Saturday, March 29, 2014

What would Vincent do?

I have a limited attention span when it comes to ART that hangs on a wall.  I just don't get it.  I am not not-human, I have favorites like any one else.  As a child I liked to go to art museums (further proof I was not like the others, although at least one of my brothers did as there).  As an adult I cannot help but wonder if my outstandingly poor vision might be part of my lack of appreciation.  & then I move on.  One of my favorites then & now was...

But I digress, lets talk about Vincent.  He was born into what I understand was a loving, caring financially stable home.  His family was religious (his father was a minister), but even they were alarmed by his growing zealotry.  Still, they did their best to understand & were, to varying degrees, as successful & unsuccessful as any modern family might be.  Religious fervor aside, his behavior was erratic.  It probably didn't help that what we think of as binge drinking today was a widely accepted normal social behavior in his. 

& I cannot help it, whenever someone uses mental illness as an excuse or a reason or a cause for doing something that is completely repellant to everything that is humane, I still think of Vincent van Gogh.

There is no question that Vincent was in pain.  The cause is something for discussion & likely a combination of many things, including the alcoholism we think of as being at least a bit in his own control.  Yes an argument could be made that he was self medicating...& he almost certainly was but I digress.  The point I am trying to make is that when the noises inside got too loud, he didn't go on a killing spree, he cut off is own ear.  He argued with his father something awful, but is brother loved him enough to support him.  I am going out on a limb here, but in my view when a sibling takes the side of a parent against a sibling that is a normal-ish, or at least common scenario.  When a sibling sides with the very difficult sibling....that parent is probably more difficult than most can imagine.

I have spent enough time looking at the "after" picture of a family that experiences tremendous violence within itself to see that the Van Goghs are ticking all the right...all the wrong boxes.  But Vincent never killed anyone except himself,  Yes I know other family members claimed he killed his father by arguing with him but ONE: it takes two tango & TWO: if extreme arguing was an actual cause of death, almost everyone who ever did anything great would be a murderer.  Shaking off arguments is a kind of learned immunity.

Which brings us back to Vincent.  If he did kill his father....when my father dies his near-&-dear could say I killed him; our last argument was decades ago & I said good riddance.  Last I heard he was still pissed.  If whether or not Vincent did kill his father was one of those discussions, there was little dispute that he killed himself.  But it turns out we might have been wrong about that, too.  There is reason to believe he did not kill himself, was wounded as the result of an accident & did not want the person who shot him to have his own life ruined over something Vincent thought about doing anyhow.

You can see my quandary.  Mental illness is used to excuse every sort of heinous behavior, but then there is Vincent who may have waded through that fog to make a compassionate decision it would be almost impossible for a sane person to make. 

Happy birthday Vincent.  A day early.

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