Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bitten by an Ostrich (and an Armadillo, too)

I just wanted to mention that I've been bitten by an ostrich in my lifetime. And also by an armadillo. I believe this to be a distinction that not many can match.

These incidents both occurred during a trip to the Brookfield petting zoo (Chicago) when I was six years old.

The ostrich was a hungry bugger. I was holding a hefty hunk of bread in my hand, which was hanging by my side as I was checking out some rather unattractive turkeys. The ostrich snuck up behind me and the next thing I knew, my whole hand was in his mouth. He got the bread, and I got a bandaid.

The armadillo incident was negligible and without effect.

I'm actually pretty proud of all of this. I mean, who do you know who can say they've been bitten by an ostrich? Or an armadillo? Or BOTH?

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh

I recently read a fascinating article in Smithsonian magazine's January, 2008 issue, entitled "Letters from Vincent".

Something which caught my eye was his lament that he had difficulty in creating from imagination, relying more on painting scenes which he saw before him:
Arles, c. April 12, 1888 My dear old Bernard, ....I sometimes regret that I can't decide to work more at home and from the imagination. Certainly—imagination is a capacity that must be developed, and only that enables us to create a more exalting and consoling nature than what just a glance at reality (which we perceive changing, passing quickly like lightning) allows us to perceive.

A starry sky, for example, well—it's a thing that I should like to try to do, just as in the daytime I'll try to paint a green meadow studded with dandelions.

But how to arrive at that unless I decide to work at home and from the imagination? This, then, to criticize myself and to praise you.
He was a great artist, living a tortured life. I wonder where he is now, in his current lifetime, and whether he is still painting.