Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Borrowed Musings, #1: Me, me, me and mine

Reading over @bonsaibanter's Tweets (or Twitterings, whichever term you'd prefer to use - most likely neither) reminded me of conversations I've had with Teacher-san on the differences between the philosophies that drive Eastern and Western Art.  Of course these are gross generalisations that I put down here, and I'm sure someone will call to my attention that to every rule there is an exception.  So, point taken - I'm not stating any rules here.

Teacher-san's guideline is to '...see how the tree wants to grow and work with that, not against it'.  His observation was that in Japanese bonsai, the tree is the most important part of the creative work; the artist takes second place.  Essentially he is the temporary vessel charged with the care of this particular tree during his lifetime.  It's pretty much an accepted fact that - unless he buggers it up completely - the tree will outlive him and pass on to the hands of another artist who will go on to leave his imprint on the tree.  And so on ad infinitum.

Western Art tends to be primarily about the artist showcasing himself and his talent, so the artist's work would tend to be a statement of how creative / clever / avant-garde  he is.  I think this outlook spills over into Western hobbies (like bonsai), especially when there is a clash of me, me, me's.  And then it becomes all-out war.

@bonsaibanter wondered why '...the gentle pursuit of bonsai attracts so many negative people. Perhaps it is easier to be destructive than constructive which is a contradiction really seeing that creativity lies at the heart of bonsai.  Or perhaps it is merely human nature and this behaviour occurs in all types of hobby groups.  Perhaps bonsai just attracts stressed out people who then vent their frustrations on those around them.'

There's a lot of truth in those observations, IMHO.  What I do wonder though, is - it's a frickin' HOBBY, dudes!  Is it worth ruining friendly relations for?  Get a life.

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