Tell your favorite stories about Leonard here.
Your energetic presence still remains from an exciting presentation in Santa Fe several years ago.
I’ve watched your annual schedules with eager hope to attend another sometime soon, hopefully soon after this “bad patch” in your busy journey.
My thoughts and prayers are very much with you.
As one of the Wild Writing Women we were thrilled to have Leornard as a guest speaker at our writers’ salon at the Monticello Inn in San Francisco. In our six years of activity we reveled in the wisdom and talent of numerous writers, editors and publishers. But I can honestly say that when Leornard spoke about his work everyone knew they were in the presence of genius, and not just of the literary kind. He has left a lasting legacy that illuminates some of the dark mysteries of humanity, and Leonard, I look forward to your speedy recovery and your take on the gentlemen with whom you share so much, including a name minus an “o.”
I have fond memories of you being the keynote speaker at my Languages conference here in San Francisco a few years ago. You based your lecture on your book “The Alphabet versus the Goddess”…..you really had all those academics speechless !!
So sorry to read of the tumor. Good luck with the treatment.
Leonard, here I get this news and I haven’t sent that email I intended to write you re: your fall schedule, it looked so great, nor have I managed to send you the handwritten note thanking you for the great party/salon you and Tiffany threw earlier this summer. My emailed thanks seemed too pale for my taste. Still, these unfinished notes to you in my head meant that I was thinking of you and marveling at you, at your family, at your life, and rememembering the day we met at the airport, as I recall, getting off the same flight, and you ending up giving me a ride home. Corey and I were living in Mill Valley too at the time. Yikes, I bet my son Ben and your daughter Tiffany may have been in school together when we first met.
You and Ina and I had a wonderful visit at the conference on the Divine Feminine that we were both presenting at in Canada. You and I have had various other calls, lunches, and occassions of meeting but those are the ones especially bright in my mind.
I have a brother in the hospital in Dallas with cancer right now, so I have fresh, first-hand empathy for what you and your beautiful family might be going through.
I tell you this because I don’t want you to think that I’m being a pollyanna, even if I am, when I say that I have complete confidence in you and your ability to be with this fiery test of your being. I’m with you, finishing your book is a definitely a goal to keep in mind. We will all be the better off for it. AND if that doesn’t work out, if it’s simply too much to ask of yourself, please do whatever is necessary to take care of yourself first and foremost. Trust that the work you’ve done has been groundbreaking as it stands and as will continue to do!
Your daring as a physician to enter into the realms of research you have into the arts, into the feminine, into the physics of the body, into the distinctions to be made between rods and cones (which I found particularly useful), your enormous grasp of the arts and how they often prefigure movements in living cultures, were, are and will remain fantastic, Leonard.
If you write not another word — you have helped us — your friends and society at large — to begin the course correction so long overdue to save us from ourselves. Will we make it? I have no idea, I’m not moved to make predictions in any direction, only this much I know: that you, Leonard Shlain, stepped up and stepped out into an arena long disparaged by many — the sacred feminine — and joined hands with all of us who’ve been saying that we must have this too — the feminine as well as the masculine whatever those fuzzy terms mean to us metaphorically.
I thank you for your amazing spirit, your curiosity, your zest in life, and for your willingness to follow your line of inquiry no matter where it takes you.
And then your remarkable testimonies that followed in the form of your books and lectures.
You can rest easy IF that’s what’s needed. Accept the fact that even if there’s more you can dazzle us with, that you have made major contributions and clarified subjects that are critical to us and to human culture now.
So, my oh “No,” to this challenging news, to my disbelief and all the irony that accompanies you just now.
And my YES, for what will come of this time for you. I’m writing your name out on a card to place on my altar. Even my grandsons, Elija and Skyler (18 mo. and 6 yrs repsectively) will be praying for you. They join me in my morning rounds of prayer and remembrance for our family and friends, lighting candles, burning incense, above all, pronouncing your name and remembering and wishing you well. Morning and night we will be praying for you, starting this evening.
Blessings on this sacred struggle to hold on to your life.
Leonard, I had the distinct pleasure of having breakfast with you this past March at the AAMC conference in San Diego. You could not have been more generous with your time despite the day’s hectic schedule.
Please know that although I met you only once, once was all it took to understand why you’ve earned the respect that you have.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
University of Nevada School of Medicine
Dear Doctor Shlain:
Your books stand out from 7 decades of reading as the most original in conception and thought, the most in need of wide-spread understanding, and the widest in scope and length of vision from the dawn of time. All children should read them. All adult males should read them. All socio-logists, psychia-trists, artists, novelists, ministers, and teachers should read them. I am a very grateful fan, and know your work has many devotees just like me. We’ll hold good thoughts for you.
Wanda Jones and Jim Ensign
Leonard, You probably don’t remember me but you invited me to your home so I could ask you questions about my theory of what 2 handed keyboarding does to the brain for my (then new) book cyber.rules, as a result of reading Art and Physics and the Alphabet. I watched as you ate a yummy cabbage salad and were so generous with your time. Tomorrow I am giving a keynote to 600 people in Tulsa at the Zarrow Symposium on Mental Health about Digital Culture and I ALWAYS mention all of your books, your willingness to share the most amazing breadth of wisdom, and how much influence this has had on my work. I’ve never really gotten to say “Thank you Leonard” your brain is awesome. Imagine how many folks in Oklahoma tomorrow are going to look you up!! Sincerely, Joanie Gillispie, Mill Valley, CA
dear leonard and family, my thoughts are with you as well as my prayers. i have read all of your books and adore them. i wish i could say something profound, something that would make a difference. words do not come. what does come………is………leonard….you kick ass…………..excuse the language, but you speak to what has not been spoken to as of yet……….thank you. rebecca lee young
This is where we met a quarter of a century ago or so. You were brave enough to read your notes on what happens when a cancer specialist discovers his own cancer–you tried to use your technical knowledge, you tried to use your professional connections, and you finally found resolution of your conflict through your own dream (how very human of you). The same sort of thing happened to my father, a thoroughly high-tech twentieth century physician who had to give up his several languages, his practice of medicine, his game of golf and his personal rigidity to become humble and human; when he could no longer tolerate being a patient he came home, finished his life gracefully in my arms.*
Yes, you read your account at that medical conference on death and dying, but as I remember you finished reading and continued to tell that whole crowd of doctors the unwritten truth, the human truth. And when you told about the doctor who wouldn’t tell you on the phone what the long-awaited pathology report had shown, when you told us he made you drive yourself to his office so he could tell you with proper decorum face to face, you gave us simple concrete clinical advice–don’t delay delivering the information which belongs to a patient, and most of all don’t ever make a patient drive himself to your office preoccupied by the bad news he knows you are going to tell him, for not only might you be killing your patient but some innocent pedestrian or two.
