Letter 14, page 5

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Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles,5 August 1888, Letter 14, page 5

Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007

MA 6441.13

Personally, I find continence is quite good for me. It's enough for our weak, impressionable
artists' brains to give their essence to the creation of our paintings. Because in thinking, calculating,
wearing ourselves out, we expend cerebral activity.

Why exert ourselves in spending all our creative juices when those who pimp for a living
and even their simple, well-fed clients work more to the satisfaction of the genital organs of the
registered whore in this case than we do? The whore in question has my sympathy more than my

Being exiled, a social outcast, as artists like you and I surely are, also "outcasts," she is surely
therefore our friend and sister. And finding—in this position—of outcast—the same as us—an
independence that is not without its advantages—all things considered—let's not adopt a false
position by believing we're serving her through social rehabilitation, which is in any case impractical
and would be fatal for her.

© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam