The Art of Grafting

by Scott London

In horticulture, the art of grafting involves fusing the stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits of one plant with the rootstock of another. The process is especially useful with plants that can’t be propagated easily by seed.

The basic principle also applies to ideas. Sometimes the best way to introduce a new concept is to marry it to one that is already firmly established. The early scientists understood this when they depicted the atom as a microscopic solar system, or when the early web developers pitched the Internet as an “information superhighway.” A concept that is fuzzy or abstract often has a better chance of flourishing if combined with one that is already well-rooted.

What’s interesting to note is that grafting, as it was traditionally defined, meant “the healing in common of wounds.” It referred to the process by which the old and the new rub against each other. It was always a time-consuming and painful thing. But if a healing took place, common suffering could become the basis for a powerful and mutually sustaining bond.