The artist Vincent van Gogh led a tragic life. His art – now lauded – was ahead of its time, and unappreciated by the public. Tormented by loneliness, Vincent longed desperately for love and friendship, but had difficulty with both.
However, Vincent and his brother, Theo, were extremely close. Amsterdam’s van Gogh Museum is holding an exhibition in which contemporary artists and writers have responded to the hundreds of letters Vincent wrote Theo. In these letters, Vincent movingly described his hopes and fears. See, https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/01/van-gogh-purpose-letter/ and https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/07/vincent-van-gogh-art-love-letters/ .
Below is an excerpt from the letter novelist, Nicole Krauss crafted . I believe abuse victims may find it helpful.
You write about fear: Fear of the blank canvas, but also, on a larger scale, of the ‘infinitely meaningless, discouraging blank side’ that life itself always turns toward us…
Repeating Old Patterns
It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern. It watches…the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously…echoes these cycles. Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us. And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us… [we] still find it nearly impossible to resist them. We call these patterns of thought our ‘nature’ and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us…
Breaking with the Past
And yet it is unquestionably within our power to break the loop…by choosing to think — and to see, and act — in a different way. It may require enormous effort and focus. And yet for the most part it isn’t laziness that stops us from breaking these loops, it’s fear…
And so before we can arrive at the act of breaking, we first have to confront our fear. The fear that the blank canvas and the blank side of life reflects back to us, which is so paralyzing, as you put it, and seems to tell us that ‘we can’t do anything.’ It’s an abstract fear, though it finds a way to take on endless shapes. Today it may be the fear of failure, but tomorrow it will be the fear of what others will think of us, and at a different time it will be fear of discovering that the worst things we suspect about ourselves are true… Continue reading →