Age Discrimination
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Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Mar 21, 2005 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Soumya Mitra wrote:
Picasso or Dali ever had to hawk their work as cubist styled specimen or surrealist styled specimen.The art critics and posterity did that.

Glad that you've mentioned Dali here. Big mistake, if you want to make a point about letting your art speak for itself. Sorry, but it really made me laugh.
The reason is that Dali was one of the most celf-centered, judgmental and arrogant of all artist (I still like him though). In a book written by himself The 50 Secrets of Magic Craftmanship he considers himself as the 3rd greatest painter in history, after Rubens and Leonardo. He made fun and denigrated many French impressionists, including Renoir. He may not have called himself a surrealist, but used many other titles, much worse than that.
So much for letting the art speak for yourself.
Soumya Mitra wrote:
Whereas in case of Naturalistic style the champion of the style is the style initiator & not being aware that the enterprise reminds of rediscoveryof wheels marketed as disc.
True talented work speaks for itself without any trumpeting . Artistic posturing is anti bonsai spirit.

Walter is also a teacher. When you teach, you have to explain your ideas. You have to advocate what you believe in, the more passionately, the better. That's what good teachers do. Otherwise, how will you get your point across to the student?
The French impressionists were passionately advocating painting outdoors to capture the ellusive nature of light. They believed that this was the best way to do it. Would you call them clever marketers preaching their own agenda?

Author:  Soumya Mitra [ Mon Mar 21, 2005 5:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

The points i put forward right from beginning of my response is contained in the last 2 para of my 16th post.
I would appreciate real enlighting response to those points. Here are those elaborated a bit :-
1) young looking or lush green foliage is a vegetative phase in the life of bonsa . It is a transient , recurring & vital annual phase independent of artistic intervention . This phase is not the destination of bonsai though a necessary journey.
2) That the so called naturalistic/realistic style per se is not really
an original concept but an inspired renaming and repositioning of Chinese concept of LINGNAN School of bonsai .
3) The motive is marketing rather than artistic .
Please do respond as passionately as you wish . Good bye .

Author:  Attila Soos [ Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:31 pm ]
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Hi Soumya,
Nothing to argue about the first point you've made. I entirely agree with you on that.
There is a problem with number 2 because the term "naturalistic" means a lot of things to a lot of people, depending on who you ask. I am pretty sure though that the Chinese have tried everything under the sun, nobody can claim to have invented something entirely original.
Your statement about the lignan school may have captured the essence of what that school is about. But as you've said it, the naturalistic style also leaves a lot of room for the individual's interpretation of what natural means, so one person's "natural" could be the other person's "artifice". Therefore, you can't just take Walter's trees and put next to a tree from the lignan school saying that they look similar. They bear the creator's vision as to bringing out the spirit of the tree in their own individual way.
I have to disagree with the third one. I have no choice.
I do believe that Walter's vision is entirely artistic since I've met him, you did not. If he was marketing for financial gain, he would probably be better off folowing the crowd to make an easy sale instead of going against it. After all, it would be much easier and more profitable. You couldn't dedicate your life doing what you do and being good at it unless you are honest about it.
(you see, I am trying to agree with you as much as I can, but there is only so much that I can do if I want to stay true to myself)

Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:04 am ]
Post subject: 

1) young looking or lush green foliage is a vegetative phase in the life of bonsa . It is a transient , recurring & vital annual phase independent of artistic intervention . This phase is not the destination of bonsai though a necessary journey.
This is your personal notion opf bonsai, not mine and not what I am peaching at all.
2) That the so called naturalistic/realistic style per se is not really
an original concept but an inspired renaming and repositioning of Chinese concept of LINGNAN School of bonsai .
This is a gross misunderstanding. The answer is NO! The Lingnang school is first of all a method. And it has nothing to do with naturalistic style. And the aims are different.
3) The motive is marketing rather than artistic .
This I see as an insult.
You shold go back and do a lot more reading. Your style of discussion is a bit annoying to me.

Author:  Soumya Mitra [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:06 am ]
Post subject: 

" TheChinese have tried everything under the sun, nobody can claim to have invented something entirely original?-ATTILA

Exactly, that is my point;? naturalistic? is not an original concept as being assumed by its admirers. At the best it is a descriptive term of Lingnan concept. Moreover I never suggested the tree in question and a tree of Lingnan School is identical in looks. I only claimed I t is identical in concept. Hence there is no artistic integrity in the coinage of the term? Naturalistic?.
?I do believe that Walter's vision is entirely artistic since I've met him, you did not. If he was marketing for financial gain, he would probably be better off following the crowd to make an easy sale instead of going against it. After all, it would be much easier and more profitable. You couldn't dedicate your life doing what you do and being good at it unless you are honest?-Attila.

