Mark, You are running out of integrity.
Because you have failed in your commitment to define the offensive points of my post I have chosen to re visit them with added thoughts to help you find out what's eating at you.
Then I'll respond to your post.
There is no problem with American bonsai. American Bonsai is just like Australian bonsai. Perfect. Exactly as it should be.
Why is it different from European bonsai?
American and Australian bonsai should be distinguished by the allied nations post war involvement. Australian soldiers who were imprisoned by the Japanese returned home with horrific stories of inhumanity. Japan was not only a defeated nation but one with a big PR problem in much of the western world.
This would not be polite dinner table conversation at the convention. Not necessary with no possibility for creative space. Really not worth mentioning unless an insight of some sort may be gleened. I have never known war and do not pretend to comprehend it.
Occasionaly I have contact with some old men who were in that war. They all tell me that war is a useless waste. I believe them.
China was in Revolt.
Then Saburo kato was informed of a forthcoming visit to his garden by The New emperor, General Douglas MacArthur.
Decades later Kato told David Fukumoto that his heart trembled with fear. He knew only of traditional Japanese culture.
In traditional Japanese culture a defeated enemy had no worth. Japanese bonsai was floundering. China was at war with itself.
Kato feared that bonsai doomsday had arrived.
MacArhur did not outlaw bonsai. He embraced it by ordering a number of small tray landscapes for his Japanese friends.
David Fukumoto told me about this discussion with The great Saburo Kato many years ago.I published that story in my free newspaper Bonsai Penjing News in the late eighties. 100,000 copies were distributed. If you wish to see it I will scan a copy and post it. I consider Kato to be the father of world bonsai. My great regret is that I wasn't able to connect with Mr Kato for the WorldOfBonsai series. I feel that the series is significantly diminished by his absense
In that moment, the golden era of World bonsai began. American values were implicit.
Overly romantic perhaps. I can't define a better moment
Call me a cynic but I summise that in that moment Japanese officials saw an opportunity to promote nurturing and caring
through bonsai. When I questioned Yoshimura about issues I had with content in his book he advised me " that book must not
be taken too seriously. I was under great pressure from my government to finish it. I was a young man who knew little of
I should make it clear that I discussed horticultural, not political matters with the great man. It was 1984 and the Melbourne bonsai community referred Mr Yoshimura's book as the bible.
By challenging me to look beyond his book Mr Yoshimura created an opening for me.He gave me the gift of possibility. I keep 2 copies in the library. As with Mr Kato, I only utter his name with reverence
How could a Nation where tiny trees were nurtured into works of art be a place where inhumanity to fellow man was practiced.
Perfect. The campaign was underway with no shortage of willing receptors.
If I found myself in a war dessimated place with the nation in dissaray, I'd expect my government to engage the smartest people to use every trick they could to get things back on track. I think Japanese people would want the same. No blame, just the way it is.
As a small child I have vivid memories of discussions about bonsai with visitors to my fathers nursery. These people were
bonsai pioneers. As I recall, many were immersing themselves in Japanese culture as a way of dealing with their deep sadness
concerning the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I recall one of these men who had taken to bonsai as a result of his
nightmares concerning a Japanese pilot with whom he made eye contact as he delivered a fatal bullet. Decades later at a
convention where Yoshimura had pleaded " please don't call me master and expect me to know everything" this man later stood and pleaded " please Master, take me and show me the way"
The Atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9 1945. Exactly two years before I was born. As a child every birthday was puctuated with my mothers reminder that this was the day that the atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. She described the event and requested us to ponder the suffering of the children. We did. She challenged us to fight for peace. We heard her. We have a painting named Hiroshima by an Australian artist hanging in our living room. It depicts the horror of that moment.
The Australian bonsai pioneers that I encountered as a child were inspiring artistic people. They were fine people and they sought leadership. There were cultural gulfs between the Japanese teacher and the student and only a few fast tracked. The infrequent visits did little to satiate the eager. Learning required good teachers and good students.
By the mid sixties when China was entering the most disastrous decade in its great history, Japan took it upon itself
to re-invent the history. This re-invented history was presented to international delegates at a convention in Omiya. The tale was
that bonsai origins were Japanese.
They returned home to spread the teachings. No other nation knows China like Japan does. Japanese proverbs such as
" The nail that sticks up will be beaten down" were popular. Conservatism ruled. The most powerful communication of that era the SUNSET book re-inforced the nuturing and caring aspects. Individual creativity was not really encouraged
Wu Yee Sun attended the Omiya convention. He heard the presentation then returned home to write his iconic book MANLUNG ARTISTIC POT PLANTS. The history section of this book was his response to the Omiya presentation. Japan has always been a small nation in the shadow of a large nation. Any small nation in the shadow of a large nation must as best as they can comprehend the culture of that larger nation.
The largely mystified bonsai westerners of that era took the Japanese origins claim as a pointer to conservatism and towing the line. Yoshimura's book WAS the bible. As fine a publication as it was, disciples of it restricted their consciesness to bonsai being a method of instruction. Hardly fertile ground for risk taking creativity. Those who practiced guideline bonsai had a false sense of superiority. Those who did not had a false sense of inferiority.
The bonsai community was obsessed with "not offending the Japanese". The thoughts that I express here were taboo.
Apparently they still are to the nostalgic conservatives of this community. Offence to the Chinese is however viewed By this group as acceptable conduct.