You told me I could use that experience of yours in my chapter “The Clinician as Patient”* (along with stories of myself and several other physicians). You sent me a copy of that essay about your own lymphoma, the one you had read, the one you said started you on your writing career. I’m glad you write; I’m glad I write. We may just be stodgy old twentieth century white male physicians, but we show we feel for everything that’s human, that we aren’t just clinically sterile or greedily arrogant. You are well-known for your bravery and your curiosity; you have contributed much to modern thought. Don’t stop. Leonard, you promised you would finish “Leonardo”. We all will love to read it, but you don’t have to do it energetically. Do what you have left to do gracefully.
I don’t come today to comfort you or your family; I come to witness to you that you are not alone. Nor time nor space nor even death can separate those who share affinity.
*My essay “Miracles and Joy” and my chapter “The Clinician as Patient” will be available in the soon-to-be-published expanded second edition of my clinical essays “Healing through Meeting: How to Survive the Health Care Chaos”; or I will be glad to e-mail those to anyone who wishes. NMP
My One and Only… Uncle Lenny,
The story of You…from my eyes as a child to my eyes as a woman and Mother… from my heart… is being written. You, who have given to me and my children wisdom and love and gifts that no one could ever put a price on. Until it is finished and put on these pages, I send to you my healing love energy and my heart, for it is with you now. I Love you… my precious Uncle Lenny….
Leonard: My sister, Pamela T. Boll, and I came to your home last August (2007). We were there to film you for her film: “Who Does She Think She Is?” We loved meeting you and your daughter Tiffany; you were so warm and welcoming! Our day with you was a gift because you were very generous with your ideas and concepts – very clear in explaining them – and all with a great sense of humor. To give us your time was a gift as well. Pamela is traveling right now and wants you to know that she is praying for you and will write as soon as she’s able. Love to you and your family. Cindy Lewis
After reading all the profoundly personal and touching entries from your family, friends, fans and colleagues it is hard to add much with my my comments. I was paralyzed as a quadriplegic from Guillain-Barré Syndrome many years ago. I learned that we have profound depth as humans for our healing. I am an artist and learned to paint again holding a brush my mouth. You are a priceless gift to so many and we will all hold your well being in our hearts. You are loved. Ed Penniman, Santa Cruz,CA.
It felt sad to read the email news and I didn’t know what to do about it except to think about it and you and wonder what I could ever say to add to your life and not take from your time. Then last night I dreamt of you. In the dream we are neighbors,we live about 4 or 5 houses away from each other. Like me, you enjoy sitting on your front porch or deck and when I go out to mine I look your way and see you and some of your family sitting outside in the warm sun relaxing and enjoying yourselves. I’m cleaning my porch and I’m kind of under dressed. Then I see you looking down my way and you see me through the foliage and we wave. You look good, you’re wearing a warm, colorful shirt that makes you look so good and relaxed and somehow or other you extend an invitation to visit on your porch. I put on some clothes and walk down to see you. You and your family are talking about healing and the importance of talking. I listen. I’m impressed by all the things each one of you is saying. I get inspired by all of you and I begin talking and I talk and explain how it is that listening to you and your family has helped me overcome my nervousness in this very moment. I tell you I truly believe talking heals because my nervousness has left me and I show my hands which are calm and relaxed. I thank everyone on the porch for this discovery. The dream memory ends here; it was a bigger moment than I’m able to write about. The dream was just like you, Leonard, bigger than can be described. I wish you well, thank you for inspiring my dreams and my world view. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Very best, John
The impact you’ve had on me cannot be expressed in words no matter how hard I could ever try. But I will do my best anyway to try and explain the kind of effect you can have on someone’s life, my life in particular. If I could dream up a man to teach me how to live a life, in that dream you would be the man I would see. I could not have asked for a more perfect man to look up to. Having you in my life is the greatest blessing I could ever ask for. You are what I strive to be everyday and I know that being even half the man you are would be an outstanding achievement in itself. I know that I am my own person, that I have my own goals and dreams that I want to accomplish. But looking deeply into the example that you are has helped me become a better man. You have no idea how lucky I feel to even have you, let alone actually be blessed like I am to be close to you. When I listen to you speak words of wisdom to me, I take those words and I grab onto them tightly. They will never leave my mind and soul. These words are teachings on how to live life the right way, the true and honest way.
All my visits to see you out in San Francisco, The trip to Mexico where we watched whales, and ate and talked for hours, just enjoying life. I love each and every moment I’ve ever spent with you. You taught me that California is the only place a man should ever want to be. You taught me that family is everything and can always make you smile. You taught me that the little things in life should be most appreciated. You taught me that nothing can replace a great woman in your life. You live life like a child yet at the same time you combine that with the wise older man with his knowledge and power. Your presence when you walk into a room is undeniable. Your like a celebrity except your fame has come from the true helping of others. You put years and years of your life into caring for others and even more years into advancing the lives of so many. I want you to know that I would do anything for you and that you have more support from you family than anyone could ever ask for. If I was there with you right now i would give you the biggest hug to actually show you how much you mean to me rather than this petty attempt to write my feelings and emotions down. I could go on for hours trying to express how much you truly mean to me, but it wouldn’t do it justice. You know without me saying anything that you single handily have changed my life in a way that I think no one else can truly understand. To you Uncle Lenny, the greatest man I have ever known.
