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


Romantic Sensations

Sonoma, California, USA

February 9, 2015



"I am under the impression that in nine out of ten cases, I deal with windbags who do not fully realize what they take upon themselves, but who intoxicate themselves with romantic sensations. From a human point of view, this is not very interesting to me, nor does it move me profoundly. However, it is immensely moving when a mature man - no matter whether old or young in years - is aware of a responsibility for the consequences of his conduct and really feels such a responsibility with heart and soul. He then acts by following the ethic of responsibility, and somewhere he reaches the point where he says "Here I stand, I can do no other.". That is something genuinely human and moving. And every one of us who is not spiritually dead must realize the possibility of finding himself at some time in that position."
 ... Maximilian Karl Emil "Max" Weber read out loud by    during The Heart Of The Matter event, San Francisco, 1985 
This essay, Romantic Sensations, is the companion piece to Internal States.

I am indebted to Charlene Afremow and to Tim Hanni who contributed material for this conversation.



Sailing on a riverboat on the Sacramento Delta

California, USA

mid-1980s

Click to expand
Werner Erhard
Werner's reading of the pivotal Max Weber quote which appears above as the source quote for this essay, comes at you point blank  like Life itself (as Jose Ortega y Gasset may have said): it just can't be ignored or avoided. The brassy alacrity  with which Werner reads it, defies  you and I to not get it.

What's not transcribed above in the original quote, are Werner's asides  ie those additional pertinent commentaries he adds as he reads, which make this quote, already combustible, catch fire and blaze.

For example, what exactly is Max referring to when he talks of "... windbags who do not fully realize what they take upon themselves"?  What is it exactly for them to "take (something) upon themselves"? Werner suggests they take something upon themselves when they speak  and when they listen  and when they think  and when they act  and (literally) when they are  (his "are" implies deliberately  be).

Max continues by saying "... who intoxicate themselves with romantic sensations". What exactly are these "romantic sensations" he refers to? Werner suggests "I believe  ..." may be a romantic sensation, "My experience has proved  ..." may be a romantic sensation, "Everybody knows  ..." may be a romantic sensation, "All the best people know  ..." may be a romantic sensation, "I read ..."  may be a romantic sensation. Notice by saying "may  be" rather than "is" in these examples, Werner leaves his suggestion open to scrutiny, examination, and inquiry, rather than ruining it entirely by boxing it up as "the truth".

Max later talks of "when a mature man ... is aware of a responsibility for the consequences of his conduct". What exactly is this "conduct" he refers to? Werner tersely suggests speaking  is conduct ie what a mature man speaks, literally, is how he conducts himself. Brilliant! You are your word - ergo  your conduct is your speaking.

It's quite clear really: a life not lived with a responsibility for the consequences of our speaking, is a life lived in a state of being intoxicated with romantic sensations. Listen: there's nothing wrong  with a life lived in a state of being intoxicated with romantic sensations. That's not Max's point here. His point is simply that a life lived in a state of being intoxicated with romantic sensations isn't as interesting or moving as a mature life lived with a responsibility for the consequences of our speaking.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
romantic


adjective
romantic ideas and people are not practical or related to real life
<unquote>

Also from the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
sensations

plural of sensation

noun (FEELING)
a feeling in your body resulting from something that happens or is done to it
<unquote>

Given the way we're thrown to defend what we already got at any cost  ie given the way we're thrown to weld with that with which we're already familiar, there can be a miles-wide chasm, a bottomless abyss between a life lived in a state of being intoxicated with romantic sensations, and a mature life lived with a responsibility for the consequences of our speaking. One exquisite, elegant, and effective footbridge connecting the bank which has a life lived in a state of being intoxicated with romantic sensations, with the bank which has a mature life lived with a responsibility for the consequences of our speaking, is Werner's work - or one of its authentic iterations.



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© Laurence Platt - 2015, 2016 Permission