July 31st, 2012

Another reminder that certainty is an iffy proposition

Vincent Van Gogh on his relationship to posterity:

As a painter, I will never amount to anything important. I am absolutely sure of it.

9 Responses to “Another reminder that certainty is an iffy proposition”

  1. holmes Says:

    I wonder if Obama will be a President anyone remembers in 100 years as significant outside of race. It’s hard for us to believe, I’m sure, but I imagine people in the late 19th century thought Grover Cleveland would be well known forever. I can’t recall a thing he did, really.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    Well, if you can’t be right, be certain.

  3. holmes Says:

    But Van Gogh is the exception. Most people will be unknown in two generations- everyone who knew you will be gone. My favorite pastor out of NYC likes to mention this from time to time. It puts our worries in perspective.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    The American who will be remembered the longest will be Neil Armstrong.

  5. T Says:

    . . . and yet he continued to paint. What does that say about the creative spirit?

    I used to teach in a university School of Art and we used to pride ourselves on the fact that we had the most altruistic majors on campus. No delusions about “getting a job in the field” like some fill-in-the-blank studies major. Most of these students made art simply because they had to make art.

    (If I may be so bold . . .) As a dancer, our hostess here understands precisely or she would not have posted this.

  6. T Says:

    “The American who will be remembered the longest will be Neil Armstrong.”

    Ya think? We all have our favorites, but I suggest that Abe Lincoln has a 150 year head start on Armstrong.

  7. Tesh Says:

    As an artist, I well understand the creative spirit. It drives much of my conscious time. The tricky part is making a living at it.

    …and if I were worried about a legacy, I suppose that would be hard, too. The only legacy I’m worried about is making sure my kids turn out to be good people.

  8. ziontruth Says:

    Someone who wasn’t a legend in his own mind. Unlike another who gets an “I, me, my” at every opportunity.


    In the context of a far future, where humans are assumed to have colonized other planets and remember best the particular events on Old Earth that have led to their current state, I think it’s more reasonable they’ll remember the pioneers of spacefaring rather than politicians, important though they may be.

    For comparison, how many people remember Columbus, and how many remember the Genoese and Venetian rulers before or even at his time, or the Spanish monarchs except maybe the king and queen who funded his voyage? How many ancient Greek heads of state—whether democratically elected or despots—do most people remember, as compared to ancient Greek pioneers of science like Archimedes?

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    More than a decade ago, when I still listened to NPR, they did a story on the then oldest (documented) woman in the world. As I recall, this french woman was over 120 yrs old and, she remembered Van Vogh, whom she knew when she was about 14. Her father had been an art dealer who Van Vogh visited a number of times, both at his gallery and at home. When the interviewer breathlessly asked about him, she dismissively said, “I didn’t care much for him, he was a dirty, smelly little man”…The Van Gogh she met, “with his ear,” was “ugly as sin . . . bad- tempered, a grumbler and smelling of alcohol,” she recalled.

    The story delighted me, not because it in any way lessened his artistic genius but because it humanized him. The great have ‘feet of clay’, just like all of us.

    Recognizing worth doesn’t preclude recognizing flaws.

    A Birthday Cake With 120 Candles / French woman knew Van Gogh — `with his ear’

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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