Bestselling author Naomi Wolf was brought up to believe that happiness is something that can be taught -- and learned. In this magical book, Naomi shares the enduring wisdom of her father, Leonard Wolf, a poet and teacher who believes that every person is an artist in their own unique way, and that personal creativity is the secret of happiness.
Leonard Wolf is a true eccentric. A tall, craggy, good-looking man in his early eighties, he's the kind of person who likes to use a medieval astrolabe, dress in Basque shepherd's clothing, and convince otherwise sensible people to quit their jobs and follow their passions. A gifted teacher, he's dedicated his life to honoring individualism, creativity, and the inspirational power of art. Leonard believes, and has made many others believe, that inside everyone is an artist, and success and happiness in life depend on whether or not one values and acts upon one's creative impulse. In The Treehouse, Naomi Wolf's most personal book yet, Naomi outlines her father's lessons in creating lasting happiness and offers inspiration for the artist in all of us.
The book begins when Naomi asks Leonard to help build a treehouse for his granddaughter. Inspired by his dedication to her daughter's imaginative world, Naomi asks her father to walk her through the lessons of his popular poetry class and show her how he teaches people to liberate their creative selves. Drawn from Leonard's handwritten lecture notes, the chapters of The Treehouse remind us to "Be Still and Listen," "Use Your Imagination," "Do Nothing Without Passion," and that "Your Only Wage Will Be Joy," and "Mistakes Are Part of the Draft." More than an education in poetry writing, this is a journey of self-discovery in which the creative endeavor is paramount.
Naomi also offers glimpses into her father's past -- from his youth during the Depression to his bohemian years as a poet in 1950s San Francisco -- and the evolution of Leonard's highly individualistic vision of the artist's way. She reconsiders her own childhood and realizes the transformative effect Leonard's philosophy has had on her own life, as well as the lives of her students and friends. The Treehouse is ultimately a stirring personal history, a meditation on fathers and daughters, an argument for honoring the creative impulse, and unique instruction in the art of personal happiness.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Naomi Wolf made a sensation with her landmark international bestseller The Beauty Myth in 1991. The author of four books, she is also the cofounder and president of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. She lives in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This daughter¿s tribute to her father is a very compelling and, at times, disturbing read. I say disturbing because Leonard Wolf is both a towering, magnetic intellect and passionately even dogmatically convicted, ¿all or nothing¿ personality. As T. S. Eliot said of Samuel Johnson, ¿he is a dangerous man to disagree with.¿ In the section titled, Do Nothing Without Passion, I did feel much empathy for a poor soul named, Malcolm, against whom I felt, as an absent and shunned husband, Naomi and Leonard united. At a climactic moment when Leonard, Naomi, and Malcolm¿s wife are discussing the wife¿s marriage, Leonard invokes a passage from Chaucer¿s, Troilus and Criseyde, to proclaim, ¿Chaucer is saying that after a while, Criseyde felt no pain at the absence of Troilus. If a string with knots was pulled through a heart, it would hurt! No knots, no pain. You marry someone if you literally cannot live without them; if they have made knots in your heart that cannot ever be released, by time, by distance. About marriage, it means, in plain words: if there is no passion, forget it¿ Aside from Leonard probably being right, painful as that is to process, I would have to ask both Leonard and Naomi, how would you feel if your wife or husband were the beneficiary of such an exhortation by the well-intentioned in your absence? As a father of two independent daughters I was yet extremely moved by Naomi Wolf¿s tribute to her father; thrilled also by the generosity with which she shared so much and so intimately from his views and his life. Leonard Wolf is, I emphasize, a man of intense vibrancy and depth that goes far beyond his horror fiction scholarship. Estimable as his criticism is, I have long known and sought his other many sides as poet, dramatist, and novelist (perhaps this book will spark a Leonard Wolf revival so we can finally enjoy his science fiction poetry and his dramatization of The Rape of Lock among other works that have never been widely available). I also must confess that I came to the book very highly biased as I was very blessed to have been a part of his Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, seminar in back in 1971 when I could experience the man first hand. His teaching went way beyond the seminar subject, and it has had a huge impact on my life. ¿No one, absolutely no one, is exonerated from the love experience,¿ I can still his deep, soft voice intoning. He took that observation to an explanation of how Emily Dickinson had so much more to say about love than Walt Whitman did (I sure as hell agree with him on that). At first glance many of the title headings, such as Use Your Imagination and Identify Your Hearts Desire might appear to be from a book that is just another spin from the vast amount of banality flooding out of the human potential movement. As one reads the accounts in the book, however, one can see how Leonard Wolf lives his values in such a convincing way that one must confront him directly, either to follow or strongly depart. I have discovered that I have learned far more from differing with him, and pursuing the challenge in the difference, than from living comfortably in agreeing with him. The Treehouse is a treasure.