Worthless discussion about bonsai styles?
Ryan Neil, who has studied under Kimura for 6 years a very recently said something along these lines: 'In Japan the subject bonsai styles (in the sense of movements is not discussed all. They just do bonsai. They don't discuss whether bonsai is an art form or not.' Ryan, while quite open about any subject, seemed to not want to speak about bonsai styles either. Boon, one of the present stars in American bonsai is quoted ons saying on many occasions 'this discussion about bonsai styles is totally superfluous and counterproductive. There are no bonsai 'styles', there are only good bonsai or bad bonsai.'
What is my take on this? Why do I discuss this so often? Well, it comes from the fact that over the years I set in my garden and just did bonsai, trying to do good bonsai. I have the great luck to not have to sell what I make. Therefore I can create something that I like and don't have to think about other people's taste. I honestly try very hard to create something that is really good and it takes quite awhile until I myself am impressed about my work. When that is so I often publish the result to share it with others. Almost every time I did so I got hammered by a few. I was asked how I could create such lousy things and call them 'art' - and similar. Every time I was shocked to see a harmless sharing of what I thought was good work end in a battle with all sorts of honest and some evil minded individuals.
This experience I had many times and it made me think hard about bonsai taste. As a result I came up with what by now is the almost legendary 'styles and forms' script. Later on I wrote a lot about these things. All fruitless and worthless? Well, I came to the conclusion, that just as it is very important to differentiate between styles of music and food this is also true about bonsai styles. It is to be able to discuss intelligently, to create a code that is commonly understood, to not have to start every conversation with telling the other one what you mean. It is not enough to call it 'food'. The discussion would make much more sens if I called it 'Italian food - namely spaghetti - original as in Italy'. In bonsai discussions it would make things a lot easier if everybody would know what was meant by 'modern bonsai - Italian dialect'. Well, they don't.
Recently I had this epiphany: The artists are better off if they don't care about this. They just have to do their work. They can rightfully refuse to discuss about this systematization. But the general crowd that discusses bonsai is much better of in developing some code to be able to talk intelligently. So don't listen to the artists, to the heavyweights. They are speaking about their own personal situation where it is OK to not care about such things.
So BTW what is 'modern bonsai - Italian dialect'?