Van gogh s tight shoes

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Journal for Politics, Gender, and Culture, Vol. III, No. 2, Winter 2004

Ivan Dzeparoski

Van Gogh’s Tight Shoes: Derrida Unshoes Heidegger and Schapiro

I don’t have the usual habit of looking at the shoes of people walking past me, nor do I look at the shoes of those I speak to, be it on the street, at work, or at someone’s home. I don’t look at unknown people’s shoes! But, it isdifferent with those I know, those who are close to me. I notice changes and sometimes I even pay a compliment to their appropriate choice of new shoes. And still, I understand why this is so: unlike any other object that serves to cover and protect our body, shoes most straightforwardly speak of their owner’s taste, style, but also financial status. The aesthetics and sociology of the Balkan shoes intransition is a story as sad as it is promising, but unfortunately, here it will be cast aside and will not be discussed. This is because I am determined to write about another type of shoes, shoes or boots I became fond of long ago, shoes that from time to time have not only made me perceive them aesthetically, but also understand them, and to some extent, even interpret them.

ki VanGogh’s Tight Shoes: Derrida Unshoes Heidegger and Schapiro

And so, when I not-so-often go shoe-shopping, before embarking on the mundane, yet tempting shopping adventure, with a smile to myself I think of Vincent van Gogh’s shoes. No matter how silly and pretentious this may sound, these shoes, both with the mind and the senses, are mediated by the memories of Heidegger and Schapiro’sinterpretations. Derrida’s intervention is imposed in order to create problems, to indicate that sometimes, both in life and in art, there is no such thing as “a pair of shoes”, but rather “odd shoes”, mismatched shoes that exist only to disrupt the orderly, to cause unrest and worry.

Therefore, to avoid further shoe-shopping problems, after many years of preparation and gathering momentum I have finallydecided to philosophically approach and interpret the story of van Gogh’s shoes, with the hope that this will once and for all solve the problem of hesitation when it comes to looking at and buying new (or old, or old-new, or new-old-new) shoes. The motive for doing so is thoroughly personal, but there is hope that this interpretation will touch upon some essential issues important not only foraesthetics or art history, but also for the fate of the contemporary de-centred subject.

But we are in no hurry. That should be left for the ending, for the conclusion. Now one should slowly and calmly pass by the frame and the passe-partout and enter the painting; not like the horrific entrance in the painting of the Japanese artist Yoshihide from Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story ‘Hell Screen’(Akutagawa, 1976), or similarly to the calm entrance in the painting,


Journal for Politics, Gender, and Culture, Vol. III, No. 2, Winter 2004

beyond the waves and beyond reality, of the painter Wang-Fo from Marguerite Yourcenar’s short story ‘How Wang-Fo Was Saved’ (Yourcenar, 1963). One should enter subtly and scrupulously, much like van Gogh enters the Japanese estampes, in thecoloured woodcuts of Hiroshige and Hokusai.

Vincent’s Many Shoes (and Clogs) Cause Problems
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