Love, your nephew Sean
I was first introduce to Len Shlain through his books.
I found the Alphabet vs. the Goddess by accident, in a Barnes and Noble, and thumbing through it, was interested enough to buy it. It turned out to be one of those books that completely changes your life.. in so many ways. It was not just the writing or the concepts, but the way that Len was able to lace together so many multiple thoughts, theories, histories and anecdotes so that they all made sense at the same time. I was captured not just by his writing, but also by the way he could see the world. I felt an instant rapport with this man, whoever he was, and, among other things, immediately made the book required reading in my course at NYU.
A few year later, I was working with the Voice of America, the US Governments propaganda arm (well, let’s be honest). One day, I came into the US Govt Broadcasting Building in DC and saw a small notice that Leonard Shlain, the author, was going to be interviewed in radio studio 14 for the VOA.
I sat outside the radio studio, heard the interview, and then lunged at Len as he exited. (Sort of like a groupie, I guess). I told him how much his book had meant to me.. how it resonated with me… I must have seemed like a nut. Instead, Len asked me if I was free for lunch. I was.
I have to admit that, much as the book, the lunch was another captivating event. I had never, in my life, encountered someone so bright, so engaging, so entertaining – DaVinci as a raconteur par excellence. He leapt from subject to subject with such ease, and yet had so many insights… so much to see. Such a new way of seeing. It was, for me, like heroin.
Thus began a series of lunches, which soon became dinners with him and Ina, which became invitations to his home. We met up with him and Tiffany and Al Gore out in Deer Valley. When Lisa joined us, she, as I, was taken with both Len and Ina’s wonderful ability to make everyone feel at home and yet soar to the heights of both fun and stimulation.
When they joined us for our wedding this August in Tuscany, nothing made us happier than when we all sat in the courtyard after dinner and sang songs together for hours and hours into the night.
That evening, Len turned to me and said ‘I feel as if I have found my long lost brother’. I also felt the same. I have felt a rapport with this man since the day I met him.
Lenny, all our prayer and hopes are with you now. We send you all our love always.
Michael & Lisa
When I was in college I used to have a reccuring dream. I would be on campus (at UC Berkeley) and it was often at night, a full moon and filled with strange creatures. A friendly silent bear would approach me and he was always pantomiming for me to check out a cool new place or thing. The bear and I would have adventures, throw rocks into Strawberry Creek near Wheeler Auditorium, sneak inside Wurster Hall and sometimes we’d do cartwheels at the foot of the Campanile. The bear was always smiling and always made me feel reassured when we’d see another cool creature or animal. Then at the end of the dream, the bear would take off his bear head and it would be you.
I love you so much, dad. Let’s beat this. Kimberly
I have a few stories in mind but I’ll keep it short for now. =]
How about when I was nine or so years old you took me,sean and my mom up to Tahoe for the summer and how everymorning I would wake up and go into the dining room to listen about the new updated story on the GIANT bear that cam up to your window while you imitated his growls and all.At the time it was scarey but still something I look forward to every morning.
About 5 summers ago I was going into my freshman year in highschool and unsure about how I would fit into Dreyfoos School of the Arts. You introduced me to a whole new world when you sent me to Interlochen. You gave me a whole new experience on life outside of what I was used to while getting to do what I loved. By sending me there not only did I have one of the best summers of my life, I got further introduced into what I love and I could never thank you enough for that.
No matter what the situation has been you’ve always been there for me,lol you even got me the bed I sleep in now,which can I just say is the most comfortable bed ever.=] Uncle Lenny, I look forward for the trips out to see you every year or so and love hearing your stories. You’re my favorite uncle.
Love you a million,Courtney <3
You’ve been an inspiration to me long before I met you. I still marvel at a master surgeon who can write so insightfully about complex
and difficult subjects like art, history, and physics. Unfettered by
the conventional viewpoints, your fresh eye reveals connections and
conjectures that no one could have seen before. And you skillfully
convey these ideas with an original and infectious style.
When I met you on Jan 26, 1997, on a rainy night in San Francisco’s
North Beach, I was struck by your ideas, and by your daughter. Over
the years, you’ve been extremely generous, but the best gift you could
share with me was Tiffany. She’s a warm, loveable human being, a
terrific mother, an insightful, creative dynamo with boundless energy,
gumption, and a can-do attitude: she’s my dream girl and she’s got so
much of your spirit.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from you about so many things.
Especially about fatherhood. You described to me how during your
first bout with cancer you came to the realization that the most
important thing in life is one’s family. And you made family your
priority ever since. With all the other activities in your life, it
is crystal clear that for you family comes first. You are so close
with Ina, and with all of your kids, you talk with us almost every
day; you care about the details of our lives, and you do everything
you can to support us and your grandchildren. You’re an inspiration.
I’m the guy who shared the pre-med studies at the same time as you at the University of Michigan. I did not get to know you until I heard you speak at Pacific Medical Center’s program in Medicine and Philosophy, and then I was stunned at the breadth and humanity of your knowledge, which you certainly did not pick up in our organic chemistry lab.
Later my wife and I attended the weekend seminar at Asilomar with you when yuou were creating ART AND PHYSICS.
Still later you were gracious enough to come three times to Monterey Peninsula College to address us about your work. After you spoke about THE ALPHABET AND THE GODDESS,I’ll not forget the lady from the audience who asked the very first question; “are you married?”
Len, you are an inspiration to all of us. You will go to the head of my prayer concerns and I am confident of your recovery and await the publication of your new book.
I am just as confident that you will rise above this as I am that the University of Michigan will have a bright future after their setback in losing the first three games this year!
