Author Topic: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven  (Read 11070 times)

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2010, 07:54 PM »
There  are a few good points here I wish to comment on and a few that have no bearing on the discussion like Will's involvement, nor the Unnamed reviewer whom I know. Walter has not written a book nor contributed to this writing so I won't comment on that.


Quote
There is absolutely no doubt that experience cannot be found in a book, but the foundation blocks are and, the latter is not specifically applied to bonsai. You will never get an argument from me wrt that.

There is absolutely no doubt nor argument that one on one teaching is the way to go. But the knowledge imparted to any given audience on any given subject came from a book at some point in time. You cannot possibly deny that.

Sure I can. I have warned others when writing before a group of people it is always best to take an approach that anything is possible. You, nor I can't possibly know everything. How can you say that there isn't many people out there in remote places in the USA that are making marvelous bonsai by touch, as in blind. I know of one. How bout those in ancient China that wrote the book" on bonsai. What did they read? How about NASA and going to the moon. I'll bet they didn't check out a book from library on how to do that. Ok I'm being a little facetious here about books. They are not the bell end all of how to do bonsai. While I love books and own many, I will make my thought clearer below.

 

Quote
Both books are about the artistic side of bonsai. So if the book was able to impart artistic knowledge and design to a person, what is more important the medium used or the end result? How many trees have you seen that were designed according to convention? As I, I bet many. Where branch X is where it is supposed to be etc, branch Y is where it is supposed to be etc, etc... the result a design that leaves us flat as the tree is a manufactured thing vice the representation of a living thing, in miniature.


I'm not sure I understand you totally but let me take a crack. Are you meaning to say that had a person more closely followed the rules of artistry that can be found in a book, the work may have turned out better and not fallen flat? I will assume thats what you meant, if it was again, I take issue. Once again you have written black and white and have erased possibly many thousands of bonsai that thumb their nose to rules, the written rules about art, and possibly anything anyone might say or do. You just can't say that. There will always be someone that will place something so totally ugly in front of you that defies every rule in the book and will be so wonderfully beautiful that it defies imagination.


Quote
Fubunaci's equation encompasses everything we see or do in our daily lives. It is something we never gave a second thought about or even cared to label it. It is either aesthetically pleasing or it is not, and if it is not then, when applying the principle "the subject" usually falls out of the equation/norm more often than not. But his equation is not limited to art perse, it is seen is every aspect of our daily functions.

More Tuesday morning quarterbacking. Design a tree by the sequence. What have you got? A tree that has been styled to fit in the rule of thirds. It may still be ugly as hell, and means nothing. The rules of thirds is not a blueprint to making better bonsai. It hay help with proportion and balance, but that is only part of what makes a bonsai have soul. ( More about soul later)

Some good reading here:
http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=869
This stand was not laid out according to the Fibbonaci Sequence. It fit the sequence in many ways, but that doesn't always make it art. It just means it fits the rule of thirds for a well laid out design...nothing more.


Quote
We may think that we need to please the eye, but we would be wrong in making that assumption. The eye is nothing more than a camera lens, which in turn transmits a focal point to the brain where it is then compared against a vast data bank held there. Although it might be pleasing or not to the eye, it is the brain that decides what is or isn't and, how is that decided? By the information contained in our storage boxes for the lack of a better word. The information acquired through reading, viewing, teaching etc... the brain in turn then transmits lessons learned.

In turn it is the brain that will transmit the knowledge talent and experience gained from the storage bank to the hands to execute the work and, the camera lens re-transmit the focal point against the data bank once again for comparison etc, etc, etc...


Thanks for the simple biology lesson, but I studied the human eye in the sixth grade. Not trying to be sarcastic but my use of the term seeing with ones eye is not a literal term as you have made it, but more of a metaphore for lack of a better term. Think of it as telling someone you have to "drain the lizard" when we all know you are going to evacuate your bladder. We all know the lizard can't store anything and thus does not need to be drained.The whole paragraph above was a waste of time.
In times past many men have had flashes of brilliance without the need for a book nor have ever "seen" it before. Gee, I wonder how man made it all those years without books?


..
Quote
..and through shear repetition (experience) they do not need a reference, their references are in their heads. That being said how did it get there? They are using a mental template stored in their brain and transmitted to the tree. Where does that mental image come from? You know you may look at a tree for days on end, and try and duplicate said tree, the image our eyes see, but without a foundation on "how to" how are you going to go about it?


