Topic: Other News
Feb 28, 2007 12:21 pm
Short Answer: He was ecstatically pious.
Long Answer:You need to look at the question, "Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear?" The author of this book, at first specualtes that he was somehow emulating or trying to right the wrongs of "Jack the Ripper."
Vincent & Gauguin would read and follow crime in the local newspaper.
Jack the Ripper was international news. Vincen had spent some time as an evangelist near London. This was to be his vocation but he never finished (was kicked out) his education, and his congregation thought him mad and had him removed.
JTR had hacked off one of his victims ears.
His victims were mostly prostitutes. When Vincent cut off his ear and delivered it to a prostitue at one of the brothels he frequented, some say he was making this offering as a gesture of goodwill, empathizing with their lowly stature.
Others speculated he cut off his ear to put a stop to his auditory hallucinations.
Gauguin's interpretation was more Biblical.
He said that when Vincent presented his ear to the prostitute he said to her "you will remember me, verily I tell you this." When asked why he did it, Vincent replied that his reason were "quite personal."
After subsequent attacks Vincent said he was plagued be religious fears, what he also dubbed "religious exhultation. and frightful ideas about religion." He identified greatly with the story of Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when he foresaw his arrest, torture and crucifixion.
In the new Testament, after Christ accepted his fate, Judas burst into the garden with armed men, [sic] to arrest him. When the disciples saw what was going to happen, they thought of defending Christ by force, "And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear."
Vincent also read avidly the works of Emile Zola.
In his fantasy novel, The Sin of Father Mouret , the central figure, a priest, was ecstatically pious and collapsed in front of a stutue of theVirgin and later awoke in an overgrown garden. The priest is nursed back to health by a woman who was to become his lover. They were later driven from the garden by a viloent and local friar, Brother Archangias.
The priest, FatherMouret, later returned for his lover's funeral. When he finished his prayers, he calmly pulled a knife from hi pocket, opened it, and cut of the friar's ear!
In his writings, Vincent implied that his spiritual struggles were more compelling than his struggles with the flesh.
So, its hard to say whether Vincent cut off his ear to: punish himself the way the friar Archangias had been punished, or as St. Peter punished the soldier in Gethsemane, or as the prostitute had been punished by Jack the Ripper. But remember, it was Gauguin his "comrade" who refers to his actions as "Biblical mortifications."
So, PnP, if your still with me, now you know why I needed to take some time in responding. Glad you asked? Serioulsy though, I'm glad you did. Thanks.