The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

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The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:18 am

There is a wind of change blowing through the western world of bonsai, a change that confronts the ‘old guard’ head on. A change that is both healthy and exciting because it is not encumbered by the notion that ‘the old guy who has been doing it for years knows best’. Ryan Neil states: “Currently, western bonsai knowledge is comprised of a piecemeal of knowledge slowly accumulating but often veering from its intended course.” Source

I am not saying that we should not defer to those who have trod the path before us… but I am saying that the worm has turned and the next generation of bonsai artists are creating bonsai that the old guard could only dream of.

Ryan held a moderated discussion on the future of bonsai in the United States at the “Bonsai in the Bluegrass” event last month. Oh how I would have loved to have been part of that discussion* I had dinner with Ryan at the Noelanders Trophee in January and he expressed to me that the USA had been sleeping whilst the rest of the west were ‘Kicking Ass’ I know his passion as I felt the same years ago with the UK… what turned the UK around was the young guys…

What surprises visiting Bonsai Artists to European Events from Japan AND the USA is how young and enthusiastic the artists are... THAT... and the quality of the bonsai displayed.

When asked “is (insert bonsai artist) any good” my response is always… “Take a look at their trees, not what they say or write” because as witnessed here on this forum some folk can spin a great yarn… but I would not wear their cloth because it’s usually full of holes.

Note: Kevin Willson recently expressed to me that “you know... you and I are the old guys now” … I will get my coat pale

*Is there a record of event?



Last edited by tony on Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Smithy on Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:23 pm

I have to agree that just because someone has been doing something for a long time it doesn't always mean that respect should automatically be given. Just because some one has been at something a long time doesn't mean they are good at something, lets take an example for instance like driving.

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The ninety five theses or no country for old men.

Post  Guest on Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:04 pm

Hello Tony. I totally agree with your ideas about the “old guard”. Far too much praise and adoration is heaped on certain individuals, just because they have a long history, can hold court, entertain, or publish a book.
Bonsai has progressed so much since the turn of the century, Particularly in Europe and I feel this is down to a more open minded and questioning standpoint to the staid attitudes of the old guard and their more rigid and unwavering rules.
This is not out of disrespect, but more to do with the knowledge available to us all. The old guard have done a fantastic job with the promotion and skills base and should be applauded for this as they didn’t have very much to learn from. Maybe the US is more reluctant to move away from these teachers.
What really gets on my pip is the amount of bad information and Bs, served up by people in authority or certainly playing at a higher level. They may think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the general public but as a self confessed complete bonsai head, I feel it my duty to point out their misinformation.
I watched a demo of one such US demonstrator in the UK a couple of years ago. He was given an expensive Juniper and started by saying how he would use the Taiwan tearing technique on the deadwood that he had studied it in Taiwan and thought it far superior to machine carving. I was intrigued by this statement as I have admired this kind of deadwood work for a long time now. After about 15 mins of ripping and tearing, he had made such a bad job of it that he had to “correct” it with a Makita. I say correct...He totally messed the tree up.The trees styling was then left branch, right branch, back branch. He'd have done a better job dragging it behind the car on the way back to the airport. The tree died eventually, probably from embarrasment.
But at the end of the day he gave a very entertaining demo and that’s what counts.


Last edited by will baddeley on Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:17 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Smelling pistake)

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  marcus watts on Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:46 pm

there is both good and bad in the new surge of western bonsai - we are certainly showing talent at artistic styling, the pushing forward of techniques to acheive a goal and are slowly creating native styles. BUT.... the western bonsai scene is obsessed with rushing to the 'finished' image far too quickly - i look at many 'show' trees in my travels and with the pines and junipers especially the stylist has created a lovely bonsai outline......but when you look inside it is done with very shoddy cris crossing of branches, multiple snakes to shorten the appearance of the branches and to trick the viewer into thinking the foliage is closer to the trunk than it really is.

