The Watering Hole: July 27 — Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night Over the Rhone, Arles, September 1888

On this date in 1890, 122 years ago, the greatest painter who ever lived, in my humble opinion, shot himself in the chest.  He died two days later of infection.  There is some speculation that van Gogh did not shoot himself, that he was accidentally shot by a third party, or accidentally shot himself.  One thing is for sure, we’ll never really know.

Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about what ailed van Gogh:

Diagnoses include schizophreniabipolar disordersyphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and consumption of alcohol, especially absinthe.

Whatever it was, van Gogh’s was a tortured soul.  I wonder if he would have been a better painter with a healthy mind?   Maybe, maybe not.  It’s my thought that our experiences — social, physical, and psychological — bring us to any given point in our lives, and everything we do is colored by those experiences.

For van Gogh, his experiences and talent led him to an amazingly productive period in his life, even as his mind was slipping away.  It seems he did the only thing he could do — paint beautiful pictures.

I used to think that our life experiences always brought us to where we needed to be, and that it was usually a good thing.  I no longer think it works that way for everyone, and I think Vincent van Gogh might agree.

This is our daily open thread — What are we drinking tonight?  🙂

72 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: July 27 — Vincent van Gogh

  1. My theory: Lead poisoning from ingesting the paint that he used.
    Lead was used as a pigment in virtually all paints up until 1978.
    That’s 1978 not 1878.
    Often artists would put the brush in thier mouth to hold them.
    Lead poisoning can cause hallucinations and vibrant images.
    I’ll spare you all my dissertation.

  2. I hope Wayne and Jane are safe. There were severe thunderstorms across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York last night. I saw a lightening strike not too far from our house. It scared the bejeebus out of me. The smoke alarm started beeping in our house. Fortunately, our power stayed on. I couldn’t see exactly what the lightening hit because of the many trees in that area. All I could see was the bolt from above. There was a double sizzling and crackling sound. The first was coming from the bolt from the “ground” which was quickly followed by the sound of the strike from the sky. There was no thunder. It was the sound from the ground that first caught my attention.

  3. Won’t be here for music night.
    Going to see the “Dukes of September”
    Tomorrow night, YES and Procol Harum.

  4. Heh…

    Romney in Gdansk: Lech, thanks for being here. And, hey, how about that shipyard there–is that a rusting pile of crap or what?

  5. I’ve always enjoyed Van Gogh’s work. One can stare at any one of his paintings for hours and ponder what it was, exactly, that he was ‘saying’ with his brushes. And the answer always seems to remain elusive.

    Thinking of Van Gogh makes me recall a discotheque that, fifty or so years ago, was one of the ‘hot spots’ in downtown Minneapolis. It was called the Vincent Van Go-Go. Creative, but near as I could tell damn few of the customers had any notion of the slight irony in the name. The sixties were an odd passage in almost every way.

      • The trouble is I think his “handlers” aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box either.

        Mitt made this remark after his day of gaffs,

        “The attacks that come by people who are trying to knock down my business career, or my Olympic experience, or our success, those attacks are not going to be successful.”

        No Mitt. These aren’t attacks, they are quoting you and pointing out the lack of diplomacy on your part and subsequently questioning your ability to be the president of the local PTA, never mind POTUS.

  6. Any bets on some kind of hideously botched Romney tax form “Friday document drop” in hopes that the Olympics opening will draw attention away?

  7. No one quite matches Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) for pure partisan hackery, of course. And today, he broke his silence:

    PIERS MORGAN DEFENDS MITT ROMNEY ON THE OLYMPICS: “Everything he said was completely true.”

    That was IT. Srsly.

  8. There is some room for hope. looking around the various polls it looks like President Obama is starting to pull ahead. Especially heartening is that his lead is increasing in key swing states. The Reichwhiners are so loud that it’s easy to forget that most people can spot a fraud when they see one.

