The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love and See

The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love and See

by Naomi Wolf, Leonard Wolf
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Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love and See 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.