Vincent van Gogh, letter to Émile Bernard, Arles, 27 June 1888, Letter 9, page 4
Thaw Collection, given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007
I listen, meditative and interested; I watch, but if, later, the surgeon-anatomist is going to moralize
at me like that, I find that that last tirade does not have the same value as the anatomy demonstration.
To study, to analyze society, that always says more than moralizing.
Nothing would seem more curious to me, however, than to say, for example: "see that meat from
the market, notice how, all the same, despite everything, it can still be electrified for a moment by the
stimulus of a love more refined and unexpected."
Like the sated caterpillar that no longer eats, that crawls on a wall instead of crawling on a cabbage
leaf, this sated female can no longer love, either, even though she goes about it—she seeks, seeks, seeks,
does she herself know what for? She's conscientious, alive, responsive, galvanized, rejuvenated for a
moment, but powerless. Yet she still loves—her life's there, then—make no bones about it—despite the
fact that she's finished and dying as an earthly creature. The butterfly, where does the butterfly emerge,
from that sated caterpillar—the cockchafer from that white grub?
Here, by the way, is where I am in terms of studies of old whores———I would also very much
like to know roughly what I am the larva of myself, perhaps.
© 2007 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam