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


Magnum Opus

Chicago, Illinois, USA

May 30, 2008



This essay, Magnum Opus, is the second essay in the fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend:
  1. Personal Piece
  2. Magnum Opus
  3. Walk A Way With Me
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 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 seventh trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Meetings With A Remarkable Man
  2. Being Directed By The Unanswered Question
  3. Out Here
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Visits With A Friend is:
  1. Visits With A Friend VIII (working title) : Coming
  2. Visits With A Friend VIII II (working title) : Coming
  3. Visits With A Friend VIII III (working title) : Coming
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Visits With A Friend is the sequel to Everyone Loves You.




There are occasions of absolute greatness which come on the world from time to time, carefully orchestrated events which seem so simple, so effortless in their execution, so natural  that they appear to be deceptively easy. Almost always predicating such events is herculean preparation, heroic, inspired bringing forth, driven setups, corrections, testing, then more corrections, still more  testing and still more corrections before the final product is ready for the world. When the finished product finally appears, it's hailed as masterful, as genius, as a champion of the genre. We know something happened prior to this to get it into the shape it's in. But we almost aren't ever privy to exactly what it takes. We weren't there  to see what it takes to bring it forth in the state of mastery.

We don't actually see Ludwig van Beethoven trying out notes for his Seventh Symphony, for example. We don't actually see him penning crochets and quavers, minims and semibreves, then testing them, then rewriting them, then testing them again. We don't actually see Sir Paul McCartney picking the first chords of Yesterday. We're not actually in the room with him when he tries first one set of words, then another. Legend has it that "Yesterday" began as "Scrambled Eggs"  (try it: it fits the melody) but we weren't actually there to hear him try it out for the first time. We don't see Michelangelo pacing back and forth, back and forth around the slab of marble, peering at it intently, trying to determine exactly where within it David is hidden. That's the way he sees things. In Michelangelo's view, he doesn't sculpt a statue. Rather, he removes the excess marble revealing  the statue already there within. We marvel at David. But the process through which Michaelangelo brought him forth is simply unavailable to us.

As I watch you working bringing forth your Magnum Opus  of transformation, I'm present to an enormous sense of privilege. It's as if I've been afforded a ringside seat on the outer edges of the universe at the dawn of time, and I'm watching the Gods not merely bring forth  creation: I'm also listening them speaking amongst themselves playing, jiving  with each other, joyfully and freely choosing exactly which options  of creation they'll bring forth. By the time they're done with their work, all there'll be is what is. We'll celebrate it. We'll revere it. Indeed, some of us will even worship  it. But we'll do so after the fact. We weren't there watching the creation of the universe, so all we got is after the fact. As I watch you work, I realize I've got a ringside seat at the outer edge of the universe at the dawn of time, watching you bring forth that which tomorrow will merely be what is.

Photography by Laurence Platt - 2:39pm Friday May 30, 2008
Werner Working
Some of the things I see are givens, knowing how you operate. The attention to detail  is more than merely rigorous - it's ruthless. Nothing slips by you. A simple ten word sentence takes an hour to get right. First it's read this  way. Then it's read that  way. Then it's omitted entirely and the surrounding sentences are re-read without it. Then it's put back in again, and everything's re-read again starting from the top. You ask for input. You ask how it sounds to others. You don't merely listen with your own ears. You request others listen your work with their  ears. Sometimes you go with the way they listen it. Sometimes, even if they listen it differently than you, you go with your way anyway. Observing this process I get the sense that although it's your creation, you're not attached to one single iota within it which doesn't work  even if that's the way you brought it forth yourself first. While you maintain the majority stock  in the way it'll eventually come out, you're not attached to your way  of seeing things. You not only cede the rights to the casting vote occasionally - sometimes, you outright give them away  to those you trust.

I notice something which, at first is hard to ascribe words to. I experience it subliminally. I recognize it. But oddly I can't say exactly what it is I'm seeing. Then I get it! You're 1,000% focused like a laser beam. That's why I don't get it as immediately as I recognize it. It's a level of operation no one I know  (myself included) works at, or even can  work at. What it looks like is no down time. Not today. Not this week. Not this year. Not ever. Slowly it dawns on me this is the level of operation you work at always:  every hour, every day, every week, every year, year after year after year for at least the last forty years I personally know of - and in all likelihood, starting sooner than that. No wonder there's not merely an  assistant working with you. No wonder there's not merely an  aide, a personal valet working with you. What it takes is teams  of assistants, teams  of valets, teams of teams ... to keep up with you, to keep all your irons in the fire, to keep all your juggled balls in the air. No doubt if each of them didn't take a vacation from time to time, you'd run them all into the ground and still be up all night working by your Self.

The Magnum Opus I observe you bringing forth doesn't merely render transformation real and thrillingly alive on the planet for everyone. As I notice who you're being working at this level, at this velocity  with this power, I realize what's also coming forth, perhaps as only one of its myriads of spawned projects and by-products, is transformation's irrefutable living proof.



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