When AoB first launched the Eristic section, the goal was to bring out new, off the mainstream, out of the box ideas that would not only create discussion, but also cause people to think about their own mindset and bonsai worldview. By doing so we hoped to plant seeds that would help to shape the way bonsai is viewed and created in the future.
Even if a person disagrees with an idea presented, it solidifies their current beliefs and makes the foundation stronger, tempered by debate, if you will. However, in my opinion, the real value is when an new idea creeps in and crumbles the very foundation once thought solid, chips away at the core mindset, and forces one to start rebuilding from the ground up. This happens, even when we deny it, ignore it, refuse to acknowledge it. Once a new idea is planted, it will grow and it will slowly change the way we think and the way we create bonsai.
Good, intelligent, educational debate has always been (since the days of Plato and before) a way to better understand a subject, a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, a way to bring out new ideas and test them against the fires of verbal exchange. A good debate is one in which all involved leaves with knowledge, no matter how little, that they never had before. Be it brand new knowledge or confirmation of the validity of the knowledge they already had, it is all valuable.
In this sense, the Eristic section has been a huge success here and yes, I agree that there are a few articles in it that may very well have changed the way some people create bonsai.
Your own article here, caused much debate in this thread, good, honest, educational debate. It led to the current contest we are having now, the results of which may well surprise us all, or they may well not. What your article did do was to make people think about the oft quoted statement that the Europeans have Americans beat in bonsai, hands down.
The contest will give us the first real measure, the first real attempt to pit these regions against each other and see just how true the assumption is. If nothing else comes of the contest, or your article that gave birth to it, now there will be a place where it was put to the test and there will be solid results to show.
All that aside, the contest also brought in some remarkable trees, a collection of some of the finest in the world, and some work from artists rarely seen on the Internet, if ever. It brought the two regions together in a lighthearted manner and it showed that good natured competition between artists can be had. The community came together for this contest and it is better for it.
The article was picked up by John Dixon, after he read it here, for publication in the ABS journal and off it went to thousands of other readers, many who never would have seen it on-line. The word spreads and the debate, no doubt continues.
All this from a single article in the Eristic section....yes, I would say it has success indeed.
Good article Vance, excellent debate by all.