Monday, January 25, 2016

Dear Arthur, dear Walter

Hello Walter,

I had to go back and look to verify this, but your last contribution to this open correspondence was at the end of October. I answered you the following week and since then there has been no communication between us. I am satisfied no misfortune has befallen you because I see you are still posting regularly to your blog and you even regularly check in as a reader on the IBC forum. I am glad to know you are apparently alive and well, and I hope you have been able to get out to your beloved mountains for some skiing. I wonder, though, why have you dropped out of our conversation? 

It could well be you are simply too busy to give it any thought. After all, you continue to roam the globe, sharing your vast knowledge with an adoring public, and posting to your blog and maintaining the many world-class bonsai in your extensive collection, and surely these activities demand a great deal of your available time. Of course, you were doing all these things before and still writing back and forth with me on this thread, so I do not think that could be the sole reason. I see you will soon be headlining a weeklong bonsai convention in Germany that goes by the name "Generation Bonsai 2016". As I gather from some advertising I saw, you will be reviewing and passing judgement on the next generation of world bonsai artists. This is an awesome responsibility and no doubt you will have to prepare yourself mightily for such an undertaking! That could be where most of your time is going nowadays, and yet I do not think that is the reason for your silence, either. A man of your enormous energy and ambition can easily carry such a workload, one that would simply crush a person of normal abilities, and still have the time to engage in a minor activity such as corresponding with one of your many admirers, if you chose to do so. 

This leads me to the uncomfortable consideration that something I wrote may have offended you. Reading back over my last open letter to you I realize this could possibly be the case as I said several things that might be construed as "cheeky", or perhaps even disrespectful. But then again there is good cause to doubt this as a reason for your lack of response. You are, after all, a self-professed person of the thickest skin, your hide tougher than an overcooked steak. Back in the days of the Great Bonsai Forum Flame Wars you were famous for standing tall against the most vile of personal insult, then sloughing it off and destroying your detractors with a lethal dose of their own medicine. No, I cannot flatter myself to think I ran you off with insult. Besides, I would never show you any sincere disrespect.

Having so dispatched of all the above possibilities, with what am I left? I must conclude your silence speaks of indifference. You are no longer responding to me because of the most pitiful of all possible reasons: You have become bored of our conversation and moved on. I sigh most deeply at this depressing realization. Would that I could crawl off somewhere and lick my wounded pride in solitude! However, for better or for worse it is my annoying habit to doggedly seek completion in the tasks I undertake, and this project was a public conversation with you, aimed toward a meaningful statement about bonsai philosophy. I do not think we reached that objective. But you played along for a good while and contributed valuable perspective that few others could have provided, not to mention considerable visibility through your worldwide fame and reputation. Thank you for doing that! We stirred up some interest among the IBC community and I think a few good thoughts from other people came out of it, so the venture was not without value as it it. I could say it was satisfactorily concluded if only it had not ended with an ellipsis...   

To my mind, this letter takes care of that. If you have any interest in resuming the conversation, you know where to find me. 

With or without your participation, however, I will soldier on like a lone elephant to the point I set out to make.

Dear Arthur,

with some sort of shock I read your last post. So far in my internet career I was pleaded guilty for writing something quite often. Now I am pleaded guilty for not writing anything.
Well, my silence had nothing to do with our relationship or anything you said. Or maybe you said something along the lines that you needed a break and then we would see. I take it that your sabbatical is over now.
As you write I have no problem  in stirring up this place in parallel to my many other projects.

I came back from Noelanders Trophy ladst night. Another big weekend again. This by now is a monster show. It is in a large Fair Ground with big halls, parking lots for hundreds. There were 85 or so traders with large booths! Over 30 potters all in one convention! The number and quality of offered trees and materiel is mind blowing. A real lot of good to outstanding Japanese trees, like offered in the famous Green Club were there. Plus endless European trees, homegrown of collected. A few thousand visitors. and up to a hundred folks who showed trees. And lots of young people!

It is good to see that bonsai at least appears to be big business. While we can complain about the influence of money in our 'hobby' it helps a lot to some. The money somehow does not find me though. But that is another discussion. It is mainly because I am doing this in a more playful manner. I have the enormous luck of not needing to have an income from bonsai. This makes me free  in many respects. One is to be able to say what I am thinking.

I was not so happy about some trees with plastic crowns winning again. But the judging results are always an enigma anyway. it is really over rated. I am personally beyond striving for trophies (while I would still take one if offered). This is not about me, it is  more about the signal to the young people. At the moment the signal in Europe is: Get very good material with lots of deadwood from Japan, put a plastic top on it. Paint the deadwood bone-white.  Buy a very good finished broadleaved tree in Japan. And you will win.
I do not think that this should be the message - while it is.

The messages from the  Artisans Cup or Bill Valavanis' Show are better in this respect, I think. And, of course the message from the Carolina Expo is something else again - much closer to my heart.

I will indeed work for Generation Bonsai in Germany by the end of March. This came as much of a surprise to me too. Generation Bonsai was invented as the revolutionary place for the young guys protesting against the bonsai establishment. They want to show that they are much better and that THEY will rule the bonsai world much sooner than the establishment had hoped. Now miraculously I am on a big poster with the biggest head. Someone said that this looks like 'The Glorious Severn' and I look like John Wayne. Nice to hear. A wise person on another forum wrote that it a shame that my head is bigger as I have no right for this as the others are so much more  talented and humble and I am an a...le anyway. This is much more constructive and more to the matter, of course and educates the readers to not follow the wrong leaders.

I will report what actually is going on there. If you are interested I will even write about my own role, if I ever find out.