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

Something's Wrong

New Technology Foundation, Napa, California, USA

December 21, 2005

This essay, Something's Wrong, is the companion piece to
  1. The Land Of  "Nothing's Wrong"
  2. Original Sin Revisited
  3. Resetting The Default
in that order.

"Something's wrong" she insisted. Intuitively I wanted to calm her. I said "Nothing's wrong". She didn't hear me. She couldn't.

She was certain something was wrong yet there wasn't. Because nothing was wrong she couldn't pinpoint and express anything specific wrong. Because she couldn't be specific she resorted to brute force righteousness. But that didn't work for her either.

The source of her frustration was this: her "something's wrong" wasn't anything. Her "something's wrong" was her entire way of looking. Nothing had to actually be  wrong for her to insist "Something's wrong". Where she was looking from, what she was mired in was something's wrong. From that vantage anything and everything showed up wrong in her universe.

In a technicolor world she was describing everything  in shades of blue. She got no agreement. I could see the lenses of her glasses were blue. She was unwilling to confront that.

She's not alone. There's a lot  of agreement that "something's wrong". To be sure, there's a huge investment  in "something's wrong" and we're reluctant to give up an investment in which we believe there is (or someday will be) a payoff, regardless of the cost. But for me things start getting interesting when the investment in "something's wrong" is seen simply as one of many choices of ways of listening.

"Something's wrong" is an epistemological lock. That means that the power of "something's wrong" doesn't come from anything you know. The power of "something's wrong" comes from prejudicing the way you organize everything  you know.

Slangkop (Snake Head) Lighthouse
Slangkop Lighthouse
If nothing's wrong, what's the origin of the epistemological lock "something's wrong" and the vehement albeit misguided intensity with which it drives lives? There's nothing ominous or sinister about it. Human beings have "something's wrong" embedded in their machinery as a protection mechanism. The mind's raison d'etre  is to protect the being. Its first automatic warning is "something's wrong".

So if you're hearing "Something's wrong", that confirms the mind is getting the job done. And if you see a bright light shining from a lighthouse, you know the lighthouse works. Just notice there doesn't have to be a storm for the lighthouse to work.

It requires intentional distinction and discrimination to confront "something's wrong" regardless of the warning when nothing's wrong.

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