A True Artist

Recently, I have a time to reread Vincent`s letters. His letters still have the power to impress me as though I had never read them. What inflamed me the most is that: his passion for being a painter, his desire to live the artist`s life, his relentless effort to live his life on his own way, and his emotional struggle for being an artist. Here are some excerpts from Vincent`s words, which have given enough food for my noodle:

“One of the reasons why I am unemployed now, why I have been unemployed for years, is simply that I have different ideas than the gentlemen who give the places to men who think as they do. It is not merely the question of dress which they have hypocritically reproached me with; it is a much more serious question, I assure you.”

“What has changed is that my life then was less difficult and my future seemed less dark; but the inner state, my way of looking at things and my way of thinking, has not changed. If there has been any change at all, it is that I think and believe and love more seriously now what I already thought and believed and loved then.”

“You must not think that I disavow things – I am rather faithful in my unfaithfulness and, though changed, I am the same; my only anxiety is, how can I be of use in the world? Can`t I serve some purpose and be of any good? How can I learn more and study certain subjects profoundly? You see, that is what preoccupies me constantly; and then I feel imprisoned by poverty, excluded from participating in certain work, and certain necessities are beyond my reach. That is one reason for being somewhat melancholy. And then one feels an emptiness where there might be friendship and strong and serious affections, and one feels a terrible discouragement gnawing at one`s very moral energy, and fate seems to put a barrier to the instincts of affection, and a choking flood of disgust envelops one. And one exclaimes, `How long, my God!`”

“For the moment it seems that things are going very badly with me, and it has already been so for a considerable time and continues awhile in the future; but after everything has seemed to go wrong, perhaps a time will come when things will go right. I don`t count on it, perhaps it will never happen; but if there is a change for the better, I should consider it so much gain, I should be contented, I should say, at last! You see there was something after all!”

“To try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another, in a picture. Then simply read the Gospel and the Bible: it makes you think, and think much, and think all the time. Well, think much and think all the time, it raises your thoughts above the ordinary level without your knowing it. We know how to read – well then, let us read!”

“It is true that there may be moments when one becomes somewhat absent-minded, somewhat visionary; some become too absent-minded, too visionary. This is perhaps the case with me, but it is my own fault; maybe there is some excuse after all – I was absorbed, preoccupied, troubled, for some reason – but one overcomes this. The dreamer sometimes falls into a well, but is said to get out of it afterward. And the absent-minded man also has his lucid intervals in compensation. He is sometimes a person who has his reasons for being as he is, but they are not always understood at first, or are unconsciously forgotten most of the time, from lack of interest. A man who has been tossed back and forth for a long time, as if on a stormy sea, at last who reaches his destination; a man who has seemed good- for-nothing and incapable of any employment, any function, ends in finding one and becoming active and capable of action – he shows himself quite different from what he seemed at first.”

“I should be very glad if you could see in me something more than an idle fellow. Because there are two kinds of idleness, which are a great contrast to each other. There is the man who is idle from laziness and from lack of character, from the baseness of his nature. If you like, you may take me for such a one. On the contrary, there is the idle man who is idle in spite of himself, who is inwardly consumed by a great longing for action but does nothing, because it is impossible for him to do anything, because he seems to be imprisoned in some cage, because he does not possess what he needs to become productive, because circumstances bring him inevitably to that point. Such a man does not always know what he could do, but he instinctively feels, I am good for something, my life has a purpose after all, I know that I could be quite a different man! How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside of me, what can it be? This is quite a different kind of idle man; if you like, you may take me for such a one!”

 

 

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