Tadashii Aizawa wrote:
Who are the high priests of bonsai?
When I used the term high priests
, I was making a sarcastic reference to the people who vigorously defend the traditional definition of bonsai and are against any innovation. These gentlemen had some success in the past creating good quality bonsai and think that they've earned the right to attack others who have different ideas. They are self-appointed high-priests.
My message to them is that it is all right to dislike non-traditional bonsai. We all have preferences as to what we like. But it is not all right to condemn something for the sole reason that it's different. There has to be a more valid reason for that.
Tadashii Aizawa wrote:
I have noticed even in Japan some people seem to talk about traditional people as if they were some kind of dictators telling everybody what to do in terms of how to make trees.
I Japan the circumstances are very different from the West. In Japan, bonsai has two , fundamentally opposing (and equally valid) meanings:
On one hand, bonsai means tradition.
It has a cultural undertone, specifically representing many ideas deeply inbedded in the Japanese culture. It is part of the Japanese identity.
As such, it is bound by many clearly defined rules (as all traditions around the world are). In order to preserve tradition, these rules have to be respected, otherwise the tradition is lost. Defenders of the old tradition have a very valid reason to fight for preserving this wonderful cultural inheritance.
On the other hand bonsai is also an artform
. And art, by nature, is not bound by any tradition. It thrives on innovation and creativity. People who don't care much about tradition, but believe in the free spirit of the art, have every right to break free of any tradition.
So, here lies the eternal conflict between art and tradition. They are both good and they will always oppose each other.
The solution is to respect each other. Each of us can choose which side to belong to.
As a Westerner, I don't see any reason to defend the Japanese tradition. I admire it and sometimes I choose to follow it, but not always. I could just as well follow the Chinese, or other traditions if I wanted to. To me only one thing counts: artistry.
Luckily, the vast majority of bonsai rules address the issue of artistry, and very few are cultural-specific.