the true old school genuine bonsai artist would have pruned back to a weak inner shoot and grown the branch for as many years as it took to do the job properly. When you are lucky enough to see a really good imported tree the branch structure from underneath is breath-taking and these trees will always continue to outshine western created bonsai until we appreciate the fact that while the outer image can often be formed in hours the true ramification of a mature bonsai takes decades. the infinite attention to 'boring' detail is lacking in many western trees - who would reduce the needles within each bundle from 5 to 3 in an area of a white pine that is too strong, or spread the pruning of a tree over many weeks to balance the energy properly? not many people. I think this partly comes from a new breed who are trying to make a living from bonsai and feel pressured to show fast results, and partly from the pace of our society - who wants to start a tree and think 15 years from now that branch will be perfect !

I must admit that years ago i stopped watching the Uk travelling 'bonsai superstars' with their routers & dremels hacking material to pieces in demos just to get a wow from the audience and a little ego boost for themselves - thank goodness that era is passing now as it was an embarrasment to be in the audience and see some of the results.

the best way forward is to not loose sight of what it takes to make a truely high class tree and couple it with our new ideas, techniques and inspiration from our own landscapes. - yes it takes time, and yes it ends up expensive, but thats the nature of the hobby and quality wont come in a hurry

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Orion on Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:13 pm

So very well stated by all four. It's sort of like education today; students are more interested in just obtaining the degree as opposed to actually learning. I suppose it's a part of western culture-it's the result that counts.

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The ninety five theses or no country for old men.

Post  Guest on Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:54 pm

"When you are lucky enough to see a really good imported tree the branch structure from underneath is breath-taking and these trees will always continue to outshine western created bonsai until we appreciate the fact that while the outer image can often be formed in hours the true ramification of a mature bonsai takes decades."
I would agree with you if you were talking about the end of the Millenium, but not now. The standard, age and refinement of trees in European shows in the last few years is breathtaking. The last Noelanders or the Swindon Winter image show to name just a couple, are testament to quality long term work with local material.









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No country for old men?

Post  Mitch Thomas on Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:21 pm

Tony
I was at the Bonsai in The Blue Grass a couple of weeks ago where I briefly met Ryan Neil. I found him to be a charismatic speaker and demonstrator all around nice person. I wish, when I was his age I would have had the forsite and fortitude to do what he has done.

In his lecture, what I came away with was that the western hemishere is poised to make some huge leaps in the advancement of the Bonsai art form. I dont think he was calling anyone out of any thing like that.

Will
I dont really know what you are getting at pointing out a bad demonstraton from a US artist. What is your point?

I do think all of us as artist take ourselves way to serious.

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No country for old men?

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:15 am

Hello Mitch. The point I was refering to was the previous paragraph. The individual I was talking about is up there on the the bonsai food chain. It was unfair of me to mention his nationality as it is fairly common across the globe.
By the way.There are plenty of artists who don't take themselves too seriously.

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:36 am

Hi Marcus.

I don't want to come across as Billy Big Balls BUT... what you say is true... but it is so... five years ago.

Have you been to a MAJOR European show?... have to tried to enter a BIG MAJOR European show?... because what you say simply does not cut it with the selectors... your tree has to be First Class... Top Draw... THE Best... and so it should be... because visitors to these shows want to see the best in Europe.

There is NO room for mediocrity... if you are happy with that stay with your club show. Rolling Eyes

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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:01 am

Don't know about Billy big balls...How about Tony Testicles? Very Happy

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:49 am

Sorry Tony. Bet you've never heard that one before. Rolling Eyes
As Tony says, albeit rather curtly, the standard of trees across Europe has shot up immeasureably in the last few years. The quality and quantity of top class European material, coupled with many truly dedicated artists is the reason why. Try and get your tree selected for a top European show these days. Mature trees are the ones that get selected these days. Quick fix?....I don't think so. http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t5384-my-first-time-at-noelanders?highlight=Noelanders

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  kauaibonsai on Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:05 am


When asked “is (insert bonsai artist) any good” my response is always… “Take a look at their trees, not what they say or write” because as witnessed here on this forum some folk can spin a great yarn… but I would not wear their cloth because it’s usually full of holes.

tony, will, smithy. can't resist.

you took the words right out of my mouth !!

best wishes, sam

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:00 am

Hi Sam... this post is not about D*ck measuring Suspect I do not see anyone is claiming to be a great bonsai artists...

