He wrote about melancholy. That melancholy is consuming--enjoyable. At first I didn't really get his point but the more I thought about it the more IHe wrote about melancholy. That melancholy is consuming--enjoyable. At first I didn't really get his point but the more I thought about it the more I agreed with him. Melancholy in the sense that it pulls a person into deep thought and soul searching, trying to understand yourself and the world around you in order to dissolve dissonance. In the story though, the man really didn't really have anything to be sad about other than his own pitiful nature--believing that he was despised and alone and misunderstood. He was only this way because he convinced himself that this was true when in fact it didn't have to be--something I think was also a trait that Van Gogh possessed. It may not make for the most social life, however it seems to produce thoughts and feelings and views about the world that the rest of integrated mankind finds difficult to grasp--probably because they're not searching for it, being completely pleased with their own state of affairs--there is no dissonance to resolve and nothing great and complex to overcome.
I loved how the old Indian chief at the end said that to spend time alone neglecting your duties and responsibilities to society is wrong. It is an indulgence--selfishness which, although some believe to be noble and great is actually simply a bingeing--comparative to the necessary time spent alone to understand, overcome, and subdue your passions and selfish desires. I often though it would be nice to take off for a month or more and just live by myself in some cabin somewhere in the woods and think. I still don't believe this to be a bad idea--time spent in contemplation is really never time lost or wasted. But I realize that if you are not sharing your knowledge and that ounce of revelation that God has endowed to you, what good are you. At the same time, blazing a trail ahead with a surging desire to become great quickly in anything also often leads to regret. As the Indian alluded to, a brook who quickly engulfs all the brooks and runoff soon becomes a raging river--often too wide to understand what it has now become and where it is going. Then, looking past all that it has accumulated, wishes only to once again become that small stream to enjoy the prolific social company that surrounds it.
I have to admit that I have longed to become a raging river more than once. I have also realized that the more I understand, the more contradictions I see in life, the more judgmental and reasonable I become, the more simplicity vanishes as I begin judging all to be right or wrong, intelligent or unintelligent. But I do enjoy learning from other people who have lived and judged their own lives and the lives of others-have seen contradictions, other ways of seeing and understanding the world around them. I think that is why I have always been fascinated by culture, eccentric people, and even the animal world. They all have their own unique way of doing things. ...more