Does Pining Over a Lost Lover Fuel Art?

Van Gogh Self-Portrait with Bandaged EarA gal asked, “Should I pine or move on?”

Although her question didn’t fit the format of the blog, I emailed her back with this: I don’t believe in pining! If I want more, I go back and get it. If I’ve had enough, I move on.

I equate pining with purgatory. But then I got to thinking about it.

Back in April I posted, Libra In Love With Virgo: Keep Pining Or No?

I was astonished at the passionate arguments that erupted. People have very strong feelings about this.

Tosh wrote:

“..some of the best art (poetry, music, painting etc)is the result/inspired by/an expression of …pining.”

CC wrote:

“Van Gogh pined over a prostitute. He cut of an ear and sent it to her, but never painted her. That’s pining for you.”

And then arachnid jumped in with this:

“Van Gogh didn’t cut his ear off because of some bitch. He cut his ear off because he was crazy. She just happened to be his bitch at the time so she got the ear.”

What do you think?


48 thoughts on “Does Pining Over a Lost Lover Fuel Art?”

  1. All pining really does is leave you still feeling miserable for years, while the person you pine for moves through other women like a pothead with a bag of Doritos. All pain and no reward. Don’t even bother!

  2. pining is not productive. people are productive. when you put your life on hold you look back on that period and cant believe you did it. and hopefully you learned from it. i have pined. i wish i understood more so i dont put myself through this stuff. i am so tired of learning from experience. i get an f every time.

  3. Hmm, as someone who’s done her share of pining, I’ll weigh in that pining, in and of itself, is unproductive. However, there is energy that you can do with that pining. For instance, I was pining over this one guy once and I needed to be held and touched but he wasn’t around. So, I learned to dance tango. If you know anything about tango (and if you speak Spanish and understand the lyrics), a big part of the music and the dance is about longing. So given that I was already in that state, I could access that energy and pick up tango fairly quickly and competently. I also got my need for touching met since Argentine tango is often danced in close embrace. So that was a great relief but it wasn’t just straight up pining, lying in my bed at night, thinking of this guy.

    The other way that I was able to use that pining (same guy, btw) was that I decided, Well, the guy isn’t here and I wish he were, so I’m going to write a story based on him and me and in that story the fictional me will be able to hang out and make love to him. The characters were real (at first bc later on when you write fiction, characters take over and become their own entities) but the situations were entirely imaginary. They were all about wish fulfilment. Now, the funny thing is that when people read thsi story, they totally thought it was 100% autobiographical. That was very odd to me.

    So that’s how pining can become productive. But you have to act on it. NOw, whether or not I was such a great dancer or the story was that terrifically well-written, I would say, no. Bc in order to create lasting works of art, you have to refine, refine, refine and that involves hard work and lots of effort.

  4. I pined for many years, and didn’t manage to create any art! Although some productive navel gazing happened, I think I pined way past my purgatorial expiration date.

  5. See, the pining itself isn’t productive but what stems from it very well may be. The writing, dancing, etc. whatever you use to cope isn’t actually pining! It’s what you’re doing instead of pining. I don’t know if people see that difference, or if I just think of it that way.

    That being said, I’ve been a big piner in the past and it has led me down a bad road. There is nothing worthwhile in it at all. Knowing that won’t necessarily stop me from doing it, but at least I’m aware of it.

  6. I’ve got Neptune sextile Venus/Pluto so it was ‘inevitable’ that I would earn a PhD in pinology at a tender age already!

    However! I tore up that diploma a few years ago and picked up my white chip. It’s still ‘one day at a time’ and I still fall off the wagon occasionally, but I am quick(er) to ‘see the error of my ways’ now, and mend them.

    No more pining for me! But, I have to say, any ‘productivity’ I managed over the years was never caused by, nor fed by, the pining. When I create, when I produce, it is always unrelated to, and independent from, whatever pining may be going on.

    I shake my head along with Cassi who said: “when you put your life on hold you look back on that period and cant believe you did it.” I agree: what a waste. No more!!

  7. Casssi also said: “i am so tired of learning from experience. i get an f every time.”

    And I love this. Exactly. Me too. And no one can tell me anything, I have to live it first, then I believe. All that self-pity, wasted….