    • My enduring fear is that the number of people who CAN’T ‘spot a fraud when they see one’ not only appears to be but also very likely IS the fastest growing demographic in both the USA and in most other countries around the globe. What bothers me most is that I see virtually no evidence that such is not the case, and if it proves to be true then all is lost for all species (save for the cockroach, probably).

      In the long run, I suppose I can see the possibility that following mass extinction, a new intelligent life form will eventually evolve, one that has the capability of rediscovering all the truths (and perhaps more) that our species has already uncovered via science. The encouraging aspect of all of that is that scientific truth remains constant and available for discovery, but religious myth would likely either take another form or else be overwhelmed completely and buried for good. And, as someone has pointed out, when all of that happens it’s about a sure bet that there will be no talking snake to contend with, and certainly no stone tablets, no ark, none of that nonsense. And (wish upon a star, or whatever) NO REPUBLICANS either! I mean, in a knowledgeable world, how could there be?

      • Yeah. Sometimes I think that evolution screwed the pooch when we apes learned to outsmart the big cats. Of course, microbes are the real masters of the planet and will do quite nicely when we are gone. But therein lies the hope. The big noisy creatures, like Reichwhiners, get all the attention while those who don’t run around making a spectacle of themselves just keep on keeping on. I try to keep that in mind at least one day a week and I guess that today is my day to think positively.

        President Obama is up 6% in the latest national poll I’ve seen, 8% in Ohio, 4% in Florida etc. On a day I’m devoting to optimism I’ll take those numbers even if logic would dictate that it would be closer to 75% (One must keep in mind that at least 25% of the population is either mentally ill, evil, or dumb as a stump.).

        All that being said; I sure wish that our “librul media” was as diligent as the British press. They got one whiff of Mittens and quickly figured out what he is and then had the balls to say it. I would feel a whole lot more optimistic if even one major news anchor in this country shared their better qualities.

        • I can understand, even in light of recent gaffes in Britain, how Romney could get at least fifty votes come November. I mean, his extended family can probably get close to that all by themselves (although if he were MY brother or cousin or uncle, whatever, I’d never vote for the asshole), but how in the world could anyone in their right mind ever vote for him?

          Keywords: “right mind”. There are obviously tens of millions, if not more, in the US alone who fill the bill of not having one of those. I, ashamedly, am actually related to several of them, and how that happened I’ll never figure out! Must have been a troll in the fuel pile somewhere. I mean it can happen. Look what happened to Joseph’s wife, Mary, herself a virgin that wound up pregnant thanks to one of those fuel pile trolls. And look what happened to the human species in result! Republicans everywhere!

  9. I would imagine this has been quietly discussed in Romney HQ… Mitt needs something bad to happen at the Olympics to dig himself out of this hole. If it does, he (and the right-wing neanderthals) can trumpet how prescient he is. Okay they won’t use big words like that, but if it goes smoothly (which we all hope it will), then it continues to haunt him.

  10. ~”The conservative group Citizens United launched an ad March 8 mocking Kerry’s expensive homes and habits, calling him “another rich, liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he’s a ‘man of the people.’” ~ – March 10, 2004~


  11. Holy crap. In looking through this desk for a pad of paper, in the guest room of my dad’s house, I found my mom’s family tree.

    I’ve never known much about her side of the family, since her parents were dead by the time my mom was 18, and I never knew she had this information.

    In the last year, I’ve found out that both sides of my family have been in this country since before the Revolutionary War.

    Absolutely amazing.

      • Thanks, dycker. 🙂

        I don’t know why she never mentioned it; maybe she thought she’d get around to it one day. At least I know it exists now, and will keep it safe.

        • weird how the last generation was so tight lipped about things.

          i’ve found out more about my father since he passed away in October, than i had my whole life….

          the red leather bikini underwear made my brain disconnect for a few minutes….

    • That’s exciting! Now you want more, more, more to read, don’t you?
      It’s so intriguing and engrossing to read about family!

