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Chapter 151 Part 1 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

Meeting Van Gogh (6)

I was curious.

The thing I, who loved Van Gogh, was most curious about.

Was it true that Van Gogh committed suicide?

Despite being lonely, solitary, struggling with poverty, and unable to find hope, Van Gogh was actually opposed to the idea of suicide.

That makes sense, given that he originally intended to become a clergyman.

For a clergyman, suicide is an unforgivable sin, and Van Gogh often praised life in the letters he exchanged with Theo.

After cutting off his ear and receiving treatment, he returned to the village. Faced with rejection from the people, he voluntarily entered a psychiatric hospital and sat on a bed.

I watched him and pondered.

"Van Gogh said that suicide is evil, horrific, a cowardly act feared by those who dread criticism, and a crime against the beauty of life and the sublimity of art. Yet, he shot himself."

Was it his attitude towards life that sparked so much speculation about his death?

Moreover, he never owned a gun.

One day, while painting in a wheat field, he was suddenly shot in the abdomen and returned to his lodging, where he died despite the doctor's efforts.

July 27, 1890. What exactly happened in those few hours between lunch at the inn and the evening?

I heard about the negotiations Van Gogh had with the doctor when he walked into this hospital.

Van Gogh agreed to be hospitalized on one condition – he asked the doctor to let him paint as much as he wanted. Just one condition: he would cooperate with all treatments, provided he could continue painting.

I wondered what happened to him.

I wished I could remain in the dream world for a long time.

But the Strange Art Museum never showed me what I was curious about.

The museum showed me what I needed.

This time was no exception.

* * *

Feeling dizzy and hearing a ringing in my ears, I slowly opened my eyes.

In the dark museum, a painting appeared.

It was Van Gogh's Starry Night, painted in the hospital.

And in my dream, I saw Van Gogh painting it.

I murmured to myself, recalling the dream that showed me Van Gogh fighting solitude but never giving up on painting.

"When I was in school, my professor said the 11 stars in this painting might represent the 11 bars on the window of the psychiatric hospital."

Van Gogh, who I saw in my dream, mumbled something entirely different.

He painted the 11 stars because Jacob had 11 stars.

Van Gogh, who once aspired to follow his father's footsteps into the clergy and even studied for it, often included Christian symbolism in his paintings.

As he painted, Van Gogh murmured:

"Joseph had another dream and told it to his brothers. He said, 'I had a dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.'"

It's from Genesis 37:9. I don't know much about the Bible, but thanks to Van Gogh, who had a Bible open while painting, I learned where this verse came from.

The story of Jacob's eleventh son Joseph, who was envied and cast out by his 11 brothers but never lost faith in God, grew up upright, and became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Later, when the 11 brothers were starving due to famine, they came to Egypt and begged Joseph for food.

Perhaps Van Gogh saw the number 11 as the challenges he had to overcome himself, and not just the brothers who tormented Joseph. Therefore, the meaning of the painting isn't just a night sky seen from the hospital, but a self-comforting and hopeful representation of overcoming the difficulties and hardships symbolized by Jacob's 11 stars.

"Could such a man commit suicide?"

At that time, he frequently had seizures.

They could have been alcohol-induced seizures or mental breakdowns due to extreme stress. So, a momentary extreme choice might have been possible. Certainly, it's plausible.

"But the Van Gogh I saw."

I couldn't be certain since I hadn't seen his last moments, but at least the Van Gogh in the hospital still praised life.

Life was always harsh to him, yet he always loved it.

I just couldn't understand why he would choose suicide.

After gazing blankly at the changing paintings for a while, I eventually stood up. I knew staying here wouldn't bring the dream back.

With a solemn feeling, I left the museum and returned to my lodging.

Sitting on a bench in the yard, looking at the night sky.

The stars shining as beautifully as the ones I saw with Van Gogh in the Parisian countryside of 1890.

"I guess I'll never fully understand you, will I?"

It's natural.

Van Gogh, who could only sell a single painting in his lifetime.

An artist who was so marginalized that he wouldn't have been able to paint without his brother.

And then there's me.

Am I troubled just because I'm misunderstood and criticized by others for a moment?

Am I struggling because I'm tired of people's gossip and hiding?

At least I've earned money, supported a family, and been recognized by many.

I've been a star, received accolades, and have staunch supporters.

I am different from Van Gogh.

"So, I can't understand him."

It's bitter. I wanted to understand him.

But that doesn't mean I want to live a life like his.

I spoke to myself while looking at the stars.

"Were you lonely, or were you solitary?"

Many people confuse loneliness and solitude as the same.

"But think about it. While there are many words in Eastern languages that mean the same thing, intuitive English is different. In English, loneliness and solitude are expressed by different words.

Loneliness is loneliness.

Solitude is solitude.

While they are almost the same in the dictionary, they are distinctly different in psychological terms.

Loneliness is the alienation of being rejected by others despite needing them.

Solitude is voluntary self-isolation despite others needing you.

And solitude means enjoying being alone.

Loneliness is the pain of being alone, but solitude is the joy of it.

What about van Gogh at that time?

The van Gogh I saw was clearly someone who enjoyed solitude. Of course, until he walked into the hospital after being ostracized by everyone he was close to in Arles following the incident.

I'm curious about the truth behind his suicide.

But whether someone killed him or he ended his own life, knowing that just satisfies my curiosity.

The museum doesn't show me dreams just to satisfy my curiosity.

“Yeah, how lonely could I be, how solitary could I be. Honestly, there's no one treating me like a madman like the people of Arles back then. I'm overreacting, overreacting. Ban Jeong-hoon, I'm disappointed in you.”


But as I say that, I'm smiling.

Isn't that cunning?

Humans are beings who realize the preciousness of their lives by watching others more unfortunate than themselves.

Today, I'll go to bed sober instead of drinking and start anew tomorrow.

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