Will... you will have to do better than that... my Sister Tess is the one in my family that gets the most stick!

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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  fiona on Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:11 am

As in all things there is an inherent danger in generalisations - the driving example being a case in point where habits good or bad are most certainly not confined to an age bracket. The "dispute" between young and old is (forgive the pun) age-old and stems in the most part from equally age-old perceptions rather than facts. As I have said in the past, it is the arrogance of the Young to believe they know everything, but it is equally the arrogance of the Old to assume they (the Young) do not. And yes, I am aware of the irony that that too is a generalisation, so maybe it's time to start acknowledging that the word "some" must come into play here. Maybe too, we could say that the best civilisations, cultures, societies etc. are formed where the appropriate experience and energy are combined - irrespective of the physical age of those holding that age and experience. That, surely, is a recipe for success in any field. I think we may have already coined an appropriate term for it:

Meritocracy.

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:20 am

kauaibonsai wrote:
When asked “is (insert bonsai artist) any good” my response is always… “Take a look at their trees, not what they say or write” because as witnessed here on this forum some folk can spin a great yarn… but I would not wear their cloth because it’s usually full of holes.

tony, will, smithy. can't resist.

you took the words right out of my mouth !!

best wishes, sam



...To be honest, this type of fill in the blanks (insert bonsai artist), in a bad way can hurt some people and will make ones think twice of posting again...specially those who contributed more trees and words than other members. as if posting of trees and words here are becoming measurements of ones ability or worse-ones inability. but, lot of people are just honestly wanted to share both the good ones and the bad ones (mostly bad ones, because we can't afford the best trees that belongs to the big shots)...and "we" the majority of people here,young and old have no intention of becoming some sort of "masters" of bonsai,...we just wanted to have fun in bonsai and a medium (which I hope is IBC) to share and learn.


regards,
jun Smile


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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Smithy on Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:34 am

kauaibonsai wrote:
When asked “is (insert bonsai artist) any good” my response is always… “Take a look at their trees, not what they say or write” because as witnessed here on this forum some folk can spin a great yarn… but I would not wear their cloth because it’s usually full of holes.

tony, will, smithy. can't resist.

you took the words right out of my mouth !!

best wishes, sam

Hi Sam , I would no way call myself a bonsai artist ,I don't qualify to ever give advice on Bonsai except to the very beginner. I am at the very beginning of the bonsai road and don't take the thing that seriously . I just keep a few trees in my garden. My trees if i showed them would be at the level of my yarn i guess.
My point was more in general about the attitude i have come across with 'some' of the older generation that they should be given more respect just because they have been doing something for longer. 'Some' of them have just had more time to practice at being assholes.
To be honest i don't really care if someone is a good bonsai artist or not i just like meeting good people who are kind to others and don't take them selves too seriously. Life is fun.
Smithy

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:58 am

Hi Jun, this post was created to stimulate debate, quite simply who do you ‘trust’ when asking for advice. (Insert Bonsai Artist) is there to protect identity. I could have wrote… “Is Will Baddeley a good bonsai artist?”… My answer would be the same… look at his trees not what he says/writes… YOU decide.

An extensive list of Bonsai Artists is available Here only YOU can decide if any are good… but your criteria for choice must be the quality of their work… NOT whether they spin a good tale.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. (Good 'ol Abe) and this is true of Bonsai...



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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:15 am

tony wrote:Hi Jun, this post was created to stimulate debate, quite simply who do you ‘trust’ when asking for advice. (Insert Bonsai Artist) is there to protect identity. I could have wrote… “Is Will Baddeley a good bonsai artist?”… My answer would be the same… look at his trees not what he says/writes… YOU decide.

