Posted in Miscellany

from this corner of the world

A beautiful field of flowers on a background of mountains and clouds

It was a great leap from northern New Jersey to southern California when I decided to relocate two years ago. At that time, I felt like a pioneer girl from Willa Cather’s novel or a Horace Greeley in his Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco. Now the not-so-long time has passed, and I still have the job I got first in California, but I am now not sure about being rooted here like a tree without luscious fruits, which is just one of many plain, common trees whose sudden absence will not be conspicuous. Amid in this existential tides of life, willful, fateful, or both perhaps, reading today’s article from the New York Times about a declining trend of relocation after the ease of Pandemic-related restrictions statewide seems to shake my already shaking ship adrift between Scylla and Charybdis.

The article reports that now that the post-Covid 19 has dawned a new era of remote-controlled employment, many people do not need to move to another state for their new jobs unless they are packaged with satisfying relocation fees. And staying put in their home grounds while working remotely for their bosses across the Rocky mountain or on the other side of the coast fortifies a sense of close-knit family and community that they feel strongly related and belonging by staying put in their home grounds. Further, the article illustrates a particular fragment of well-to-do middle-class people with professional careers or executive positions who indeed don’t have to take trouble moving their already content families to new locations. Finally, the article excludes the peripheral class that orbits around the lesser bright solar system whose life spans depend on a dominant sun’s brilliance.

People are still moving to and from for their uncertain futures, as I have witnessed so far, despite the Pandemic scare less than the existential threats of daily life. Hasn’t the journalist seen enough of the genuine fabrics of life by getting on a morning bus carrying a crowd of the middlings and underlings heading for their workplaces? Isn’t The New York Times proud of being one of the most liberal newspapers in the world? Or is it for most liberal middle-class only?

I still like to think of myself as a frontier woman in the Still Wild West, living with an elderly mother and an eleven-month-old tabby cat with chronically weak respiratory and digestive systems in a make-shift house on a pitiful homestead often besieged by the lawless and the uncultured. And I still don’t know my decision to move from here to there was a fool’s wish, acting on a foolhardy impulse neverendingly. Nevertheless, I want that all that wise sayings about hope and courage are truth and nothing but the truth, and I am sure that many people share similar kinds of wishes in the courses of their lives that today’s article excludes.

Posted in Poetry

Draw the Moon

The sky is howling in the twilight

As the chariot of the moon flies;

She hears her fate that she wants not

Thru the rustling leaves and grass

Swaying in the wind of the chariot

And draws the moon from the seat

To take back her unwanted future.

Posted in book review

Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here’s a portrait of a man who hated being alone yet found freedom when alone. Austere yet bohemian, religious yet autonomous, he was a paradox himself like the faces of Janus. It was no other than the painter Vincent Van Gogh himself in his well-known portrait looking more in disappointment with the world than in madness against it.

As the late eminent Australian biographer of Ben Jonson Ian Donaldson once put, good biography is anything but a bland, chronological summation of a man’s life, and I am not intent on reciting the dates of from Gogh’s birth to death and in-betweens. Instead, I am all mind in positing what I think he was, other than the man with a bandaged self-mutilated ear because our sensory perception often betrays the truthfulness of what we see when stimulated to the external sensation. Indeed, Gogh was a disturbed man whose sensitivity found no elbow room in the world with which he so endeavored to have a long-lasting content relationship. It is not to say that Gogh was an archetypal self-imposed exiled artist who voluntarily distanced himself from ordinary life scenes. Hardly so. As shown in his letter to his beloved little brother Theo, who helped his misunderstood forlorn artist brother as ever, Gogh tried to be as good-humored and cheerful as he wanted. Still, it was the world that seemed to betray him with blows that bludgeoned his unalloyed wishes and noble aspirations.

Gogh’s paintings reflect his love of realism and reject artificial romanticism without the ideal romantic ambiance in vogue with the time. He was interested in all that existed as they were because discovering beauty in the coarseness of reality was his objective in achieving creative and experiential values. In this regard, Gogh was in the same artistic vein as Francoise Millet, whose paintings Gogh admired because Millet believed that treating the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime was what gave art its true power. The only difference between the masters of art was how to portray it with individual flairs of colors, techniques, and perspectives based on their tastes and judgments. Gogh’s ‘Potato Eaters” might not have that romantic dignity surrounding the hardscrabble peasants. Still, they were unforgettably expressive in the nuanced struggles and strife they had to bear and live with. Perhaps the uneasy cohabitation of the independent spirit and the loving heart distinguished Gogh from his famous peers who had the practical sense to reconcile their creative souls to social needs.

Moreover, Gogh lost a sense of direction when he realized that a man of the cloth wasn’t his cloth. The existential frustrations from the confliction of the will then added to his already innate fragile sensitivity, a hereditary mental trait running in his maternal family. Nevertheless, Gogh continuously endeavored to fend it off and conquer it, even when the citizens of Arles, where he dreamed of building a haven for his kindred spirits, united to expel him from the city he once cherished. However, one good-hearted postman continued to give him a touch of kindness till he voluntarily admitted himself into a mental asylum for the peace of his mind and others’.

To me, Gogh tried to live up to his conviction of good, fulfilled life with exquisite sensibilities, and unalloyed humanity too great for the realities of the world he was born into. His life was life imitating art, and art was not imitating but expressing life as he saw. Yet, be it ever the play of the fate, the more he tried to be good-humored, the more estranged he became because he was an extraordinary artist constantly breaking away from confinement prejudicial to his ever sensitive and creative spirit. Upon reading this elegantly narrated life of Vincent Van Gogh, I realized the truth of the genius only took some time for its brilliance to shine, no matter how long it would take. Who would have thought Vincent Van Gogh, who once sold only one of his works out of hundreds, would be looking at his admirers in the constellation of brilliant painters in heaven? For those who are creators of arts in all genres, famous or hidden, amateur or professional, the story of Vincent Van Gogh will be a consolation to the heart and hope to the spirit that never knows the end.



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