Your jumping all over the place again. Lets keep this about Robert's book and the reviews. Robert's book is not about technique and does not profess to be. In his second book Will goes out of his way to tell us that. So let's compare apples and apples.

Quote
If books are totally useless, then why are you documenting your work and posting it on the forums? What purpose does it serve? All that information you post is totally useless (in your opinion, not mine), unless you and I can get together for some one on one. But no, there is valuable information being exchanged, regardless of the medium used and that is what is important the exchange of information not the medium.

Your going to have to quote me where I said books are useless. Books are not useless. They serve many purposes. Books can be redundent, books can be written poorly, and books can be a total waste of time. That does not mean that they shouldn't be read or scanned. I scan them. I can tell within 5 minutes if a book has something in it new and bold I have never read before. That is a book that I may wish to purchase and study. I have no use for books that continually keep pouring over the same things year after year.
I got suckered into buying Morten Albeks book. Probably the most dissapointing book on bonsai I have ever read. Vision of my Soul was/is a good book, but only that far. A good primer, but many primers came before it. John Naka's Bonsai Technique's II, Bonsai by Deborah Koreshoff, Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai by Saburo Kato and on and on. What they all have in common is that they all have super good pictures of bonsai and they all have a basic primer on what makes bonsai artistic. I won't be buying Mission of Transformation for that reason, not will I be buying Rob Kempenski's book. I have looked at both and it's the same ole rehash. Rob's is more for the beginner and written as such. Robert should have stayed with one book. The first was put together with much thought and the second book lacks that thought. The second book is a compilation of the internet and that is dissapointing, much like Morten's book. I had seen it all before it even came out either on his web site or in the magazines. I own all the bonsai today's why would I spend money to have the juniper book or the pine book? I don't buy books just to have an impressive library. they gotta mean something.

Now let us compare apples and oranges as you have done above. You have compared what I have done on some bonsai forums, to what someone has done professionally and for profit.
First I do not profess to be your kind of artist. ( Think Robert Steven , Walter Pall here )
Second, no one pays me 60.00 dollars to read what I write. So my work has no value, at least not monatarily. You have put out no money, so if you deem what I write garbage you have lost nothing.
Third, No one to my knowledge has written a review of my work towards the bonsai community, nor have they hyped anything I have written. So what I write serves my purpose, not anyone elses. My work as posted may just be a depository and archive of work done, nothing more. You can look at it or not, dissmiss it or not, but you never have to pay for it.
Fourth and finally, I feel a commitment to the bonsai forum as a place to share bonsai experiences. Without exchange in the form of bonsai work completed it would be a very boring place to come to. From the time I started almost 12 years ago on the internet, I have posted almost everything I do. I do that for others as well as my self.


Quote
In conclusion rules are made to be broken, what one needs is the knowledge and experience to know when, why and how they can be broken and why changing them makes sense. We don't change them just because we want to. The final results must always outweigh the former.  


Where is it written that rules are made to be broken? Rules are rules. They serve a purpose. Your first sentence makes no sense and almost validates what I am talking about. You said: " what one needs is the knowledge and experience to know when, why and how they can be broken and why changing them makes sense".
If this is the case why is it important to hype a book about why trees work based on a set of artistic values like line and form, balance, harmony, proportion and perspective if the key to making good stuff is to know when to move away from these ideals. Seat of your pants, that is what it's all about. Work from the heart, the soul. let that be your reflection. leave it to others to find how the tree works because it fits the rule of thirds. That should not be your concern.

My contention was that these books sans pictures (which are good) are regurgitations of artistic ideals for bonsai that have been around for many decades. Andy rutledge wrote his Foundations to Artistic Bonsai back in 2003/4 and it still holds today. Nothing more need be written, after you have read that you will be armed with all that is needed if you want to do bonsai by the numbers. So, I will save my money for a nice piece of material, thank you.

Cheers, Al
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 08:00 PM by akeppler »
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2010, 02:33 AM »
This quote in a an archival thread at bonsainut. The quote come from Peter Warren while defending his position on bonsai after you had misquoted him Rick. It says:

Quote
As for the relevance of apprenticeship I think that for anybody in any manual profession, an apprenticeship is of absolute importance. You cannot learn Bonsai in a classroom, you cannot learn to read the grain of wood from any other means than lworking with a master carpenter who learnt his skills the hard way, through experience and there is no way he will give that up for free. You have to earn it by whatever means necessary. The lack of apprenticeships in the trades and the obsession with modern governments and schools to throw all children into University education has turned the US/UK into nations dependent upon the stereotypical Mexican/Polish gardener/plumber.