    On pining, it’s pushed me into lots of good creative places–but most of the creative/productive pining comes from pining for Northern California and Dillon beach. The pining I did over men– all the bloody years of it– is OVER now and it didn’t produce much more than very bad poetry. The anger, well the anger over lost relationships and love helped me write good stuff, healing stuff, getting CLEAR stuff. Perhaps Angry Pining works?

    And now my pining days are over…and the Giant Bunny Rabbit of Intolerance is trying to replace it. Every other thought: “Well fuck that”. Yet I suppose it’s all a process….

  8. There’s countless examples in art and music of artists pining fueling their creations. Berlioz with Symphonie Fantastique; Scarlatti with his 555 sonatas all dedicated to Queen Isabella of Spain (a woman he had no hope whatsoever of ever bagging); and Dante with Beatrice to name just a few.

  9. A friend once told me that life can be compared to a melody, it needs pauses or else it would sound like a riiing…

    So, i think pining is a pause, but it’s necessary for productiveness to exist and make sense, and sound good.

    People have different rythms. Because i have saturn in virgo, this productiveness issue hits a chord, i feel very guilty when not being productive, but thinking like this made sense.

    I pine, and it’s not productive, but it somehow prepares me to be productive.
    it’s like houses 4, 8 and 12…. water houses, they’re hidden. it’s the inner world happening. who’s to say that’s not as important as being productive?

  10. People pine because they are in denial that something they once possessed is lost.

    Artists create because it brings acceptance to their issue, and it heals wounds.

  11. Laughing at/with Sylvia re: this part of her comment:

    “And now my pining days are over…and the Giant Bunny Rabbit of Intolerance is trying to replace it. Every other thought: “Well fuck that”.”

    Yup. I’m there too. 😀 And I know it’s a place I can’t stay.

    It’s the pendulum thing: first one extreme (you put up with too much), then the other extreme (you put up with NOTHING!!!), eventually, the happy middle. 🙂

  12. For some people (myself included), pining is part of working through things. I start to pine, pause to consider why I’m still pining, what it is that’s got me that hung up, why I’m not going after whatever I’m pining for… It’s an emotional thing that makes me do a lot of mental work. I go through a lot of angst and agony on a lot of different issues, but in the end, it’s fuel for me to do some real thinking on the issues. I dunno, maybe it’s a Cancer Mars thing… *lol*

  13. I wrote ‘Sometimes’ although I don’t think pining per se is productive really. I worked with a great many kids with depression and self-harm who were under the illusion that their inner pain was needed to bring some great work of Art and Profound Shit forward. But what it wound up as 90% of those people just hurting and occasionally breaking out into bouts of crappy melodramatic poetry. More often than not, the whole ‘but pining leads to creative greatness’ sounds to me like people in denial about having wasted a whole chunk of their life out of which nothing arose.

    I don’t think pain makes people great. I think sometimes it jolts the seed of greatness that was already within people because it grows to become an outlet and a coping mechanism.

    Pining was generally correlated with a productive time for me – coming as it did at the beginning and end of periods of depression. During the depression nothing could get done, but the pining bits were times of frenzied productivity because I was in pain but not emotionally frozen and my creativity became an outlet for all my rage and grief.

    However, I don’t think pining caused me to be creative. I think it would have done sod all if I wasn’t a creative person anyway, and creativity grew because it became a coping mechanism to ease the longing and the pain.

    As another Venus-Neptune-Pluto I’ve pined an awful lot throughout my life, but none of it was a day longer than I needed it to. I’m not a wallow-in-self-pity-and-woe type of person, but with some loss (like the death of my father when I was a child) it wasn’t something I could just move on from. I can trace an awful lot of my subsequent creativity to that loss, but I don’t think that I’d be creativeless without it – I think probably the creativity would have just poured itself into a new form. The stories and art I make now is very different to the art and stories of my depressed days – I don’t think it means we cannot produce anything but a)the stuff we produce will have different themes b) creativity doesn’t feel like such a life/death issue, so indeed production may well drop but c) quantity doesn’t amount to anything necessarily, and even if you’re producing volumes of stuff it might all be really shit.

  14. I don’t think pining is productive in itself. I think refusing to feel our deep emotions is unproductive as is holding onto them for too long. On the other hand, sometimes through our pain we are driven to experience depth in ourselves that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

    It isn’t the pining that drives us though, it’s the initial wound. Whether we sit and dwell on it or take that energy and move it, pain can have a transformative effect.

    Personally, I am really great at pining and wish I wasn’t.

