Wednesday, April 06, 2011
It had to die
My life here in northern Maine means a number of things, one of which is that I have time to catch up on all the New Yorkers I’ve avoided reading over the last two years. I’m reading the issue of January 4, 2010, right now, which has an article in it about Vincent Van Gogh. You know, he of the Don McLean song. “This world was never made for one as beautiful as you.”
Van Gogh, though is a central type of the modern artist. He doesn’t sell anything while he lives. He goes crazy. He kills himself.
It’s so cliched now as to be almost boring. But the point of the article is that he’s more than that. Gopnik says, “The real community is not that of charmed artists living like monks but the distant dependencies of isolated artists and equally isolated viewers, who together make the one kind of community that modernity allows.”
And then, “On the outer edge of art there is madness to pity, meanness to deplore, and courage to admire, and we can’t ever quite keep them from each other.”
Maybe the article means so much to me because I’ve retreated into my own Yellow House, to spend time in an isolated rural community, to devote myself to a calling. How many Van Goghs were there? “We all make our wagers, and the cumulative lottery builds museums and lecture halls and revisionist biographies. But the artist does more. He bets his life.”
I’m betting my life. I’m going all-in, throwing the dice, and betting it all on one throw.