Yes I have not met him, but wish to. That said, let me clarify that nowhere I hinted that the Naturalistic concept is being promoted for financial gain. But the fact is it is being promoted in various forum, occasion, and articles on slightest pretext may be to print a footprint. I have no qualms for propagation of artistic knowledge, viewpoints per se. My only qualm is to deny the devil?s dues, deny the heritage of Lingnan School and oriental parentage per se.
Finally let me say that I have visited his website gallery, read his article, and followed his travelogues. As a person I have nothing against him or against his numerous marvelous creations though is hard for me to accept Naturalistic concept as a new or original concept

Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 3:40 am ]
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quod erat demostrandum


Author:  Soumya Mitra [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 5:06 am ]
Post subject: 

quod erat demostrandum


Author:  Will Heath [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 8:20 am ]
Post subject: 

For our friends who may not understand the language of the heros...
Quod erat demonstrandum (QED) - Which was to be demonstrated
Qvod erat demonstrandvm - [that] which has been demonstrated - a statement of logical proof, especially in mathematics and law, abbreviated Q.E.D


Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 9:01 am ]
Post subject: 

As people from Missouri are known to say, "show me".
Bonsai philosophy can be discussed ad nauseum, but it doesn't change the fact that when the tree is displayed, it must convince the eyes for the brain to care. It is visual first. In interview techniques, you find that all people are categorized into three types of response orientation: sight, sound, and feeling.
Quick test. Ask someone in a conversation a question that will require them to use long-term memory. Watch their eyes. When they are thinking if the eyes go up (sight-oriented), eyes down (sound-oriented), eyes level to the side (feeling-oriented). This is very useful in information in interviews/interrogations. I won't get into that further, but it does solidify how intricately vision is connected to the thought process.
It's always interesting, and usually informative, to discuss bonsai philosophy/schools/style, but the "proof is in the pudding". As Walter elaborated in Latin tongue, it has to be demonstrated to mean anything. It's where the rubber meets the road. All the theoretical study in the world has no worth if it cannot produce a tangible result. I use "tangible" purposely because even bad results are useful; they teach us what doesn't work.
Once again, if it doesn't inspire with it's mere presence, the bonsai's pedigree is irrelevant. Appearance of age, whether real or imagined, is always a goal to reach for in bonsai, in my humble opinion.

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paid the dues

Attila Soos wrote:
John Dixon wrote:
Now when I see a bonsai, I can appreciate the "vigor" of the younger stock, but it is woefully second to the "respect" the ancient ones invoke with their mere presence

Beautiful point you've made with the example from the army (looks like you can make ANY point, using examples from the army...just kidding).
But here is another example from life.
The other day I was out in my backyard, it was a beautiful morning, with sunshine and the fresh green lawn. And my two year-old son was out there, playing with my black shaggy dog. They were chasing each other and rolling in the grass. As I watched them, it almost brought tears in my eyes, it was so beautiful, all that youth, happiness, and innocence.
It wasn't awe-inspiring, respect-commanding, it was just incredibly beautiful. A different kind of beauty from what you've described.
Was this beauty inferior to the ruggedness of old age?

I just re-read your post and feel you deserve a response. It sounds like a wonderful sight you witnessed. I'm happy that you could witness such a beautiful sight. Those words speak volumes. I do not mean to distract from it in the least.
Now, of all the subjects you described only your son had an "age" noted. What about the rest? The grass; is it a new lawn or an established one that is just greening up? The sunshine is from a star millions upon millions of years old (I forget exactly, but doesn't it take "sunshine" eighteen minutes to reach earth?). The shaggy dog is how old?
In my opinion, your synopsis of the event does not elicit any evidence of "youth", save the most important part...your son (kudos for being a good father, as I feel certain you are). Renewal of life, yes, but not youth. I am not in dispute with your personal belief, I just see it differently.
Wabi-Sabi possibly? I don't know that I have the intelligence to reduce into words the feelings of such sights. What I am certain of is that I can recognize when they are occurring. I guess I would rather be a good student than a mediocre teacher.
BTW, it was a wonderful article of yours recently threaded by Andy. Maybe one day I will experience enlightenment.
Warmest regards to you, your family, and the members of this forum,

Author:  Mark Rockwell [ Thu Mar 24, 2005 9:00 am ]
Post subject: 

One point that might help with the discussion about "young and old" bonsai is the idea of evanescence--the fact that life is fleeting. The Asian, perhaps Japanese, idea that the beauty isn't really in the flower itself, but in the flower's impermanence. The blossom gives up its beauty as it dies and in that sacrifice becomes even more beautiful...
I know this sounds like romantic crap, however, it is fundamental in understanding alot of Japanese art, especially bonsai, in my opinion, anyway. Without the background of death, bonsai's meaning is muted, or even meaningless. Trees are symbolic of the struggles involved with living. That struggle gets more graphic as something ages (ask Meryl Streep or Clint Eastwood ;-))
"Younger" plantings speak in terms of new life, older trees speak more in terms of the struggle against death. I'd have to say as I enter middle age, that the struggle against the inevitable is far more compelling for me. Youth is fun, but age is more interesting...

