Monday, April 5, 2010

letters from vincent XIII

st remy/june-july 1889
to brother theo
Only work absorbs me so much that I think I shall always remain absent-minded abd awkward in shifting for myself . . . 


The cypresses are always occupying my thoughts, I should like to make something of them like the canvasses of the sunflowers, because it astonishes me that they have not yet been done as I see them.
It is as beautiful of line and proportion as an Egyptian obelisk.
And the green has a quality of such distinction.
It is a splash of black in a sunny landscape, but it is one of the most interesting black notes, and the most difficult to hit off exactly that I can imagine . . . .

During the attacks I feel a coward before the pain and suffering-- more of a coward than I ought to be, and it is perhaps this very moral cowardice which, whereas I had no desire to get better before, makes me eat like two now, work hard, limit my relations with the other patients for fear of a relapse-- altogether I am now trying to recover like a man who meant to commit suicide and, finding the water too cold, tries to regain the bank.


october 1889

It is really my opinion more and more, as I said to Isaacson, if you work diligently from nature without saying to yourself beforehand-- 'I want to do this or that', if you work as if you were making a pair of shoes, without artistic preoccupations, you will not always do well, but the days you least expect it, you find a subject which holds its own with the work of those who have gone before. You learn to know a country which is basically quite different from what it appears at first sight.


to joseph and mme ginoux

I assure you that last year I almost hated the idea of regaining my health-- of only feeling somewhat better for a shorter or longer time-- always living in fear of relapses-- I almost hated the idea, I tell you-- so little did I feel inclined to begin again. Often I said to myself that I preferred that there be nothing further, that this be the end. Ah, well-- it would seem that we are not the masters of this--of our existence-- it would seem that what matters is that one should learn to want to go on living, even when suffering, Oh, I feel so cowardly in this respect; even when my health has returned, I am still afraid.

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