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


Residue Of Meaning

The Hess Collection, Mount Veeder, California, USA

November 21, 2014



This essay, Residue Of Meaning, is the fourtenth in an open group on Language:
  1. Last Word
  2. Speaking Of Freedom
  3. The Transformation Of The World
  4. Constituted In Language
  5. Zen Bland
  6. Source Of Zen Bland: Hand Grasps Itself?
  7. Linguistic Acts
  8. Language: The Scalpel Of Experience
  9. Wordsmith
  10. Source Quote
  11. Being And Acting Out-Here: Presence Of Self Revisited
  12. My Word In The Matter
  13. You Are What You Speak
  14. Residue Of Meaning
  15. The Effortless Breakthrough
  16. The World's Conversation
  17. Read To Us
  18. Everything You Say
  19. Breakfast With The Master IV: Language As Music
  20. Leading With My Word
  21. Language And Results
  22. No, It's What You Say  About It
in that order.




It's more than likely you've already noticed some distinctions are easier to articulate than others. If I'm making distinctions which aren't easy to articulate, I can facilitate them by making a distinction about the distinctions. Distinction about distinctions can, I suppose, be called meta-distinction, just as theory about theories  is called meta-theory. This essay fleshes out one such possible meta-distinction: the meta-distinction "residue of meaning"  as it applies to the distinction "speaking transformation  / speaking about  transformation", and therefore as it applies to the possibility of full Self-expression (please notice that's Self with a capital ess).

I've noticed the premise for this essay ie the premise for this conversation, arises spontaneously (which is to say it reveals itself to me - as nearly all of them do) repeatedly whenever I'm engaged writing down my observations of the role language plays in transformation. I find myself again and again immersed in and fleshing out the difference between speaking transformation, and speaking about transformation. This difference between speaking transformation and speaking about transformation, is a theme, an ongoing motif  if you will, which meanders through many of these Conversations For Transformation. It's more than that actually. It's arguably a #1 distinction in the rich body of distinctions which is Werner's work.

Language is the vehicle for bringing forth transformation in the world. Indeed, language is our only  vehicle for bringing forth transformation in the world. To the degree we're speaking (which is to say to the degree we're deploying language ie to the degree we're languaging)  bringing forth transformation, language is also our most natural and our most accessible vehicle for full Self-expression.

What I've observed while writing those Conversations For Transformation essays in which the difference between speaking transformation and speaking about transformation is fleshed out, is how much of my own speaking ie how much of my own languaging shows up as either the one or as the other ie how much of my own speaking is speaking transformation, and how much of my own speaking is speaking about transformation. It's become clear to me the difference between the two isn't a fine line. In fact the line between them is really quite blurred. And without being vigilant ie without paying attention to it, it only gets blurrier.

There's a historical perspective in this for me. There was a time in the not so distant past (or so it would seem) when all  my speaking was speaking about  one thing or another. I now distinguish that kind of speaking as narration, description, or just plain commentary - which is a more elegant way of saying chit-chat. Until I experienced Werner's work, that was the only kind of speaking available to me. There wasn't even the remotest possibility that speaking could generate anything  at all. If speaking was somehow the vehicle for full Self-expression, in other words if speaking was somehow the generator of full Self-expression, then in the beginning, the principle was unknown to me. And even if I caught a glimpse of the possibility of speaking as the generator of full Self-expression, it was a foggy glimpse at best.

It's become abundantly clear and patently obvious to me now, that speaking brings forth transformation in the world, just as it generates full Self-expression. That said, I've started observing (which is to say I've started distinguishing) when, in spite of my best intentions, my speaking devolves into mere narration, description, or commentary. Now, to be sure, there's nothing wrong with either narration or description or commentary. If the truth be told, it's highly unlikely we could function effectively in the world without them - if at all. Rather it's an observation of how my speaking-generating-Self-expression  has a short half life  (as Werner Erhard may have said) and needs to be rigorously reinstated from time to time, or else it devolves (as it surely will if left unchecked) into narration, description, and commentary.

What separates my speaking-generating-Self-expression from narration, description, and commentary, which is to say how I can measure the difference between my speaking-generating-Self-expression and narration, description, and commentary, is the absence or presence of a meta-distinction which I call residue of meaning.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
residue


noun
the part that is left after the main part has gone or been taken away
<unquote>

It could be said keeping a fine line between speaking transformation as differentiated from speaking about transformation, requires closely monitoring the degree of significance, the degree of drama, the degree of cleverness  which, under its own volition, finds its way into our conversations. For want of a better word, I'll group significance, drama, and cleverness together, and collectively call them meaning. It could be said keeping a fine line between speaking transformation as differentiated from speaking about transformation, requires closely monitoring the degree of meaning which, under its own volition, invariably finds its way into our conversations.

This isn't a trivial task. We're meaning making machines  (that's Transformation 101). Even the most cursory overview of just about any conversation we have, reveals we generate waaay  more meaning than full Self-expression. For a conversation (which is to say for language) to be rendered as the generator of full Self-expression, what's required is carefully monitoring our natural tendency to render whatever we speak as overly significant, dramatic, or just plain clever ie fraught with meaning.

It's this, our own intervention  (if you will) in our automatic meaning making machinery which allows the possibility of full Self-expression instead. It's also worth noting that meaning making will creep back (not if  but when)  ever so subtly, into our conversations. That's our nature, remember? This is why I prefer to measure the difference between speaking transformation and speaking about transformation, not by the total, permanent absence of meaning but rather by the residue  of meaning. It's likely we'll never eliminate our thrown-ness  to be dramatic, significant, and clever ie to be meaningful, entirely. We can, however, take responsibility for most of it, which is to say we can take responsibility for as much of it as we can take responsibility for. What remains is the residue.

"Residue of meaning" is thus a meta-distinction with which the distinction "speaking transformation / speaking about transformation" can be facilitated.



Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2014 through 2017 Permission