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


Point Of View

Hilton Pacific Ballroom, Costa Mesa, California, USA

October 26, 2008



This essay, Point Of View, was written at the same time as

When I look through a telescope, I see great distances. I see distant objects in startling clarity, in great detail. I'm so in awe  of what I see when I look through a telescope, I'm so enamored  with the "super-vision"  looking through a telescope affords that I mostly don't have my attention on what looking through a telescope prevents  me from seeing. I don't pay attention to what looking through a telescope hides. I don't pay attention to what looking through a telescope completely screens from my view.

Werner Erhard
Like a telescope, my day to day point of view has its focus, its super-vision, its clarity. That's easy to see. Like a telescope, my day to day point of view hides. The fact that my day to day point of view hides  is harder to see. My day to day point of view having focus, super-vision, and clarity is seductive, promoting the naïve conviction "what I see is the way it is". "What I see is the way it is"  isn't the truth. "What I see is the way it is for me"  is closer to the truth. And even then, "What I see is the way it is for me" doesn't interest the wise man. The wise man's interested in what he doesn't  see.

Said using a different example, when you and I face each other, it's clear to both of us you can see what I can't see: that which is behind  me. When you and I face each other, it's clear to both of us I can see what you can't see: that which is behind you. Points of view are facts of life. Points of view and their limitations  are facts of life. And that which is hidden from us by our point of view is also that which is obvious to others, given their point of view. There's nothing wrong with a point of view hiding anything (given the nature of a point of view, that's just what's so)  although the arrogance of not having the space  to confront what a point of view hides when it's appropriate to confront what a point of view hides constrains what's possible and exacerbates interpersonal situations.

Brass Telescope On Stand courtesy Hampshire Antiques
Brass Telescope On Stand
circa 1920
Unless I stay alert, it's easy to assume what I see is that which everyone sees. A point of view, when unexamined, seems so obviously the way it is  for everyone. In fact, upon closer inspection it's equally obvious any point of view is totally unique. My point of view is a function of where I'm standing  ie the platform from which I'm looking. The thing about any point of view is it's just a point of view, a particular vantage point each of us has, given our own particular experience of life. Everyone has one. Having ears, we all experience hearing. Yet given our own particular hearing, we each appreciate music differently. Having a tongue, we all experience taste. Yet given our own particular taste, we each appreciate wine differently.

The trap  inherent in any point of view is like this. There ain't no such thing as bad  music or good  music. There's only music you don't like  and music you like. There ain't no such thing as bad  wine or good  wine. There's only wine you don't like  and wine you like. The emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

Even more pertinent, there's only music you don't know  and music you know. There's only wine you don't know  and wine you know. For the audiophile, it's the music not yet known  that's alluring. For the oenophile, it's the wine not yet known  that's alluring. When you look at it this way, you see the most useful aspect of a point of view is the aspect that's most often overlooked. The most useful aspect of a point of view is not what it sees but rather what it doesn't  see. The most useful aspect of a point of view is not what it sees but rather what it hides.

It takes something bold and brassy, standing in your point of view, to confront what standing in your point of view hides from your point of view. It takes enormous courage to confront it's just a point of view:  not necessarily fixed, not necessarily written in blood, not necessarily chiseled in stone. It's life altering to confront the points of view I've carefully built up in order to manage life and to survive, are also screens hiding, interfering with an expanded, calmer vision and a fuller future.



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