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?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.
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.