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




This Context Of Privilege

Sonoma, California, USA

March 5, 2019



"I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier, and the syllable 'Om'."
... Lord Krishna speaking with Arjuna about himself, in the Bhagavad Gita, circa 1500 BC
"I'm a baby boy. I'm God. In the middle I'm just a human being."
... Laurence Platt speaking with    about himself, in I've Got Nothing To Say: Twenty Boxes Of Nearly Haiku, circa 2007 AD 
"I'm a god. I'm a human being. In the middle I'm nothing."
... Laurence Platt re-phrasing himself for  
This essay, This Context Of Privilege, is the companion piece to Privilege At Daybreak In The Battle Between Good And Evil.

It is also the first in the fourteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend:
  1. This Context Of Privilege
  2. I'm Not Going To Let It Go
  3. Questions For A Friend XIV III: Not Yet Titled (working title)
in that order.
The first trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Prelude
  2. Ask Me Anything
  3. Coming Around Again
in that order.
The second trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Familiar Unfamiliar Territory
  2. Interview
  3. Straight Talk
in that order.
The third trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Dancing With My Mouth
  2. Cave Paintings
  3. Velvet Tsunami
in that order.
The fourth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Creating Creating
  2. Tell Me Something About Nothing
  3. Lucid Disclosures
in that order.
The fifth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Closer And Closer
  2. Tête À Tête
  3. Dancing With Life
in that order.
The sixth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Would I Ask You If I Could Ask You Anything?
  2. Wonderings About Nothing In Particular
  3. Tipping Point
in that order.
The seventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Beyond Breathing Underwater
  2. Bold Faced Truth
  3. What You Create For Yourself About Me
in that order.
The eighth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Once In A Lifetime
  2. Fireside Chat
  3. Whole And Complete
in that order.
The ninth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Questions For A Friend
  2. Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing
  3. Free To Be And Free To Act
in that order.
The tenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Attracted To Dance
  2. I Told A Friend I Love You
  3. Terse Transformed Communication
in that order.
The eleventh trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. A Context Worth Playing In
  2. Tie The Brush To My Hand
  3. Unimaginably Terse
in that order.
The twelfth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. What Will I Do When You Die?
  2. Access
  3. The Newest Piece Of Work
in that order.
The thirteenth trilogy Questions For A Friend is:
  1. Worthy Of The Company
  2. Creating Them For Myself
  3. Standing With Masters
in that order.


Photography by Gonneke Spits
Laurence Platt
WEre I to compile a list of questions to ask an expert ie were I to compile a catalog of inquiries to put in front of someone "in the know" in a particular field, and were I to not know anything about the subject matter at hand, I would have one kind of approach to compiling them. Along with that approach, I would have a matching set of criteria for choosing which questions to ask. And if I were to compile a list of questions to ask someone in the know in a particular field about which I did  know something of the subject matter, I would have another kind of approach, along with a matching set of criteria for choosing which questions to ask.

With you, I don't fit snugly into one or the other of those two scenarios. With you they're not mutually exclusive. When we speak, it's as if I've got one foot in both  camps. It's as if I know absolutely nothing about the subject matter at hand ... and  ... it's also as if I do know something about it (ie I've got both going on at the same time). And regardless of how much I know and / or how much I don't know when I speak with you, forty years of experimenting has shown me that what works best around you is I speak, I listen, and I ask as if  I know nothing about the subject matter at all ie as if I'm listening the material for the first time even if  I've listened it many times before. To wit, after forty years of knowing you, I've gotten that listening like I've heard the material before, even if I have, is a possibility killer.

That's because unlike ordinary conversations in which talking merely imparts and trades information, these conversations are extra-ordinary conversations in which our speaking and listening (and my asking) brings forth who we really are. That's actually a lot closer to the truth than it sounds: ordinary conversations impart and trade information in talking; extraordinary conversations bring forth who we really are in speaking, listening, and asking. Listen: I don't want to say this too loudly nor make too big a deal or too big a fuss out of it: this is the Holy Grail:  human beings have wanted this for millennia, probably for as long as we've been living on the planet.

Given the list of questions I've compiled for which I don't have answers, it's clear to me I could discover the answers for myself. I could discover them by observing the possibilities from within each question, or by being directed by the unanswered question. I don't say lightly that I could discover the answers for myself, especially since I've compiled these questions for you. In such times, I've taken full responsibility for already knowing I could answer them for myself - at least like a possibility.

The thing is my focus when I'm asking you, is actually a lot less on these questions / your answers, than it is on our interaction  / relationship ie the one that dances across and around the court in these Questions For A Friend exchanges. Used by the dance, secondarily I discover who I really am, in your answers to my questions. Primarily, I discover who I really am, in the sound of your voice and your laser-tipped language, in my listening. Really. That's what your milieu is. It's truly awesome.

Clearly there's a lot to be gained from listening your answers. And what that actually distinguishes is there's a lot to be gained from listening where you're coming from  when you answer. With that on the mat, this won't be a chit-chat  nor mere locker room banter. Neither you nor I are "one of the boys" anymore. No kidding.

And so that it's clear, this context (the one in place here and now for this conversation and for others like it) is really one of privilege. Look: I don't say "privilege" as if I'm somehow privileged and other people aren't, in being here with you. Rather it's the space, the context, the conversation that it's a privilege to be in with you and with everyone who listens it. No, I'm no big star with privilege. This is just a movie remake of a really ancient tale in which I play a very minor bit part, a cameo role.



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