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


Often Disconcerting, Yet Eminently Worth Listening To

Sears Point, California, USA

December 9, 2011



"The occurring world  includes the way in which objects, others, and you yourself occur for you in this or that situation. The occurring world is the world you live in, the one you respond to or react to. It is this world with which your mind, body, feelings, and actions are correlated."
 ... 
This essay, Often Disconcerting, Yet Eminently Worth Listening To, is the fifth in a group of seven on Listening:

Immersing myself in Werner's work is simple. But it ain't easy. It's also often disconcerting. It's not Werner's work which is disconcerting. It's immersing  myself in Werner's work which is disconcerting (Werner's work in and of itself, is simply Werner's work). It's disconcerting because it's counterintuitive. It's simple yet not easy, often disconcerting, and counterintuitive because it intrudes into my thinking and into my ways of looking at the world where I've already made up my mind, so to speak, about how the world is. Immersing myself in Werner's work doesn't conflict  with where I've made up my mind about how the world is. Rather, it calls into question the very foundations, the epistemology on which  I've made up my mind about how the world is.

When I've made up my mind about something, I've become pretty certain it's "the truth". I've invested heavily in it being the truth. To immerse myself in Werner's work whose new paradigms call into question, with laser-like accuracy, that about which I've made up my mind, challenging that in which I've invested heavily, is often disconcerting.

But that's Werner: often disconcerting, yet eminently  worth listening to. For example:

In the ordinary course of events, I don't put much thought into differentiating between "the world" and "the world I live in". The very notion of differentiating between "the world" and "the world I live in" is so unusual, so counterintuitive that even articulating this difference carries with it an awkwardness, a certain discomfort. If indeed there's a "the world" which is different than "the world I live in", then I don't differentiate between the two - at least, I don't differentiate between the two in the ordinary course of events. In the ordinary course of events, there's no  difference between "the world" and "the world I live in". It's six of one, and half a dozen of the other - as the idiom goes.

Listening to Werner, I get not only are they entirely  different (ie I get "the world" and "the world I live in" are absolutely not the same): I get there's only  "the world I live in". That's  disconcerting. I also get there's no  "the world" except for  "the world I live in". That's really  disconcerting. The difference is "the world I live in" is the way "the world" occurs  for me. Call "the world I live in" the "occurring world". There is no "the world" except for  the "occurring world". Actually with hindsight, that's patently obvious - obvious enough to dislodge my steadfast beliefs in "the truth". But hindsight is always  20/20 vision.

Even though immersing myself in Werner's work until my steadfast beliefs in "the truth" are dislodged is disconcerting, I allow my steadfast beliefs in "the truth" to be dislodged not because Werner is convincing nor because I'm blindly accepting nor because I listen uncritically, but rather because once I hear him speaking his point of view, I realize I like  his point of view - simply because it's pragmatic, simply because it works, simply because it's elegant, simply because it's simple. It works, being here, to notice I live in the only world there is: the "occurring world". And as disconcerting and as counterintuitive as it may be, it works to relinquish my undistinguished notions of living in "the world", in favor of living where I really  live: in the "occurring world". It works because my actions are never correlated with "the world" anyway: my actions are only and always correlated with the "occurring world".

When I get that, it immediately corrects a legion of errors in my notions of how the "occurring world" is - and isn't. In a word, it literally transforms my life.

By the way, don't just believe that on face value - because on face value it has no  value. Rather, try it on for size. Try on "Is there a 'the world' other than  the world which occurs for me? Is there a 'the world' other than the 'occurring world'? Are my actions correlated with 'the world'? Or are my actions only and always correlated with the 'occurring world'?". If you try it on for size, try it on while distinguishing the "occurring world" the way Werner distinguishes it as quoted above.

It was Socrates who said "The unexamined life is not worth living." Werner follows Socrates in good company when he says "An untransformed  life is not worth living." Confronting living a life not worth living (both an unexamined life and an untransformed life) is disconcerting. It's a huge  confront and very  disconcerting to discover how much of the life I live isn't the life I want. It takes a certain bigness to tell the truth about it. It's disconcerting listening to the possibility of transformation in Werner's speaking as he lays bare counterintuitive ideas as an access to transformation - transformation being the cornerstone for living the life I want.

What brings this home for me (being disconcerting, notwithstanding) is the realization that behaviors I consider  to be intuitive are really nothing more than behaviors I'm familiar  with ie behaviors which I've accumulated ... and  ... haven't examined. And when I accumulated them unexamined, I gave no thought to whether they'd work for forwarding a life I want - or not. Because I'm familiar with these behaviors, I say they're intuitive. But if they don't work and I can see  they don't work for forwarding a life I want, then letting them go is just plain smart. Werner's work is often disconcerting and counterintuitive at first  because it flies in the face of that which I consider to be intuitive. Yet his speaking lays bare the possibility of transformation.

There's no greater gift. That, for me, is what makes him eminently worth listening to.



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