Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

henri-de-toulouse-lautrec

Moonlit nights in Paris,
the artist, tiny, staggering through
streets, dragging along
an easel
he was to set up
in the Parisian brothels
to bring a light of humanity
to these gals of the night
that was rarely seen.

The wind, tainted
with the vices of the gutter,
splashed his face as he made his way.

And the thieves, pimps and
street-walkers lurked at all hours
of the seedy night.

The artist strolled on through.

Saturated with drink, 4 day
binge, no sleep
living out the fate that he’d excepted
long ago.

His paintings captured
the bohemian nights in Paris,
the afterhours
of the most essential era for art
and artists.

The glory of 19th century Paris,
he captured beautifully.

But the whores, alcohol
and madness
finally got the best of
this postimpressionist
genius.

As it usually does.

Dying in the arms of his mother
at only 36 years old
under the blazing sun.

The sun,
which he’d spent most
of his
short days
days cursing.

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Say yes to everything

“There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is- particularly the artist- particularly myself!”
Hermann Hesse

Art and Suicide

“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”
— Bakunin

“The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.”
― Ernest Becker


True artists are a different breed. They don’t live conventional lives or think conventional thoughts. Their art is inseparable from who they are.

Artists like Robin Williams have this unique ability to tap into the deepest caverns of the human condition and reveal it to the world. They live from within, from the center. They are mad– they have to be.

Painters, writers, poets, sculptors, and comedians all are. Williams was brilliant, but his art was dying. When an artist sees this happening and recognizes that their purpose, their creativity, their art, is dwindling, it’s the end. The final act. Some hang on miserably, or end up in mad houses, or cope with drugs & alcohol.

Some, unfortunately like Williams and many more,  grow unbearably weary from the daily rage against the dying of the light within. They fall deep into depression, a depression so dreadful that they choose the ultimate end.  But every man and woman have their reasons for every act they choose to do in life. Even the last.

As the beautifully mad poet Sylvia Plath once wrote prior to her suicide, “Dying / Is an art, like everything else.” And the great novelist Carson McCullers, “How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?”

With all the outrage and criticisms of Williams’ suicide hurled from simpletons who lack the basic understanding of the complexity of the human being, I’m reminded of a short poem by Charles Bukowski:

Cause and Effect

the best often die by their own hand
just to get away,
and those left behind
can never quite understand
why anybody
would ever want to
get away
from
them

RIP Robin Williams