Book Notes: Dear Theo pt.2

10 May

So now I’m getting into some of the heavy stuff.

Not necessarily the dark depressive side just yet. He’s surprisingly very… well human. It’s hard to say that since clearly he was (he wrote the letters after all), but it’s just incredible to take this mortal man we thrust atop a pedestal and allow him to return to the earth with us normal folk once more. I really commend the editor, Irving Stone. Quite marvelous. The text shows him as a man of normal, all-too-human character. He loves in a romantic sense, in a fraternal sense, and in a sense that we often loose in modern vernacular and attitude. Similarly, he disdains, dislikes, and vehemently spits at a few characters with remarkably…angsty words. Put into a modern dialect, they could almost sound like several other starving artists with unrecognized talent.

This talent, though, is now becoming evident in Van Gogh’s writings. First and foremost, I stumbled upon my first true lesson in color. Van Gogh discusses an important characteristic of color- they’re dependence upon white and black. He insists that no true white and no true black exists, but that every color is intrinsically dependent upon both of them. An obvious statement, yes (perhaps to one who dabbles a bit more heavily in visual arts and sciences than the average-joe), but it packs a significant wallop in literary thought. White and black are heavy with symbolic weight. Black is traditionally oppressive and, in fear of being redundant, dark. White is clear, liberating, and free. Of course, as shown by works like Richard Wrights Native Son convention does not equal dogma. However, this knowledge that in every color there are elements of darkness and light which can be articulated and exploited to create more vivid imagery in my reader. And even impress stronger subtle messaging into their minds. Plus, if the true colors do not exist in reality, then perhaps the extremes can be accentuated to mean even more; as long as they’re presented properly.

Furthermore, there are more subdued wisdom. For example, he mentions passively that he creates quickly, almost without thought. However, he has also mentioned how he plans the theme of the work? How can this exist?

Simple: he plans and then allows the picture to gain a unique life of its own. He gives it a form and inspires personality, but ultimately he lets his subconscious instill the various idiosyncracies of the piece which allows it to assume such a personable and poignant role. In this way, he can paint “quick as lightning,” yet create life in inanimate objects and pigments.

Progress is slow it took over 150 pages to get to these gems. But every word is rich in human drama and intrigue allowing me to keep going- even at this plodding pace. Hopefully, I’ll find more things of interest soon. Things are seeming to heat up.

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