The only official website –- and, in all probability, the only factually correct website –- for the author Benjamin Hoff.
Benjamin Hoff is the author of The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, both of which explain the Chinese philosophy of Taoism through the characters created by A.A. Milne, and The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, his biography of fellow Oregon author and charismatic nature teacher Opal Whiteley. All three books were Book-of-the-Month Club selections. The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet were also selections of the Quality Paperback Book Club.
The Tao of Pooh –- an international bestseller and the first Taoist-authored book in history to appear on bestseller lists –- was on The New York Times’ bestseller list for 49 weeks. Its international-bestseller successor, The Te of Piglet, was on New York Times for 59 weeks.
Both books brought the previously obscure philosophy of Taoism to the attention of mainstream America. (For a couple of examples of how mainstream: The Tao of Pooh was the subject of a question in a TV Guide crossword puzzle; The Te of Piglet was the subject of a question on the television show “Jeopardy.”)
For years they have been used as high school and college texts for classes in a wide variety of subjects, including science, business, philosophy, literature, and world culture.
They have been publicly endorsed by notables such as English pop-philosophy author John Tyerman Williams, American marketing communication guru Michael Ray, Wall Street investment counselor and author Bennet Goodspeed, and popular screen actress Julia Roberts.
The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, the book most often credited with the current worldwide interest in Opal Whiteley, won an American Book Award. It is the only book on Opal Whiteley popularly acknowledged as a “cult classic.”
In 2010, as part of the publisher’s 75th anniversary celebration, Penguin Books selected The Tao of Pooh to be one of the 75 books featured in the house’s printed promotion and public displays.
The descendant of two family lines of artists, engineers, and explorers, Benjamin Hoff has been a writer, an investigative photojournalist, a tree pruner, a songwriter, and a recording musician and singer. He has studied architecture, music, fine arts, graphic design, and Asian culture –- including Japanese Tea Ceremony (third certificate level), Japanese fine-pruning methods (two years of apprenticeship), and the comparatively esoteric martial-art form of T’ai Chi Ch’uan (four years of instruction, including a year of Ch’i Kung).
He attended Sylvan School, West Sylvan Middle School, Benson Polytechnic, Lincoln High School (the latter two in Portland), the University of Oregon in Eugene, the Museum Art School (now the Pacific Northwest College of Art) in Portland, and The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, from which he graduated with a B.A. degree.
From his father –- a scholar and collector of Asian art, and a close friend of the landscape painter Chiura Obata –- he gained a familiarity with and a love of Eastern ways; from his mother’s English/Irish/Welsh family background, he gained a familiarity with and a love of British literature and culture. These East/West influences eventually came together in the writing of The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet.
Benjamin Hoff enjoys playing classical guitar, composing music, photographing nature, and “improving things.” At present, he is designing a line of revolutionary solidbody electric guitars and speaker cabinets.
Benjamin Hoff is listed in Who’s Who in America, and is one of only 55,000 individuals selected from the populations of 215 nations and territories to be listed in Who’s Who in the World.
Benjamin Hoff has not authorized any e-book editions of any of his books. Any company or organization that states or implies that it has his authorization for its e-book editions of his work is lying as well as stealing. Anyone purchasing or downloading any e-book editions of these books is violating the author’s rights.
Although it is approaching three years now since I've received any forwarded reader mail from Penguin USA, Penguin continues to insist that the reason is that no one is sending any mail to me in care of Penguin. Readers generally aren't sending letters to authors anymore, they say. (And no books? And none of the other interesting things that readers send to authors?) People are sending mostly e-mails now, says Penguin, not letters. (Does that mean that people are sending e-mails to me in care of Penguin USA? Hmmm.)
If I remember correctly, I began voicing my concerns to Penguin about a suspiciously small quantity of forwarded reader mail when paperback editions of The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet were both occupying positions on The New York Times' bestseller list (1993-1994) -- at least I had done so by the time I was listed as one of the top bestselling paperback authors of 1994. E-mail had not exactly caught on in l994.
