Bonsai is for Morons?

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Al Keppler recently made the following statement in another thread.

"There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent. It is owned by the domain of the creative, those with heart, those that seek creative technique and posess the ability to work with their hands. The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners, as well as the many Asian masters we have had in the USA."

Could it be that by saying, "Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent" Al suggests that bonsai is the domain of the unintelligent? He goes on to say that bonsai is for the creative and for those who can work with their hands. I don't disagree with the latter statement, but Al fails to connect the dots in his rant. It takes intelligence to learn techniques, to build upon them, and to come up with creative solutions. It takes intelligence to research not only the horticultural aspects of bonsai, but also the artistic aspects as well. Of course, it also takes intelligence to understand the history of this great art, and by doing so, learn from it.

Al's biggest mistake was assuming that bonsai came from Asian farmers and gardeners, nothing could be further from the truth. (This is where knowing the history of bonsai helps the modern day artist.)

Quingquan Zhao, in his book, "Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment" states the following on the history of Penjing.


"... Based on these three traditional philosophies, mountains and forests were viewed as treasurelands, and the lifestyle of the mountain hermit, aloof from politics and material pursuits, was raised to a supreme virtue. This intellectual and philosophical climate formed the backdrop against which the rise of landscape garden design, landscape painting, nature poetry, and other literati arts should be seen. It also gave rise to the art of penjing. Like these other related art forms, penjing suggests that the idea life is the one led in in close proximity to nature.

From its very inception, penjing has been an art of the Chinese Scholar. The literati of traditional China created this special art form for the purpose of self-cultivation, the development of character, and the refinement of aesthetic taste. Penjing shares a philosophical foundation with Chinese landscape gardens, paintings, and poetry. All these art forms have played similar roles in Chinese culture. They have greatly influenced one another, grown into each other, and none of them can be viewed as a separate entity."


Once Japan was introduced to Penjing, or Bonsai, the intellectuals of the time quickly adopted it as well as philosophical beliefs. Again, it was not the lower classes, the farmers, who developed the art form, it was the literati of the time.

More later......
 
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JTGJr25

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Talk about feeding the fire. I see where you want this discussion to go but is this really the way to do it?

Tom
 
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Well, you see, for Will to try to arrogate to himself the title of "Literati" or "Intelligentsia," he has to take bonsai to the salons of those he thinks can make him seem more intelligent. So one needn't be an artist to be a critic. Or even especially intelligent. A snarky attitude, a love of hearing one's own voice, and any audience one can find is plenty.
 

imholte

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I love bonsai and I'm a moron..at least that is what people tell me. :)

So to answer your question... yes bonsai is for moron's too.
 

emk

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Bonsai is for morons? That's a pretty loaded question. Like most artforms, bonsai was easily practiced by the lower castes by improvising the tools and materials required once the basic principles were generally known and basic forms could be mimicked from memory.

We could look at something like YouTube as a modern example of what happens to an artform (cinema) when it becomes easily accessible to the population at large. On a broader scope, we could look at the internet as a medium where another artform (literature) is opened up to anyone and everyone. Here we can instantly publish our thoughts for wide distribution without so much as an editor between us and our intended audience. In both cases you can see a lot of garbage being generated, but also a few select cases of those who can take advantage of an open medium and do quick-and-dirty experimentation that may push the envelope of their art without the cost and time previously associated with such strivings. At the same time there's also the benefit of a lot of cross-pollination going on, which produces both more inspiration for talented artists to draw from and a lot of material for the less-inspired to copy.

I think this can become a touchy subject because there is something special about engaging in any creative endeavour that, to the master and the unenlightened alike, stirs the soul. Sure the initiates' offerings are paltry, crude, and most likely duplications of forms commonly seen, but their experience when creating these "contemptable" works can be just as emotionally raw to them as they are to the most advanced artists. I'm not sure if I'm making much sense here, but I suspect that the *work* behind the artwork is often what makes the novice bristle at the suggestion that their products aren't just as worthy as anyone else's.
 

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Al Keppler recently made the following statement in another thread.

"There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent. It is owned by the domain of the creative, those with heart, those that seek creative technique and posess the ability to work with their hands. The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners, as well as the many Asian masters we have had in the USA."

Could it be that by saying, "Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent" Al suggests that bonsai is the domain of the unintelligent? He goes on to say that bonsai is for the creative and for those who can work with their hands. I don't disagree with the latter statement, but Al fails to connect the dots in his rant. ......