      (We’re ‘newly’ arrived comparatively speaking. Second generation on my Mom’s side)

    • Since JFK we have had three Democratic Presidents. Every one of them was subjected to varying levels of attack and vitriol during their terms by both the Republicans and in the cases of Clinton and Obama, the media. In the same time frame, no Republican President received even a small percentage of attacks, especially GW.

      • It makes me wonder what would have happened if Hillary had become President. Would the misogyny prove as potent as the racism of the Reichwhiners? Of course, they would hate any Democrat but I think it might have been worse in some ways. The freaks have been conditioned to hate Hillary since Bill was the Prez and I think Hillary would have been a bit more confrontational than Obama but they wouldn’t have had to construct such a gigantic strawman. Heck! I wouldn’t be very fond of the guy the Reichwhiners are whining about if he actually existed.

      • BTW. Isn’t it amazing how they can keep yapping about “first Carter, then Clinton, and now Obama” when they are asserting that America is toast? I guess that they just keep forgetting the 20 years worth of GOP administrations in that time.

      • Democrats are all commies, of course, which is why they have to be attacked. Republicans are men of god, so Amurka is safe when they’re in the White House.

        Then there’s Obama. He’s not only a commie, he’s a “Marksist Facist”, a socialist, a Muslim, and a foreign born (probably gay) ni**er A-rab. Can’t possibly get any worse than that (unless, of course, he was, instead, a commie-‘Marksist-Facist’-socialist-Muslim-ni**er-A-rab-lesbo-WOMAN like Michele. That would piss god off so bad that he’d … he’d … well, you know).

  12. In 2003, I went looking for Vincent van Gogh. Maybe a little like my religious brethren’s search for Jesus, something inside me just wouldn’t let go. I needed some answers, and off to Paris I went to start my search. I had only seen Vincent’s paintings in art books so I went to the Musee d’Orsay where hangs an impressive line-up of van Gogh’s major works. One of the questions I had was, “was this guy truely crazy, or a painter with enormous talent that was just a little wacky?” This next recounting is true. I stood in front of his painting “Room in Arles” for about 1/2 hour, checking out his brush strokes, and how he layered his paint, etc. when I suddenly dropped to my knees, and tears welled up in my eyes. In the painting there is a kitchen towel hanging from a peg just inside the door. The drape of the towel was painted/drawn in a perfect “S” curve that was senuous beyond anything I had experienced in Art before. Now you maybe asking yourself “uh is nwog a little wacky himself?” Let me answer Yes, so now you can stop asking. Being so moved I jumped on a train the next morning to Auvers sur Oise, where Vincent spent the last 90 days of his life in a painting frenzy, producing 90 works of profound Art. I stood before the real “Church at Auvers sur Oise”. looked over the fields where he painted “Wheatfields and crows”, and watered the ivy surrounding his and his brother Theo’s gravesite. The final question, “did he really kill himself?” was answered for me by the current owner of the bistro, and building where Vincent boarded. He told me that for over 100 years the people of Auvers sur Oise believed he was shot, accidentally, by children (teenagers?) playing with a handgun out in the wheatfields.
    One thing I know is that painters are very familiar with anatomy. If he wanted to commit suicide he’d damn well know where his heart was. But who shoots themselves in the chest in an attempt to leave this mortal coil? This account of his death is the one I want to believe.
    BTW, my gravatar is of me leaning up against a wall in Auvers sur Oise with the title “Looking for Vincent.”

    above the town.

  13. PP

    FACT: Starting in August, birth control will be treated like any other preventive prescription under the Affordable Care Act, and will be available without co-pays or deductibles.

    • It’s not even an interesting list. Condie already stated she wasn’t looking to be VP. No way the Neutered one is a true contender.

      I’m curious to see how the trip to Israel will go.
      Have his handlers learned anything or will they allow Mittens to be his “diplomatic” self.

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