VAN GOGH PAINTING A CYPRESS
Pluck at the plumed leaves of cypresses: this is the
archaeology of being. In the paper valleys the olives
become acidic when you pinch them into oil and the
rich enigma of the physical world is etched again into
humanity. But roses always plead when you cut them,
and the soul always shrinks back from nonentity.
Four musicians abandoned the evenings in Arles:
Euphony is just the musculature of the painting;
it accompanies art in the reversal of despair.
You receive color in the dimensionless space of belief
without belief: the dimension of living and working
in the ordinariness of undisclosed symmetry.
An Illness Like Any Other, Rachel Vigier
It’s an illness like any other, Van Gogh wrote,
as the flashes behind his eyes kept popping
while in his hands the brush’s marked determination
to continue exploded beyond the canvas, hands
and eyes, together, wrestling the mind
into some kind of submission. The glory of it
assaulted him every time. I have been working
on a size 20 canvas in the open air in an orchard,
lilac plowland, a reed fence, two pink peach trees
against a sky of glorious blue and white.
On a size 20 canvas where illness equals work,
there is nothing more or less than hands,
brushes, and eyes, scraping pink, lavender,
blue, and white zinc here and there
until the mind in her illness settles
at the edge of an orchard
shedding blossoms in brilliant light.
* The passage in italics quoted from Vincent Van Gogh’s letter to his brother Theo dated March 30, 1888.
I love so much, so very much, the effect
Of yellow leaves against green trunks.
This is not a thing that I have sought,
But has come across my path and I have seized it.
-Annie Dillard, from “I Am Trying To Get At Something Utterly Heartbroken”.
(Constructed from Van Gogh, letters, 1873 - 1890, ed. by l. Stone, translated by Johanna van Gogh)