Will Heath wrote:
We should define bonsai as "A living, artistically created, idealized vision of a tree, cultivated in a container" and not place restrictions on artistic creativity. If a piece meets the definition, it is bonsai and should be judged as such.
People don't really care how bonsai is defined, because there is no authority to do so. Anybody can stand up on a soapbox and create a definition.
What we really care about is our own personal taste. And our own personal taste is shaped by what we see and admire.
I, for instance, admire the work of Kyuzo Murata, John Naka, M. Kimura. I admire the final image of their magnificent trees, but I also admire immensely the skill and creativity that transformed a live tree into a masterpiece (by the way, it's the same when I look at a painting: the extaordinary skill and talent put in a work of art enhances the aesthetic pleasure exponentially, I couldn't care less about works requiring little skill and talent - they reek of cheap knock-offs).
It makes no difference to me how others define bonsai, and whether or not others consider a tree that is created overnight, incorporating plastic, cement, glass and metal (just for the sake of example), artistic bonsai. I just don't care for those works, and those people who define them as art.
To me, bonsai has an undefinable quality that makes it what I personally admire. Definitions will not help the work to obtain this quality.
This is why I think that general, blanket definitions of bonsai have no value, because they only meet the expectations of a restricted group of people.
If you define bonsai the way I like it, it's a good definition. I only care about definitions that meet my personal criteria.
This is very different from other human endeavours, where definitions are very important. For instance, if I am an attorney, then the definition of a specific law really matters. That's because I need to know that law, and I need to follow it. If I make a living using law, I better know its exact definition.
Not so in bonsai. It's all about personal taste, personal definition. I don't do bonsai to please others, I only want to please myself and those who appreciate what I do.
So, if one defines bonsai as "A living, artistically created, idealized vision of a tree, cultivated in a container", or as "Tree in a pot" or as "Artistic potted trees", it's all fine. It makes absolutely no difference to me, which definition people are using. I only care about seing one's bonsai and experiencing the magic (or the lack thereof). It only takes a few seconds to see the outcome, and no definition will help in the process.