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

An Experience Of Distinction

The Culinary Institute Of America At Greystone, St Helena, California, USA

April 23, 2007

I like simple things. Ultimately life is simple. I also like simple explanations. I don't always explain things simply, and some things I can't explain at all. Nonetheless the best explanations are simple ones. Simple explanations are the best explanations to give and they're the best explanations to get. Yet the truth of any explanation is often this:

I assert we really can't explain anything. I assert we simply get to a point in our conversations where we stop drilling down  and agree we've reached bedrock, at which point we question no further. That doesn't mean we've explained anything. It just means we don't question beyond that point.

Try it on with something we all know about: walking. Explain it. How do you walk? First you move one leg. How do you do that? You bend your knee slightly and lift it. How do you do that?  You contract your thigh muscle. How do you do that?  etc

At some point you realize even though we all know about walking and even though you do it every day, you can't explain how you walk, a corollary  of which is you can't explain anything ... really.

That doesn't mean we're never going to be called on to explain things. We don't live that way. One of the things I'd like to explain is Werner's work. What do I say to someone who asks what it is? How do I explain  it to them?

In the normal course of events the receiving  component of explaining is understanding. You explain something. I understand (or not, as the case may be). But when it comes to Werner's work, understanding is the booby prize. Werner's work isn't received by understanding. Instead it's received by getting  or by grokking  (as Robert Heinlein may have said).

I'm clear a lot of explaining Werner's work is given by who I'm being as a result of experiencing it. I'm clear a lot of explaining Werner's work is given by dancing in the speaking and listening of it. I'm clear a lot of explaining Werner's work is given by enrolling people in the possibilities I've invented for myself and my life as a result of participating in it. But I'm also interested in something brief, in something terse, in something pithy, in something to the point  I can say in response to the question and request "What exactly  is Werner's work? Explain it to me in ten words or less.".

The magnum opus  which is the conversations for transformation ongoingly evolves from the expanding speaking and listening a hundred and sixty thousand and more new graduates a year bring to it around the world, adding to the millions  whose lives have already been touched by Werner's work. Transformation is transformation, no matter where, no matter when, no matter how, no matter who. That's a given. That's axiomatic. What was possible for transformation in 1971 may not have been as widely spoken  as it is today even though arguably it's always been and always will be the same possibility: the possibility of being  for human being.
Werner's work has been described as "a rich body of distinctions" each of which triggers and gives access to one of the many facets of transformation. It's holographic. You can start anywhere, at the beginning or in the middle or at the end, and you still end up in the same place. Every component of the whole is embedded in every other component, and the whole itself is embedded in every component. You could talk about it forever and still not describe all of it.

That said, I've looked at what I would say about it if I had to choose only one thing to say about it  ie if I had to explain it in ten words or less. This is what I'd say:
Werner's work gives the experience "who you are, distinct from your mind".
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There it is. In ten words or less. Of all the distinctions in the rich body of distinctions, I assert that's  the source distinction. That's square one. Everything else stems from it. Everything else starts there. All breakthroughs are fueled by the power of that distinction. All invented possibilities extrapolate to that distinction. The possibility of possibility itself  predicates on that distinction. Werner's work is, before all and after all, an experience of distinction.

In asserting Werner's work is an experience of the distinction "who you are" as distinct from your mind, I own that's how it shows up for me. It may not be the official  point of view. And even if by some coincidence it is, here I'm not speaking the official point of view. I'm simply sharing my experience. I'm simply stating what for me is the core distinction, what for me is a really useful response to the question and request "What exactly  is Werner's work? Explain it to me in ten words or less.". If it explains  Werner's work to you, that's great. Just remember, all that implies is we've reached bedrock  so we won't question beyond this point. Also remember, if my explanation works for you, if you understand  it, the best I can offer you is the booby prize. To get it completely, to experience it like a possibility, you'd have to participate in it. That's another distinction entirely.

Distinguishing understanding from experience, especially when delivered like this in writing, won't end neatly wrapped with a ribbon and a bow. I'm leaving it rough  and raw. I'm going to finish it like this, ridden hard and put away wet.

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