Friday, September 11, 2009

What Van Gogh and Capote Taught Me About Business

A few years ago, I was in The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Funny thing is, the memory I recall about the entire day- other than the hotel I was staying in catching on fire because someone left a curling iron on too long; was standing, awestruck, in front of Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night".

Of course, I'd seen it many times in reproductions, but to actually be standing in front of the original piece, knowing that he touched, but inches away from where I was standing, that canvas, those colors, these famous brushstrokes in 1889 were as vivid to me as if he had finished the painting but ten minutes ago.

Vincent said: "When I am at work, I feel an unlimited faith in art, and am sure I shall succeed, but in days of physical prostration I feel that faith diminishing, and a doubt overwhelms me which I try to conquer by setting to work once again."

Certainly I am not a great artist, but from a creative standpoint, which an entrepreneur must by nature be, I understand that statement to my very bones.

When I create a business, "....I am sure I shall succeed." I also have, "an unlimited faith." I do not know where this belief comes from, exactly- except to say that it is not rooted in faith alone but rather in the object of my faith- in this case- a solid business structure.

My doubt is conquered by positive cash flow, which reinforces the rightness of my belief- as now what was once a mere concept, has become quantified and measurable.

In Truman Capote's brilliant first novel, "Other Voices Other Rooms", Truman describes a haunting scene in a long ago abandoned hotel, so lyrically and thoroughly, I'm left almost breathless.

Perhaps the identification with the deep South I feel is generational, though not experienced so much by me directly, but by my ancestors. My great grandfather, John James Moore's, father, Tom Moore, was from Louisiana. This fact is stated on his death certificate and given by my great uncle, Urban, who also was an entrepreneur ,and owned the only pharmacy in town in, what's now called, "Old Town" where I live currently, from 1911 to 1968.

We find the character, "Little Sunshine", an aged black man, a hermit, inhabits but two rooms of the once splendid but abandoned and grand hotel- the Cloud Hotel.

Little Sunshine shows his visitors, Joel Knox, and his cross dressing cousin, Randolf around-

Capote writes... "Beyond the ballroom, and in what had once been Mrs. Cloud's private apartment, were two simply furnished, spacious rooms, both beautifully clean, and this was where Little Sunshine lived; the evident pride he took in these quarters increased the charm of their surprise, and when he closed the door, he made nonexistent the ruin surrounding them."

"And when he closed the door, he made nonexistent the ruin surrounding them."

That's what I do for a living. And when I close the door (build a business to my taste, not accept that I can't do it) I make the wrongs "nonexistent" and overcome ruin. I make up what I want; and then I be, and go, and do, and get that thing.


  1. This is inspiring. I like the way you put things together, drawing on art to talk about business.

    I'm an aspiring entrepreneur myself, so I'm looking forward to following your blog, and learning from a pro.

    Incidentally, I do collage, and one of my favorites is one I made with Starry Night as the background. Although I'm not sure Van Gogh would feel the same way.

  2. Becky > Thank you. BTW I went to "Writings on the Wall". That's SO cool. I love to read your blog too. You cracked me up about that glue story.

    The Pollinatrix > That's so sweet of you to say! You know what I still can't reconcile? Van Gogh would just mattter of fact write to his brother, "I had another tooth fall out today." I can't imagine. Greatest painter ever- loses his teeth because he's so poor. And Poe dies penniless in a gutter. Goodness.

    Naw, I think that the toothless dude would really appreciate your collage! Do you have a pic? Send it to me please!

    Oh, also- what sort of biz are you considering?