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Old 06-03-2009, 06:50 PM   #1
aikishrine
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Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Is it at all possible that O'SENSEI misinterpreted the meaning of Budo? Based on some of my reading Budo has a different meaning among the Japanese thought, than what O'SENSEI taught. This could very well be my misunderstandings of O'SENSEI'S teachings though. Just looking for your opinions.
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:03 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is it at all possible.....

IMHO there is no one "right" definition of any term in any given culture. Every person brings his own filters based on experience, beliefs, expectations, priorities, world view....

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Old 06-03-2009, 07:33 PM   #3
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Budo means "Martial Ways". The etymology of the kanji suggests some things a bit deeper (please see Dave Lowry's Sword and Brush for more), but... I don't really see aikido is not a "Martial Way." It's a pretty broad term.

You're gonna need some specifics.

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Old 06-03-2009, 08:36 PM   #4
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

You know, I've never given much thought to it. A very interesting discussion indeed. Although, since we only can go by what he taught and wrote most of it will be pure speculation.
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:49 AM   #5
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Hi
Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
Is it at all possible that O'SENSEI misinterpreted the meaning of Budo? Based on some of my reading Budo has a different meaning among the Japanese thought, than what O'SENSEI taught. This could very well be my misunderstandings of O'SENSEI'S teachings though. Just looking for your opinions.
In which way or direction do you think Uehsiba misinterpreted the meaning of budo?

There are much parallels to his interpretations in other arts like katori shinto ryu e.g.
So I don't see any difference.

It's more that modern westerners misunderstand his interpretations by using his words like "love", "harmony" etc. but interpreting them in a modern, western way, I think.

That "budo is love" is a very old saying. It isn't something invented by O Sensei.

Carsten
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:35 AM   #6
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Any time one mixes ideologies and literal translations, and then further complicates them with cultural factors and the passage of time, you will get a discussion for which there are numerous points of view, each with its own well-supported argument. You are also likely not to be able to come to any tangible solution. What is more important is what it means to you.
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Old 06-04-2009, 06:54 AM   #7
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Brian Northrup wrote: View Post
Is it at all possible that O'SENSEI misinterpreted the meaning of Budo? Based on some of my reading Budo has a different meaning among the Japanese thought, than what O'SENSEI taught. This could very well be my misunderstandings of O'SENSEI'S teachings though. Just looking for your opinions.
Hi Brian (please don't hit me with a stick ),

I need to ask what you think Ueshiba Sensei's interpretation of Budo was?

What do you think the general interpretation of Budo is?

What do you base those thoughts on?

Then I might be able to address your question better. To get some common understandings I would recomend 'Budo Training in Aikido' [Budo Renshu], and Donn F. Draeger's 'Martial Arts and Ways of Japan' series. Those would give us a reasonable starting point (although I do think Draeger went a little far in his demarcation between Budo and Bujutsu).

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 06-04-2009 at 06:57 AM.

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Old 06-04-2009, 07:07 AM   #8
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Brian (please don't hit me with a stick ),

I need to ask what you think Ueshiba Sensei's interpretation of Budo was?

What do you think the general interpretation of Budo is?

What do you base those thoughts on?

Then I might be able to address your question better. To get some common understandings I would recomend 'Budo Training in Aikido' [Budo Renshu], and Donn F. Draeger's 'Martial Arts and Ways of Japan' series. Those would give us a reasonable starting point (although I do think Draeger went a little far in his demarcation between Budo and Bujutsu).

Best,
Ron
A stick, ouch

It just seems to me that O'SENSEI really puts an emphasis on love and peace in regards to his idea of Budo, which i whole heartedly appreciate and follow, to some degree. But it is my understanding that Budo "martial ways" is a more war like term. Like i said though i am probably completely wrong, or just uneducated enough at this point to make an educated decision about this. That is why i am asking for input to help me out.
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Old 06-04-2009, 07:27 AM   #9
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Definately read those that book and the series by Draeger. Also, there is a good list of books at Koryu Books web site. Keiko Shokon is one of my personal favorites.

A lot of the Aikido/Budo is love you'll find in Ueshiba's later thoughts. The prewar material gives it a good balance.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-04-2009, 07:31 AM   #10
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

In that case, no Ueshiba did not misinterpret the meaning of "budo". The idea of budo being about love and peace goes back to the earliest schools of Japanese combat. The Japanese martial traditions that we have today were born in a period of prolonged warfare, and finding a way out of the cycle of violence was a major theme. Iizasa Choisai Ienao, founder of the oldest surviving kenjutsu school made the statement "The ways of war are the ways of peace" a primary mission statement of his ryu, as well as the idea of "defeating the opponent without drawing your sword."

