On Thursday, Jan. 30, the Voices Reading Series was honored to have Professor Bruce Wilson share his insight through his captivating writing and display of unique flower arrangements. Wilson was able to showcase his talent by recalling his experiences in Japan, where he had mastered the art of Japanese flower arrangements in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. He is also very familiar with the St. Mary’s community; Wilson is a Professor of English here at the College, as well as a founding member of the Asian Studies Program. One of his many accomplishments includes being a recipient of two senior Fulbright awards to China. His extensive knowledge on the subject of flower arranging is derived from his studies in Japan at a Buddhist temple, where he followed Kadō, the Way of Flowers. Since he has mastered the skill, he has begun to write down his knowledge in the form of impromptu essays, known as zuihitsu. His impressive flower arrangements have been exhibited in various countries around the world including Japan, Jordan, and Germany. He captivated the audience with his insightful words of wisdom and his remarkable showcase of flower arrangements.
Wilson continues to regularly visit Japan to continue his practice of arranging flowers. After he was able to cultivate his art and skill in Japan, he was able to license other students to become teachers. This tremendous accomplishment arose from his high level of achievement in the Way of Flowers. As he was sharing his insights with the audience at the Voices Reading, Wilson explained how he finds it difficult to write down what he has experienced. He feels far more comfortable simply talking about what he has learned. “The more I learn, the less I want to write about it,” Wilson told the audience. First-year student Julia Andreas thought that Professor Wilson had a “gentle demeanor which made his experiences even more interesting. He presented himself in such a way that showed the audience that he was willing to share the details of his travels.”
While in Japan, he formed an interesting relationship between the flower school and Buddhism. “They didn’t always go hand-in-hand,” he explained, “but I found them both inspiring to learn about.” Mainly, he was interested in knowledge and finding a way to share his understanding with others. Wilson described that art, to him, was about perception and selection of what you see. It is the common language between those who otherwise have no means of communication. “How can we not communicate with one another?” Wilson asked the audience. However, he proposed the idea that it is easy to enjoy the things around you, but they are not always easy to teach. But once the teachings were shared with those interested in learning, people tend to gain a new perception of what surrounds them. “We only have what we are giving away – people’s perception of paradise.”