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


Washington DC Words

The White House, Washington DC, USA

June 12, 2016



"Nothing happens until someone says something."  ... 
"Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote." ... Ralph Waldo Emerson quoted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Washington DC

"The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there." ... Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
This essay, Washington DC Words, is the companion piece to The Possibility Of Being Independent And Free.

It is also the third in a group of four written in Washington DC, June 2016:
  1. City Girl
  2. Two Busies
  3. Washington DC Words
  4. Completion: An Inquiry Into The Point Of It All
in that order.

The group of four written in Washington DC, June 2016 is the sequel to Sitting II and the prequel to Mind Control.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who contributed material for this conversation.




Millions and millions of shoes
United States
Holocaust Memorial
Museum

Washington Monument
 
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
Washington DC, USA

5:56:15pm Wednesday June 8, 2016
with
Alexandra
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, USA

6:03:25pm Wednesday June 8, 2016
Lincoln Memorial

 
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

The White House, Washington DC, USA

1:35:29pm Sunday June 12, 2016
with
Alexandra
The White House

United States
Capital
Kelly Slater

Photography by Todd Glaser

March 2011
Smithsonian National

Portrait Gallery
Dorothy's ruby slippers
Smithsonian National

Museum of American History
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC, USA

11:36:18am Sunday June 12, 2016
Arlington National Cemetry
 
Photography by Alexandra Lindsey Platt

Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery
Washington DC, USA

1:02:23pm Sunday June 12, 2016
Smithsonian American
Art
Museum Renwick Gallery

Smithsonian National
Museum of Natural History
The Lone Sailor

Bronze sculpture by Stanley Bleifeld

1987
United States
Navy Memorial
Washington DC, June 2016


The sheer establishment, both historic and modern, of Washington DC as our nation's capital, is impressive. It's hard to ignore. Its monuments reminding us of what America was built on ie of what America stands for, its government buildings in which America conducts its business, its museums and its memorials which recall what led to all this, are prolific, close together, and accessible. What's visible too yet not eminently apparent  is the plethora of quotes (yes quotes)  which are everywhere.

There are quotes etched into entire walls of buildings. There are quotes etched into brass plaques which are bolted onto the walls of buildings. There are quotes by the nation's founders. There are quotes by the authors of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. There are salient quotes by well known artists. There are pertinent quotes by philosophers. And all these quotes, if you're alert to them and if you read them, add another essential dimension to Washington DC, this fulcrum of the United States of America (and, by inference, of the free world), that the buildings and the physicality of the place can only hint at.

These are the words on which America literally pivots. Eventually if you read enough of them, and if you absorb enough of them, you start to realize that almost every single aspect of American life (as indeed every single aspect of civilized life anywhere) started when someone said something. And it's all these words ie it's all these Washington DC words  which adorn so many of the buildings here, which when read and allowed to sink in, give a clear insight into the source of the American way.

Now with all that said, there's a critical distinction to make in this regard. In the United States Declaration of Independence for example, Thomas Jefferson says that all people are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". I propose this statement is patently false. Meaning what  exactly Laurence? Watch: if a surgeon carefully cut you open looking for your endowed inalienable rights, she wouldn't find any. All she'd find in there is hamburger. Similarly, the United States Constitution inter alia  says people of all races have a right to vote, and we all have a right to due process. I propose these assertions are also patently false. If a surgeon cut you open looking for your rights to vote and to due process, she wouldn't find them. All she'd find is hamburger.

See, there were no endowed inalienable rights. I really want you to get this. Never mind "endowed inalienable" rights: there were no rights - period. There was no right for anyone to vote, and there was no right for anyone to due process ... not until someone spoke rights into being  (said another way, not until someone spoke the possibility of rights). Seriously. Until Thomas Jefferson spoke the possibility of endowed inalienable rights, we didn't have endowed inalienable rights. Today we have so-called inalienable rights, but not because our Creator endowed us with them to begin with: rather because of Thomas Jefferson's linguistic act  (which is the United States Declaration of Independence) - that is to say today we have inalienable rights because Thomas Jefferson spoke the possibility of inalienable rights into being.

Now all these mighty, inspiring words which adorn Washington DC's buildings' walls, whether they're etched into the walls or whether they're etched into brass plaques bolted onto the walls ie all these Washington DC words which you'll notice are everywhere in this city, at first seem to be the words about  America's founding and its subsequent freedom and eventual leadership of the free world. But they aren't that at all. It's way more profound than that: they instead are  America's founding and subsequent freedom and eventual leadership of the free world. They're not words which are about  - although they may seem to be. They're words which are. Between words which are about, and these Washington DC words which are, is a vast world of difference, the possibility of which Thomas Jefferson literally spoke into being.



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