Decades passed before our consciousness gleaned that the origins were in fact Chinese. At last people began to understand that this was not a culture defined by convention but one where departure from convention was glorious.
Around this time European bonsai enjoyed poularity and growth unbridled by the nostalgic conservatism that tarnished bonsai in Australia and The USA. The Spanish produced magazines giving readers direct access to true Japanese bonsai sensibilities. Ilona Lesniewicz and Li Zhimin's book CHINESE BONSAI was accesible. Europeans were better grounded in their understanding.
If you didn't embody a narrow consciousness then you didn't need to lose one. I think that it will be decades before those nations shake off the shackles of misinformation. The nostalgic conservatism of teachers remains an obstacle to those young Americans and Australians seeking bonsai insight.
Discussions such as this are invaluable.
re your new post
In his post mark said,
I have to ask myself, what was the purpose of your post? Was it to tear down Bonsai or elevate Penjing?
Mark, the purpose of my post was to address the perceived problem with American bonsai.. The points that I make have not been reasonably challenged so I stand by them.
If it was to elevate Penjing and China why did you feel compelled to attack Japan, Japanese Bonsai teachers, Bonsai culture, those that wrote about Bonsai? This is, in my opinion ,the lowest and most suspect attempt of promotion as it requires trashing one thing to prove the worth of another.
Mark, it was not to elevate anything. By better understanding it is my hope that a clearer creative space can be accesible to all.
You need to define where I have "attacked Japan."
I cannot see an attack on anything but bigotry in my writing.
At no time have I thrashed anything to prove the worth of another.
Penjing and Chinese culture were done a disservice by you with this pitiful post. It is stunning to me that the man that brought us the World of Bonsai could bring us such a twisted and shallow post.( I thanked you for this great service on this forum)
Mark, Any utterances made here will have little impact on anything in the real world. It is not a twisted and shallow post. It offers an expanation that is plausable. Thank you for your thank you.
Do we really want to talk about nations with a big PR problem. You were quick to point out the short comings of my country and those of Japan,
Mark, I didn't attack the USA nor Japan. My reference to the thanksgiving thing was an attack on the high moral ground that you stood upon. I love the USA. My wife wants to live there. My Son Sam works there. His involvement as a record producer for John Legends song "If your out there" and it's role in Obama's campaign is a source of great pride for my wife and I. I spent four years in Boston following the Sox and studying America's most powerful art form.
Mate, Do you really believe that the Nations of this world don't practice diplomocy, PR, propaganda. Surely you can understand that all nations do that. There is no attack on Japan. You have created it within yourself.
Tianemen square,Tibet,baby girls,melamine in formula ... you have brought us to a wonderful place certain to expand insight and understanding.Your version of "history" attacks Japan and has not one mention of the COMMUNIST CHINESE regime that has done more to
destroy Penjing,Art and culture and the Chinese people than all others in history combined. In true propaganda Minister style
Mark. I'm really sorry about my role in the Tianemen square,Tibet,baby girls,melamine in formula incidents. I'm prepared to accept full resposibility. Once again I am not attacking Japan. You have created it with your own shallow inner narrative. Your above reference to Chinese issues is undoubtably the most offensive and disrespectful attack on China that I have encountered on any bonsai forum anywhere. I think that you would be wise to retract it or it may come back to haunt you.
Mark, a prime difference between You and I is that I serve no masters. This enables me to maintain the extensive network of friends and colleagues throughout China and Japan. No cow towing. Just straight talking as person to person. I have opportunities in Japan that a life time of cowtowing by some petty bonsai official could not acheive.Once again you have not read the post that I submited but invented your own version. You have once again shot yourself in the foot with your mcCarthy inspired redneck rhetoric about COMMUNIST CHINESE ( nice touch with the caps, really makes it stick out so all the good ol' boy's can see, really creative)
destroy Penjing,Art and culture and the Chinese people than all others in history combined. In true propaganda Minister style
In reality I'm presently involved in producing what will probably be the most poigniant, numbing and revealing segment about bonsai during the cultural revolution that has been seen. Straight from the horses mouth stuff. Our eyes swelled with tears. The translators are concerned that the guest may get into trouble for what he say's so I'm handling it with great sensitivity. The Chinese Master thinks that it's OK though. This is not a good look for old school China. That's a pathetic attempt to defame me mark. Truly pathetic.
you shift the focus away from the real problems and enemy to a "red herring".The communists do NOT encourage freedom of expression and do NOT consider departure from convention "glorious",less has landed many in their prisons or worse.
Mark, I choose my own words. "glorious was a word of my choice to describe a creative possibility.
You claim that you are grateful and not biter but your words say otherwise. You only show respect to Penjing and China and bash Japan and its teachers and Bonsai in general. For better or worse it was Bonsai not Penjing that gave you your start and like an ungrateful child you turn on it.
Bonsai AND Penjing can both be studied and enjoyed without your reinvented "history" lesson.
Mark, concerning WorldOfBonsai. Did you actually watch it. If you had watched you would know that the cream of Japanese bonsai contributed as well as some wonderful Chinese people..
I think that your integrity is at stake here.
I invite you to define the crude accusations that you make or kindly hold your piece.
If this presents too much of a challenge for you I suggest that you consider the irony of the following 2 statements by you in this post
,the lowest and most suspect attempt of promotion as it requires trashing one thing to prove the worth of another.
Tianemen square,Tibet,baby girls,melamine in formula ... you have brought us to a wonderful place
pathetic Mark. You need to improve considerably