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.
Forget what you think renowned anti-patriarchal social critic Wolf (The Beauty Myth) always writes this book has nothing to do with academia, politics or even feminism. Instead, it focuses on the creative force that her father, teacher/poet Leonard Wolf, believes is inside all of us. A passionate eccentric and a radically romantic humanist, Leonard started life in a muddy Romanian village, emigrated to Depression-era America, served during WWII and, after the war, moved to California where he lived by the sea with a handful of rebellious, talented writers. For decades, he taught his students at San Francisco State a set of 12 lessons about living the creative life, including "Use Your Imagination" and "Do Nothing Without Passion." Leonard believes "everyone is here on earth as an artist; to tell his particular story or sing her irreplaceable song; to leave a unique creative signature." Wolf elaborates on Leonard's points with anecdotes from her own work as a teacher, insights gained from building a tree house for her daughter and, best of all, stories from Leonard's colorful life. Personal and inspiring, it'll make anyone wish they had a Leonard in their life.