanting to be attractive / wanting to look good, on the surface of it, seems to spring from wanting to be loved and noticed. But it's really not that. That may just be the way it occurred  for me, the way it was couched for me, the way it was subliminally disguised for me. I've seen what's behind my thrown-ness to look good. It's nothing more (and nothing less) than the Self's possibility of being present. I get that now. Being attractive isn't an outcome of doing anything to try to look good ie of making "not a bad-looking corpse". It results when Self is present ie it results from natural Self-expression.

Be careful not to misconstrue that. The Self doesn't pursue the possibility of being present in order  to look good. The Self's possibility of being present is (to the Self) the possibility of being present  - nothing more, and nothing less. The result is that mercurial quality which is so universally attractive to us. Presence of Self is its own fulfillment. Over presence of Self, my thrown-ness to look good has no sway. Indeed, it's no longer relevant or powerful. We could say: in the face of presence of Self (transformation), the pursuit of looking good doesn't succeed  (if you will) as such. Rather, it disappears. It transforms. It recontextualizes  (I love that word).

For the courageous, it's a transformed inquiry ie a conversation for transformation and possibility  that allows us to examine / gain access to where we're dead (ie dead in being), and the futility of the faux  solution of covering up being dead in being, with a "not a bad-looking corpse", the solution presencing Self renders redundant.

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