Monday, October 16, 2006


OK, we need to address the issue of the phrase "lust for life."

(Well, I suppose we don't NEED to, but...)

Perhaps I will come to it later in the book, but as of now I don't understand where Irving Stone got it. Did he make it up? Is it a Vincent Van Gogh thing? Recall that I know nothing about art. I do know that Iggy Pop then used the phrase as the title/chorus of his heroin addiction song in the 70s. Was it the 70s? It must have been. Of course "Lust for Life" is also on the Trainspotting soundtrack, which is one of my all-time top three favorite movie soundtracks, but not particularly for that song. I digress. The fact that some cruise line uses the song in their ads has disturbed many people, apparently, because they're like, "Hello? That's about the junkie life, and you've co-opted it for your cruise vacation?" Me, I don't get all that bothered by that. I remember using snippets of songs with whatever random lyrics for stuff on The Savvy Traveler all the time. And every song has a million layers of meaning, etc.

But what I really want to know is -- did Iggy Pop borrow that phrase from the movie? Or, the book, whichever. And if so did he just borrow the phrase or is it a meaningful allusion? Is he actually saying something more about a crazed, totally messed up artist than just about a crazed, totally messed up junkie?

In the novel, Vincent Van Gogh's father, Theodorus, questions whether Vincent is really an artist if he has to draw things a hundred times to get them right.

"'Nature always begins by resisting the artist, Father,' he said, without putting down his pencil, 'but if I really take my work seriously, I won't allow myself to be led astray by that resistance. On the contrary, it will be a stimulus the more to fight for victory.'
'I don't see that,' said Theodorus. 'Good can never grow out of evil, nor can good work grow out of bad.'
'Perhaps not in theology. But it can in art. In fact, it must.'
'You're wrong, my boy. An artist's work is either good or bad. And if it's bad, he's no artist. He ought to have found that out for himself at the beginning and not have wasted all his time and effort.'
'But what if he has a happy life turning out bad art? What then?'
Theodorus searched his theological training, but he could find no answer to this question."
--- from Lust for Life pp. 116-117

Don't be alarmed by the fact that I'm in law school but somewhat hyper-focused on the emerging artist inside me. Rather, you should perhaps be alarmed that I just said "somewhat hyper-focused." Could that even be possible? Is that like "roughly simultaneously" or "very unique"... Anyway, I'm rather enjoying being creative and being in academia. I am all about debunking the false dichotomies, of which I've lately come to know that creativity/academia is one.

I mean, I'm not one to get too speculative...oh, who am I kidding? Of course I am. But seriously. There's Iggy Pop singing about his lust for life, and how he's been there done that with the flesh machine, the strip tease, the lotion. Then he says that he's "through with sleeping on the sidewalk" and no more beating his brain. Couldn't the song be about an artist finding himself? But still unsure and distraught, which is oh-so-Vincent. And then, here's where it's a reach, but stick with me:

"Well, I'm just a modern guy
Of course I've had it in my ear before..."

Now, I've always thought that was a reference to, shall we say, peculiar proclivities. But maybe it's an allusion! Tell me, who's done something crazy and famous with his ear? Vincent!


Love. Oh yeah, Iggy. It's just like hypnotizing chickens. I'm with you there.

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