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


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I Can't Transform What I Make Wrong II

Partrick Ridge, Napa Valley, California, USA

January 13, 2021



The essay, I Can't Transform What I Make Wrong II, is the companion piece to I Can't Transform What I Make Wrong.



When I listened it articulated for the first time, the subject of this essay (which is the distinction that I can't transform what I make wrong) became so suddenly fascinating to me, so "A-Ha!", so "YESSS!", so obvious, so profound, so inspiring, so life-altering  that I've written it twice: first in this essay's companion piece titled I Can't Transform What I Make Wrong, and now again in this one.

Listen: in the near one thousand six hundred essays I've written, there are very few that I've literally written twice, taking inspiration from the subject and writing one essay, then setting that essay aside as if I'd never written it at all, and starting completely from scratch with a new one ie with another take on the same subject (some things are just so great they have to be originally done twice - really).
Werner Erhard says that transformation is a rich body of distinctions  - that is to say, when you get transformation, you also get many, many, many  distinctions, both the pragmatic and the profound, that comprise it. This  distinction on the other hand, the distinction "I can't transform what I make wrong", is of another class entirely. It could even be said it's in a so-called class of its own.

What sets it apart is rather than get this distinction from transformation, transformation can be gotten from it  ie it's the other way around. In this case, you can get transformation by standing in the space of this distinction, and flat-footedly looking to see what it reveals about the way we're wired. And by "see what it reveals", I'm referring to being open to having a direct experience  of it, not merely coming up with a pleasing and clever intellectual description / explanation of it.

This is what it is to transform* something: when I transform something, I do so by creating / generating / being responsible for the context  in which it shows up. When I'm being the context in which something shows up, it shows up exactly the way it is, and exactly the way it isn't - without labels, without judgement, without preference, without wishing / voting for it to be any other way. Transforming something, is an experiential  act (which is to say, an act which occurs in the domain of experience). In this domain, there's no "wrong" like a judgement (neither in this domain, is there any "right" like a judgement either). In this domain, the thing in and of itself is simply what it is (and it also isn't what it isn't). This is the domain of Life (and existence) itself.

When I make something wrong on the other hand, either as an automatic reaction to it, or even after careful, critical analysis of it, I'm adding something to the context in which it shows up. And look: whether I add "wrong" or whether I add "right" isn't my point (neither is my point that losing sight of right / wrong, is amoral - which it is). My point is simply that making something right / wrong occurs in a different domain than the domain in which transforming something occurs. I can't transform what I make wrong not because I shouldn't  or because it's not "good" / ie because it's "bad" to do so. It's because the way we're wired precludes  it.

We're wired so that transforming something, and making something wrong, occur in different domains. I can't be in the domain "transforming" at the same time as I'm being in the domain "making wrong". I just can't. There's an experiential  divide. It can't be done. When I attempt to do both, it invariably results in inhibiting my ability to transform anything. Don't simply accept that because I said so. Rather, try it on for size. If it fits, keep it, it's yours. If it doesn't, discard it and walk on.


* Postscript (this is what it is to transform something):
Werner says "Talk isn't cheap: we cheapen talk.". So as accurate languaging has inexorably devolved into jargon, to "transform" something has colloquially come to mean to "change" it - and worse, to "fix" it, to "improve" it, to make it "right", to make it "better" etc etc. The feel-good  warm fuzzy that it's in danger of being obfuscated by, looms menacingly.

In fact it's none of the above. To "transform" something, is to create / generate / be responsible for the context in which it shows up. In its purest sense, to transform something is to recontextualize  it (I love that word).

Without this definition thoroughly scrutinized and firmly bolted in place in this conversation's boilerplate, it's unlikely that the distinction "I can't transform what I make wrong" will have lasting power, if any at all.


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