Contemporary IKEBANA series
title:The Flower for Dostevsky ver.3.0e
by Taro Kimura


Yonder where, mistrustful, you
took no one with you, yonder you sat discerning transitions.
And there, since it was in your blood to show and not to fash-
ion or to say, there you took the enormous decision at once and
single-handed so to magnify these minutiae, which you yourself
first became aware of only through glasses, that they should be
seen of thousands, immense, before all eyes.

"Books are empty," cried the Count, turning toward the
walls with a furious gesture, "it is blood that matters, it is in
blood that we must be able to read. He had marvelous his-
tories and curious illustrations in his blood, this Belmare; he
could open it where he pleased, something was always de-
scribed there; not a page in his blood had been skipped. And
when he shut himself up from time to time and turned the
leaves in solitude, he came to the passages about alchemy and
about precious stones and about colors. Why shouldn't all that
have been there? It must surely be somewhere.


'Such is the fate of those who
possess strong sensibility; those who have less languish away in
an imperceptible decline. They spend their time in watching a
few flowers, in tending birds. They are punctual in their religious
exercises, they receive neither blame or praise,-they melt away
in torpor and ennui. They wish for death, as the preparation it
might put the convent to might produce a short excitement, but
they are disappointed, for their state forbids excitement, and they
die as they have lived,-unexcited, unawakened. The tapers are
lit, they do not see them,-the unction is applied, they do not feel
it,-prayers are uttered, they cannot partake in them;-in fact,
the whole drama is acted, but the principal performer is absent,
-is gone,. Others indulge themselves in perpetual reverie. They
walk alone in the cloister,-in the garden. They feed themselves
with the poison of delicious, innutritive illusion. They dream
that an earthquake will shake the walls to atoms, that a volcano will
burst forth in the centre of the garden. They imagine a revolution
of government,-an attack of banditti,-any thing, however
improbable. Then they take refuge in the possibility of a fire, (if
a fire bursts out in a convent, the doors are thrown open, and
'Sauve qui peut,' is the word). At this thought they conceive the
most ardent hope,-they could rush out,-they could precipitate
themselves into the streets, into the country,-in fact, they would
fly any where to escape. Then these hopes fail,-they begin to get
nervous, morbid, restless. If they have interest, they are indulged
with remission from their duties, and they remain in their cells,
relaxed,-torpid,-idiotical; if they have not interest, they are
forced to the punctual performance of their duties, and then
idiotism comes on much sooner, as diseased horses, employed
in a mill, become blind sooner than those who are suffered to wear
out existence in ordinary labour. Some of them take refuge in
religion, as they call it. They call for relief on the Superior, but
what can the Superior do? He is but human too, and perhaps feels
the despair that is devouring the wreches who supplicate him to
deliver them from it. Then they prostrate themselves before the
images of the saints,-they invoke, they sometimes revile them.
They call for their intercession, deplore its inefficacy, and fly to
some other, whose merits they imagine are higher in the sight of
God. They supplicate for an interest in the intercession of Christ
and the Virgin, as their last resort. That resort fails them too,-the
Virgin herself is inexorable, though they wear out her pedestal
with their knees, and her feet with their kisses. Then they go about
the galleries at night, they rouse the sleepers, they knock at every
door,-they cry, 'Brother Saint Jerome, pray for me,-Brother
Saint Augustine, pray for me.' Then the placard is seen fastened
to the rails of the altar, 'Dear brothers, pray for the wandering
soul of a monk.' The next day the placard bears this inscription,
'The prayers of the community are implored for a monk who is
in despair.' Then they find human intercession as unavailing as
divine, to procure them a remission of the sufferings which, while
their profession continues to inflict on them, no power can reverse
or mitigate. They crawl to their cells,-in a few days the toll of
the bell is heard, and the brethren exclaim, 'He died in the odour
of sanctity,' and hasten to spread their snares for another victim.'
'And is this, then, monastic life?' 'It is,-there are but two excep-
tions, that of those who can every day renew, by the aid of imagina-
tion, the hope of escape, and who cherish that hope even on their
dying bed; and those who, like me, diminish their misery by
dividing it, and, like the spider, feel relieved of the poison that
swells, and would burst them, by instilling a drop of it into every
insect that toils, agonizes, and perishes in their net,-like you.'
At these last words, a glare of malignity flashed on the features of
the dying wretch, that appalled me. I retreated from his bed for
a moment. I returned, I looked at him,-his eyes were closed,-his
hands extended. I touched him,-raised him,-he was dead,-
those were his last words. The expression of his features was the
physiognomy of his soul,-they were calm and pale, but still a
cold expression of derision lingered about the curve of his lips.

