I have been raking through my old hard drives looking for pictures and stuff for the website renewal that I gave up on and asked someone else to do, and I found this file. I wrote it in November 2007. Thankfully I never published it anywhere (I don’t think). I think I must have been a bit miserable at the time.
Asking the question “Where do we draw the line between a tree in a pot and a bonsai?”, leads us into a discourse regarding, beauty, aesthetics and the very nature of life itself. Traditional Western aesthetics could be described as the combination of many to create an exquisite whole, layer upon layer of oil paint on a canvas, a vase full of blooms creating a medley of colour and fragrance. It draws us in, inviting us to be part of the landscape, making us feel warm and alive. Diametrically opposed to this is one aspect of the Japanese aesthetic and one which is of absolute importance in creating meaningful bonsai. We must remove all that is unnecessary, stripping away layer after layer until we are left with the essence of the subject. A single flower in a vase, a seventeen syllable poem or a simple cup of tea. Unlike Western gardening, Bonsai comes not from what we add, but what is taken away.
The birds cry out regret, the fish
Have tears in their eyes.”