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Relaxation becomes disorientation?!

January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Van Gogh ‘s life story  has  i.a. these lessons for us postmoderns:

As previously noted, the psychological parallels of Van Gogh and Dickens during their

childhoods are unmistakable. They deepen graphically when we read

from Peter Ackroyd’s seminal biography of Charles Dickens:

He had a surplus of energy, to be sure, more energy than most human beings

possess, but he was employing it all the time. He seemed, through unhappiness

or uncertainty (both of which qualities, to judge from his letters, he possessedextensively), to wish to tire himself, to occupy himself so much that he did not

have time to think or contemplate the course of his life; there was almost a need

to punish himself. As his fictional hero, David Copperfield, puts it at a similar

point in his own life: “I made it a rule to take as much out of myself as I possibly

could, in my way of doing everything to which I applied my energies. I made a

perfect victim of myself.” And then again, in the same narrative, “I fatigued

myself as much as I possibly could…”.

Dickens, too, could not bear to relax.

All of this was true, too, of Vincent, as his own words would confirm

time and again. This overwhelming urge to push beyond his physical

limits occurred first in the mining camps. But therein lies a paradox:

his passion to alleviate the fatigue of others did not extend to himself,

exploiting his own health to an alarming degree—the very thing he tried

to prevent in others. Van Gogh biographers A. M. Hammacher and Renilde

Hammacher (1982) make the following observations about Vincent

that are nearly identical to those made about Dickens:

The known facts are too numerous for one not to agree with Vincent himself,

who said that the output which, after ten years of preparation, he finally produced

at speed in the space of ten years meant exhausting his physical and psychic

strength and destroying his health. His psychological disposition—including

his unconscious—possessed a reservoir of energy comparable to the fertile field

which has to be plowed, sown, manured, and rained on, before its latent forces

can be realized. Such forces included the sickness which could not fail to make

itself felt after Vincent had whipped up all his nerves into a paroxysm in order

to produce his work. Tensed beyond the limits, he could not be saved by any relaxation

of tension. Relaxation became disorientation.”

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4 responses to Relaxation becomes disorientation?!

  1. Both serve as good indicators that one should avoid overstressing in the creative process.

  2. Your website doesn’t render properly on my blackberry – you might wanna try and fix that

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