In the shade she watched the
withering flower.-"The blood that ran red through its veins
yesterday is purple to-day, and will be black and dry to-morrow,"
she said; "but it feels no pain-it dies patiently,-and the ran-
unculus and tulip near it are untouched by grief for their com-
panion, or their colours would not be so resplendent. But can it
be thus in the world that think? Could I see him wither and die,
without withering and dying along with him. Oh no! when that
flower fades, I will be the dew that falls over him!"

'Such was the scene above, but what a contrast to the scene
below! The glorious and unbounded light fell on an enclosure of
stiff parterres, cropped myrtles and orange-trees in tubs, and
quadrangular ponds, and bowers of trellis-work, and nature
tortured a thousand ways, and indignant and repulsive under her
tortures every way.


The "Abode of the Unsymmetrical" sug-
gests another phase of our decorative scheme.
The absence of symmetry in Japanese art
objects has been often commented on by
Western critics. This, also, is a result of a
working out through Zennism of Taoist
ideals. Confucianism, with its deep-seated
idea of dualism, and Northern Buddhism
with its worship of a trinity, were in no way
opposed to the expression of symmetry. As a
matter of fact, if we study the ancient bronzes
of China or the religious arts of the Tang
dynasty and the Nara period, we shall rec-
ognise a constant striving after symmetry.
The decoration of our classical interiors was
decidedly regular in its arrangement. The
Taoist and Zen conception of perfection,
however, was different. The dynamic nature
of their philosophy laid more stress upon the
process through which perfection was sought
than upon perfection itself. True beauty could
be discovered only by one who mentally com-
pleted the incomplete. The virility of life
and art lay in its possibilities for growth. In
the tea-room it is left for each guest in im-
agination to complete the total effect in rela-
tion to himself. Since Zennism has become
the prevailing mode of thought, the art of the
extreme Orient has purposely avoided the
symmentrical as expressing not only comple-
tion, but repetition. Uniformity of design
was considered as fatal to the freshness of
imagination. Thus, landscapes, birds, and
flowers became the favourite subjects for de-
piction rather than the human figure, the
latter being present in the person of the be-
holder himself. We are often too much in
evidence as it is, and in spite of our vanity
even self-regard is apt to become monoto-
In the tea-room the fear of repetition is a
constant presence. The various objects for the
decoration of a room should be so selected that
no colour or design shall be repeated. If you
have a living flower, a painting of flowers is
not allowable. If you are using a round ket-
tle, the water pitcher should be angular. A
cup with a black glaze should not be associ-
ated with a tea-caddy of black lacquer. In
placing a vase or an incense burner on the
tokonoma, care should be taken not to put
it in the exact centre, lest it divide the space
into equal halves. The pillar of the tokonoma
should be of a different kind of wood from
the other pillars, in order to break any sug-
gestion of monotony in the room.
Here again the Japanese method of interior
decoration differs from that of the Occident,
where we see objects arrayed symmetrically
on mantelpieces and elsewhere. In Western
houses we are often confronted with what
appears to us useless reiteration. We find it
trying to talk to a man while his full-length
portrait stares at us from behind his back.
We wonder which is real, he of the picture
or he who talks, and feel a curious convic-
tion that one of them must be fraud. Many
a time have we sat at a festive board con-
templating, with a secret shock to our diges-
tion, the representation of abundance on the
dining-room walls. Why these pictured vic-
tims of chase and sport, the elaborate carv-
ings of fishes and fruit? Why the display of
family plates, reminding us of those who have
dined and are dead?


"This is a mighty pretty place. Look, you can see the lake
down through the trees. I tell you, Joe you don't appreciate
how lucky you are to live in woods like this, instead of a city
with trolleys grinding and typewriters clacking and people
bothering the life out of you all the time ! I wish I knew the
woods like you do. Say, what's the name of that little red
Rubbing his back, Joe regarded the flower resentfully.
"Well, some folks call it one thing and some calls it another.
I always just call it Pink Flower."

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

"I read
in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell
as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't
believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle
or a skunk cabbage.


The little prince went away, to look again at
the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As
yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and
you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when
I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred
thousand other foxes. But I have made him my
friend, and now he is unique in all the world."
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he
went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure,
an ordinary passerby would think that my rose
looked just like you-the rose that belongs to
me. But in herself alone she is more important
than all the hundreds of you other roses: because
it is she that I have watered; because it is she
that I have put under the glass globe; because it is
she that I have sheltered behind the screen; be-
cause it is for her that I have killed the caterpil-
lars (except the two or three that we saved to be-
come butterflies); because it is she that I have
listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or
even sometimes when she said nothing. Because
she is my rose."

