On Sincerity (& a Quote by Van Gogh)

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What I strive to be more than anything is sincere, to speak with genuine feeling about myself, my experiences and the people around me. This may seem like an easy task, but it’s not. Easy is to say what you only half-think, or to be flip or sarcastic, like a 20-year-old fratboy. To be sincere takes more courage. It also takes a deeper delving into one’s self.

Sincerity is the language of the human heart. But the human being is such a complex structure, such a beehive of contradictions and cover-ups and cross-purposes, that half the time we either can’t or don’t want to decipher what our hearts are saying. We are lost. And the only thing leading us through our darkness is some stodgy old habit.

No thanks, I say.

Let me hear the voice inside,
the voice of the heart, the blood and of deep true feeling;
that ever-renewing fountain of purity;
there where nothing grows old
and the Holy Grail waits to be found.
Let me hear it.

“Sincerity is a duty.” ~ Van Gogh

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26 thoughts on “On Sincerity (& a Quote by Van Gogh)

  1. This is beautiful, absolutely, sincerely, beautiful. I think I want to be sincere and believe that I actually am sincere concerning myself when I’m the only one around, but one thing I am not sincere about is what I’ve experienced. You’re very much right about that matter– it would take true courage. Anyway, I do love this! Thanks for sharing.

    • If you’re not sincere about what you’ve experienced, you can always turn it into fiction and be sincere with that, in another way. Anyway, that’s what I do sometimes I think. I am flattered that you like this so much, thank you for your kind words!

      • That’s what I’ll do. Turn my experiences into fiction, I mean, while letting someone else be the main character or the unspoken character.
        You’re welcome, by the way. I always love reading your works.

  2. Bravo!! your words give good health: I love this. Too many of the artists of our age are addicted to sarcasm; that’s a poison, & what you wrote here is the ANECDOTE. (Also I love how, at the end, you combust into verse.)

    • The idea for this post was inspired partially by an oft-published small-press poet, an academic, whose words can be very pretty on the surface, but never seem fully sincere. They ring hollow and of self-comfort more than anything. To give the reader THAT is like giving a guy a flower when he’s dying of thirst in the desert. But, that said, I must admit, I am not above lapsing into sarcasm at times when sincerity would be the better option; this is also an anecdote to my own failures.

    • You don’t think there’s something Grail-like about sincerity, being how it’s so rare? When I wrote that I was thinking about the ancient philosopher Diogenes who used to walk around Athens with a lamp looking for an ‘honest man.’ He never found one. He did have pretty high standards tho.

  3. Speak the truth and speak it plain. I get your point of view but I was just discussing something similar with my son and I’m inclined to choose construction and form over hearts worn on sleeves. No, I’m fine with viscera all over sleeves as long as the viscera sings something that hasn’t been sung a billion times before. Singularity is the Holy Grail, says the small press Aquarian.

    • This is one of those things I post and after a couple of days want to edit because I don’t think I was as clear as I should’ve been. I have the same love as you for singularity… and I agree if someone says something sincere but it’s obvious or cliche it’s pretty damn dull. What I like is singularity that’s arrived at via sincerity & seeing things through your own eyes instead of other people’s, which is where a guy like Van Gogh comes in. I only like the obvious if it’s the obvious thing everyone forgot to mention.

      • I worried after posting that my reply wasn’t clear but you got it. Of course we’re on the same page…you sent me Tender Buttons, after all. My son is old enough now that I can share Tender Buttons with him. Tis glorious. I’ve been reading a chapter to him each night from a book my brother gave him for Christmas. He can read himself but it’s a bonding time. I spoke to him about the difference between good storytelling and good writing. A good example of both is The Heart is A Lonely Hunter. Makes me want to put down the pen and give up, McCullers being 23 when she wrote that. I feel doomed! But I persist.

      • Gertrude wrote Tender Buttons more with her ears than she did with cold reason and logic, which is why it’s so great and revolutionary. I miss it! I need to get another copy!! hahaha. But I’m glad you’ve been loving it. It’s a good mind-expander. I have NOT read The Heart is A Lonely Hunter. I’ve been wanting to get it for ages and keep forgetting. Must put on my Amazon wish list.

  4. YES (to putting The Heart on your wish list). Add Scorpio Rising by R.G. Vliet to your list, as well. I found him during one of my legion insomnia love affairs with my BFF Google. He was dying of cancer when he wrote this hallucinogenic stream of consciousness (not as experimental as Faulkner, much more cohesion to the narrative) Texas novel that starts off in 1976 then hurtles back to 1904. He died a week after writing the book. Adds to the gravitas. Starts off in a Texas cemetery. I’m certain you would dig it. Ha. Accidental wordplay there.

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  6. I never cry. Well, hardly ever, only over animal stories, mainly those about dogs. But the simple beauty of this post made me cry. Growing up an “Army Brat” during and after World War II, the stinging darts, the good-byes, came so frequently that I learned to hide sincerity in a deep hole within, so deep that I forgot it ever existed at all. If you never go near the stove, you’ll never get burned, right? Flippancy, sarcasm, avoidance, and denial functioned like a suit of armor, protection against pain. But maybe, just maybe, living pain-free is not living at all.

    Today I resolve to look for “the voice inside, the voice of the heart, the blood of deep, true feeling.” I hope it’s still alive down there somewhere. If I can find it, I’ll try very hard to listen.

    • Wow, I’m glad this touched you so deeply. That, I think, is what sincerity does better than anything…. it makes us feel… sadness, happiness, rage, etc. But I am like you, I was raised by people and in an environment where sincerity was to be avoided. It meant truth and it was much easier to live in denial of most truth. My natural bent is still sarcasm most of the time, but sincerity is the goal. It wins hearts.

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