Friday, December 09, 2005

Going Dutch

Life is so rich. Why is it that one can know superficially about something most of one's life, and then suddenly two or three things come together, and you realize there's so much more to explore about the subject?

Take, for example, Vincent Van Gogh. An ear, starry nights, sunflowers, self-portraits.

But then, you read the introduction and first chapter to Don Postema's Space for God, a book you had seen for months but not picked from the used bookstore until just recently after having studied a few chapters at church, and learn why Postema includes so many Van Gogh paintings in the book:
In his art Van Gogh was trying to grasp life at its depth. Since I have found that spirituality means living in depth, I believe I have learned something of spirituality from Van Gogh. (p. 21)
Then you're regrouping, once again, by browsing in a bookstore, and you come across a small, Touchstone paperback of The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. As you page through, randomly reading excerpts, this passage strikes you, even though you're not sure of all the references:
[P]ainting and, in my opinion, especially the painting of rural life, gives serenity, though one may have all kinds of worries and miseries on the surface of life. I mean painting is a home and one does not experience that homesickness [...]

And I was sick of the boredom of civilization. It is bettter, one is happier if one carries it* out—literally though—one feels at least that one is really alive. And it is a good thing in winter to be deep in snow, in the autumn deep in the yellow leaves, in summer among the ripe corn, in spring amid the grass; it is a good thing to be always with the mowers and the peasant girls, in summer with a big sky overhead, in winter by the fireside, and to feel that it always has been and always will be so.

One may sleep on straw, eat black bread, well, one will only be the healthier for it. (p. 229)
*I am not sure exactly to what "it" refers; but I think it is the life of painting, regardless of the difficulties.

But now, to work, in a grey cubicle.

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