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counting crows

It’s common knowledge that as Vincent Van Gogh grew more disturbed, it showed in his art. His final paintings had dark swirls for the sky and black crows all over the place.

My question is, what was Vincent so depressed about? Sure, he was probably a little bipolar, but honestly, isn’t that just a modern name for moody?

Did the person who took over his room at the institution in St. Remy threaten to sue him? Was he afraid that someone was going to throw all his hard-earned worldly possessions onto the street? Did people take advantage of his good nature? Were his roots turning grey?

Whatever the reason, I’m starting to see the crows and dark swirly clouds quite clearly over the beautiful green wheat fields near his tomb. And it’s a lovely day.

What’s the commonality here? I don’t pretend to be an artist, but I can certainly appreciate their struggles. Is there something in Auvers that attracts troubled artists, or does it create them?

All I know is that they flocked here like crows. Some in search of treatment, some in search of tranquility. And they wound up a coven of talented but messed up people whose various acts of self mutilation, amputations and diseases make me imagine a ragged group who resembled the Taliban in that not a one was fully intact (except poor old unappreciated Pissarro).

How can someone be depressed in such a beautiful place? Is it the tempestuous weather? Perhaps they were disconcerted by seeing the sun shining through one window, then looking out another to see rain. Maybe it was watching the quick lifecycle of flowers constantly blooming and dying? Or did the simple but spectacular beauty of this place make them feel inadequate or undeserving?

Maybe in the same way that Jerusalem attracts and spawns religious nuttiness, (which I believe is some force that emanates from the dome of the rock), a similar power here in Auvers drove them to madness.

Or maybe the problems started from whence they came. Legend had it that the day before Van Gogh shot himself in the stomach, he went to Paris. What happened that set him off?

I’m sitting here at this desk trying to type this with my cheek because I’m too depressed to lift my head. I’m not depressed enough to shoot myself in a field, mind you. Fortunately, my prozac and wellbutrin cocktail is a lot more effective than Vincent’s Dr. Gachet, who actually proclaimed Vincent cured a week before he killed himself.

So what was the tipping point? I’m inclined to believe it was something that happened in Paris, the day before he shot himself. I can certainly relate, as some of the harsh horrors of humanity of New York City continue to haunt my sleeping and waking life. But suicide seems so … final. Not to mention the fact that it eliminates any possibility of getting revenge on those who hurt you. And the ear cutting off thing, makes no sense at all, unless he didn’t have enough money for dinner and needed some protein. But he gave it to a prostitute, so that possiblility can be eliminated.

I just don’t get it. So far, depressed as I am, the only thing I’ve considered cutting are my fingernails.

I suppose it all may become clearer to me in another 40 days or so if my current NYC problems continue. But one thing I can guarantee…I would NEVER commit any act of self-mutilation in this house.   I can’t afford the cleaning fee.

2 Responses

  1. Perhaps you can find some answers in my film The Eyes of Van Gogh. You can visit the film’s website for background and notes on how and why the film was made as well as additional material at http://www.alexanderbarnett.blogspot.com.

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