It takes intelligence to learn techniques, to build upon them, and to come up with creative solutions. It takes intelligence to research not only the horticultural aspects of bonsai, but also the artistic aspects as well.
I don't disagree but I don't lump everyone into any particular catagory all the time. I can show you twelve sheetrockers I work with weekly that don't even have a green card that can't multiply 3 x 4 but can hang and finish rock like no-bodies business. They are so good at their business that one might even call them talented. What does intelligence have to do with being good with your hands?


Of course, it also takes intelligence to understand the history of this great art, and by doing so, learn from it.
So artistic bonsai can't be done unless your are an intellectual? I just want to know what the boundries are here. I'm sensing more black and white here. Is that where you really want to go?



Al's biggest mistake was assuming that bonsai came from Asian farmers and gardeners, nothing could be further from the truth. (This is where knowing the history of bonsai helps the modern day artist.)
So history of any given artform is necessary to create art? Once again is this black and white or is there wiggle room here, I just wish to be clear.

Quingquan Zhao, in his book, "Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment" states the following on the history of Penjing.


"... Based on these three traditional philosophies, mountains and forests were viewed as treasurelands, and the lifestyle of the mountain hermit, aloof from politics and material pursuits, was raised to a supreme virtue. This intellectual and philosophical climate formed the backdrop against which the rise of landscape garden design, landscape painting, nature poetry, and other literati arts should be seen. It also gave rise to the art of penjing. Like these other related art forms, penjing suggests that the idea life is the one led in in close proximity to nature.

From its very inception, penjing has been an art of the Chinese Scholar. The literati of traditional China created this special art form for the purpose of self-cultivation, the development of character, and the refinement of aesthetic taste. Penjing shares a philosophical foundation with Chinese landscape gardens, paintings, and poetry. All these art forms have played similar roles in Chinese culture. They have greatly influenced one another, grown into each other, and none of them can be viewed as a separate entity."


Once Japan was introduced to Penjing, or Bonsai, the intellectuals of the time quickly adopted it as well as philosophical beliefs. Again, it was not the lower classes, the farmers, who developed the art form, it was the literati of the time.
So once again you are ready to say that at no time in the history of bonsai was anyone a farmer or gardener? All bonsai artists of the last two centuries were all Literati's and no lower class practised bonsai? No advancements were made by un-intellectual's or farmers or gardeners?

more later....
 

Smoke

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Bonsai is for morons? That's a pretty loaded question. Like most artforms, bonsai was easily practiced by the lower castes by improvising the tools and materials required once the basic principles were generally known and basic forms could be mimicked from memory.

We could look at something like YouTube as a modern example of what happens to an artform (cinema) when it becomes easily accessible to the population at large. On a broader scope, we could look at the internet as a medium where another artform (literature) is opened up to anyone and everyone. Here we can instantly publish our thoughts for wide distribution without so much as an editor between us and our intended audience. In both cases you can see a lot of garbage being generated, but also a few select cases of those who can take advantage of an open medium and do quick-and-dirty experimentation that may push the envelope of their art without the cost and time previously associated with such strivings. At the same time there's also the benefit of a lot of cross-pollination going on, which produces both more inspiration for talented artists to draw from and a lot of material for the less-inspired to copy.

I think this can become a touchy subject because there is something special about engaging in any creative endeavour that, to the master and the unenlightened alike, stirs the soul. Sure the initiates' offerings are paltry, crude, and most likely duplications of forms commonly seen, but their experience when creating these "contemptable" works can be just as emotionally raw to them as they are to the most advanced artists. I'm not sure if I'm making much sense here, but I suspect that the *work* behind the artwork is often what makes the novice bristle at the suggestion that their products aren't just as worthy as anyone else's.

Poetry to my eyes....
 
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Well, you see, for Will to try to arrogate to himself the title of "Literati" or "Intelligentsia," he has to take bonsai to the salons of those he thinks can make him seem more intelligent. So one needn't be an artist to be a critic. Or even especially intelligent. A snarky attitude, a love of hearing one's own voice, and any audience one can find is plenty.
Chris,

Once again you rush in, not to add anything intelligent to the discussion, not to debate the subject, but to show your unhealthy fixation for me. I'm flattered, but seriously, are you capable of talking about anything else but me. I'm beginning to agree that you are indeed disturbed.



Will
 
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I don't disagree but I don't lump everyone into any particular catagory all the time. I can show you twelve sheetrockers I work with weekly that don't even have a green card that can't multiply 3 x 4 but can hang and finish rock like no-bodies business. They are so good at their business that one might even call them talented. What does intelligence have to do with being good with your hands?
Al,

Your words were "There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent." and then you went on to make the false statement that "...The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners..." I never said intelligence had anything to do with being good with your hands. I simply posted the actual truth, which is that bonsai was first practiced and refined by intellectuals, not farmers and gardeners. I also supported my claims with sources, quotes, and references.