And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my
secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the
heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is
invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the
little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose
that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose-"
said the little prince, so that he would be sure to
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox.
"But you must not forget it. Your become respon-
sible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are
responsible for your rose..."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince
repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.


What comes to mind here is the story of the Zen master Nansen
and the flowering plant:

Once a high official named Rikko visited Nansen.

He quoted the words of the noted scholar monk of an earlier
dynasty, Sojo, to the effect that,

"Heaven and earth and I are of the same root,
The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance."
and continued, "Is this not a most remarkable statement?"

Nansen did not give any direct answer to this question, but
called the attention of his visitor to a flowering plant in the garden
and said, "People of the world look at these flowers as if they were
in a dream."

The chrysanthemums flowering fragrantly before one might seem the
ultimate in concreteness, but one who is really able to see them so is one
who is spiritually awakened. He who views all Creation as one substance
cannot separate himself from between philosophical concepts, he cannot
see the flowers as flowers. Even flowers become a kind of dream, their
form fades away, and they become completely abstract. Though the sen-
sory world may be real, if it is not supported by spiritual insight, it be-
comes a floating thing. And one who wanders in the regions of intellectual
discrimination will be all the more unable to strike home to the true con-


While Kashiwagi was talking, his hands had been moving
delicately, first arranging the little, rusty flower holder in the
bowl, then inserting the cattail, which occupied the role of
Heaven in the arrangement, next adding the irises, which he
had adjusted into a three-leaf set. Gradually a flower arrange-
ment of the Kansui school had taken shape. A pile of tiny,
well-washed pebbles, some white and some brown, lay next to
the bowl, waiting to be used for the finishing touches.
The movement of Kashiwagi's hands could only be de-
scribed as magnificent. One small decision followed another,
and the effects of contrast and symmetry converged with in-
fallible artistry. Nature's plants were brought vividly under
the sway of an artificial order and made to conform to an
established melody. The flowers and leaves, which had for-
merly existed as they were, had now been transformed into
flowers and leaves as they ought to be. The cattails and the
irises were no longer individual, anonymous plants belong-
ing to their respective species, but had become terse, direct
manifestations of what might be called the essence of the
irises and the cattails.
Yet there was something cruel about the movement of his
hands. They behaved as though they had some unpleasant,
gloomy privilege in relation to the plants. Perhaps it was be-
cause of this that each time that I heard the sound of the
scissors and saw the stem of one of the flowers being cut I had
the impression that I could detect the dripping of blood.
The Kansui flower arrangement was now complete. On
the right-hand side of the bowl, where the straight line of the
cattail blended with the pure curve of the other were buds that
were about to open. Kashiwagi placed the bowl in the alcove;
it filled almost the entire space. Soon the water in the bowl
became still. The pebbles concealed the flower holder, and at
the same time gave precisely the pellucid impression of a
water's edge.
"Magnificent!" I said. "Where did you learn it?"
"There's a woman living nearby who gives lessons in flower
arrangement. She'll be coming here any minute now, I expect.
I've struck up a friendship with this woman and at the same
time she's been teaching me flower arrangement. But now
that I can make this sort of arrangement by myself, I'm get-
ting a bit bored with it all. She's still quite young, this teacher,
and good-looking. I understand that during the war she had
an affair with an officer and became pregnant. The child was
still-born and the lover was killed in the war. Since then she's
been constantly running after men. She's got a snug little nest
of money of her own and evidently only gives these lessons
as a hobby. Anyhow, if you want to, you can take her out
somewhere this evening. She'll go anywhere."


Body and mind cannot be separated in this, or
in any other aspect. If man grasps the world and thus unites him-
self with it by thought, he creates philosophy, theology, myth
and science. If man expresses his grasp of the world by his senses,
he creates art and ritual, he creates song, dance, drama, paintings,
sculpture. Using the word "art," we are influenced by its usage
in the modern sense, as a separate area of life. We have, on the
one hand, the artist, a specialized profession-and on the other
hand the admirer and consumer of art. But this separation is a
modern phenomenon. Not that there were not "artists" in all
great civilizations. The creation of the great Egyptian, Greek or
Italian sculptures were the work of extraordinarily gifted artists
who specialized in their art; so were the creators of Greek drama
or of music since the seventeenth century.
But what about a Gothic cathedral, a Catholic ritual, an In-
dian rain dance, a Japanese flower arrangement, a folk dance, com-
munity singing? Are they art? Popular art?