Van Gogh on the Verge

July 21, 2016

Home » Commentary » Van Gogh on the Verge

Handing over my ticket, I’m excited to enter the Van Gogh Museum for another emotional exhibition. I’ve been to many and read about all the others. On the Verge of Insanity is a great title. By that I mean it’s appropriate. Look at Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear and Pipe: Vincent looms under a heavy black cap and green coat, blowing smoke from his pipe like a frosty soldier near the end at Stalingrad.

“Hello, Vincent,” I say. “How’re you doing?”

“I’m wounded, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Here, take a look.”

“Please, that’s not necessary.”

“I’m referring to Dr. Felix Rey’s drawing over there. It’s a wonderful likeness, and new to most. I nearly died that night and wish I had. Would’ve spared me a year and a half of torment.”

“At least you survived to paint more great works. I love your Portrait of Dr. Rey.”

“He’s a fine man but it’s not one of my penetrating works. The doctor’s too handsome, healthy, and untroubled. I cut deeper when carving my face or those of peasants.”

Vincent steps out of the frame and says, “Come and look at Still Life with Plate of Onions.”

“Wicked green shooting from the onions.”

“Don’t eat those,” he says. “I painted them after a difficult night not long after leaving the hospital. I don’t blame the doctor whose book next to the onions gives hope that camphor will relieve hallucinations and nightmares. Perhaps others have benefited.”

“Here’s Entrance to a Quarry.”

“I’d just agreed to enter an asylum. This isn’t one of my better works but does imply a mind descending between foliage into a rocky hole.”

“Wheatfield with a Reaper is much stronger, a classic Van Gogh work, I’d say. The sun’s ominous in a nightmarish green sky, the mountains barren, the lake gray and dead, and the golden wheat’s fiery and undulating, ready to engulf the reaper.”

“I knew I wasn’t going to get better but sometimes pretended otherwise when I spoke or wrote. In The Garden of The Asylum in Saint Remy, as in all my paintings, I paint the truth. While others may see beauty, I feel sinuous leaves clawing a polluted green and yellow sky that shrouds an amputated tree and three morbid people who dwell in the asylum.”

“Unpleasant subject matter but always, somehow, touching.”

“Thank you,” says Vincent.

“There’s Portrait of a One-Eyed Man. Was he offended by your interpretation?”

“No, I painted him delicately because his missing eye was my ear and his mind like mine; I admired him more than feared him.”

“As you wished, you were discharged after about a year in the asylum. You must’ve been happy, if only briefly.”

“I may have felt well thirty seconds.”

“You were quite productive.”

“I was possessed and prolific but no longer really at my best.”

“Here’s your final work, Tree Roots, from July 1890.”

“I’m moving toward abstraction. A pity I didn’t live sixty years later in New York City.”

“You’ll live forever.”

“Thankfully, you’re incorrect about that. Isn’t that a vile pistol, rusty and corroded and corrupt? That’s why people lurk around, spying.”

“You weren’t murdered, were you?”

“People want more trauma from my life. They won’t find it now.”

“There are plenty more works to look at.”

“Not today. I want to see the card announcing my funeral.”

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe

Portrait of Dr. Félix Rey

Wheatfield with a Reaper

Portrait of a One-Eyed Man

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary


HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Anne Frank On Tour and Other Stories
This lively collection offers literary short stories founded on History, Love, Need, Excess, and Final Acts.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More
Political Satire for Progressives
Available now in a single digital-only volume of four books: Echoes from Saddam Hussein, Obama on Edge, King Donald, and Down Goes Trump. In his signature style, George Thomas Clark combines satire and creative writing to illuminate many historic developments this century. Echoes from Saddam Hussein – Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush candidly explain their need to control the…
See More