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Defining Literati Style
http://www.artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2686
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Author:  Vance Wood [ Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

OK Richard: Give us your definition of a Literati. You seem to be very good at telling us how our descriptions are invalid you therefore must be very good at providing us with the proper language and definitions that are lacking the esoteric quality of where this discussion is residing at the moment.

Personally I still find the term Metaphor valid, in the respect that a Simile seems to hold with it the idea of imitation and the concept of Metaphor holds with it the idea of transformation. In the spirit of other conversations we have had in the past almost anywhere bonsai is discussed by people with a bit more grit than those who resort to telling me my mother wears army boots, it could be surmised that a Simile is a cookie cutter bonsai and a Metaphor is a work of art. One is an imitation the other an original statement. However; I don't think you and I and Colin are going to come to an agreement over this. So let me be the first to tell you that from my point of view you are wrong.

Author:  Richard Patefield [ Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

.

Author:  Vance Wood [ Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Well?? How about you? Preferably without the innuendos and accusations of others ulterior motives. Obviously this thread interests you or you would not be hanging on to it. It seems like kind of a meaningless thing to use this as a bone to pick with someone else.

As to the metaphysics; much that is art is metaphysical in one sense or another. Art in its self was birthed by early man trying to put substance to metaphysical concepts they were trying to come to grips with. You cannot separate metaphysics from art, in fact, and OMG I am going to say it again, Art is a metaphor for unseen ideas, concepts, and imaginations of fact or fancy.

You may not care for the adventerous use of the word metaphor, but you should find a better one if this one offends you so much. The more important point is the fact that you seem to understand what Colin and myself are talking about, you just don't like how we are saying it.

By the way, personally I am still waiting for your definition, description and any other insight you might have about the Literati style.

Author:  Richard Patefield [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

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Author:  Editorial Staff [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

http://www.artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=59

Author:  Richard Patefield [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

.

Author:  Chris Johnston [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Richard Patefield wrote:
That seems kind of arbitrary given the posts that had gone before but I am sorry if have offended anyone.

My plea remains - more rigour please in critiques and commentaries, more care in the choice of words and the way they are used. They can't just mean whatever you want if you want to communicate - especially words with subtle and complex connotations- across national and cultural boundaries.

I'll leave it at that.


Having read the entire thread several times now, I am uncertain as to why things have gotten so heated.

Richard,
I myself have expressed the same misgivings several times in recent years about the direction art discussions take, to wit: things get very vague and mystical at some point in the discussion. This is not an attack on anyone or their motives, it's just a perception that concepts are floated into the conversation that could mean entirely opposite things to different readers. In order for A to understand what B is saying, and either agree or disagree, A must know as fully as possible what B means. The only way to do this is to be precise. The only way to be precise is to think deeply enough about the subject and how to express it that there can be as little confusion as possible.

This is what I see Richard attempting to accomplish. Richard, forgive me if I have assumed too much.

Chris

Author:  Morten Albek [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Maybe the thing with bonsai is that you sometimes have to feel it and can´t describe it precisely with words, no matter how hard one try. Sometimes we try to hard with words and forget to sense and feel.

Best regards
Morten Albek


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Author:  Vance Wood [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

I agree, it is like describing what an Avocado tastes like.

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Vance Wood wrote:
I agree, it is like describing what an Avocado tastes like.



Like plonking your bare foot in a bowl of jello....

Author:  Will Heath [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Morten Albek wrote:
Maybe the thing with bonsai is that you sometimes have to feel it and can´t describe it precisely with words, no matter how hard one try. Sometimes we try to hard with words and forget to sense and feel.


Vance Wood wrote:
I agree, it is like describing what an Avocado tastes like.


Colin Lewis wrote:
Like plonking your bare foot in a bowl of jello....



I disagree.

There are things that, when done in a certain manner, that will make us "feel." We may not be able to describe that feeling, but we can certainly examine the manner of the creation that made us "feel."

Michelangelo’s Last Judgment has induced profound, sometimes life changing feelings in those who view it, words to describe the feelings one experiences when viewing this fresco are never quite right. Yet, we can still examine the technique, identify the methods, and compare the work to others by the same artist and those by others. We can classify the work, categorize it, and by doing so, recognize the same techniques, methods, and even materials in other pieces. In fact, many times this is all we had to identify unsigned work.

