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


Being Directed By The Unanswered Question

Chicago, Illinois, USA

July 10, 2011



This essay, Being Directed By The Unanswered Question, is the second in the seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The first trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Second First Impression
  2. Do Artists Retire?
  3. Presence Of Love
in that order.
The second trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Black Brick
  2. Wet Water
  3. On Saying Nothing
in that order.
The third trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Master Of Life
  2. Face To Face
  3. Love And Kindness
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Natural Expression
  2. Essential Question
  3. There Is No "The Answers"
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Sophisticated Palate
  2. Open To Everyone
  3. Portal
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Read To Us
  2. Seven Fingers
  3. Smart People
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Visits With A Friend IX (working title)
  2. Visits With A Friend IX II (working title)
  3. Visits With A Friend IX III (working title)
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Flying.

It is also the prequel to Who Said That? Who Really  Said That?.




The first premise of the work of transformation has got to be this: you have to come from  being transformed before you generate any new work. Now, I don't know if this actually is  the first premise of the work of transformation - I don't know if it's written in stone. I'm just assuming it is. In all the current ongoing iterations of the work of transformation including leadership, performance, being out here  (he says it's being out "here"  not to be confused with being out "there"), powerful dramatic acting, work with children in divorce situations etc, the baseline, the foundation  is transformation. This baseline, this foundation naturally dictates and shape whatever's generated next. That's my view.

I'm clear about this baseline, about this foundation of transformation. And from this particular baseline, from this particular foundation, anything  can be generated. Anything  is possible. Yet the new work doesn't show randomness. It doesn't show disorderliness. There's a randomness, a disorderliness, even a chaos  implied by "anything is possible". But the ongoing new work shows none of the above. To the contrary, there's a direction  in plain sight which is the orderly sequence of whatever's generated next. And whatever's generated next comes as such a seamless extension of what came before it that it's very orderliness seems ... well ... obvious.

But it's only obvious after  the fact. It's only obvious in hindsight. And hindsight is always  20/20 vision.

So I ask him about it. I say I'm standing in transformation and I intend to create something new. I could create anything. Anything  is possible. Where do I look to see what I could create next? What's my direction  into the future of creation, coming from transformation in alignment with  the ongoing work of transformation?

He says slowly, calmly, powerfully:


BE DIRECTED BY THE UNANSWERED QUESTION. LET THE UNANSWERED QUESTION DIRECT YOU.


I listen, and it's immediately a fascinating proposition. Yes there are questions. There are always  questions. The questions are there. There are answered questions and there are unanswered questions. The answered questions clearly provide a direction of what to create, of what to generate next. But quickly it dawns on me why he offers the direction of the unanswered  question instead. This is, after all, the work of transformation. Standing in the unanswered question, standing in I don't know  gives what transforms next. Indeed, this is  the direction.

Then he says the direction given by the unanswered question is the positive  direction. That's interesting to me. It's the first time I think I've ever heard him speak in terms of such relative assessments: positive  / negative  which begets good  / bad  which begets better / worse. But he's one step ahead of me. He interrupts my thoughts by saying he's not using "positive" as an assessment implying good or even better than. He says he's using "positive" in its empirical  sense. He's says he's using "positive" to imply the way things are. When something is the way it is, it's "positive".

What this exchange gives me is this: standing in transformation allowing the unanswered question to dictate what I generate next, is the positive direction of the work of transformation, the direction of the work of transformation with which I can align myself. And it's not just any  unanswered question. It's the unanswered question regarding what not now known  would make a difference. It's the unanswered question regarding what not now known would fulfill a need. It's the unanswered question regarding what not now known would be wanted and needed.

It's now in focus  for me. To be specific, he's now focused it for me. Yet in its new definition and clarity, it's neither constrained nor restrictive. To the contrary, it's a huge and vast canvas which is neither random nor disorderly nor chaotic. It's a grand field in which I intend to play.



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