The only real difference on this score between Ueshiba and most other martial traditions is that typically the "love and peace" was of a Buddhist variety, while for Ueshiba it was an Omoto-kyo variety.

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Old 06-04-2009, 07:47 AM   #11
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
In that case, no Ueshiba did not misinterpret the meaning of "budo". The idea of budo being about love and peace goes back to the earliest schools of Japanese combat. The Japanese martial traditions that we have today were born in a period of prolonged warfare, and finding a way out of the cycle of violence was a major theme. Iizasa Choisai Ienao, founder of the oldest surviving kenjutsu school made the statement "The ways of war are the ways of peace" a primary mission statement of his ryu, as well as the idea of "defeating the opponent without drawing your sword."

The only real difference on this score between Ueshiba and most other martial traditions is that typically the "love and peace" was of a Buddhist variety, while for Ueshiba it was an Omoto-kyo variety.
!
Yes, that is my understanding too.

In "Budo" of Ueshiba O Sensei which is of 1938 you find both: "Budo is love" and also "If your opponent really attacks strike to his face with all your power." (Cited by heart.)

And also the katori people learn both at the same time: The idea of "defeating the opponent without drawing your sword." and they also to use their swords very well.

As I said: It's our understanding of love and harmony which creates a misinterpretation, I think.

Carsten
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:50 AM   #12
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Hi Brian (please don't hit me with a stick ),

I need to ask what you think Ueshiba Sensei's interpretation of Budo was?

What do you think the general interpretation of Budo is?

What do you base those thoughts on?

Then I might be able to address your question better. To get some common understandings I would recomend 'Budo Training in Aikido' [Budo Renshu], and Donn F. Draeger's 'Martial Arts and Ways of Japan' series. Those would give us a reasonable starting point (although I do think Draeger went a little far in his demarcation between Budo and Bujutsu).

Best,
Ron
It's not a "stick" it's a jo.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:31 AM   #13
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

If Sensei hits me with it, it is a jo...If Brian hits me with it, it's a stick!
Best,
Ron

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Old 06-04-2009, 09:56 PM   #14
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
If Sensei hits me with it, it is a jo...If Brian hits me with it, it's a stick!
Best,
Ron
Actually Ron if i hit you with it its by accident
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:51 PM   #15
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Whoa - wait a minute!

Ueshiba is truly the first to use the word "love" - ai - in relation to budo. Furthermore, "peace" is not the peace that most folks seem to think. Peace is a well ordered realm. The Tokugawa period, the most perfect totalitarian society ever constructed, was the budo ideal. And there were 200,000 executions in that 300 year period, with such acts as a person buried up to their neck, with a bamboo saw placed beside them and any passerby could take one cut. And that after one was beheaded, the executioner had a side business of cutting out the executees liver and selling it to convert into home remedies.
The budo peace - sure, it had things like TSKSR's ideal of being so centered and powerful that the duel didn't start - but the larger purpose was that, thereby, society would not be disrupted.
Ueshiba's interpretation of budo was both orthodox (he,t oo, supported peace in the realm) and revolutionary (spiritual renaissance in the service of harmonizing the realms of heaven and earth.
Ellis Amdur

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Old 06-05-2009, 03:16 AM   #16
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post

In "Budo" of Ueshiba O Sensei which is of 1938 you find both: "Budo is love" and also "If your opponent really attacks strike to his face with all your power." (Cited by heart.)

Carsten
Are you sure you have the right book in mind? You mean the training manual for soldiers, right? Any references?

PAG

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Old 06-05-2009, 07:30 AM   #17
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Re: Whoa - wait a minute!

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
The budo peace - sure, it had things like TSKSR's ideal of being so centered and powerful that the duel didn't start - but the larger purpose was that, thereby, society would not be disrupted.
Ueshiba's interpretation of budo was both orthodox (he,t oo, supported peace in the realm) and revolutionary (spiritual renaissance in the service of harmonizing the realms of heaven and earth.
Ellis Amdur
Ellis and Peter,

I recall reading, I think in Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda, a comparison of the "philosophy of aikido" to the tenets expressed in the Seventeenth-Century text, The Life-Giving Sword.

Was that connection just something that Shioda (if I have the correct author identified) saw, or did O Sensei also refer to the life-giving sword?

Regards,

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Old 06-05-2009, 07:51 AM   #18
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Budo is Love, God is Love; therefore God is Budo (or vise-versa)? Sorry, I guess not all of mathematics' formulas work in Budo.

I have posted this before... ( and because no one contradicted it and I would like to know either way if this is true or not) so I'll post it again.

