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

American Genius

McCaw Hall, Frances C Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA

November 16, 2017

"Werner Erhard is an authentic American genius who has taught himself."
... Dr James Doty, founder of Stanford University's Department of Medicine's Center for CARE  (Compassion and Altruism Research and Education)
This essay, American Genius, is the companion piece to At The Level Of Self-Expression.

It is also the first in a trilogy on Genius: It is also the thirty fourth in the complete group of Experiences Of A Friend (click here for the open group Experiences Of A Friend II):
  1. Stepping Back
  2. At Home As Self
  3. Empty Windows
  4. Futile Like A Freedom
  5. Shut Up And Do What You're Doing
  6. Werner As Intention
  7. Who He Is For Himself
  8. Source Quote
  9. Puzzle Solved, Mind Unraveled
  10. Eye To Eye
  11. Mystical Connection II
  12. Relentless
  13. Being Around Werner
  14. Being Always In Action
  15. Shaken Up And Teary
  16. On Being Sad
  17. The Complete Presentation
  18. Force Of Nature
  19. Everyone's In Love With Everyone
  20. I'm Old School
  21. Werner At The Speed Of Choice
  22. I Get Who You Are From What They Do
  23. The Significance - Not What Happened
  24. You Know I Love You - And I Know You Love Me
  25. Speaking To People's Relationship With Werner
  26. A Master At Being (And Having People Be)
  27. Werner As Source
  28. A Man Who's All There
  29. My Heart And You
  30. Mind Control
  31. Again And Again And Again And Again And Again And Again
  32. Unwavering
  33. The Leadership Course III: Pillar Of The Community
  34. American Genius
  35. Legacy II
so far, in that order.

It is also the sequel to Werner Is Coming To Stanford!.

It is also the prequel to Walking The Talk.

It was written at the same time as Life, Love, And The Whole Damn Thing.

Werner is an American genius who taught himself. That's how it occurs for me.

There are many other opinions about who he is, and about how he does what he does. One of the better known ones has long held that while the ideas he presents are not original (that's its half-baked assertion), what is  original is the way he repackages  them, sequences them, ties them together, and arranges them in a delivery order that progressively builds subtlety upon subtlety and complexity upon complexity until erstwhile un-listen-able  conversations can be easily appreciated. And indeed, such conversations have proven to be pivotal for people, eventually unleashing the possibility of transforming their lives. But their efficiency (avers that widely held opinion) lies only in the way he's repackaged other people's ideas as the building blocks of such conversations.

There may be some truth to that. Listening him share about the disciplines, philosophies, and personal development programs etc in which he immersed himself during his personal hejira  ie along his own road to Self-discovery, it would indeed seem that many of the precepts, notions, concepts, and ideas he encountered and experienced, found their way into his current presentations - at least, those he's deemed to be useful for that purpose.

But if that were all for which he was acknowledged, then I for one would have a problem with it - on three counts.

On the first count, insufficient acknowledgement is afforded him for his own original  ideas. To suggest that all he's done is absorb and repackage others'  ideas, is ignorant at worst, and naïve at best. Exposed  to others' ideas? Certainly. Influenced  by others' ideas? Sure. Admittedly. But only repackaged  others' ideas? No. That's the gossipy characterization, the cartoon  version of his work. To wit, none of the unoriginal ideas he repackaged came imbued with the language of today's ongoing conversation for transformation. He invented  that from scratch ie from nothing. I assert for the rich plethora of original ideas he's introduced on the world's stage which have furthered transformation everywhere, he's yet to receive the full credit he's due.

On the second count, listening him deliver the ideas which comprise the body of his work in transformation, leadership, integrity, and mastery (to mention but four of the possibilities available to human beings which he's committed to fleshing out), is to listen an extraordinary intellect at work (ideas in and of themselves, do not an extraordinary intellect make). Listening him communicate ideas of multi-faceted subtlety, complexity, and sheer life-altering power  is to experience a master up close. Nobody reads about  transformation, and then becomes transformed. You don't get it that way. You get transformation by being in face to face conversations for transformation. The surgeon-like laser-skill he demonstrates teasing out transformation in people's lives by bringing the spoken word to bear on powerful ideas in face to face conversations with them, is a gift nothing short of extraordinary. From where did he get it? What's noteworthy is that he has such a gift at all in the first place. What's legendary  is that he's self-taught - which is the substantive answer to the question "From where did he get it?"

On the third count, I see evidence of a quality in him very rarely seen in human beings, which in my book is also insufficiently acknowledged. It's the way the transformational ideas he disseminates so naturally, so effortlessly, and so easily, are at home in his own being, just as he's at home in them. It's his own day to day dogshit reality  life which is the home of his transformational ideas - that is to say, his life exemplifies what he speaks, and what he speaks exemplifies his life.


Note to the princes of darkness: 

If there was or is any discrepancy between his life and what he speaks (which is to say if there was or is any occasion when he wasn't or isn't walking the talk), he admits it freely with brutal, bone-numbing  honesty. His authenticity in this regard is beyond brave and courageous: it's deeply moving (bone-numbing honesty by the way, is critical to being authentic: the access to being authentic is to be unflinchingly  honest about your inauthenticities).


That's Werner, an American genius. Now with all that said, I do have a consideration about acknowledging him as a genius. Yes I do. But my consideration isn't about acknowledging him as a genius per se  because it's true: he is  a genius. Rather my consideration is that people may listen "genius" in a way that locates him discontiguously away from where he actually intends to be: with and in the midst of and really no different than ordinary, plain ol' folks like you and me.

That's why I say along with acknowledging him as a genius, it's important to acknowledge him as a friend. That's also how it occurs for me.

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