Bruce Lee: Artist of Life (Bruce Lee Library)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 1999
I've just finished reading "Bruce Lee: Artist ofLife" -- what a book! It was just like having a private lessonwith Bruce Lee on a host of different topics! I enjoyed spending time with him as he discoursed on gung fu and Chinese culture; then attending philosophy classes with him at the University of Washington; moving from there on to the study of the mind as he explored the Gestalt approach to psychology; and then listening to him wax poetic about life, longing and lovers separated by fate; then it was a journey into the inner recesses of the soul to learn about "personal liberation" through JKD; his views on acting followed, revealing how he applied all of the foregoing into his films, and then, finally, his profoundly personal essays "In My Own Process" allowed Bruce to share with me his views on the process of his life. Again, what a magnificent book and what an incredible human being it reveals. This is my favorite volume in The Bruce Lee Library Series and I, for one, quite enjoy the breadth and scope of this volume. If you're interested just in JKD -- read volume three in this series; if you're interested in just gung fu -- read volume two (both are devoted exclusively to these respective modes of combat); if you want more of Bruce Lee's private letters -- you will enjoy volume five. But if you're looking for a great anthology of Bruce Lee's most important writings, you HAVE to read this book! It's the only book that covers all the bases in the totality of Bruce Lee's interests and beliefs. A great read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 1999
I had to wait six weeks for the Barnes and Noble store in my area to restock "Bruce Lee: Artist of Life" -- but it was well worth the wait! This is the greatest Bruce Lee book I've ever seen! Not only is there new, never-before-published material in almost every section, but Mr. Little has done Bruce Lee a great service by reproducing some of the writings that had been published previously (both in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and in the Bruce Lee Library Series) in the original format that Bruce Lee first wrote them. I particularly enjoyed the never-before-published drafts of Bruce's great essay "Jeet Kune Do: Toward Personal Liberation." There are new and subtle differences in each version of the famous essay as Bruce works it over with each draft. I understand that this represents "the essential writings" of Bruce Lee, that is, a representative anthology of Bruce's writings in many different areas. It certainly is "essential" -- it's the best Bruce Lee book I've ever read and essential for anyone who wishes a full and complete understanding of the totality of the man. If you are looking for a book that is both a great introduction to the phenomenon that is Bruce Lee as well as a book that will inspire you to fully actualize yourself...this is the book you've been waiting for!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 1999
I for one thought this a very informative book and enjoyed every bit it had to offer. The only problem is the fact that it reiterates almost everything that was said in the last books, only in less detail. I've practically seen every bit of material the book had to offer in other books. But, nevertheless it's a Bruce lee book and that's the bottom line. It's got my full vote.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2007
Bruce lee Artist of life

Bruce lee Artist of Life is probable the best book I have ever read for several reasons. For one it is written by probably the best know and most talented Martial Artist of the twentieth century. This book consist of personal journal entries made by Bruce Lee. It contains topics such as Gung fu, Philosophy, Psychology, Poetry, Jeet Kune Do, Acting, Self-Knowledge then it ends with personal letter written by Bruce Lee.

Gung Fu section lee begins the article by saying ,"Gung Fu is a special kind of skill, a fine art rather than just a physical exercise or defense." Couldn't agree more as a participate in the fine art of martial arts. Really if your some what intrigue by Bruce lees philosophy you should read this book. In the Gung fu chapter of this book ,taken from handwritten notes by Bruce lee, he cover such topics as The center of the Oriental arts were he goes into deep discussion about such things as philosophies of Taoism, Cha'an (Zen),Meanings of gung fu, and what they mean to him. Other articles deal with his personal reflections on how he views and interrupts Gung fu and it's teachings. The chapter goes on with other essays he's written such as
Reflections on Gung Fu - Deep views on the stages of a "Gun Fu Man"
Teach yourself self-defense -Tips on self defense, for example "expect to get hurt", "Ignore the pain, instead of giving up use it as a spur to counterattack and victory"
Psychology in defense and attack -Explain how to overcome the mental aspects of a fight and the advantages and disadvantages of size.
How to choose a martial arts instructor -"Believe half of what you see and definitely nothing that you here" Before choosing an instructor you must see if he has what it takes to back his statements.
The unity of Gentleness/firmness -What's necessary for combat in terms of gentleness to firmness ratio.
My (Bruce Lee's) views on Gung Fu -Essay on how he views Gung Fu.
The next chapter consist of essays regarding philosophy. Lee's philosophy are more refined than those of lets say Socrates. He tends to deal with more humanizing issues dealing with matters pertaining to the inner self of humans being. For example human understanding, then he gets into really advanced philosophy which ,you really must be quite intelligent to decipher the meaning. Some examples of that are his essay on "Living in the oneness of things" , The unity of firmness and softness, Taoism, Yin - Yang, Wu-Hsin(No-Mindedness),Wu We(non-action),The letting go(must read essay). He also goes into his opinion on Plato, Plato's "Gorgias" and Socrates. After that in this chapter there's a essay entitled The nature of human beings in which he is truly inspiring. To me Bruce Lee is much more than a martial arts superstar he's probable one of the most genius thinker of the 20th Century .After that he writes about meditation and what it means to him (how he applies it to his life). Part 3 is the psychology section which is as genius as the philosophy section with topics such as The Relationship of the Organism to its Environment. Not only is Bruce lee a brilliant thinker he's an excellent poet. Here's an example of one such poem :

