“I feel some abstractions coming on…”
March 14, 2017 Leave a comment
Van Gogh, at the end of a 1888 letter on display at the Guggenheim in New York, writes:
“I feel some abstractions coming on and if I do not quickly fill up my paper I would again get to drawing and you would not have your letter.”
This remark struck a chord, perhaps because I can relate it to what we are negotiating in a course I’m co-teaching on gender, race, science, and literature:
Does he mean distracted from what he is able to convey in writing by what he is seeing? And/or is what he is “seeing” an abstraction from what others would have seen? What would be the equivalent for each of us of the pull Van Gogh feels to draw? How important is it that, when we first abstract from what others see and get distracted or passionate about that, we can imagine an audience that wants to hear about our process or see the product?
Here is a transcription of the whole letter.