To the best of my limited understanding, Aikido was founded officially in circa 1942. It is a modern Budo distilled from ancient sword schools. Post-war Japan was not allowed to openly practice weapon-based/violent martial arts. Many schools were banned and some Ryu retreated into secret practice in the mountains or monasteries. Aikido was one of the few Budo that was allowed to continue openly. I think this was because the kanji was conveniently translated as "The way of Peace and Harmony" and because of statements like "Budo is Love". These were convenient translations, but that doesn't mean they are not still true.

If there are scholars/historians here that can deny/confirm this I would love to hear from you!!!
[I have it in my notes but not sure where the source lies. I think (not sure) I got some of this history from Pascal Krieger, Sensei's book on "Jodo, The way of the stick" (I no longer have the book, just notes I took from it). He gave a lot of history of Budo in that book, but the stuff about Aikido practice in post-WWII Japan was from a seminar I attended on Aikido.]

I have heard other paradoxical sayings like, "the cut that saves lives" and "the killing mind" that don't necessarily have violent or "killing" attributes. I don't think these were from O'sensei, but they are from Budo. Aikido was derived from sword-based arts yet we don't do the techniques with swords but by following the same principles with our bodies. The fact that we cut with our spirit/mind/body and not a sword, could be ..."Love". (?)

I agree with some of the posts above that as foreigners to Japanese culture we miss a lot in the translation/interpretation. John Stevens, D. Draeger and Pascal Krieger were just a few men that immersed themselves in the Japanese culture and have a better understanding than we "gaijin". I saw that Prof. Goldbury had posted so that's why I came to this thread, I was hoping he had shed some light on the matter. So, would you please, sensei?

Onegaisumasu.

Last edited by brUNO : 06-05-2009 at 08:02 AM. Reason: clarification

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Old 06-05-2009, 08:25 AM   #19
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Re: Whoa - wait a minute!

Quote:
Drew Ames wrote: View Post
Ellis and Peter,

I recall reading, I think in Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda, a comparison of the "philosophy of aikido" to the tenets expressed in the Seventeenth-Century text, The Life-Giving Sword.

Was that connection just something that Shioda (if I have the correct author identified) saw, or did O Sensei also refer to the life-giving sword?

Regards,
Hiya Drew:

I'm not Ellis or Peter, but suffice it to say that the folks I know who practice Yagyu-ryu sword view the doctrinal presentation of many contemporary aikido shihant regarding "The Life-Giving Sword" as an "interesting" misreading that has more to do with the "harmony" = "love" reading of "ai" in "aikido" than it does Y. Munenori's treatise or the role the technical principle plays in the curriculum of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu.

Regards,

FL

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Old 06-05-2009, 08:36 AM   #20
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Brent Smith wrote: View Post
Budo is Love, God is Love; therefore God is Budo (or vise-versa)? Sorry, I guess not all of mathematics' formulas work in Budo.

I have posted this before... ( and because no one contradicted it and I would like to know either way if this is true or not) so I'll post it again.

To the best of my limited understanding, Aikido was founded officially in circa 1942. It is a modern Budo distilled from ancient sword schools. Post-war Japan was not allowed to openly practice weapon-based/violent martial arts. Many schools were banned and some Ryu retreated into secret practice in the mountains or monasteries. Aikido was one of the few Budo that was allowed to continue openly. I think this was because the kanji was conveniently translated as "The way of Peace and Harmony" and because of statements like "Budo is Love". These were convenient translations, but that doesn't mean they are not still true.
From memory, so I may have some things wrong ...

Ueshiba's main martial influence was Daito ryu. His main spiritual influence was Oomoto kyo. You can probably generalize that those two are the foundations to Aikido -- not distilled from ancient sword schools.

The name "aikido" might have been officially recognized in 1942, but that doesn't mean the art was founded then. Ueshiba adopting the name, yeah, okay. Founding his art? No, I think he started doing that a little before 1942. We know he was teaching Daito ryu up until maybe 1935-ish. I don't recall off hand when he stopped. His experiences with Oomoto kyo were well on their way by then, too. So, the timeframe between 1935 and 1942 really can cover some amazing history with Ueshiba.

I thought that the ban on martial arts after WWII wasn't an overall ban at all, but just that they couldn't be taught in schools? I'm pretty sure the DNBK wasn't banned. And I doubt it's as simple as some martial arts were allowed to practice because they were "ways of peace and harmony".

EDIT: Found this article
http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinth_1202.htm

Off-Topic:
Couldn't help myself, but I laughed when I read this part:
Quote:
Along the way, tournament judo came to be described as a waste of time, kendo was derided as dancing with bamboo rods, and kyudo was ridiculed for being hopelessly out of date.

