“We Take Death to Reach a Star”

The Light of Stars

09 July 1888, Arles. Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother:

In a painter’s life death is not perhaps the hardest thing there is.

For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it. But to look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train.

The artist was referring to ideas espoused by the 19th century astronomer Camille Flammarion who is an interesting fellow for someone who has been called an atheist (though I cannot imagine that he thought of himself in that term). One of his many beliefs was that when we die, we travel from planet to planet, star to star. Van Gogh, with his love of stars, was understandably enamored with the idea. I have always found it a lovely fancy as well.

08 December 2012, Sundance took his star, and I am still figuring out what that means for this currently earthbound soul. I know that there will be changes to this blog. Perhaps not in actuality, as it’s still early enough in its development that readers may not find a vast difference between that which came before and that which will follow. I will tell you that my intentions have changed, because I have changed. We will have to see–together–what that means for the whole. Please (if you’re still out there) bear with me as I make changes to the organization and layout of this interrupted blog.

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