The humble ditch

The humble ditch gleams brighter than a hoard. (Vincent van Gogh citing a Jules Breton poem)1

Breton’s sentence, particularly as cited in 1884 by van Gogh (1853-1890), captures a number of McLuhan’s themes at once: the gap where the action is, the hidden processes of the present, the unperceived transitive water or footbridge, the function of artistic creation, the dialogue of the light and dark, “light through” toward us rather than “light on” from us, etc.

  1. Van Gogh in a March 1884 letter to Anthon van Rappard. Cf, van Gogh’s drawings and paintings, The Ditch (1873), Footbridge Across a Ditch (1883), The Ditch (1884), Garden of the Asylum (1889).