Lesson #186: Van Gogh’s Suicide

I refuse to admit how this subject came up, so let’s just say I was reading up on Van Gogh today and leave it at that.

As everyone on the planet with a grade 3 education knows, Van Gogh cut off his ear and later committed suicide. He also painted things like sunflowers and villages with stars overhead and assorted other famous things, but those are secondary to his having cut off his ear and later committed suicide.

It turns out, he shot himself in the chest, which seems like a rather ignominious end for an artist. Even an unknown artist.*

Autobiographical note: A conversation about this piece of information between me and my friend in the Texas capital somehow moved onto Merriweather Lewis’ death and whether that was suicide, murder or syphilis which led us to James Wilkinson, which led us to the Burr/Wilkinson independent west conspiracy, which led us to a whole discussion about what happens if Burr and Wilkinson succeed including discussions on the War of 1812, the Spanish, the French and the Louisiana Purchase which led us to my disdain for and irrational anger towards people whose argument regarding either of the World Wars is “if it weren’t for XYZ, we’d all be speaking German now”** which led us to the USA Soccer, the World Cup and the Daily Show.

*I admit that I think this just because in my head suicidal artists should find more, well, artistic ways to off themselves. (Not that I think killing oneself  is a good thing, just that I hold artists to a higher standard.)  Like the English painter Robert Fagan who jumped out of a window in Rome. Or the myriad artists who drowned themselves or slit their wrists.  Or, best, like the Austrian painter Richard Gerstl who disemboweled himself after an affair with the wife of composer Arnold Schoenberg.

**A logically, but more importantly to me historically, preposterous statement.

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