Author:  Attila Soos [ Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Mark Rockwell wrote:
Youth is fun, but age is more interesting...

I feel the same way. Yet, when you look at classical greek sculptures, they almost always portray beautiful young athletic bodies that not quite reached their prime of life. They seemed to admire the beauty of youth and they don't really tackle the issue of impermanence.
What a difference between the two cultures! (East vs. West)

Author:  Craig Cowing [ Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:21 am ]
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I had the same thought as John did regarding the new growth on old trees. It's not as dramatic on evergreens, but with a deciduous tree it certainly is. My two oldest trees, a honeysuckle that's in the range of 120-130 years old, and an apple tree approx. 150 years old, are both covered in new buds. Quite a sight.
Craig Cowing
Zone 5b/6a Sunset 37

Author:  Hector Johnson [ Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

None of us have yet gone to the heart of this matter, in my view.
Japanese and Chinese culture not only venerate age, they also place great emphasis on the fleeting, impermanent nature of existence and endeavour. This may be interpreted as being less stringent of traditional criteria for veneration than we apply in the West. Let me explain thus:
Until the early 19th century little, if any, art, in Japan particularly, was of secular intent. Almost all surviving examples of art from those times was of a religious (actually, better described as a "spiritual" nature, as I feel the word religious has connotations in Western society that hijack the meaning as I would apply it to Eastern observation of ritual) nature, intended to embody or complement some aspect of spiritual ritual observance. (I would also point out that little art of a secular nature was ever elevated to prominence during the first 15 centuries of Christianity in Europe and the Middle East, either.)
For this reason, as in Western ritual observance, greater emphasis is placed on artifacts and relics that are perceived to harbour iconic or spiritual power and are possessed of great age. There are few holy Christian relics that date from the 20th century, for instance (Unless one is willing to accede the legitimacy of the proliferation of toasted cheese sandwiches and cinnamon scrolls bearing a superficial resemblance to the Madonna). Most of our religious icons are very old, or claimed to be (I bring to mind the approximately 19 genuine foreskins of Jesus, that are housed in reliquaries in Europe and the Middle East, by way of example).
The traditional respect for age and wisdom, particularly in Buddhism and Shintoism, are almost certainly going to influence the Oriental observer to plump for age and permanence, and their attendant wisdom, than they are for callow youth.
On the other hand, we may also observe the Japanese national obsession with the ephemeral beauty of the blooming of cherry trees. (Never mind that their deeply spiritual celebration of this beautiful, temporary, natural phenomenon is usually accompanied by the ugly, temporary natural phenomenon of thousands of revellers passed out, blind rotten drunk in pools of their own alcohol-induced vomit under the very same trees they came to worship in awe.)
There is certainly a school in Eastern spiritual thought that celebrates youth and impermanence yet also realises its limitations as a teacher or exemplar of important life lessons.
Whether it is incumbent upon us, as Western practitioners of an originally Eastern artform, to maintain all, or even any, of the Eastern spiritual traditions usually associated with that artform is entirely at the discretion of the practitioner, as I see it.
Walter is working hard to establish a tradition (perhaps even one long neglected in Japan and China) that better embodies the spiritual and aesthetic imperatives espoused by Western observers of Eastern practices than the current traditions do. It's also a recognition, I feel, of the fact we are unlikely to get our hands on the heirloom trees that typify the Western view of bonsai. Therefore, why not start a tradition based on your own materials?.
To return to my original point. We are perhaps a little too bound up in notions of what the Japanese are trying to say (It's a Western trait to question and struggle against conformity) than we are with what spiritual significance underlies Eastern appreciation of art, including bonsai.
In summary: Create your art, enjoy it, even venerate it if you wish but beware the temptation to idealise the small understanding we have of Eastern motivations. We may be best to to recognise that they have their basis in the same human frailties and prejudices that colour our views of our spiritual experience, yet we rarely acknowledge them, either. There is what we say we do, and what we do.
Better to do than to say, in my opinion.

Author:  Vance Wood [ Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:55 am ]
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When I first started doing research for my book I approached the historical aspect of bonsai from a slightly different perspective. I researched times, people and histories of places and events that surrounded the periods during which bonsai/penjin developed. I found an interesting story about China.
It seems that one of the earliest Chinese Emperors had a court magician who could make miniature landscapes with real cows, trees and people, so the story goes. If this is one of the earliest influences of the art then it follows making a tree look like an adult full grown and mature tree is the only way to emulate this kind of mythology. That of course does not mean that there is something wrong with a youthful looking bonsai, if it is a good bonsai. I simply point out the concept and possible foundation of the aged tree.

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