The Dying Sun
The dying sun lies sadly in the far horizon
The autumn wind blows mercilessly.
The yellow leaves fall.

From the mountain peak,
Two streams parted unwillingly

One to the West, one to the East
The sun will rise again in the morning
The leaves will be green again in spring.
But must we be like the mountain stream,
Never to meet again?
-Bruce Lee

His poems alone could have made him an incredible voice in the world of literature. However, Lees writing ability surpasses the creative mind to which poets need to write. Lee's genius transcends that of an average human being into the realm of a religious figure. Which is probable why he is worshiped in some tribes in the forest of Asian (True!).Part 5 is entitles Jeet Kune Do - The Liberation. It includes essays on the meaning of Jeet Kune Do: The way of the intercepting fist. It also contain multiply drafts of his essay entitled Toward Personal Liberation (Jeet Kune Do).Part 7 is on Acting. This is a list of essays in which Lee philosophies about the meanings, job, self-actualizing, self-made actualization, and the Art of Acting. Part 7 Self-Knowledge. It contains eight different draft of lee's personal essay entitled In My Own Process. The book ends with Part 8,Letters. There are six letter in this chapter written to

-Pearl Tso A friend of the lee family written in September 1962
-Taky Kimura An assistant instructor for Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do.
-2 to Jhoon Goo Rhee the farther of Tae Kwon Do in North America
-Larry Hartsell a student of Bruce Lee's Los Angeles Chinatown school.

If any of these topics interest you ,you should order this book right now. I was amazed at how philosophical lee was. The amount of detail and time it would of taken him to write all these essays on all of these topics to better understand himself. This is a man who truly wanted to get the deep meanings of his self ,Martial Arts, and the things in the environment around him. I have read this book 3 times straight through and I often pick it up to read certain essays which pertain to what I'm looking for. If you do decide to give this book a try I would suggest that you really take a thorough approach to reading this book. As in explore the meanings and how they apply to you and your life as an individual. Good bye until we meet again.

.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 1999
"Bruce Lee: Artist of Life" contains a treasuretroveof wisdom that is applicable to everyone (not just martial artists)! Iwas absolutely amazed to read about Bruce Lee's insights into life, eastern and western philosophy and even his poetry! There is enough martial art material (most of it never published before!) to satisfy the most serious practitioner of Jeet Kune Do, but there is also a wealth of wonderful material on psychology, self-knowledge and art to make for wonderful reading for any member of the family. I am going to have to order a second copy to keep in good condition because I've already marked up my first copy with underlinings and notations. What a book! But then, with Bruce Lee, what an author!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2009
I enjoyed many portions of the book, especially the evolution of his article on Jeet Kune Do. Even the section on acting revealed how naturally Lee applied his self-knowledge approach in martial arts with other facets of his life. I dog-eared pages and underlined a few passages and see that Lee's writing frequently gave me pause for thought. Sad that Lee's life was cut short and it would've been fascinating to see where maturity and added life experiences might've taken his efforts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2000
I thought I knew all there was to know about Bruce Lee, but I was wrong! 'Bruce Lee: Artist of Life' has opened up an entirely new vista of insights and understanding. To read Bruce Lee's own words in the original manner in which he wrote them is highly educational and inspiring. Anyone who reads this (whether a martial artist or not) will come away with an enhanced appreciation for the genius and compassion of Bruce Lee. This is a book that's time has come. I would have given it 10 stars if Amazon would allow it! Absolutely great.
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on March 24, 2015
Originally posted on http://thinkingmartial.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html

In the interests of full disclosure, I was given this book by the publisher for review purposes

Title: Bruce Lee Artist of Life
Edited by : John Little
Publisher: Tuttle
Page Count: 261
Cover Price: $18.95 (USD)

Every martial artist is going to be eventually confronted with the images and writings of Bruce Lee. Regardless of what martial art you practice, he is an inescapable force in martial arts. He has almost become the patron saint of martial artists. At some point most martial artist want to learn more about the man.
This book takes a different take on him. It looks at the process of how Bruce's now famous ideologies came to be, most often using Bruce's own written words.

