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


Word Power

Napa Valley, California, USA

Fourth of July, 2012



"It doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep talking." ... Stephen Hawking

"It doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep speaking." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, Word Power, is the seventh in a group of eleven written on the Fourth Of July:
  1. Anticipation: Accounting For An American Love Affair
  2. Independence Day
  3. I'd Rather Be With Me
  4. Do It For Nothing
  5. The Only Way Out Is Through
  6. Under All Circumstances
  7. Word Power
  8. When There's Nothing To Say
  9. The Possibility Of Being Independent And Free
  10. Intimacy In A Crowded Place
  11. What Goes On Internally
in that order.




I've never been to Bora Bora. But I have friends who've been there. They told me about it.

When they told me about it, they gave me a sense  of how gorgeous it is. They told me about the white sands. They told me about the cool blue azure waters. They told me about the balmy climate. It sounds like a veritable paradise. Yet no matter how much they talked about it, no matter in how much detail they described it, no matter how much of a sense they gave me of Bora Bora, their talking about Bora Bora didn't give me the experience  of Bora Bora. When they told me about Bora Bora, it informed  me about Bora Bora - but it didn't give me the experience of being there. To have the experience of being there, I'd have to go to Bora Bora, yes? I won't have the experience of being there by listening to them talking about it.

This essay, this conversation  is about the power of words. It's about word power. In this conversation I'll distinguish the class of language  in which talking about Bora Bora occurs, is in a different league, in a different order of things than the class of language in which speaking who I really am occurs.

<aside>

Watch: yes it is "... speaking  who I really am ..." rather than "...speaking about  who I really am ...".

The "about" would be as superfluous as it would be misleading - more about this later.

<un-aside>

As conversations go, talking about Bora Bora seems similar to speaking who I really am. They both appear to be conversing about something. You could say talking about Bora Bora is conversing about a particular location of Planet Earth's physicality. You could say speaking who I really am is conversing about who I'm being - at least it may sound that way. But on closer scrutiny, a not so obvious (and subtle) difference is revealed: talking about Bora Bora is a matter of describing  Bora Bora ... whereas speaking who I really am is a matter of generating  who I really am.

Listen! When my friends are talking about Bora Bora, they're not generating  Bora Bora: they're describing Bora Bora. But when I'm speaking who I really am, I'm not describing  who I really am: I'm generating who I really am.

<aside>

So when I'm speaking about  who I really am, I'm merely describing (not generating) who I really am.

And when I'm speaking who I really am, I'm generating who I really am.

Do you get this?

<un-aside>

The difference is both vivid and profound. Both "talking about" something and "speaking about" something, deploy language descriptively. "Speaking" something (not  "speaking about"  something) on the other hand, deploys language generatively. Descriptive language evokes something already there. Generative language brings forth something out of nothing. The power of words ie word power is evidenced in generative language.

It's often said talk is cheap. No it's not!  Talk isn't cheap. Rather, it's we  who cheapen talk (as Werner Erhard may have said). And one of the principle ways we cheapen talk is we're mostly only willing to risk deploying language descriptively. When language is deployed generatively, when language is deployed bringing forth something out of nothing, when language is deployed speaking who we really are, it's rich and powerful. There's nothing cheap about it.

I'm borrowing from Stephen Hawking, arguably the most influential scientific thinker since Albert Einstein, who said "It doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep talking" when, with a certain poetic license  and an added rigor, I say: it doesn't always have to be like this ... all we need to do is make sure we keep speaking.

That's word power: deploying language generatively. I speculate Stephen would find a good friend in Werner Erhard.



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