Van Gogh and Others Like Him

I have a lot of artists among my Facebook friends, in my cybercommunity so to speak, and so of course they often post paintings, drawings, photographs, etc…, sometimes their own and sometimes somebody else’s, so it was nothing out of the ordinary when someone posted a lovely ‘Van Gogh’ this morning, which inspired many thoughts, but maybe not the ones intended, because that’s not how the inspiration of thoughts always, or even usually, works.
It is a lovely painting, and very typical of Van Gogh’s work, called “The Red Tree House”, it evokes a scene at the edge of a village, a row of neat houses with gardens behind the wall, and one tree which was casting its shadow on the wall of a house, making it a temporary work of art in itself.
But, as one person in the comments section pointed out, it is not a Van Gogh. The Red Tree House was painted in 1890 by an artist named Leo Marie Gausson. Checking his dates, he was a contemporary of Van Gogh, but lived to the ripe and happy age of 88, i.e. into the 1940s so, despite the great disparity in their levels of fame, he was much more successful in the game of life than Van Gogh. And he was probably every bit as much the brilliant painter, but, due to the limited storage space within the human cranium, we only have room to remember a few famous people from every field, from every era, and it’s real hard to know who will make that final cut.
We can all name several current movie stars we like, and popular musicians, but take it back a few decades and the number is smaller, take it back a century or so and the number is smaller still. It’s as if we have a zip drive in our heads.
I’m not trying to diminish Van Gogh’s greatness, his brilliance, his talent and his vision, but he was apparently not the only one painting that kind of thing in that kind of way at that time. At least part of his current fame is due to his sad life story. He sold very little during his own lifetime, and what he did was mostly bought, very discreetly, by Theo Van Gogh, who felt bad for his weird and socially unacceptable brother.
So, in death, he has become the patron saint of artists who will never be famous in life. We can all believe, rightly or delusionally, that people of future generations will see our paintings, sculptures, books or whatever, and recognize us as the geniuses we know, deep in our hearts, that we are. Van Gogh’s death absolves us of our mediocrity.

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Facebook’s Big Flaw

Well, it’s late and I’m uninspired so I’ll just write down a couple of lines here about one of my pet peeves with Facebook. I’m sure everybody has a list of things they would do better if they were Mark Zuckerberg, but this is just one teeny, tiny little thing, which would probably cost them next to nothing and would make my life much easier, and those of similarly short attention-spanned readers as well.
Sometimes, when I want to refresh the page, or just leave Facebook and do something else for a while, I get a message that says “You have not completed your comment,” and there are two boxes below that, marked ‘stay on page’ and ‘leave page.’ Would it fucking kill the guy with a hundred billion dollars to add a 3rd box, which says something like ‘view comment’ or ‘return to comment’? Without that, how am I supposed to make an educated guess as to whether it’s worth it even to scroll back and finish the comment, or just allow it to dry up and disappear, on an afternoon desert wind? But, I can’t do that.
So, I scroll back, and back, and back. Sometimes I find that it really was a zinger of a comment, appropriately scathing, and I end it and send it and that’s it, and sometimes I find it was just a slip of the finger, and I’ll find a letter or two in a comment box, and so I delete it so I can move on with a clear conscience, and sometimes I can’t find the offending unfinished comment at all, and so I search again.
Just that one little extra box would save thousands of people minutes a day. Do the world a favor, Mr. Zuckerberg.

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The Guru Fifi

Rabbits are kind of useless as pets. You can’t throw a ball and have them bring it back like a dog, and they are even more indolent and indifferent to human presence than cats. So, I don’t actually recommend them but we’ve had Fifi for about 7 and a half years now, and I am fond of her.
Right at the moment she is under the living room table and there is every possibility she will stay there for hours. Rabbits can do that. They are like women sunbathing, they can stay in the same spot doing absolutely nothing for hours.
I do not understand that mentality. It is foreign to me. I don’t even like sitting for 20 minutes on the Metro, or in a car, without doing something. Playing games on the phone, reading, something.
Sometimes, she sits on the couch and we get a good view of her, staring straight ahead. I wonder what’s going on in her little animal mind and I imagine she is a guru, meditating, and totally at one with the universe. She’s probably closer to it than I am, at any rate.

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LOTR, with Nudity

I saw a petition today that I decided not to sign, even though I could see their point. It wasn’t just laziness or indifference, as it sometimes is, because you see petitions all the time, and you know they generally don’t do any good. No, I actually thought about it and decided I disagree.
Apparently, somebody is planning to make some new Lord of the Rings movies (it should be a TV series – the episodes wouldn’t need to be three hours long, and you’d have the time to fit an actual bit of story in between the battle scenes), but apparently they will have -ahem – nudity. The petitioners object strongly to that; family entertainment, Tolkien’s original intentions, and so on, which is all true.
But, the way I see it, Lord of the Rings is in the public consciousness now (which is different from public domain. I’m not arguing the present legality of it, I’m just saying it’s the fate of all great literature), so it’s fair to do all sorts of versions of it. There will some day be an all black version, a puppet version, a silly Monty Pythonesque version, a musical, a cartoon, and one with zombies. And they will all find their audience and they will all make money.
If you want purity, you can always read the books.

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On Rubbing People the Wrong Way

As we walk across the Earth
there are people all around us
and they’re all a little different
from us in a lot of ways
so it would be exhausting
if we were to get offended
at every random thing
some random person had to say

Truly, you cannot avoid occasionally rubbing someone the wrong way. Admittedly, I don’t try very hard. I responded to a comment the other day with “Vegan food sucks,” when what I should have said was “Your plan to abandon the cities and have everyone on the planet living on organic communes and eating vegan food is highly impractical.”
I suppose I should try harder to be polite, but I think I’m going to go the other way. There is just too much going on in a world of never-ending news cycles, new scientific developments daily, and the culture wars being fought on so many fronts that it’s much easier just to let fly, say whatever you think, and let the chips fall where they may.
It’s the best way to go, I think. I am the type of person who has opinions, and if I don’t express them, who will?

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