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

Uncommon Correspondence

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

July 11, 2016

This essay, Uncommon Correspondence, is the sequel to Essays - Three Years Later: Internet Presence.

It is also the prequel to Essays - Thirteen Years Later: A Certain Space.

I am indebted to Tera Freestone and to Uday Shankardas who inspired this conversation.

The most obvious manifestation of these Conversations For Transformation is their written / spoken form ie their internet presence. I, and those by whom I'm inspired, contribute that. That's some of it. What's not so obvious is their read / listened form. You contribute that. That's nearly all of it. Listen: without your reading / listening, there are no Conversations For Transformation. Period.

I was naïve about that when I first started this. No kidding! Back then, nearly thirteen years ago, the fact that they were written / spoken and posted to the internet at all in the first place, was my total expression - a pure expression, an expression without reason. Yes, there was no reason for doing this. There still isn't. My reply to the question "Why do you do this?" has always been "Because this is what I do" (admittedly that may be vexing for some who aren't yet ready for a Zen answer).

Here's what's shifted for me in the nearly thirteen years of this project: I've realized only a small percentage of it occurs in the writing / speaking of these essays. Most of it (if not almost all  of it) occurs in your reading / listening of them. It's true: where this work really shows up is in your reading / listening - even more than in my writing / speaking. That's much the same way as a collection of works of art in an art gallery, shows up even more in your experience of viewing it than in the artists' original ideas. It gives me a much more authentic sense of gratitude to and respect for you for giving my work a space in which it can truly come alive and be known.

But it's more than that - it's much  more than that really. It's not only that I have a more authentic sense of gratitude to and respect for you for giving my work a space in which it can truly come alive and be known. It's that you've given me the opportunity to discover this new space for myself - which is to say, you've given me the opportunity to discover how I can conduct myself in this new space ie you've given me the opportunity to discover how to interact with you  in this new space.

The space I'm referring to, is your listening. That much isn't changed. It's always been this way for me. What's shifted however ie what's new  is I'm no longer merely observing your listening. It's I'm ongoingly training myself to interact with it responsibly and honorably, as a created expression - which is to say, your listening  is training me to interact with you responsibly and honorably as a created expression. That's the privilege you afford me. In the process, my writing / speaking becomes wedded to (ie is committed to) your reading / listening as a result, or (spoken poetically) my writing / speaking is in-a-dance  with your reading / listening as a result.

These Conversations For Transformation garner a lot of international attention (that's not their primary intention by the way - they just do), some of it during face to face conversations, some of it by telephone, and some of it via Twitter direct messages. But for the most part it's via e-mail, 99.999% of which gets them - but not 100%. After nearly thirteen years, and after nearly one thousand two hundred essays, and after what I estimate to be thousands and thousands of e-mails, there's been one hostile e-mail communication - one, amidst the avalanche of thousands and thousands of e-mails. It happened about ten years ago. What I did with it then was get it. Nothing else. None have recurred since then. That's quite characteristic of the reading / listening these Conversations For Transformation write / speak to.

The quality of these e-mail communications ie of this digital correspondence  (if you will) is really uncommon. Granted they aren't face to face conversations - but then again, neither is this ongoing Conversations For Transformation internet series of essays. And because they're not face to face conversations, they're one degree removed from authentic transformation. Yet even given all that, the quality of this correspondence is really uncommon, quite extraordinary. "How so?" you might ask.

For starters, their recognition of the opportunity for straight talk  is palpable (you know, people want  straight talk - doesn't it speak to the climate in which we live on the planet that straight talk is all too often a rare commodity?). There are a few of what are known in various types of social media as "likes" (clicks). There's just what Conversations For Transformation leave people with ie there's just what's so. There's a certain rigor in their choice and use of words which is often above and beyond the way we're prone to be loose with language. Nothing's added. Nothing's taken away. In a space like this, what's palpable is who people really are ie their humanity.

You may say this would be unusual even in face to face conversations. In e-mail correspondence, it's really uncommon. There's a richness to it which is moving and satisfying. What it is (I say) is what the possibility of transformation makes available. And here's the thing: I don't know how this part of it works. Really I still don't (an explanation doesn't buy you anything of value anyway). But I've been around this work long enough to know this is the way it works, and I still don't know how.

There's something else too which is harder to convey in other forms of social media with their restricted character totals, disappearing photographs, and annotated jaypegs  of the hamburgers people we know had for lunch: it's the simple recognition that possibility is present and alive. You can't get that by having it explained to you. You can however get it through direct experience. That would be unusual even in face to face conversations. It's very  uncommon in e-mail correspondence.

I've long adhered to the tenet that the domain of authentic transformation is face to face conversations, and that written forms of communication like e-mail and even these Conversations For Transformation themselves are actually one degree removed from it. That said, having the possibility of transformation show up in e-mail correspondence, bodes well. Reading it, I nod my head in recognition, amazement, and awe. This new trend excites me. It's something I will be keeping my eye on.

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