With respect and admiration,
Everyone knows that there are generally not enough words to describe you: so it was many years ago, that you and I decided to come up with a new name to describe our relationship. “Stepfather” was way too formal, and “Stepdad” seemed inadequate. We felt that what we have couldn’t fit into those generic categories, so we created a new word: You became RUNGPERE, and I became RUNGFILLE. Lately we mostly call you Poppa because of the special love you share with Sophia & Elena, but you will always be my RungPere. I miss you more than I can say.
Thumbs & Joe Paloooooka
I met Lenny in 1988 at his CPMC office. I was on crutches when I rambled in. Having just been dismissed by a very prominent literary agent, I can only imagine — actually I know — what was going through his mind when he laid eyes on moi. History and twenty years have seen us through 4 (FOUR!!!) books. The Dr. actually fired me over dinner once. But I popped up again. This brings me to The “Joe Palooka” part of the story. Those of you who remember those blow up dolls attached to the cardboard feet. You would punch them and they would keep coming back . . . that’s you Len. They told you — po boy from Deeetroit — ya wouldn’t make it in the medicine department here. They asked in the Hallowed Halls of NY publishing, “Who the hell is he to be writin’ this stuff?” How in tarnation, or ANY OTHER “nation”for that matter, did the likes of you score a Judge named Ina to be your beloved forever???
You are no balloon. You are the living, everlovin’ embodiment of Joe Palooka. You just CAN NOT keep Lenny down!!!!
The “Thumbs” part is ours together; yours to tell as you have done on a number of occasions.
You will pull throught this. You have been my mentor all my life. I have all your books. You are the top star in the family. Charismatic charming and great knowledge. A great talent.
I have just returned from israel and want you to know that a prayer went into the wailing wall in your honor.
i feel very fortunate to have you as a brother in law and have so enjoyed our family dinners together over the years.
my thoughts are with you and we will catch up next week and i will go over my
trip which included odessa.
your sister in law irene dietz
You’re the best thing to come out of a bleh relationship. My ex gave me a copy of the Alphabet vs. The Goddess and I LOVED it. Then I got to know Tiffany. Strong work all around!
Once when leonard was giving a book release appearance at a book store on Height street in San Francisco – I had with me a new PR image for tiffany that I was using as a buisness promotional peice for art directors.
When he saw the postcard – I will never forget the look in his eyes and his strong reaction to the photograph. He was so proud he almost glowed with enthusiasm and pute joy.
Leonard is my uncle, my father Marvin’s younger brother. Leonard started a tradition with the next generation in our family by presenting each of us, when we reached the Bar/Bat Mitzvah age of 13, with a box of books. It was a mix of classic novels by Jack London and Hemingway with existentialist European philosophers thrown in. Some of the books were deceptively simple, like Call of the Wild or The Old Man and the Sea, so kids could really appreciate them, but others were obviously for a different stage of curiosity and maturity. I remember leafing through the Jean-Paul Sartre and the Kierkegaard and realizing I wasn’t quite ready for anything that dense or depressing. But I did become the first boy on my block to read Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground…A few years ago, my children, Nick and Francesca, got their own boxes from their great uncle, it was so nice to see Leonard’s tradition continuing. Of course it’s a gift that’s built to last, over the long haul, changing with time as we all change, maybe that’s why I’ve never forgotten it. I became a professional writer, and oddly enough, for a brief time we actually shared the same agent, publisher, and editor in New York, all working on Shlain books. Leonard was a big early influence insofar as his excitement with travel and the world of ideas represented something “other” or “elsewhere”, which I realized, a long time ago, was where it was truly at.
I met Leonard at USF when I invited him to give a talk on science and religion. For that one I could pay him a fair amount, so I asked if he would be willing to come to a class meeting some other time, to which he readily agreed. There followed several visits, including an hours long one on Leonardo’s Brain last fall. In 2002 we sat together at a bare production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and I showed my usual reaction to a dark room by falling asleep. He did not bring it to my attention, but it did seem strange to see characters that were new to me engaged with Einstein and Picasso. That is where I got a VHS of his Art & Physics lecture, which I play for each of my fall freshman seminars on Math & Art. In fact, the outline of the seminar is based on his top rubric of space, time, and light. He put the Fusion Project and me together, and every time I mention him to someone, it turns out they are tight with him. He is downright addictive, pervasive, and conducive. To/in/of/for what? If you have to ask, then you have not experienced his scope–nothing is beyond it!
Dear Dr. Shlain and Ina:
Thank you so much for your message!
I might be the last one in the United States who still doesn’t know how to play Internet, that’s why I never post the message to the blog. Of course you can put any of my communications to your blog in part or in whole any time.
Dr. Shlain mentioned my name on the acknowledgement page in his best selling book “Sex, Time & Power”. He also suggested that I translated that book. Due to the cultural difference; the Asian people will hesitate to mention the sex so directly. I suggested to translate his book “Art & Physics” instead. I was overjoyed with the counter intelligence and the philosophy it represented during my reading. In fact, I read it completely more than fifteen times underlined with ball-pens in blue, red, black sometimes even green colors – similar to that of encaustic approach in painting that showed the inner journey of an artist.
This book “Art & Physics” led me free from the bondage of 3-D and liberating to 4-D – Universal Mind in which, as if the turtle is lifted to the air and seen the world in 3-D, in 4-D we have sudden awareness of our higher existence. The nationalism, materialism, and capitalism are not the perfect models, and we tend to go back to the society where people help each other, living in a simple and beautiful life and the whole humankind marching toward utopia. More vivid example? The boom of waves, the chorus of summer cicada and moaning of hungry African boys are part of us.
