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


Twitter Swallowed The Critic

Berkeley Marina, Berkeley, California, USA

March 23, 2016



"I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks." ... Nelle Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird


Werner's work doesn't require convincing. You don't get it that way. Now there's nothing wrong with good, convincing arguments and debates at the right time and in the right place - if for nothing else other than their elegance and entertainment value. However you don't get transformation by becoming convinced of its validity. You get transformation by trying it on like a possibility. When it fits, you'll know - without needing convincing. Transformation, with its full access to who you are (which is to say with its full access to the authentic expression of who you really  are), has always been there in the background like a possibility. Getting it isn't like "OK, yes, very well said Sir, I do appreciate your point, jolly good show, what?!". Rather it's an "A-Ha!"  moment of truth which will knock you on your ass.

What's also true is it's embedded in the nature of being human to be hostile to transformation. We are, after all, most threatened by anything which impels us to give up our inauthenticities, our games, and our acts (or at least to stop taking them seriously). Throughout history, many of those who've brought humanity powerful access to transformation, have been met with antagonism (you could say it goes with the territory?). Werner's work, it's to be expected, also has its fair share of critics. And while it seems that getting approval for what we do is central to who we are as human beings, the full power of transformation can best be seen not in a smart alecky  response to its critics, but rather in the willingness to give even its harshest opponents a space, a platform to say whatever they want to say. Meeting the attack may be an instinctive defense response. But it's not an effective way of dealing with critics. The effective way to deal with critics is giving them the space to be.

I recently created a Twitter account (I know - finally: I can hardly believe it myself either). Until now, I've eschewed social media as an outlet for Conversations For Transformation whose pure format is the written essay. But I am considering Twitter as a channel for making their biweekly announcements (the jury is still out on this one: we'll see how it goes). Once I created my account, I allocated some time to familiarize myself with this new possibility ie to scout around the Twitter universe (ie to scout around the Twitter-verse  if you will). I entered "Werner Erhard" in the "Search Twitter" box in the top right of the website, pressed [ENTER], and sat back waiting to see what would come up.

Outside of Twitter with it's novel one hundred and forty character maximum length posts, there are any number of online outlets for Werner Erhard's friends, as well as for his staunchest critics. Both friends and critics can of course create their own websites on which they can post volumes of material which seek to validate and acknowledge or damage and discredit the work of transformation. I'm often asked about the latter, especially when they throw people.

Here's the thing: they don't faze me - which is to say they don't faze me any more  (they used  to faze me, but no longer). Indeed I've often wondered whether or not their vitriol is really an inverse expression of their love and admiration. My experience is no longer fazed by opinions, and my experience is the domain in which transformation occurs. That said, it's always seemed to me that one of Werner's most outspoken and committed critics (I won't name him) really has a personal axe to grind with Life itself, and it's really whatever Werner's work represents for him, with which he has his disagreements - it's not Werner's work per se  (he didn't say that: it's just what I surmise). To this end he's invested an enormous amount of time and effort collating arguments and opinions on his websites in support of his own point of view, and in making hostile comments and posts anywhere on the internet he finds an opening to do so.

That was all in the background as I waited for what would come up after entering "Werner Erhard" in the "Search Twitter" box and pressed [ENTER] for the first time.

What came up, not surprisingly, were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of mentions of Werner, the vast majority of which were from people who recognize Werner's contribution. There were also lesser amounts of mentions which were neutral in their assessments. I read through pages and pages of them, scrolled through screens and screens and screens of one hundred and forty characters or less tweets. And then I saw him, the fiercest critic, his photograph clearly visible next to his tweet. His tweet was as virulent as all his utterances are, with two big differences: one, he was constrained by Twitter's even-handed limit on everyone to say whatever they're want to say in one hundred and forty characters or less; and two, his tweet was the only one attacking and attempting to discredit Werner in the midst of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tweets which, in one form or another, acknowledged the worth and value and impact Werner's work has had in their lives.

He was there all alone, all by himself. He didn't have the plethora of his websites and comment boards to fall back on. He didn't have his library of collated material and litany of arguments to back him up. All he had was his one hundred and forty character tweet, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people from all walks of life expressing the value they've gotten from Werner's work in their own one hundred and forty character tweets. In this context, he wasn't a critic: he was just another dude with his own one hundred and forty character opinion. In this  medium, he had no particular power - which is to say he had exactly the same amount of power as each and everyone else has on Twitter. And I thought to myself "Wow! Twitter swallowed the critic!"  (as easily and as effortlessly as a blue whale swallows a krill). In this new context, in this new, digital Twitterverse, his opinion is just one opinion among hundreds and hundreds and millions  of peoples' opinions, all of which I have the personal space for. And that's when I really got it about him, arguably for the first time: the critic has an opinion, and so what?!  Don't we all?

That's how Twitter has created a universe in which even our most virulent critics can be included in the space of who we really are. And listen: it's being included that enrolls people. No arguments or debates (neither con nor pro) are necessary. It's a thang  about Life: Life really doesn't give a damn about your opinions. Life doesn't give a damn about your opinions if they're favorable or if they're unfavorable. If you doubt this, go outside on a starry night and tell the stars your opinions. Tell the stars what you don't like. Complain to the stars how you would have had what happened turn out differently than the way it turned out. Notice how the stars react.
Werner's work generates transformation which is the space in which all people including the opinionator and the critic (both unfavorable and favorable) show up. And Twitter swallowed the critic. I'm not concerned for him. He'll get used to it.



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© Laurence Platt - 2016 Permission