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




The Showing

Hotel Indigo, Napa, California, USA

May 3, 2018

"Something's happening because everything is moving." ... 
"Distinctions have a short half-life, and need to be recreated from time to time." ... 
Early on: "Who I am is the space in which the events of my life occur (show up)." ...   circa 1978 
Later on: "Who I am is the showing  ... maybe." ...   circa 2018 
"The most enjoyable aspect of the world for me is the mere fact that it shows up." ...  Laurence Platt recreating  
This essay, The Showing, is the one thousand three hundred and fiftieth in this Conversations For Transformation internet series.

It is also the companion piece to
  1. This
  2. A Self-Blurring Distinction
in that order.

It is also, with
Offing A Sacred Cow, the sequel to When New Ideas Get Old.

I am indebted to Mark Holden who inspired this conversation.



Werner! Oh, Werner! This  time you've outdone yourself. No, wait: when I say it that way, it's not entirely accurate. When I say it that way, it doesn't take the bigger picture into account. What's accurate to say is: Werner, this  time you've outdone yourself yet again  (the perimeter of the superlative expands yet again).

In the work of transformation, the coin of the realm is distinction. The impact of the work, given that it's a rich body of distinctions, is it brings forth transformation by leveraging distinctions in the realm of what it is to be human. Distinctions evolve. Meaning? Meaning: as distinctions bring forth transformation, the experience of transformation creates the possibility of distinctions evolving. This renders earlier distinctions as less urgent, as nearing the end of their half-life, as not so point blank.

A distinction which was one of the earliest bastions of transformation, is "who I am is the space in which the events of my life occur" - which is a derivative of the iconic classic "transformation is the space in which the event  'transformation' occurs", both of which (not surprisingly) are vintage Erhard. Both worked - extremely effectively. Both provided laser-scalpels with which the experience of transformation could be easily (not to mention getably)  isolated, communicated, and shared.

Then at some point further down the road, Werner called out the emperor (as he's wont to do from time to time) for not wearing any clothes. He shared that he's been looking for that "space" ie the space in which the events of his life supposedly occur, and he can't see it anywhere. Instead what he can  see, is that the events of his life occur (show up)  - period. And it's this phenomenon that the events of his life show up, which he now distinguishes as (and includes in) "the showing".

It's brilliant. It's a masterstroke. It's a breakthrough's breakthrough. Let's take a closer look.

The showing is not what  shows up, although it includes everything  that shows up. The showing is the totality of the phenomenon of things showing up  at all for human being. In other words, it's "phenomenological" ie it happens  so it's observable. This is not intellectual  (you just won't find it there). And if you try to figure it out, you'll miss it completely: it's dogshit simple. And it happens whether you understand it or not (you can try to understand it, and if you do, it will only get in your way). There's human being ie there's you and I the observer ie there's who we really are. Then there's the phenomenon of things being observable, the phenomenon of things showing up  ie (and aka) the showing. And if I try to determine where the line's drawn between who I really am and the showing, I can't find it anywhere! 

The distinction has evolved from "who I am is the space in which the events of my life occur (show up)" to "who I am is the showing ... maybe". That's  urgent. It has a renewed half-life. It's point blank again: the showing is right in front of me. Be careful lest there's a temptation to regard the latter distinction as a newer version  of the former. What's true is it's evolved  from the former, it's made possible  by the former, it stands on the shoulders  of the former. That's evolution. When that fish walked up on land for the first time, it brought with it elephants and eagles like a possibility. Yet we know it's not useful to say an eagle is a newer version of a fish!

Numbed to the miracle of the showing by our complacency and tranquilized obviousness, Werner's distinction may take some getting used to. It did for me. And when I did get it, what I got from it (obliquely) was the question "Who (or even what)  am I, for whom the showing shows up?". And I notice that like the emperor not wearing any clothes, I can't separate the showing from my "who (or even what) I am" - which is its hint to me that I am the showing  - ie I am all of it ... maybe.

In one undistinguished, unrigorous form or another, the idea that "who I am is the showing - ie I am all of it ... maybe", may not even be new, having tantalized much of human thought, conjecture, and spirituality for a long, long time. Indeed, it was well known to the rishis  and the ancient sages. Werner's epic contribution may just be that he's made it effortlessly accessible, readily available, and pragmatically useful - not to mention stunningly simple and elegant, for which I for one am grateful.



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