Healing the Split
Healing the Split consists of the collected essays of poet, literary critic and philosopher Marc Elihu Hofstadter. The essays stretch from Hofstadter's early scholarly articles about poets William Carlos Williams and Yves Bonnefoy through articles published in the Redwood Coast Review about poetry, art, music, science, politics and France to recent articles concerning the "split" between the sciences and the humanities, reason and feeling/intuition/faith. The book embodies Hofstadter's consistent belief in the idea that all human activities are composed of an "objective" element and a "subjective" element. Human knowledge, whether scientific, mathematical, philosophical or artistic, contains a degree of objective certainty mixed with a component of subjective feeling. The differences between science and the humanities are differences of degree of objectivity, not of essence, and the knowledge the humanities display is a genuine form of knowledge, less certain than science but rich in tangible, felt experience. Even early in his career as a literary critic, Hofstadter was interested in how such otherwise diverse poets as Williams and Bonnefoy sacralize the coming together of mind and world in all forms of human experience. As Williams put it, "No ideas but in things!"-by which he meant, not, Let there not be any ideas! but, Let all ideas be inextricably entwined with the physical world! Hofstadter argues that, in all our activities, there is a mixture of the thinking, reasoning mind and the parts of us that feel, perceive, touch-our bodies, our hearts. Science and philosophy are the great achievements of the mind, while art and religion are the most powerful consummations of sensing and feeling-yet science and philosophy are partly emotive, and art and theology partly rational. The difference, again, is in degree. Healing the Split is an attempt to bring reason and feeling/intuition/faith together, to show how they are intimately related. The Buddhist faith is key to this effort, because Buddhism doesn't analyze out reason and non-rational knowledge as separate faculties but tries to unite them in a direct, embodied kind of experience that "heals the split" between them and makes the individual human being whole. In Buddhism, everything we know is known through consciousness, and distinctions between subject and object, mind and world, logic and faith become artificial, since consciousness is essentially unitary. And Buddhism sees all phenomena, known through consciousness, as being related in a universal "web" everything is connected ultimately to everything else, and the world is essentially One. Healing the Split is finally a work of mysticism in the line of Parmenides, who believed that everything is one, or the Kabbalists, who worshipped the All in the form of "Ha Shem" the unnamable "Name." Marc Elihu Hofstadter was born in New York City in 1945. He received his B.A. in French literature from Swarthmore College in 1967 and his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1975. He has taught American literature at Santa Cruz, the Universite d'Orleans (on a Fulbright Lectureship) and Tel Aviv University. In 1980 he obtained his Master of Library Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and from 1982 to 2005 served as the Librarian of the City of San Francisco's transit agency. He has published five volumes of poetry: House of Peace, Visions, Shark's Tooth, Luck and Rising at 5 AM, all of which are available on amazon.com, and his poems, translations and essays have appeared in over sixty magazines. He lives in the retirement community of Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California with his partner, the artist David Zurlin.