Last edited by MM : 06-05-2009 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:44 AM   #21
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Hi
Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Are you sure you have the right book in mind? You mean the training manual for soldiers, right? Any references?
I refer to

Morihei Ueshiba: Budo, Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, Kodansha International, Tokyo 1991 (Paperback Edition 1996)
English Translation by John Stevens

I always assumed, that not only the photos but also the text belong to the training manual of 1938. Isn't that correct?

I refer to the following passages:

p32:
"Our enlightened ancestors developed true budo based on humanity, love, and sincerity; it' heart consits of sincer bravery, sincere wisdom, sincere love, and sincere empathy.These four spiritual virtues should be incorporated in the singel sword of diligence training; contnatly forge the spirit and body and let the brilliance of the transforming sword ermeate your entire beeing."

p34:
"... those sincerely training inother forms of budomanifest teachings that reflect the grand dsign of heaven and earth and lead to enlightenment. Hence the virtues of bravery, wisdom, love and empathy, are united in the body and mind, creating a beautifull valiant sword that directs us to greater and greater realizations."

p43:
"Note: In actual combat, strike your opponent's face with full force."

So Ueshiba himself was not aware to be the first one to connect budo and love?

What am I getting wrong?

Carsten
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:01 AM   #22
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Re: Whoa - wait a minute!

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Hiya Drew:

I'm not Ellis or Peter, but suffice it to say that the folks I know who practice Yagyu-ryu sword view the doctrinal presentation of many contemporary aikido shihant regarding "The Life-Giving Sword" as an "interesting" misreading that has more to do with the "harmony" = "love" reading of "ai" in "aikido" than it does Y. Munenori's treatise or the role the technical principle plays in the curriculum of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu.

Regards,

FL
Hi Fred! I only called out Peter and Ellis because they'd recently responded to this thread. It's great to hear from you.

So, the The Life-Giving Sword connection to aikido is somewhat tenuous. My follow-up question: how commonly read was The Life-Giving Sword in Japanese martial arts circles in the 20th century?

Regards,

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Old 06-05-2009, 09:24 AM   #23
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Re: Whoa - wait a minute!

Quote:
Drew Ames wrote: View Post
Hi Fred! I only called out Peter and Ellis because they'd recently responded to this thread. It's great to hear from you.

So, the The Life-Giving Sword connection to aikido is somewhat tenuous. My follow-up question: how commonly read was The Life-Giving Sword in Japanese martial arts circles in the 20th century?

Regards,
Good question, Drew. Peter has a much better sense of that than I, particularly with regard to what specific texts Ueshiba might have read.

In this case, I would note a few other data points -- a) the Shinkage-ryu scroll that Ueshiba received from Takeda in Ayabe in 1922, b) Takeda's widely documented illiteracy c) Ueshiba's history of appropriating and re-spinning traditional words and catchphrases which he found had surface resonance with his own Oomoto-derived notions of renewing the universe into a closer -- if historcially suspect -- alignment with those notions.

Barring compelling evidence of his familiarity with the text, I would guess he had heard the phrase, likely from Takeda, and then repeated in some of his own three am discourses to freezing uchi-deshi, some of whom subsequently added their own spin when marketing the art in the cultural milieu of the Seventies and Eighties.

Best,

FL

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Old 06-05-2009, 09:56 AM   #24
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Did Picasso misunderstand painting?
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Old 06-05-2009, 10:13 AM   #25
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Re: Did O-Sensei Misinterpret the Meaning of "Budo"?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
The name "aikido" might have been officially recognized in 1942, but that doesn't mean the art was founded then. Ueshiba adopting the name, yeah, okay. Founding his art? No, I think he started doing that a little before 1942.

...I thought that the ban on martial arts after WWII wasn't an overall ban at all, but just that they couldn't be taught in schools? I'm pretty sure the DNBK wasn't banned. And I doubt it's as simple as some martial arts were allowed to practice because they were "ways of peace and harmony".
Thank you Mark,
1st question, DNBK? Que? Onegasisumas.

Yes, I knew he did it B4 '42, that's why I put officially in "quotes". I thought Daitoryu & Shinkage-ryu WERE both sword-based arts? I thought a "Daito" was a samurai who carried two swords? Hmm...

Being banned from schools sounds more correct, now that I see it. I have someone I know who is very knowledgable on Budo history that can clear that up for me.

Thank you for your timely response. I wanted to get my story str8 4 my records.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Did Picasso misunderstand painting?
Uh, ....yes! Both eyes on the same side of the NOSE! Maybe Van Gogh would've been better ?

Last edited by brUNO : 06-05-2009 at 10:18 AM. Reason: additional comment

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