Letter 10/23/1883 - by Vincent van Gogh

Letter 10/23/1883 - by Vincent van Gogh
Courtesy of www.VincentVanGogh.org

Zola says: "Moi artiste je veux vivre tout haut" - "As an artist, I want to live life to the full" - "want to live life" without mental reservation, naive like a child; no, not like a child, like an artist - with goodwill; as life turns out, so I will find something in it, so I will give of my best.

Now, come along with all those assumed mannerisms, with what is conventional; how enormously pedantic it is really, how absurd, a man who thinks that he knows it all and that it will be as he thinks, as if there were not always in all things in life a je ne sais quoi of great good,and also an element of bad, from which we feel that there is something infinite above us, infinitely greater, mightier than we are.

A man who does not feel himself small, who does not realize that he is just a speck, how wrong he is basically.

Do we lose anything if we abandon some of the concepts that were imprinted into us as children, such as keeping up appearances and considering certain forms of behavior to be of prime importance? Personally, whether I lose by it or not, I don't even think about it. I only know that in my experience these forms and concepts have no validity and are often even disastrous. I arrive at the conclusion that I know nothing, but that at the same time the life we live in such a mystery that certainly the system of "respectability" is too cramping. So for me, it has lost all credibility.