06 September 2011


I'll admit it. Sometimes Doctor Who speaks to my soul. Yeah, it's predictable and silly. Yeah, it's full of monsters. So am I. Occasionally.

After a night of fighting some monsters of my own, I plugged myself into Netflix Instant Watch while I worked in the kitchen and watched the episode about Vincent Van Gogh from Season 5.

Van Gogh was the first artist to show up on my radar when I was a child. My mother was enamored of him, particularly his sunflowers. This image was one of the daily influences on the development of my brain.

Van Gogh was also my first famous example of mental illness. Again, thanks to my mother, I knew his story. It fascinated me and excited my sympathy as all such stories of unrest and struggle always, always have. (As a child I read with intense interest books like The Three Faces of Eve to supplement my typical kids' book fare. Is that weird?)

So I sort of loved watching that episode and seeing Vincent Van Gogh fight an alien monster that no one else could see. Of course he did. He always did. That part was no invention by the BBC.

What I liked best was this thought, which came at the end of the show, when the Doctor and Amy Pond take Vincent forward in time long enough to show him his own work, hung in a beautiful gallery, being seen and appreciated by an admiring public. It's cheesy, but so lovely. The Doctor engages the curator while Vincent is within earshot:
The Doctor: Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?

Curator: Well... um... big question, but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.
That nails the fineness and heroism of the man. And of any person who fights to bend such an internal struggle to the greater will of beauty and truth. In the world there are more such artists and creators, though most of them carry no paintbrush. But like Van Gogh, they often go without recognition in their time. These are the people I admire. People who publish peace, on any scale. People who act and won't settle for being acted upon, and keep turning their heads to face the sun.


Kalli said...

My garden is rimmed with tall, multi-colored sunflowers. They are my favorite thing about that space, well the tomatoes rank in there too.

Alicen said...

Well, I'll never look at this painting the same again. It it is beautiful. The way he faced the sun, despite all the darkness. Starry starry night, similarly depicted the darkness that he must have felt, and yet the BRIGHTNESS of the starry night. It was almost like he was fighting this darkness with his paintbrush. I too am enamored (is that the right word?) by mental illness. It has sucked the life out of so many members of my family. But I take great peace in knowing it is just a season. A rough harvest, if you will. And the soil that is my family will be blessed from the organic mulching that inevitably will come from it all. okay...now I want to go listen to a certain Don McLean song. and I think I may. Have a blessed Wednesday!

Winans PTO said...

I just watched a short film on netflix done in Van Gough's voice. I watched it with the kids and they loved it. They (spot-on) said he reminds them of our local master, Edd Enders, whom they came to know from Friday night art walks in the summer. I think you know my feelings on the subject, as I have blogged about the song "Vincent" and its connection to all the people in my life too beautiful for this world, who fight the monsters, etc. Keep fighting yours (psssst: I know who wins!) xo

Jamie said...

that was me, btw, not the PTO ;)

AzĂșcar said...

I never really liked Sunflowers until I saw it in person. It made me cry.

Chemical Billy said...

Oh. Yeah. What you said, Geo.

Did you know sunflowers have always been my favorite flower?

Scott said...

Amen, and amen.

Melody said...


La Yen said...

That episode is one of my favorites--it always makes me cry.