Try and stay on the subject will you? By all means, please give us your sources for your claims, prove me wrong, or admit your mistake.


So artistic bonsai can't be done unless your are an intellectual?
I never claimed any such thing, please debate what was said, not imaginary words. You said that "...The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners..." I said that, to the contrary, it is the intellectuals that we have to thank for the art of bonsai. Iy was you who claimed that farmers and gardeners owned the domain of bonsai, not intellectuals.


So history of any given artform is necessary to create art?
I never said or claimed this either.


So once again you are ready to say that at no time in the history of bonsai was anyone a farmer or gardener? All bonsai artists of the last two centuries were all Literati's and no lower class practised bonsai? No advancements were made by un-intellectual's or farmers or gardeners?
I never said this either. Let's make this perfectly clear and understandable, shall we? You claimed that "There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent." and then you went on to make the false statement that "...The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners..." Implying that it was these farmers and gardeners that were responsible for bonsai as we know it and as such, intelligence was not necessary for the creation of bonsai. Which led directly to this thread and the title thereof.

The truth is, as I pointed out, bonsai was indeed the domain of intellectuals, literati, samurai, and nobility. It was an art form even then, rated right up there with painting, poetry, calligraphy, and other pursuits of the intellectual. In fact, commoners at that time, such as your farmers, were not allowed to pursue such activities and in some cases, doing so was illegal.

Many years later the art trickled down and was picked up by commoners, but by then the art was developed, refined, and the basic 'rules" were already in place. The intellectuals had done their job well, so well in fact, that even today we see these "rules" guiding bonsaists around the world.

Of course advancements and inovations have happened since then, who knows from where or who, but that doesn't change the history of bonsai. Certainly your claim that "There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent." is false. If you still can not agree to this, please offer some rebuttal, or maybe you could name just one farmer who gave an advancement to the art of bonsai?



Will
 
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emk,

Very well put, text book example of an on topic, intelligent post that addresses the issue without attacking the person!

Will
 
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Chris,

Once again you rush in, not to add anything intelligent to the discussion, not to debate the subject, but to show your unhealthy fixation for me. I'm flattered, but seriously, are you capable of talking about anything else but me. I'm beginning to agree that you are indeed disturbed.
Will
Will,
You are doing this one to yourself. If you put your head through the hole in the canvas, expect a pie. There is nothing unhealthy except your ego here.
 

Graydon

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So... can anyone tell me if the "literati" had even a casual interest in gardening or the practice of keeping plants alive? If they were "the intellectuals that we have to thank for the art of bonsai" then who kept the plants alive?

Or are we discussing the "concept" of art and not actual "created art" bonsai?
 
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Will,
You are doing this one to yourself. If you put your head through the hole in the canvas, expect a pie. There is nothing unhealthy except your ego here.
Dear CyberStalker,

There ya go again, jumping in without a single word to say on the topic, no intelligent rebuttal, nothing intelligent at all to say.

Want to surprise me? Trying actually discussing the topic for once instead of me, the more you do otherwise, the more you show just how fixated you are on me.

You follow me around like an ex-girlfriend.....but they were better looking.




Will
 
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So... can anyone tell me if the "literati" had even a casual interest in gardening or the practice of keeping plants alive? If they were "the intellectuals that we have to thank for the art of bonsai" then who kept the plants alive?

Or are we discussing the "concept" of art and not actual "created art" bonsai?
Damn best rebuttal I've seen all day, thanks Graydon!

Of course! Even though they were intellectuals, they had to have had some horticultural knowledge or no trees would have survived at all. Technically they were gardeners, as we all all familiar with the passion the Asians had for gardens, another art form that was practiced by the privileged few at first.

However, Al was referring to his farmers and gardeners as un-intellectual and his statement inferred that it took no intelligence to create bonsai.

Good point and it deserves some thought.



Will
 
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Dear CyberStalker,

There ya go again, jumping in without a single word to say on the topic, no intelligent rebuttal, nothing intelligent at all to say.

Want to surprise me? Trying actually discussing the topic for once instead of me, the more you do otherwise, the more you show just how fixated you are on me.

You follow me around like an ex-girlfriend.....but they were better looking.




Will
You have not the intelligence to listen to anyone else...and it seems you followed me back here after I started posting again, so who is a cyberstalker? Could you possibly get over yourself?
 
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Al Keppler recently made the following statement in another thread.

"There is nothing intelligent about the art of bonsai. Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent. It is owned by the domain of the creative, those with heart, those that seek creative technique and posess the ability to work with their hands. The masters of the last century in Japan were farmers and gardeners, as well as the many Asian masters we have had in the USA."

