January 11, 2013

Looking at the stars always makes me dream…

 Light Installation by Lee Eunyeol

Vincent Van Gogh was sensitive, gifted and emotionally honest. Despite the mystery surrounding his death and the search for enchantment that fueled his life, there is no disagreement on his love and life-long devotion for the stars.

It is the stars as a final destination that I draw your attention to, taken from one of the most profoundly moving pieces on life, death, and the myriad thoughts on both.

The book, that is its source is by film critic, Roger Ebert, entitled Life Itself.  The excerpt, I Do Not Fear Death, is an eloquent and thoughtful piece that one can’t help but feel the need to capture and preserve. It is penned in loveliness and grace and the simple reading of it leaves you aching for a belief in divinity.

From the author’s wistful note that, “One of these days I will encounter what Henry James called on his deathbed 'the distinguished thing,'" to a favored passage on kindness he memorized, which reads in part, “I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals,” that Ebert says covers all his political beliefs, there is raw truth here in all its uneasiness.

Yet, it is the beautifully moving passage from Van Gogh that forms the heart of Ebert’s incandescent essay.

Looking at the stars
always makes me dream,
as simply as I dream
over the black dots
representing towns and villages
on a map.

Why, I ask myself,
shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky
be as accessible
as the black dots
on the map of France?

Just as we take a train
to get to Tarascon or Rouen,
we take death to reach a star.

We cannot get to a star
while we are alive
any more than we can
take the train
when we are dead.

So to me
it seems possible that
cholera, tuberculosis and cancer
are the
celestial means of locomotion.
Just as steamboats, buses and railways
are the terrestrial means.

To die
quietly of old age
would be to go there
on foot.

1 comment:

frenchtoast said...

I always marvel at our shared sensibilities.