If you have sent mail in any form to me in care of Penguin USA, please let me know by writing to:
P. O. Box 527
Lake Oswego, OR 97034
I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me in this matter.
lt has now been two years and three months since l've received any mail forwarded to me by Penguin USA.
At this time, l would like to pass along a remark made by my attorney years ago, at the time of the contract negotiations for The Te of Piglet. l'd turned the matter over to him in the hope of obtaining a decent contract and a reasonable advance, after Dutton/Penguin had made it clear that they weren't willing to grant me either. From that point on, the negotiations consisted mostly of Penguin USA's attorney yelling at mine over the phone, like a six-year-old child throwing a temper tantrum. l ended up with a good contract and an advance that was much larger than what Penguin had originally insisted on -- although it was only a fraction of what any author would deserve or expect for a follow-up book to a bestselling success like The Tao of Pooh. When the final offer was agreed upon, my attorney remarked to me:
"l don't know why these people are so mean to you. All you did was send them another bestseller."
He always was good at summing up.
Considering the ongoing complete absence of mail being forwarded to me by Penguin USA, I believe that it’s time to mention a few more facts on the subject.
For years now, due to my strong desire to guard my privacy against the invasive pressures placed on anyone who’s a worldwide literary public figure (which I never wanted to be), I have done what I can to ensure that readers communicate with me only by writing in care of my publisher, Penguin USA. That would have been a good idea -- if the publisher had continued over the years to forward my mail. As further indication that Penguin USA is not forwarding my mail, I submit the following statements of fact.
In June 2006, I hired a website builder to put together a website featuring an essay, “Farewell to Authorship,” in which I announced that, and why, I was getting out of the book-writing business. Since then, I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail from anyone responding to the essay.
In April 2011, I had another site builder create a new website, minus the essay, to replace the old one. Among other matters, the new website bio page mentioned -- as it still does -- that “At present, [Benjamin Hoff] is designing a line of revolutionary solidbody electric guitars and speaker cabinets.” I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail responding to that statement or any other on the bio page.
For a couple of months, the new website carried the following sentences: “At present, Benjamin Hoff is completing the manuscript for a book of mysteries set in historic Paris, the result of years of research into the history of the city -- ‘A longtime fascination that seems to have turned itself into a book manuscript.’ Also, having regained the rights to his 2002 publisher-butchered-and-remaindered Hardy Boys tribute, The House on the Point, he has recently completed a restored and revised version of the manuscript.” I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail responding to these announcements.
In April 2011, I had the website builder/maintainer post copies of the correspondence (still on the website) between myself and Oregon Public Broadcasting and The Oregon Historical Society regarding the long-controversial 1920s bestselling author Opal Whiteley. I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail responding to that posted correspondence.
In May 2012, the site builder added the essay I’d read at the March 31 memorial service for my mother, an accomplished member of an accomplished family. I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail responding to the essay.
In June 2012, I had the website builder include on the website my tennis tactics/philosophy essay, “Ghost Tennis.” I’ve received from Penguin USA no forwarded mail responding to the essay.
Nor have I received any mail forwarded by Penguin USA generated by the longstanding website link to utsrocks.com, concerning my participation in the late-sixties rock band United Travel Service -- the recordings of which, for those who don’t hang out on YouTube, are popular around the world.
I’m not simply someone who wrote a couple of books. I’m involved in a wide variety of interests and activities, from performance cars to performance guitars. Yet every time any project of mine appears on or is mentioned on my website, I receive no mail in response forwarded to me by Penguin USA.
In summary, what all of this amounts to is that over the past six years I have received no Penguin-forwarded mail whatsoever from anyone about the contents of my websites old and new, including the subjects “Farewell to Authorship,” my guitar designs, my book manuscripts, Opal Whiteley, my memorial-service essay, “Ghost Tennis,” or United Travel Service -- no letters, nothing. Maybe no one the world over is interested in writing to me about any of these matters. And maybe the moon is made of cheese.