Could it be that by saying, "Creating bonsai art is not the domain of the intelligent" Al suggests that bonsai is the domain of the unintelligent? He goes on to say that bonsai is for the creative and for those who can work with their hands. I don't disagree with the latter statement, but Al fails to connect the dots in his rant. It takes intelligence to learn techniques, to build upon them, and to come up with creative solutions. It takes intelligence to research not only the horticultural aspects of bonsai, but also the artistic aspects as well. Of course, it also takes intelligence to understand the history of this great art, and by doing so, learn from it.

Al's biggest mistake was assuming that bonsai came from Asian farmers and gardeners, nothing could be further from the truth. (This is where knowing the history of bonsai helps the modern day artist.)

Quingquan Zhao, in his book, "Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment" states the following on the history of Penjing.


"... Based on these three traditional philosophies, mountains and forests were viewed as treasurelands, and the lifestyle of the mountain hermit, aloof from politics and material pursuits, was raised to a supreme virtue. This intellectual and philosophical climate formed the backdrop against which the rise of landscape garden design, landscape painting, nature poetry, and other literati arts should be seen. It also gave rise to the art of penjing. Like these other related art forms, penjing suggests that the idea life is the one led in in close proximity to nature.

From its very inception, penjing has been an art of the Chinese Scholar. The literati of traditional China created this special art form for the purpose of self-cultivation, the development of character, and the refinement of aesthetic taste. Penjing shares a philosophical foundation with Chinese landscape gardens, paintings, and poetry. All these art forms have played similar roles in Chinese culture. They have greatly influenced one another, grown into each other, and none of them can be viewed as a separate entity."


Once Japan was introduced to Penjing, or Bonsai, the intellectuals of the time quickly adopted it as well as philosophical beliefs. Again, it was not the lower classes, the farmers, who developed the art form, it was the literati of the time.

More later......
Damn best rebuttal I've seen all day, thanks Graydon!

Of course! Even though they were intellectuals, they had to have had some horticultural knowledge or no trees would have survived at all. Technically they were gardeners, as we all all familiar with the passion the Asians had for gardens, another art form that was practiced by the privileged few at first.

However, Al was referring to his farmers and gardeners as un-intellectual and his statement inferred that it took no intelligence to create bonsai.

Good point and it deserves some thought.



Will
This is why I will never try to have a discussion with you. You took a very good statement by Al and twisted it beyond recognition. He actually was making a point you yourself have made, that it is creativity (you would say talent) rather than intellectual deliberation that makes great bonsai.

Instead of engaging a very good point, you decided to bring it over here and foolishly twist everything he said so that you could continue this charade. Why is it that you keep this up? Have you been missing the opportunity to play the victim?

There are things you have printed that could easily be debated. But debate depends on honest presentation of views, not twisting the opponent's words beyond recognition because you think someone is scoring. The only thing this shows is that you are not confident enough in your own views to state them and defend them without resorting to semantic tricks.

Who wants to take the time to argue with that? Crawl back into your hole.
 

Walter Pall

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I would be the first one to hope that creating great bonsai has to do with what is normally called intelligence. It ain't so, unfortunately. I know an awful lot of very good bonsai artists who either cannot read, cannot multiply, never read a newspaper or a book, are unable to organize their lives, are living below poverty level, are hopeless loosers, are outright dumb. A few in between are what is called intelligent and almost none is very intelligent.
This depends on what you call intelligent. There is something like social intelligence, where too many rate low to very low too. But there is also something called artistic intelligence, where they obviously rate high to very hight and some even in genius status. Some may call this artistic intelligence talent.
To be dumb alone does not qualify either. There are lots of dumb folks who will never create a decent bonsai. There are many rather dumb folks who just about master the craft. So to be dumb is not a prerequisite either. Who decides what sort of intelligence counts?
On the other hand I know a real lot of intelligent to very intelligent bonsai folks who have no clue about bonsai styling.
I wish it were not so.
Sorry, don't shoot the messenger.
 
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off topic whining
off topic whining
Chris, you have yet to make a single post in this thread that has anything to do with the subject matter.

Stop following me, it's getting kind of creepy, next thing you know you'll be serching through my garbage and stealing underwear out of my clothes hamper.




Will
 
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Sorry, don't shoot the messenger.

Of course there is no intelligence rating for bonsai, although I too wish it were so sometimes.

It is not the domain of the un-intelligent, nor the sole domain of the intelligent. My point was that we have the intellectuals to thank for bonsai as we know it today, the literati, not the farmers, as Al suggested.
'
Thanks for the intelligent, on topic post Walter,



Will
 
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