Wednesday, August 10, 2016
I'm back to blogging after three weeks of enjoyable vacationing in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Northern Ontario.
I hauled around two prodigious volumes on our travels, one fiction and the other non-fiction. Van Gogh: The Life is a remarkable biography of the painter who is now one of the best known on the planet, yet only managed to sell one painting near the end of his 37 years. The other is Barkskins by Annie Proulx, which is historical fiction. I'll write about it separately. Together the books add up to about 1600 pages, and I've finished Van Gogh and can see the end with Barkskins.
I was reminded as I read that Vincent, the son of a Dutch pastor, aspired to the ministry himself, although his convoluted sermons and relational tone-deafness meant that he didn't stand a chance for this vocation. He was shunted into situations of less and less responsibility despite his desire and persistence. Even the destitute found Vincent to be an eccentric character and mocked him.
In keeping with his obsessive personality he eventually abandoned this career path, and organized religion as well, often deriding those who were foolish enough to be Christians. While he was critical of the fantasy of the bible he revisited biblical themes and was fascinated by forgiveness and with Christ.
He made attempts to paint a sort of Cosmic Christ surrounded by stars, but his poor draftsmanship with human figures caused him to abandon these efforts. Eventually he settled on the image we know as Starry Night, truly one of his most enduring works.
There it is. Good to be back!