An extensive list of Bonsai Artists is available Here only YOU can decide if any are good… but your criteria for choice must be the quality of their work… NOT whether they spin a good tale.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. (Good 'ol Abe) and this is true of Bonsai...




I understand your point Tony and your intention on this Thread, By which I also agree with you and Will's idea. Will and I are discussing this topic too even before this thread started, Same reason why I started the "Magic Show" thread.
But what I am saying is that, the message that your "fill in the blanks"" approach will not be read my most members as such. I am saying this from the perspective of non English (language ) speaking region, believe me it will be read negatively...and from the perspective of a regular contributor to the forum.

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  fiona on Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:40 am

tony wrote:... I could have wrote…
Oooooooh! Run on your sword Mr Tickle.

But it does lead to another point: As an English language (especially grammar, punctuation and spelling) pedant, I sometimes inwardly shrivel up in horror at the misuse - no, sorry, maltreatment - of the language that goes on on the forum, mostly it has to be said at the hands of the native English speakers. Better put in a smiley here just to show this is intended to be light-hearted. Here we go - Very Happy

Yet I know I have to see beyond that to the words themselves as often what is being said is spot on despite often clumsy grammar, appalling spelling and punctuation that looks as if it has been applied using a splatter gun. The message is what is important and that again, IMHO, is not dictated by age alone but by relevant experience, with emphasis on the word "relevant".

To my mind, many of the best posts on here are the ones that start not with "Do this" or "Don't do that" but with the words "In my experience..."


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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:43 am

Hi Jun... I guess I am Myopic when I write my posts... often forgetting that culture, language and many other factors determine how members interpret the content.. Please do not let my rambling deter you from contributing. I remain your servant and will think carefully before posting subtle/ambiguous statements. Rolling Eyes

Falls on sord (sic) pale


Last edited by tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fionas post)

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:07 pm

tony wrote:Hi Jun... I guess I am Myopic when I write my posts... often forgetting that culture, language and many other factors determine how members interpret the content.. Please do not let my rambling deter you from contributing. I remain your servant and will think carefully before posting subtle/ambiguous statements. Rolling Eyes

Falls on sord (sic) pale

Who me? will be discouraged from posting...I've been there.No sir, not anymore, I am not K_ _ _ _ _j, Not even J_m (fill in the blank/s) can deter me from posting anymore.hehehe. I got a much thicker skin and face now... and I enrolled in English language studies just to understand you guys. Razz

regards,
jun Wink

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  fiona on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:15 pm

jun wrote: ... and I enrolled in English language studies just to understand you guys.
BIG mistake. I'd have opted for A-Level gibberish. Very Happy

I'm going to say it and it is genuine sentiment: Jun, if I had students in my classes whose English was a fraction as good as yours, I'd need only to do a minimal teaching input then I could sit with my feet up while they got on with their assignments.

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:25 pm

"An extensive list of Bonsai Artists is available Here only YOU can decide if any are good… but your criteria for choice must be the quality of their work… NOT whether they spin a good tale."

...and Oh Mr. Tickle I have seen this "Who is Bonsai" many times. and I am always wondering what on earth is Will's face doing there, Who seems to be pi**ing behind some sort of little pine (just kidding Will) ? Hope Will won't read this negatively.

regards,
jun Smile



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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:57 pm

Thanks for the Compliment Fiona! I am blushing. Embarassed Embarassed
So, you really are a teacher? One of the most noble vocation, My mother too is a teacher/ school principal and I admire the patience you fellas have on people...
(this is off topic section right?)

regards,
jun Smile

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

Post  Tony on Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:47 pm

jun wrote: I admire the patience you fellas have on people...

Fiona is absolutely fine with the written/typed work... meet the lass and you may well find that you do not understand her... She may well say to me "Awa an bile yer heid" or similar... as a term of endearment naturally Suspect

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‎"Study me as much as you like, you will never know me, for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." — Rumi

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Re: The Ninety-Five Theses or No Country for Old Men

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