Thursday, January 23, 2003
Bonsai Potato? You've got to be kidding! I mean, you have this ancient, Zen-like tradition of spending, what, years of a profoundly spiritual discipline that centers on torturing a tree into miniature perfection. And sprouting a potato takes maybe eight weeks.
Which of course is the whole point. In a way, the whole thing's a joke. And yet, in another way, what really makes it funny is that people take it seriously. That's the true Zen of Potato Bonsai-ing, this dialogue between Serious and Silly.
For example, here's a paragraph from a description of the Spring 2002 Growing Competition
"Amidst a vast array of delightful taters, and a serious (and lengthy) judging process, 8-year old Ianís potato, "Ian & Lily" managed to claim First Place, narrowly beating the wonderfully decorated and poetic potato "Samurai Spud". Ianís potato was reminiscent of the glory days of Ireland, when one grew Bonsai Potatoes for their visible appeal and composition, and not for their culinary indulgences (starving). Ianís vision was in itself a prime example of the dramatic artistic destiny one can quickly attain with proper inner peace."
Tongue-in-cheek, perhaps. But also spud-in-spotlight. It's a competition, after all. With prizes, even, "including a $50 gift certificate to Emeryís Garden, a Bonsai Potato T-shirt, and a Mr. Potato Head Kit." You can even purchase your own "Bonsai Potato Kit - Zen Without the Wait."
Aside from the humor, and the devotion, there's community. And here we have yet one more testimony to the power of playfulness and the Internet. Google lists almost 1500 pages referring to the Bonsai Potato. The humor, graphics and depth of the Bonsai Potato website have caught the fancy of Bloggers everywhere.
For further explication, be sure to check out the semi-instructional excerpts from the book that's included in your Bonsai Potato Kit "The Art of the Bonsai Potato Kit" or consider purchasing the book all by itself from Amazon - once it's back in stock.