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


You Are A Machine II

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

April 6, 2013



This essay, You Are A Machine II, is the companion piece to Shit Happens.

It is also the sequel to You Are A Machine.

I am indebted to Jon Toellner who contributed material for this conversation.




When I first experienced Werner's work I noticed I couldn't wait to share it with people - no, I had  to share it with people. It was too important not  to. The enthusiasm I had for sharing Werner's work was similar to the enthusiasm I had for sharing a truly fabulous movie I'd seen, an enthusiasm which was just as natural. And in addition to a similar enthusiasm, I also noticed I had a concern  about sharing Werner's work, a concern similar to one I had about sharing a fabulous movie, which was this: in both cases, telling people what happens  may spoil their experience. Or at least so I thought  ... at first.

I don't like spoilers. If I can avoid being told ahead of time what happens in a movie I'm about to see, I will. But then again, some movies are so awesome that even if I'm told what happens in advance, it doesn't spoil the movie for me. You've seen movies like this yourself, yes? You know what I'm talking about.

I soon found out one of the best ways I can share Werner's work with people I love, isn't really much different than one of the best ways I can share a great movie I've seen. It's by saying something like this ie by having a conversation  which goes something like this:


"I could spend a lot of time telling you what happens in this movie, and still not get the total experience across for you. On the other hand I love you and I know you love me, and what I want you to know is: this is a fabulous movie. Really it is. Just trust me: go see it - even without knowing anything about it. Just go and see it out of our relationship. I know you'll love it. You'll thank me later - and we can talk about it afterwards."


And that, right there, is the basis of all my most effective enrollment conversations  sharing Werner's work with people. It works really well. They have a truly (not unexpectedly) great experience - even if, in addition, I share in detail what actually happens. But Werner's work, different than a movie, can't be spoiled by knowing in advance what happens. It doesn't work that way.

Having said that as a kind of reverse  spoiler alert, one of the many profound things (albeit one of the most controversial  things) people discover participating in Werner's work is the reality of the machines  we are, how mechanized, how rote, how automatic  our lives are.

<aside>

Notice I said "... how mechanized, how rote, how automatic our lives are  ..." not "... how mechanized, how rote, how automatic our lives have become  ...".

If you assume I meant "... how mechanized, how rote, how automatic our lives have become ..." then you miss the profundity of this observation entirely.

It's we are  machines, not that we've become  machines.

<un-aside>

It's shocking (at least at first)  to discover what we once assumed to be our freedom to choose, is really just stimulus / response automaticity. It's so shocking that it jars ie that it teases  us into a completely new way of looking at who we are. It's with the genesis of this completely new way of looking at who we are that the possibility of transformation  - indeed, that the invention of possibility itself  - comes.

So even as I once (naïvely) hesitated sharing this single seminal result of what people get from participating in Werner's work and thereby running the risk of being a spoiler, in actual fact knowing it in advance neither detracts from the brilliance of Werner's work nor from the impact of participating in it. As I said, Werner's work, different than a movie, can't be spoiled by knowing in advance what happens.

That being so, I'd like to take a closer look at what it actually implies to discover - so unceremoniously - you are a machine.

At first this may sound oversimplified. But here's the thing: listening it, then reducing it to an oversimplicity, is a defense mechanism  set in place by your mind in order to avoid its tyranny. Here it is:

You, a machine, mechanized, rote, automatic, are your complaints  and your skills. That's it. That's all. There's nothing else.

By complaints I mean those conversations about which you're right. Being right (in this sense) doesn't mean being accurate  or being truthful. In this sense, being right means being righteous  - in other words, being right in order to be better than, being right in order to be superior to. In another conversation, when being right persists as a recurring complaint, whether or not it produces any satisfaction (and, when the truth is told, it never does), it's called a racket.

By skills I mean those activities you do in order to  survive, in particular the things you're best  at doing in order to survive. In another conversation, when these repeated actions are the ones that best ensure your survival, they're called strong suits. They're the actions you lead  with, like a bridge player leads with her strong suit - say, spades. It's purely automatic, geared only toward winning / surviving. It's mechanized and it's rote, regardless of whether or not there's any element of real satisfaction in it. Survival  yes. Satisfaction? Hardly.

That's who you are: your rackets and your strong suits. Mechanized. A machine. Looking to avoid this reality, looking to squirm away from its finality  is just another defense mechanism set in place by your mind in order to avoid its tyranny.

You are a machine. You're nothing but your rackets and your strong suits which go off  automatically to facilitate your survival. That's all there is.

You don't like this? That's your racket. You dispute it? That's your strong suit.

Yeah, but  ... (and there are always  "Yeah but"s - "Yeah but"s are the last vestige of the hopeless) ... aren't I capable of choice (machines aren't capable of choice)? Aren't I capable of creative thinking (machines aren't capable of creative thinking)? Aren't I capable of inventing possibility  (machines aren't capable of inventing possibility)? ... I  ... am  ... not  ... a  ... machine  ... no way!

I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but ... you  ... are  ... a  ... machine  ... and complaining about being a machine is a racket of yours.

Your questions may have merit. But you're asking them to avoid the issue  of the moment, which is ... you  ... are  ... a  ... machine. Asking those questions is just another defense mechanism set in place by your mind in order to avoid the tyranny of you are a machine. Asking them in order to avoid the tyranny of you are a machine, is a strong suit of yours. That's what you do to avoid it, yes?

Be with the tyranny instead of trying to avoid it. Look: it's futile  trying to avoid it. Experience  it. And no, it won't spoil the movie for you.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2013 through 2016 Permission