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




Constituted In Language

Kenwood, California, USA

April 18, 2006
Reposted December 1, 2020



This essay, Constituted In Language, is the companion piece to It is also the fourth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
  23. Located Inside Language
  24. Be A Good Day
  25. Words Are Like Numbers
in that order.

I am indebted to my son Christian Laurence Platt and to Katryn Jehane Price who inspired this conversation.



Werner's idea that who we are is constituted in language  is, for the most part, challenging ... at first. The very idea of transformation being a function of language  is disconcerting, daunting. It implies transformation is (merely) a function of our speaking  - indeed, it implies the access to transformation is less of a function of what  we speak, and more of a function of that  we speak. It implies transforming our lives and transforming Life itself is simply a function of our conversations.

If that is indeed the case, then the idea of transformation as language  is an acquired taste - and worthwhile acquiring.

If you tell people they can transform their lives just by altering their conversations, in all likelihood you'd be met with a degree of disbelief, with skepticism ... at first.

For the sake of this discussion, whatever the path to enlightenment or salvation is or isn't construed to be, if you ask people for the truth about how they personally construe it, they'll almost never include language as its facilitator. And here, I'm not using language in the sense of the speaking that speaks about  enlightenment or salvation. I'm using language in the sense of the speaking that makes it possible ie that generates  it.

Speaking, for human beings, mostly implies speaking about something. In other words, speaking is mostly a means to describe. We consider speaking to be about something already in existence. We hardly ever consider that we speak something into  existence. We have it that speaking is narrative. It's hardly ever generative  for us. Actually it's worse than that. Speaking, the way we hold it, has no possibility  of being generative, of being anything other than narrative, than descriptive.

Yet we recognize generative speaking when we hear it. And when we do recognize generative speaking (even if we don't call it that) we say its speakers are gifted, inspired, ahead of their time, that they have "a way with words", etc. We almost never consider those gifted, inspired, ahead of their time abilities to be normal, to be quite ordinary, to be freely available to ourselves and to any and every human being.

Martin Luther King, referring to equality for all races, spoke "the promised land" into existence like a possibility  ie he simply conjured it up out of nothing. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, by inventing the possibility with his speaking, literally spoke the colonial British out of India non-violently. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spoke the end of apartheid. What's more, he also spoke it as the non-violent, no-revenge end of apartheid when anyone who knew anything about politics at the time predicted that if apartheid ever ended, it would be heralded by a blood-bath of epic proportions, simply as a matter of course. Amazingly too, apartheid ended just as Nelson asserted: bloodlessly, peacefully. On September 12, 1962 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy spoke a man onto the moon by the end of the decade. That possibility didn't exist up until the moment of his speaking it ... and Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 for the first time, not even ten years later.

Dr King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and President Kennedy didn't just speak about  something. It was their speaking itself which brought forth a new possibility and ultimately a new reality. Their speaking generated new possibilities for things not then possible, to become possible, and then to manifest.

To an extent, you know who I am when you see me. But when truth is told, you really  know who I am when you listen me speaking. Speaking narratively ie as a commentator, I can only be in the realm of what's already  happened. However speaking generatively  not only brings forth what's not yet happened like a possibility, but it also brings who I am forth. See, I can't bring forth possibility without bringing forth who I am at the same time. That's because possibility, like who we are, is constituted in language. Once who we are is brought forth as our speaking ie once who we really  are is brought forth in language, transformation becomes possible.

Be careful. I'm not saying that like it's the truth. In fact if you want to completely devalue the idea that who we are is constituted in language, just make a rule out of it, just make a belief out of it. That's deadly. That will kill it deader than dead. What I'm suggesting is if you stand with the idea that who we are is constituted in language ie if you try it on, you'll notice the correlation between who we really are as we come forth into the world, and our speaking. That's proof / evidence by direct experience, not by explanation and understanding.

So is there really a definitive way to enlightenment, to salvation? The jury's been out for centuries on that one. Yet many paths have been meticulously laid out, some of which are arduous, some of which require multiple reincarnated lifetimes, and some of which are religiously, adamantly exclusive. But I wonder: could the way be as simple as speaking  it? Is speaking our way to enlightenment  really available to human beings? I mean really?  is it? The question is intriguing ... and worthwhile.




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