Twenty some years ago, I read the Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, that opened my eyes to link the advanced science with ancient Eastern wisdom. When I tried to equate form (particle) is emptiness (energy) and emptiness (energy) is form (particle), the lower part of my left arm was blinking with golden white light mischievously. Reading and completed translation of Art & Physics, of course I also read his books the Alphabet vs. the Goddess, Sex, Time & Power, I didn’t have such experience. (As master Hsuan Hua told me, once you lead out the Dharma Joy). It will never come back to show you again. However, it not only opened my mind, it even led me to the speech occasions in 2nd International Conference of Art & Science sponsored by Tsing Hua University held in Beijing 2006, from which it further led me to the 3rdInternational Science & Art Symposium in Shanghai 2007 as keynote speaker. In both occasions, the topic was “Art, Physics & Eastern Mysticism”. The content was essentially from Dr. Shlain’s insight.
Dr. Shlain’s life is the one with dualistic harmony: in the daytime, he is a surgeon (left brain activities) and at night time, he is a thinker and writer (right brain activities). In much less degree and trying to be, I developed green hotels in the daytimes, and being a writer and thinker at night time. With this dualistic harmony approach, I developed two of the greenest hotels in the United States: GAIA Napa Valley Hotel (www.gaianavalleyhotel.com ) (The first LEED gold in the U.S.) and GAIA Anderson Hotel (www.gaiaandersonhotel.com ) (Applying for LEED gold) . One of the most beautiful suites for the later is Da Vinci Suite, guess who inspired me to have that name? Of course, no other than Dr. Shlain. I always thought that Dr. Shlain is the reincarnated being of Da Vinci who had the scientific left brain and artistic right brain wholeness. In Da Vinci Suite I’m having a bookshelf in stained in order to stuff full of art books. Expecting Dr. Shlain recover and the honor to having his family enjoy the suite life here.
Very sincerely and best personal regards from
My Dear Friend Len:
I was shocked when I heard indirectly about your struggle with cancer. After what you have been enduring these last few years and getting on top of that, to then discover this present condition is just not fair. When I dealt with my own discovery of cancer, you and Ina were so kind in inviting me over for dinner on my initial trip from Humboldt to the Bay Area for pre-opts sessions. I was extremely moved by your thoughtfulness and generosity. Your home radiated such warmth and love; your baked salmon that evening was a feat I’ve been attempting since to emulate.
I only had the pleasure of meeting you around 2000 when you graciously accepted our invitation to be featured speaker at the Brain/Mind Conference for teachers of English at Asilomar. I remember vividly one episode from that weekend that captures the quality of your integrity. As featured speaker for the plenary meeting, we asked you to participate during the entire weekend, this being the request made of all speakers at our conferences over more than a half century, such speakers like Noam Chomsky, Anais Nin, Billy Collins, etc. You participated from Friday through Sunday. On Saturday evening you received an emergency call to return to San Francisco to attend to a patient in grave condition. And then you drove back to Asilomar in early morning to continue participating.
Little did I know that we would become close friends in the following decade. My wife Anita had heard you interviewed on NPR and alerted me about your forthcoming title The Alphabet versus the Goddess. Some time earlier, I had taught a course in literature at my university called the Brain as Metaphor. When I subsequently discovered your book at Northtown Books in Arcata, I remember thinking, “My God, if only this were available when I organized that class.” You even included one hero in the juxtapositions in the table of contents that has long been a favorite, Cadmus, the Semite who first infused culture in Ancient Greece. I knew immediately how closely are our interests, and to an extent our life’s experiences.
The range of your intellect is astounding. In Art and Physics you refute C. P. Snow’s thesis that science and the humanities are incongruous. In this essay you explain how some artistic creations anticipate scientific discoveries. Your explication of Einstein’s concept of time is the clearest and most understandable that I have ever encountered, an explanation that you posit about works of art as evidence of Einstein’s mathematical insights. You are the embodiment of the Renaissance mind, and so fitting it is that you are writing now about Leonardo’s brain. And I look forward to your next book, the theme of which you outlined that evening at your home: how mythologies of the past adumbrate racial struggles of primordial groups. Your vision extends back, deeply back to those yeasty years of antediluvian life on planet Earth, beyond script to decipher currents that warrant new insights that may explain how reason surfaced by gender in Time, Sex, and Power.
Like Marshall McLuhan, your intellect transcends the constraining categories imposed upon study by our relatively recent, nineteenth century-based, conceptualization of realms of knowledge. You pose not causal, nor even correlational, linkages but intuitive forays that germinate rather than terminate ratiocination. Appropriately in Eureka, your words, spoken and written, have inspired heuristics for thought in your several addresses that have brought together disparate peoples whose sole commonality is the desire to learn and discuss. You have here in the emerald north coast a following of a rock star. As for your prose, you are among the foremost stylists today and have matched in the humanities the level of genius that you have achieved as a harbinger of surgery. Your DVD on how to write, to find an agent, and to get published warrant close study for any teaching in my field. In fact, you are closer to the realities of writing for publications than many writing programs that amass large body count for departments but classes that are remote from where the action is.
Above all, Len, you are a man of love, evidenced in your home, family, and marriage, and so apparent to any viewing Tiffany’s delightful celebration of your 70th birthday on You Tube. They will read your words of wisdom that you long ago conveyed to your children, the interlarding script among the shots of you in Detroit, of you serving in Saumur during the Cold War, and of you and your lovely wife traveling to locations around the globe. Each phrase of your advice elicited in me incidents of exactly how you practice what you preached back then. I have so benefited from your friendship that has attuned me to richer aspects of life. These maxims resonate with what Henry James reflected: “We work in the dark, we do what we can, we give what we have, our doubt is our passion, our passion is our task, the rest is the madness of art.”
Thank you for all you have done for me, your generosity and your time, time that is so much in demand by your practice and your publishers. Thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for being.
Tom Gage, Professor Emeritus in English, Humboldt State University
Leonard and I became friends in a very unusual way. Being a painter, I know the ideal for all great art is presenting the world in a new way. To help me reach for this ideal, I like to follow cutting edge theories of science. Ten years ago or so, I was browsing through a Manhattan Upper Eastside Barnes & Noble, when I stumbled upon Leonard’s book “Art & Physics,” which of course I had to buy immediately, since it seemed like fate having discovered it.