Why don’t I provide an alternative address of one sort or another? Because to do so would result in decreased public pressure on Penguin USA to forward my mail. And without that pressure being exerted, I believe, I will never be sent my missing mail. Think of what Penguin stands to lose in reputation if they admit they have any of it. One has to reason that it must be greater than what they are losing every day that my words on the subject are on the Internet.
As my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotation puts it, “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In this case, the impossible is the publisher’s assertion that no one has been writing to me in care of Penguin USA. Therefore, whatever remains, however improbable is the possibility that the publisher indeed has mail for me. And, therefore, that possibility must be the truth.
It has now been one year and three months since I’ve received any forwarded mail from Penguin USA. I’ve received no reply to my February 8 and March 1 letters to the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Penguin Group.
It would seem that as a result of my public complaints about Penguin (see my archived essay, “Farewell to Authorship”) I’m being treated to what I call Penguin Punishment, a form of “ignore the problem, shoot the messenger.” If the author makes a reasonable request or complains about a situation that needs to be fixed, he’s treated like a pest; if he dares to embarrass The Company, he’s locked out in the cold.
If it appears that I’m developing a case of Penguin Paranoia, I’d better state that I know for a fact that I’m not the only Penguin author who is treated dismissively, or worse. But I don’t feel comfortable about volunteering other people’s names, especially considering that most Penguin authors are considerably more vulnerable and defenseless than I am.
A bit of advice to aspiring authors: Beware of this publishing house. If these people treat me as they do, how do you think they will treat you?
Considering the millions-or-more dollars/pounds/etc. that The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet must have earned by now for Penguin USA / the Penguin Group / Pearson plc, and considering the, shall we say, extremely suspicious total absence of mail being forwarded to the author of those books, I believe that it would be economically and morally justifiable for the publisher to conduct a serious, thorough, and honest search for the missing author mail. Maybe other authors’ mail would be found in the search process.
Listed below are some contact names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses for the convenience of visitors to this website who wish to communicate their thoughts on this author-mail matter to Penguin USA, the Penguin Group, or Pearson plc.
By now, I’m convinced that I will never receive another piece of Penguin-forwarded author mail -- unless measures are taken that go beyond my complaining to Penguin and posting my letters about the situation on this website. So…
I would greatly appreciate it if readers of this update would tell Penguin USA / the Penguin Group / Pearson plc that they have no moral right to treat their authors in a dismissive or punitive manner. Some suggestions: Send an e-mail message every day -- the same message or a different one -- to each e-mail address listed below. Jam the corporate telephone switchboards. Camp out on Penguin’s/Pearson’s doorsteps. But please be polite about it. The point is to help someone, not hurt someone.
The timing for this sort of tactic could hardly be better -- 2012 is the Year of the Black Dragon (water dragon). Dragon years support against-the-odds campaigns to overturn rigid, unwieldy, complacent establishments and change the status quo; water-element years add the yin powers of flexibility and cunning.
From the Taoist martial arts point of view, if one makes it inconvenient for arrogant, cold-blooded people to treat other people badly, after a while they will learn to not do that.
In helping me, you will be helping far more than myself; you will be helping a class of bullied, exploited, largely defenseless people -- those who attempt to earn a living writing books in a publishing world run not by genuine, standalone publishing houses but by corporate divisions of corporate divisions.
CORPORATE ADDRESSES, ETC.:
Other Penguin Group addresses, telephone numbers,
websites, and e-mail addresses are listed here.
In early February I wrote to the head of the Penguin Group, a division of Pearson PLC -- the largest book publisher in the world and the owner of Penguin USA -- about the long-standing apparent non-forwarding of my mail by Penguin USA.
On March 1, having received no reply, I tried again.