Content
The book starts off with an forward by Linda Lee Cadwell describing Bruce as not only a martial artist, but as an artist of life. Then the editor John Little offers his own piece in the introduction and first chapter where Mr. Little sort of explains some of the more common philosophies of Bruce Lee, often quoting directly from handwritten notes that Bruce Lee took on everything. What follows though is the real meat of the book. It is collections of Bruce Lee's notes transcribed. It starts out with his notes and papers from his philosophy classes at University of Washington. It follows the same set, but each section shifts emphasis of one aspect of Bruce's life. The list of subjects covered by these notes include psychology, poetry, Jeet Kun Do, acting, and finally self knowledge, which is sort of a running theme through the rest of the sections anyway.

Pros
I really liked how book gives a look at the process, not the product, of Bruce Lee. The philosophy section in particular was fascinating for me. By looking at how he took notes about Socrates and Rene Descartes, you get to see what information Bruce deemed important, and how that eventually resulted in his own personal philosophy. The same goes with the Jeet Kun Do letter drafts to Black Belt Magazine. By seeing the changes that were done, you get a glimpse into his thought process.
I had also never seen any of Bruce Lee's poetry, and that was a special treat.

Cons
I wouldn't recommend this book to be someone's "My First Bruce Lee book." I think you have to have a pretty decent grasp of his ideas and philosophies, and probably his life, before you pick up the book. Also, a general knowledge of the philosophies of Taoism, Plato, Socrates, and Descartes wouldn't hurt either. Also because many of the pieces are drafts, you do get some repetition of reading material and ideas.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this book. I've seen the Bruce Lee movies, watched some documentaries, and read some other Bruce Lee books, so I had a pretty good idea of the ideas and philosophies being presented. I think I was the target audience for this one. This book lets you see the development of the result that we think of as "Bruce Lee." As I said, the different drafts of certain papers can get repetitive in their information, but that isn't the point. The point is how they change. Look at the how, and try to deduce the why. That's the joy of this book. As such I'm going to give it 3.5 (out of 5) Ninja Stars. I really did enjoy the book, but it took me a while to really start to get into it, which could also be my fault as I was expecting a light biography, and this was a denser, more mentally demanding, examination of the process that was Bruce Lee.
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on September 10, 1999
BRUCE LEE: ARTIST OF LIFE is unquestionably the greatest Bruce Lee book (in the sense of being a pure Bruce Lee book) ever written. John Little has done a masterful job of compiling and editing an absolutely huge amount of materials into a unified and coherent whole. The book also reveals something I've felt for a long time but, until now, have lacked the evidence to prove; namely, that Bruce Lee was much more than a martial artist. While Chuck Norris and Van Damme continue to play schoolyard games of "who's the toughest?" (Norris, particularly is still at this level), it is obvious that Bruce Lee had long ago moved past this stage and was onto something far deeper and more meaningful with his "process of becoming," having transcended the martial art realm (poetry, psychology, philosophy, etc.)and becoming, ultimately, an "artist of life." This is an outstanding book by an outstanding man and is extremely motivational and inspiring. Which is something few books (and authors) can deliver in a man's lifetime.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 1999
I've just finished re-reading BRUCE LEE: ARTIST OF LIFE for the fourth time and cannot believe the incredible material that is packed within its pages! To read Bruce Lee's philosophy of life, his poetry, his writings in psychology and acting, are worth the price of the book alone. And when you add in all of the essays he wrote on Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do, this book gives you an education in the thought and beliefs of Bruce Lee unlike any other I have ever seen. Reading (and now re-reading) this book has opened my eyes to the fact that Bruce Lee was about seeking truth (which he equated with Tao) of martial art - not simply accumulating or looking at different styles. This book also shows how he applied this search for truth to the process of being a human being. Even my wife (who is not a martial artist) is in love with this book! If you want the best possible education in the "totality" of Bruce Lee, you need to get this book.
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