Being my shy retiring self, I quickly emailed Leonard to establish contact. This is how we met. And as a member of the Exhibition Committee of The National Arts Club at the time, I invited him to present a talk to The NAC about his book and theories. His talk a few months later was so well received (not counting the two hours of 8-ball we played following in the downstairs pool room at the club), that by popular demand Leonard returned a year or so later to do an encore presentation – this time of “The Alphabet & The Goddess.” Don’t even ask how Leonard can knock out such provocative books in such a short period of time.
Years ago I studied screenwriting to play with an idea I had for a film. As an exercise, the teacher had us transcribe conversations overheard in buses, trains, diners, the purpose being to realize how banal most real conversations actually are between people. With Leonard however, banal conversation is a total impossibility. It simply can’t be done. Even if you start off with “Nice weather, we’re having,” it is unavoidable that you will find yourself ending up exploring hidden nuances of meteorology or the impact of weather on ancient civilizations or something that will reverberate through your mind for weeks, even months following.
One day out of the blue, I received an email from Leonard which seemed to be a new essay, and asked me for comment. It turned out this was the first draft of Chapter One in what would eventually be “Sex, Time, and Power.” It was certainly thought-provoking, even if there were differences of opinion. I contributed my critique; and Leonard honored me by including my name under the acknowledgements in the published book.
In any case Leonard, as I said to you in an earlier, private email, if anyone can tough this one out, you can. And I’m glad to hear that the treatments are moving forward, holding the fort as they say, and that things seem to be under control.
See you in the Big Apple.
All the best,
I just heard about this through the grapevine. Reading all of your friends’ reminiscences walked me down memory lane to the night I first met you in Cole Valley sixteen years ago. You strode into the restaurant, fresh from performing surgery and eager to run your latest ideas by your dining companions. From there, the discussion evolved, from the silly to the sublime, over many meals, football games and bawdy stories, from Malcolm Muggeridge and Pablo Picasso to borscht belt comics and, of course, Leonardo.
You’re a gem, Lenny. My best wishes for health and happiness for all of you.
Hi Leonard. Iam very grateful for your work. I love your message with the right brain. Iam one of these who flourished in learning while i get my heart right brain in main use for every activity I love.
I have researched the universe relationship
with the heart open hologram experience with right brain dominant have trough intuitive inspiration.
Last 6 years have been my dedication to this study. I love you to email me. I have conceptualized a university online that would best be called Davincis Dream Entrepreneur Impact. Quantumphysics To cell Biology, hologram fourier transform to brain to entrepreneurial it, physical conceptual business ideas in startups.
It is the school i never had, the teachers i never had, and inspiration i was never supported in. That my life mission is to give.
I plan doing this as conglomerate of Radsio, Magazine, University, EVENTS, Mastermind, Selfhelp individualized genius resource.
My EMAIL IS IF IT INSPIRES YOU ON THE TOPIC
All our best wishes have been with you and your family, from our home of four left handed and four right handed. And my quick story – when I first saw well titled “Alphabet vs the Goddess” on the far wall display across the Tattled Cover store in Denver, a chill went down my spine- just remembering that moment now sends the same chill. And the book proved a god(dess)send to this lefthanded, ex-divinty student cum photographer cum designer!! Thank you, Leonard, so very much for your insights, then and into the far future.
All my best wishes are with you and your family. Kimberly keeps me up-to-date with news about everyone, particularly you. I am married now, living in New York and with more grey hairs than I wish to admit. And here’s the fun part, I have three childern – 2 girls (ages 5 and 2 1/2) and a new baby boy (8 months). So I figure that they are about the age that I was when you first came into my life. I have some very distinct memories of our families, and a very vivid picture in my head of a black and white photo of your family at your old house on Carrera. I remember the pool at that house with the big glass dome and the stained glass in the middle. And I remember the night it came crashing down in a rain storm. I remember Snagglepuss and Cindy. I remember Saturday nights of a movie, Chinese food, and sleep-overs at your house on Strawberry Point with what seemed like a million of us. And I remember when you had the first cellphone on the block, and it was as big as a brick. I remember talking to you over the phone when Kimberly was visiting in Paris and asking you to tell me a good american joke because I was sick of the French sense of humor. Thank you for all that and I am looking forward to adding more memories to my list of you and your family. Best wishes from NYC. Denise
I hope that this finds you recovering apace, spurred on by yesterday’s synchronous healing session. The session continues here in the heartland, where heartfelt prayers, meditations, and thoughts for recovery are being sent your way.
It was a rare treat to view Tiffany’s tribute to you and your celebration of your 70th year: a magnificent creation for a magnificent man. I look forward to seeing the 75th birthday update featuring LEONARDO’S BRAIN.
Thank you again for coming to the University of Oklahoma and for sharing your knowledge of history, understanding of the brain, and love of life with students and faculty.
With warm wishes for continued strength and renewed health,
How wonderful is this website! How thrilling to learn that the brilliant thinker, compassionate physician and revolutionary writer is also a kind, loving and well-appreciated family man with so many friends, colleagues and associates praying for his recovery. Count me in! Dr. Schlain’s books and lectures at the Creativity and Madness seminars in Santa Fe opened my eyes to entirely new ways of looking at the world.
I have spent the past several years trying to get my toy poodle (who attended the seminars with me) to go to something at which I pointed. Leonard said dogs couldn’t do that. Well, Puccini now does it so let’s consider that a miracle. Now I believe in miracles, especially miracles of healing. Get well Leonard. We all love ya’!
At about 8:00 p.m. last Friday Nov. 14th about 100 attendees of the General Semantics association, whom your dad addressed at the same meeting last year, observed a long moment of healing prayer & energy directed toward Leonard. I was touched by the gesture and hope for the best for him.
New York, NY
I just wanted to share the fact that the books that Leonard has written have impacted my life in so many positive ways. I keep AVG in my bedside bookshelf and refer to it frequently and have read it through at least three times – I just finished Sex Time Power and am currently reading Space Time Light – for research on a project I am completing that requires facts about color and light.
