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

Hello Henry Miller

Henry Miller Museum, Big Sur, California, USA

July 30, 2004

This essay, Hello Henry Miller, is the second in a group of four written in Big Sur:

Speaking is as distinct from talking as listening is from hearing.

Beyond painting, beyond sculpture, beyond acting, beyond playing music (in any of its forms), beyond stand up comedy, generating true conversation (authentic speaking received by authentic listening) is possibly the purest art form.

Writing is a form of speaking for which reading is the counterpart of listening. I write for you. I experience it as a very personal gift that you read me. I do not write to voice opinions. I eschew the importance of opinions in conversation. All opinions. Yours. Mine. Especially  mine.

My intention in writing is not to expound my opinions of things. Nor is it to impart something new for you to know. Interimly my intention is for my writing to dance with your reading so that you have an experience of who I really am.

But that's not all. Since I am clear that who I really am is the same Self that we all really are, ultimately my intention is for my writing to dance with your reading so that you have an experience of who you really are. By direct experience. By osmosis. Not by getting any new meaning nor by understanding something you did not understand before: there is no new material here. There's nothing to get and you already got it.

I have always been enamored of the masters of the written word, almost as much as I have always been enamored of the masters of conversation (notice I did not say I am enamored of talkers nor did I say I am enamored of commentators). Just as I eventually had to train myself to distinguish merely talking about something from speaking new possibilities into being, so had I to train myself to distinguish writing which merely describes something from writing which evokes a never before experienced experience by the simple innocent act of it being read.

Henry Miller caused me to sit up and take notice whenever I read him (or, for that matter, whenever I read about him). Even if I did not totally "get" him, something certainly happened whenever I read him. If I had to describe what it was, I would say that my mind followed the arcs his words traced, and traveled along the same paths and through the same streams of consciousness that his went through as he wrote them. Consequently, he became my tour guide through the world of his own imagination, forthrightness, and provocative depravity.

He was brilliant at what he did. A pioneer. A breakthrough artist. Reading what he wrote was always somewhat of a wild and wonderful ride for me. I could even say that it was a liberating ride inasmuch as Henry Miller could never be deemed to be shy or covert in his explicit commentaries. Reading him (not so much what he wrote but rather his unabashed gleeful willingness to write whatever  he wrote) showed me decisively where I was prudishly shut down.

What I learned from him was that I did not want to emulate his style of writing, brilliant as it was. Nor did I want to emulate the responses he evoked, eye-poppingly raw as they were. What I did want to emulate was the deployment of writing (and, by implication, of reading) as one degree of separation from a Speaking And Listening conversation which generates an experience, the experience of who we really are if, indeed, that experience can be generated and shared by writing and reading at all.

Hello Henry Miller. Thank You for being outrageous, audacious, and (in terms of continuing to write what you wrote until you were read) tenacious. Thank You for clearly proving that writing directed intentionally or by free association gets inside our most intimate machinery eliciting all sorts of wild and wonderful responses. While our intentions and the end results you and I produce from writing may differ (you leave people with Henry Miller, I intend to leave them with themselves), I acknowledge you for blazing a trail on which the written word, when prudently wielded with heft and balance, becomes an implement of power, grace, and (in the truest sense of the word) liberation.

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