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

The Conversation That Corrects Language

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

March 27, 2015

"What I have is a place to stand. Not the right place, for I do not pretend to know what is right even for myself, let alone others, but a place I am willing to try out to see if it leaves me as a clearing where the truth can more powerfully go to work."
fleshing out his "I am committed to being a space where the truth can go to work" answer to Laurence Platt's question "Who are you like a possibility, like a commitment?" in Questions For A Friend III
This essay, The Conversation That Corrects Language, is the companion piece to Naked Presence: Deploying A New Grammar.

I am indebted to Govinda Narasimhulu who inspired this conversation.

In 1979 I went to South Africa, stayed a year, and in the course of that year, led the first series of ten est  guest seminars around the country in all the major cities, causing the first one thousand enrollments which inexorably started Werner's work in South Africa. For the next twenty years after I returned to the USA, I led technical seminars for many of the Fortune 500  and Fortune 1000  companies (travels which took me to forty two of the fifty United States) under the auspices of Laurence Platt and Associates, the business entity I established. Those seminars were typically three, four, or five days in duration, sometimes longer, during which time I stood on the podium speaking almost continuously for up to six hours a day.

Nowadays my day job  is to drive visitors around the beautiful Napa Valley in California where I live, giving them an introductory wine overview. I'm getting paid to be on vacation with them! And if that's not enough, while they're visiting wineries exploring, there's plenty of quiet, uninterrupted time for me to write - which is a big part of the attraction for me.

In retrospect, my life has always been about speaking at length with a lot of people, although I can honestly say I never had a clear vision before it all started, that it would turn out this way. It's the intersection of my experience of Werner, and this experience of the speaking which goeswith  (as Alan Watts may have said) leading hundreds and hundreds of seminars, that's enabled me to differentiate between two essentially distinct classes of the conversations we engage in. It's a differentiation which isn't new to these Conversations For Transformation. Rather, it's an oft recurring theme, a motif  if you will.

While it's natural for there to be some blurring of the lines between the two, the differentiation is between a conversation which is about  something ie a conversation which imparts information ie a conversation in which the topic  is the thing in itself (talking about, telling, Laurence Platt and Associates' technical seminars etc), and a conversation which brings forth  an experience ie a conversation in which the conversation  is the thing in itself (speaking / being, Conversations For Transformation etc).

Ordinarily when I correct or change my language, it's the conversation I'm in which is corrected and / or changed. You could say ordinarily the language corrects the conversation. Well (you may ask) isn't it always like that? No it isn't. There's another possibility, the possibility of something extraordinary, the possibility of something which may not happen in an ordinary conversation yet happens in a conversation for transformation. What happens in a conversation for transformation (ie what you may authentically experience  when you're engaged in a conversation for transformation) is it  corrects your language.


I use the verb "correct" here in two different contexts, each with its own unique leverage.

When I use it in "language that corrects the conversation", I'm using it in the ordinary grammatical  sense - as in correcting syntax errors, factual inconsistencies, and the like.

When I use it in "the conversation that corrects language", I'm using it in the extraordinary navigational  sense - as in executing a mid-course correction.

When the conversation corrects language, the net result is language is tightened up and fine-tuned in service of where the conversation wants to go.


You could say who we are ie who I am (which is to say who I really  am) is the space, the context in which the conversations we are for the world, show up. It's in this space in which the truth goes to work (to borrow from Werner's expression). When the truth goes to work, it chooses language very  carefully, very  precisely, and very  accurately. In an ordinary conversation, it's I who pick the words which come out of my mouth. If I'm going to correct the conversation, I'll deploy language that corrects the conversation. But in this  kind of extraordinary conversation, it's being in it  (or, tersely, just being)  that picks the words which come out of my mouth ie in this instance it's the conversation that corrects language.

Perhaps this is what Werner is distinguishing as the truth going to work. If that's the case, then what's enlivened by engaging in conversations for transformation ie what's enlivened by engaging in any conversation that (it's experienced) corrects language, is who we are ie who I am (which is to say who I really am) as the space, the context, the clearing where the truth can go to work, unleashing new possibilities in our lives and for the world.


For a detailed study of specific language being tightened up and fine-tuned when the conversation corrects language in service of where the conversation wants to go, read the Conversations For Transformation essay titled

Naked Presence: Deploying A New Grammar.

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