I think we have two sides here, each debating a different side of the same coin. One side is talking about the feeling imposed on us by the work, while the other side is simply defining what style of work it is.

Just as one can tell the difference between Romanticism and Expressionism or the Indian River School or Black Mountain College movements, one can also tell the difference between a Literati and a root over rock. Simply put, if there is no rock, it can not be a root over rock style.

We can all talk guidelines of any other styles, we can list out what makes the style and these guidelines can be used to create the style. Literati is not magical, it does not escape classification, it exists, therefore it can be studied.

Want proof?

Let's go back to the beginning when the first bunjin bonsaist looked to paintings for inspiration and attempted to duplicate the trees in these paintings. The trees in these old Literati paintings were often done with as few brush strokes as possible, sometimes just a single stroke. Minimalism was of utmost importance at the time.

These bunjin did not say that there was no guidelines, they had them, they had the paintings. They looked to these paintings, found the aspects that made them what they were and duplicated them in living color.

We can also identify what makes these trees literati style. We actually have a very good start.

Literati are all feminine
Literati all take minimalism to the extreme
Literati all place the emphasis on the trunk.

So far, I have not seen these three "guidelines" debated or disproved, so until they are, we must consider them to be solid foundations for literati.


The question here is is there other guidelines for Literati?

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Richard, Chris,
There are many fields of endeavour that, for one reason or another, have no words of their own. The banking industry, the internet, baseball, rocket science - and bonsai, for obvious reasons. They all take pre-existing words and give them new or, more properly, additional definitions.

Sometimes art also lacks its own words to describe something: in bonsai art we speak of direction, energy, mood, visual speed, feminine, masculine, negative space, tension and so on, all new applications for the words.

Art is mostly a mental process, and there is much that is thought that cannot be communicated without at least bending the standard usage of some words and phrases. This is not "mystical", just another new use of existing words to describe or define something that has not hitherto required definition.

You both seem sticklers for precise definition yet ignore that the additional usages of existing words that we see in today's dictionaries were not there twenty years ago, and that they were included only after a significant time in common usage. The art of bonsai will never be common usage. Therefore to discuss bonsai as an art you musty accept a certain degree of word-bending or even definition endowment that you will read in no dictionary or thesaurus.

As with banking, rocket science and baseball, to understand bonsai, especially all the arty stuff, you have to learn the language.

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Hell's teeth Will, those aren't guidelines, their rules!

Literati are all feminine
Most, probably, some more than others.

Literati all take minimalism to the extreme
No, that would be a dead tree. And you certainly couldn't say that about Mike's black pine.

Literati all place the emphasis on the trunk.
Yes they do, in common with the titles or guidelines most other bonsai styles.

Other than that, you're off to a good start.

Author:  Colin Lewis [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Richard Patefield wrote:
What you are referring to is more akin to the 'objective correlative' of T.S. Eliot.
'


Ahah! So does that mean we can define musical metaphor, visual metaphor and so on as objective correlatives and use them to our heart's content since we now all know what we mean? They're both much easier to say!

Author:  Chris Johnston [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining Literati Style

Colin Lewis wrote:
You both seem sticklers for precise definition yet ignore that the additional usages of existing words that we see in today's dictionaries were not there twenty years ago, and that they were included only after a significant time in common usage. The art of bonsai will never be common usage. Therefore to discuss bonsai as an art you musty accept a certain degree of word-bending or even definition endowment that you will read in no dictionary or thesaurus.

As with banking, rocket science and baseball, to understand bonsai, especially all the arty stuff, you have to learn the language.


I am not at all a stickler for precise definition in the way you imply. The only thing that needs to be precise is the understanding imparted. If I say feminine and you understand feminine to be Marilyn Monroe, I may not have correctly imparted that I meant Nicole Kidman or Heidi Klum! All I would like to see is a more careful expression of the feelings one is trying to impart. Can it be done perfectly? Of course not! But if we both use the same word and mean something entirely different, one or both of us has failed to communicate effectively.

So if you are going to bend words, please let us know how you are bending them. Otherwise they may be meaningless.

On the other hand, if one suggests that only the initiated or properly schooled can understand the mysteries, then there's another problem entirely.

Chris

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