What I read in this is "stop reading so many books and start doing more bonsai". Find a teacher and really learn.

The whole thread is here  http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1069&highlight=nursery+stock+masterpieces
 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2010, 08:27 AM »
Al,
Very thoughtful. As someone who has written a few book chapters and many "Journal Articles" (on things not related to bonsai, in any way that I could find), I find it interesting that some rely so heavily on books and the various levels of inarticulate description contained within to perform frequently complex and/or arcane tasks. I have found over the years it is frequently better to load the graduate student, technician, postdoc, young faculty member or myself, onto an airplane and go learn at the hands of the master of a scientific technique, than it is to gut your way through working it out, and potentially (very frequently!) getting it very wrong.

Same with bonsai. But based on the word output relative to tree output you see online, some folks really like to hear their own voices (so to speak). But I digress.

Al, how are your little tridents coming along? Any new grafts or tricks to regale us with?
John
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 09:01 AM by John Kirby »
 

Rick Moquin

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2010, 08:34 AM »
I bow to you oh great one.
 

MatsuBonsai

  • John Callaway
  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Thanked: 6 times
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2010, 09:03 AM »
John and Al, wise words.  And Chris, nice review.  Thanks for sharing.
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2010, 05:27 PM »
I bow to you oh great one.

If I thought that was sincere I would say thank you, but I might just say I think we agree to disagree.
 

Rick Moquin

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2010, 06:51 PM »
Nah! But I do think the avatar is really becoming  ;)
 

akeppler

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • Thanked: 9 times
  • http://bonsaial.wordpress.com/
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2010, 07:33 PM »
Let me know if you need me to send you a bag.

Try it you'll like it.
 

John Kirby

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
  • Thanked: 16 times
  • I really need an opposable thumb...
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2010, 08:56 PM »
I have put my "Wellies" on.
 

davestree

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2010, 09:10 AM »
What is with the stuff about Fibonacci sequences ?   Where do you get your info on that ?
 

MatsuBonsai

  • John Callaway
  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Thanked: 6 times
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2010, 09:45 AM »
What is with the stuff about Fibonacci sequences ?   Where do you get your info on that ?

An interesting article appeared in our club newsletter some time ago.  It's worth the read.  I'll see if I can find the original with the pictures.

Fibonacci Numbers and Bonsai
 

rockm

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 299
  • Thanked: 3 times
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2010, 01:55 PM »
"In times past many men have had flashes of brilliance without the need for a book nor have ever "seen" it before. Gee, I wonder how man made it all those years without books?"

Um, well, sure. But I'd bet many of those men wished they'd written their ideas down...In your lengthy denial that nothing can be learned about bonsai from books you have inadvertently proven the opposite. Through your writing, I understand your perception of bonsai and how it can be taught, how art plays an important and dominant role in it and more than a few other things that may, or may not, have come up in a physical class you may have taught. Good bonsai books, beyond the beginner publications, inspire and spark ideas and expectations, the same way a good teacher does.

I can definitely understand people who learn from books. I've learned quite a bit from them over the years. I haven't learned quite so much how to make something with my hands, but have learned how to make something with my mind--that is what (good) books do. They don't teach physical action. They teach mental action, which can lead to physical action. IDEAS fuel bonsai. Everything else is just wiring and pruning... ;D
 

bonsaikc

  • Member
  • Sr. Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 330
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2010, 10:03 AM »
I believe FAR too much has been made of Fibonacci's numbers, especially as people try to relate them to art, nature, and the like.

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/pseudo/fibonacc.htm
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2010, 11:53 AM »
WAY TO GO  rockm !!!   " Ideas fuel bonsai ".  IMO, every good bonsai starts as an idea.  Looking at the tree, deciding what it wants to do, and can do horticultural -wise, and using the Fibonacci sequence as GUIDELINES ONLY  to alter the trees path to make it look larger and more mature than it really is. If anything was ever a hard and fast rule it was, to paraphrase, " make your bonsai look like a tree, not your tree like a bonsai". I have a few dozen books myself. If looking at the pictures of other trees helps you to get an IDEA of your own, so be it.  Most books seem to be " Groundhog Day " all over again, with IMO, two exceptions. They are " Visions of my soul", and David De Groot's, " Basic Bonsai Design".  Larry
 

davestree

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Book Review: "Vision of My Soul" by Robert Steven
« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2010, 12:22 PM »
I agree about the Fibonacci foolishness.