It never ceases to amaze me how he can take a topic like color for instance and dissect it 80 ways and each way is different yet linked with the other ways.
AVG should be required reading in schools – it is so eye opening and paradigm shifting – not in an “in your face” way, but in a thoughtfully excecuted fashion that exposes too many facts to be mere coincidence.
Leonards books satiate my hunger for knowledge yet leave me wanting more. He is an extraordinary man whos energy that was poured into the pages of his books will live on.
A few days ago I was at the Apple Store Genius Bar in Corte Madera solving a problem. The women sitting net to me was familiar to me.
We started talking about her computer problem. Hopefully she got it solved.
We introduced ourselves to each other. I told Ina I had met her at a party at the Brotman’s Home a while ago.
Any way she told me about your illness. It’s always difficult for me to hear this kind of news. It is very hard for me to talk about it. However, I just want you to know that I am thinking about you, and have and will include in our nightly prayers.
You are a very special person and have done much on this earth.
I told Ina about the first time I met you. It was at Grodin’s Market Street Store. You had just come to town. We instantly opened a charge account for you and you purchased a bundle of clothes.
I know you have lots of support from Family and friends. However,
if I can be of any help to you please call or email me.
A brilliant orator and thinker, unfettered by scientific orthodoxy. You have influenced my mind hugely. Thank you for your work, and blessings upon your family.
— Rachel in Santa Fe
We remember with joy your lecture here at Pepperdine several years back, and the following dinner on the beach with you, your daughter, and her husband. You left a remarkable impression upon our students. Know that we will be praying for you tomorrow at 5 p.m. Blessings and Godspeed, David Baird, Dean Emeritus, Pepperdine University
I recently visited the Lukas Klinik in Arlesheim, Switzerland, which specializes in anthroposophic (holistic / spiritual but not religious) medicine. They have had very good results using Iscador, a medicine based on mistletoe, for cancer patients, used in conjuntion with standard radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Iscador helps the patients tolerate their other treatment, helps their appetite, and has a range of other benefits that this short note cannot give justice to. Although I do not know you, my impression is that you are open-minded and may be interested to know about (or have a trusted friend investigate) Iscador. The recommendation of using mistletoe came from Rudolf Steiner, who was clairvoyant and could see spiritual reality behind what we with our usual senses can see only superficially. Steiner was also the founder of Waldorf schools, which are among the most visible of anthroposophical endeavors. I would be happy to give you more references if you are interested. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know I have been touched by your strivings and by the deep care for you by the people who surround you. I wish you all the best.
Hello Leonard, I’ve been following your reports, and I am very happy to know that you are receiving such excellent care. I imagine your pH body chemistry is also being carefully managed. They say cancer and arthritis cannot develop in a alkaline pH body chemistry, and it needs to be tested in the blood as well as the urine.
I salute your beautiful spirit!
downunder in Melbourne, Australia
I am almost finished with “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess.” It is the most exciting book I have read in a long time – and I read a lot. It had a very cathartic effect for me since I am a right brainer, an artist, who is seldom understood. I decided to find you on the PC and am devastated to discover that you are in deep kim chee (Hawaii localese. Oh I do believe in prayer and you shall have them sent. I not only relished the material but also the metaphors and turns of phrases which delighted me no end. I would like you to read a poem I wrote a few years back – I am now 89.
There’s a long forgotten language
That filters through the mind.
It wasn’t taught at knee or school,
It’s of quite a different kind.
It cannot be translated.
There are no cases, nouns or verbs.
It is sensed like an aroma,
From a garden old with herbs.
(This line escapes me, Ill send it later.)
Into an idle, vagrant day,
Unexpected and unheralded,
Hatched in happiness or play
It comes to you when sound asleep
And dances on your cerebrum (poetic license) Performs in vague, outlandish ways
Yielding music that won’t hum.
A private heiroglyphics
Created in one’s image, own,
And the code has long been buried
Ever deeper as we’ve grown.
Poignant dreams of sweet recall
With a destiny so fitting
No cage could pen, no pen could cage
A mystery so fitting.
My best to you. You are quite a genius! Elynore
As one of Kimberly’s childhood friends I want to tell you what an impression you made on me. I vividly remember how you encouraged the kids to try things like escargot and perhaps a sip of wine and how everyone was expected to participate in the conversations about subatomic particles and bas relief at the dinner table—or to at least tell a joke. The atmosphere at your house was panoramic, heady, and edgy with forward momentum. This morning when I heard the news about your health I remembered all this and felt struck by how even a peripheral participation in your home gave me a new understanding of what a family might look like and how a parent might nurture the growth of a young mind. Thank you for that. And may young minds continue to be nurtured by the reverberations of yours.
Long before Art and Physics, we knew my uncle was a gifted writer. As I was growing up in Southfield Michigan, we had a standard ritual at the Goldstick house. Once a week my grandparents came for dinner and occasionally grandpa would arrive at the house with an announcement that “We have a letter from Leonard”. Ah – this was a special treat!
No clanking dishes and silverware, or whispering conversations– All was hushed as grandma took out her reading glasses and carefully unfolded the 2-3 page letter (never a one pager) with post marks from Europe, where he was stationed in the army. There were no interruptions, as Grandpa, the self appointed moderator was sure to keep the letter flowing. Questions and comments were saved for the finish. Except of course there were always pauses for laughter, or requests for “read that part again”
Chock full of anecdotes, lots of lofty words (of course) and always a juicy story that would make us laugh, it’s easy to see how we became mesmerized by my uncle at an early age. Those letters were just a small part of how my sister, brothers, and myself came to know and revere him. We have always been in awe of our Uncle Lenny. His talents, his accomplishments and his passion for living life to the fullest, have and continue to be an inspiration to all of us.
We love him very much
I am please to hear about the good results. Be positive and life will follow that way.
One of my favorite burning man moments of all times includes YOU – Dr. Shlain.
I was just out of the RV (it was a long road to the playa including a plane ride “home” to my dearest friends and family from my then “home” in Manhattan), on the playa at/in the Spiral for maybe 2 minuets and Tiffany – lovely Tiffany says – ” Come on – we have something we have to do ”
Off I go with you in your playa lounge ware, your daughter in … something fabulous, me in white (that was my thing that life changing year) and others .. into the night – on to the playa.
Tiffany says – wait until you see. There is Art and Physics camp. A couple who met because of their love for the book – my dad doesnt know.
In time, in the dark, surrounded by music and dust and love – we find our selves in a camp filled with signs. Each a quote from the book. I watched as you read/pondered/realized, Tiffany smiled/cried and the couple – who were together because of the book were introduced to their author. It was all so much.
What a convergence. What a moment. What a life.
Thank you for creating Tiffany who is so apart of mine. I am forever grateful.
So much love and light in these epic moments of .. love and light.
Thinking of you and yours
Dear Dr. Shlain,
We met at Cooper Union after a talk you gave there and then we went to dinner with John Harrington, then Dean of Humanities at Cooper, and now at RPI. I csn’t tell you how much I enjoyed your talk, and your books, Art and Physics and The Alphabet and the Goddess. You invited me to visit with you in Marin when I next visit my son Lewis, an attorney in Santa Rosa, and I regret not doing so. But I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity, soon I hope, when you recover.
With warmest regards and best wishes for a speedy rcovery,
Bill Warren EE ’50, The Cooper Union
Dr Shlain, I have never met you but your daughter Kimberly has spoken so many times about you and she told me your tumor has shrunk. I talked to her when she was in SF taking a walk with you. I wish you the best, a happy Passover, and just wanted you to know what a great job you did raising her and what a super person she is. best, doug
Dear, Leonard Shlain
I read your three books in Toronto at the end of 2006. During those years, I was studying English and trying acting.
Currently, I reside near Seoul of South Korea. I have grown up for 25years in Korea,and went to Toronto to study English. In Korea, I studied Life Science and pursued some Tao(Do in Korea, strictly 18swords-martial art which is called sibpal-ki).
Actually, I could approach your books when I searched internet with raw inspiration about sex and power. After reading your books, based on your many evidenced theories, I improvisionally made many related thories about my languge(actually I studyed interpretation a little) and my nation’s ancient history. I feel kind of guilty my spoken or unspoken those theories(although my religion is not christinaty) was involved in national politics or international politics, and sorry for those are hurted from my unevidenced theories or imagination. Sometimes I made bad names about heaven because of this weird global situation.
Currently, I am taking psycartric medicine because of english focused emplicated thirds’ voice, and trying to take mental medicine of the Korea’s No.1 university
You have certainly been a challenge to my 89 years of learning. I love theories and you posit enough of them to keep me busy for the next ten years (The good Lord willing). I am not sure how much is fact, fiction or fury yet but they certanly are fascinating. With a majestic sweep you dust up things I am not familiar with but must validate. Since I was born Left handed and was switched to my Right, I always felt I was of two minds about many things. I am an artist and wrote a book at 81. I am now rading Art & Physics
after being completely enchanted with The Alphabet Versus the Goddess.
You are a brilliant mind and a master of helping others develop a new prespective. Your work has inspired my life; after all, once you get out of the box it would be madness to go back in.
You must be well for all the generations that still need your unique view of the world.
To Dr. Leonard Shlain’s family:
I was so sad when I heard the news of Doc’s passing. He really helped me when in 2001, I e-mailed him about his book, The Alphabet Vs. the Goddess.
Doc would ask me to do some work citing and research for his book, Sex Time and Power.
I met Doc in Troy, Michigan at his speaking engagement in 2001. I was surprised that Leonard sent me a signed copy of his book and placed my name in his acknowledgement page.
His wisdom and confidence in me has changed my life. I will forever miss his love and care for the human soul.
I will miss you Dr. Leonard, so so much
Ps I hope the latest book, “Leonard’s Brain”, of Dr. Shlain can still be produced, I will take great care in reading it with every enlightening word.
In addition to my wish posted here on the site, I’ve posted a longer eulogy to Dr. Schlain at examiner.com, where I’m the “SF Spirituality Examiner.”
In 1991 I got a call from my dear friend (and personal physician) Piero Mustacchi asking me to stop by his garage (his house is built above) on my way to UC Davis; I did, around 06:00 AM, and he gave me a copy of “Arts and Physics”. I knew that Piero was someone very special, educated, artsy, encyclopedic, and full of sensorial attention. That very day [knowingly or not] he opened the gates to another dimension: the fabulous world of Leonard Shlain. As I told him, later on, Leonard Schlain became one of my (very few) heros: that book changed my life. I thought I had known it all, and discovered, with passion and pleasure, that I was an ignorant -and I loved it! I purchased dozens of copies, and for years I would offer the book to friends -who kept on thanking me profusely.
Then, a few years later, Judah Feher (a classmate of our daughter Emmanuelle, and [almost] our adopted son) got married; we attended the wedding with trepidation and -luck of lucks!- were seated with the Judge and her husband: here was my hero! I was not disappointed. He was more than a hero, he was… [I do not know how to phrase it] much better.
There are few people who change the thinking, or even the mind of humans, for the better; Leonard Shlain was one of them.
He will be missed; so much. I weep and cry.
Love to all,
My heartfelt condolences! Leonard was a great scholar, but also had a great heart that could hold many friends across many cultural borders. May peace be upon him.
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ART & PHYSICS
Parallel Visions in Space Time and Light
THE ALPHABET VS. THE GODDESS
The Conflict Between Word and Image
SEX, TIME & POWER
How Female Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution
Understanding Da Vinci's Creative Genius
ART & PHYSICS
THE ALPHABET VS THE GODDESS
SEX, TIME & POWER
THE BIG "O"
ON WRITING AND EDITING
1937 – 2009
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