  15. Oh and I meant to add that my 2nd husband shared Van Gogh’s birthday. He was a little crazy too, but I loved him dearly.

  16. Wow, those are some awesome comments! I especially liked Molly’s idea of a “purgatorial expiration date.” *chuckle* Most of you have already illuminated my thoughts on the whole thing, prolly better than I could.

    I have never been a piner, it makes no sense to me. Like someone else said: whomever/whatever you’re pining about is doing just fine without you. Why waste the energy?

  17. No. More. Pining. Boo! who can afford to be that indulgent? There, I said it. I think pining is indulgent. What else contains that lack of committment? You never have too change a thing. Delusions? ME?

    Neptune in the 12th (trined Venus, Mars, Saturn; sextile Pluto).
    A reformed piner

  18. oh man…

    i *like* pining. it’s that time of self-reflection and them-reflection that allows you to either come to grips with the fact that you’ve created an illusion that needs to be mourned/celebrated (i.e. the great art that’s been mentioned) OR it’s that time that’s wasted, because you’re not being real with yourself.

    like everything: it’s all in how you channel it…

  19. “Van Gogh didn’t cut his ear off because of some bitch. He cut his ear off because he was crazy. She just happened to be his bitch at the time so she got the ear.”

    Hilarious.. I love it hahaha 🙂

    I agree with Ruth. Good for Art and Bad for Life!

  20. I’ll have to check my dictionary and I’ll get back to you on this. But from what I gather, I’m a piner, or something. lol

  21. no.
    i do it often enough, but it doesn’t get me moving anywhere.
    i think it’s a form of escapism- stay stuck in a lost daydream rather than paying attention to Right Now.

  22. I don’t know if it’s my Pisces moon, but pining has actually moved me in some pretty good directions. It was also painful. I try to shorten the pining time by recognizing it for what it is, so I will suffer less, but for me there is always something in the pining that is significant. I learn a lot. Could I learn things in a less painful way? Honestly, I don’t know. Because I really do believe in astrology, I use it to give me some harder evidence about what is going on, and that helps. You can’t beat the astrology, in my experience.

    But the initial emotional pining, I can’t control. But I try to control how long it takes over–so I can get out of it what I need without suffering needlessly.

  23. Pining is sort of disapointment when you’ve already figured out the object of your pining in no way matches your hopes / wants / expectations. You’ve figured that out already on an UNconscious level. Not becoming conscious about it and going through with pining is a way to not be in a relationship, which is what the piner wants. And that’s ok.

  24. I’d definitely like my 11.5 years of pining back. I have lots of things I’d like to do with that time. Pining is refusing to accept what is. If I pine over a lost relationship, I still have it, right? Because I recreate it every moment I’m pining.

    Here’s a chilling thought. When I’m pining, is the other person pining for me? No. Who is he thinking about? Not me. He’s moved on in his life, probably with someone new. Maybe has forgotten me altogether. This cold water on the heart wakes me up fast. (Maybe gets me pissed, but that’s better than pining.)

    Now, transmuting the feelings into something creative…that’s not pining, by my definition. Pining is energy-sapping and implosive.

  25. Another Venus-Neptune-Pluto here, who never pined for long. On to the next one, quickly. (Aries rising. 😉 )

    I don’t like wasting my time pining about things that can never be. As for creativity, it isn’t fueled by depression with me. I have to be on an even keel (three Libra planets including the Moon), or I just fall into a lazy, unproductive pattern.

    To me, pining that produces great art is the exception rather than the rule. The people who were able to create great art from longing already had that spark of genius in them. In other people, well, they turn emo and write bad poetry, I guess.

  26. Well I’ll pine if want to! 😉 To me the energy of the emotions HAVE to be burned through. I mean if someone knows how to turn off love for someone then please tell me.

  27. I think pining is overrated.. My creative moments/ideas have come out of joy. I would like to see a picture of the Giant Bunny Rabbit of Intolerance.

  28. Hey ‘PixieDust’ I’m a Pisces Moon too. It’s a b*tchin position for a Moon to be ;-( In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert (Cancerian so she understands), I’m a ‘cross between a Labrador and a limpet.’

    I have shut myself away for a year at a time to ‘lick my wounds’ when a relationship has ended. What a waste! Seriously, they’ve moved on and you’re lighting candles on the altar of your failed relationship??? WTF.

    Fortunately, we mature! In my 30’s, I’m learning to say “No way Pal, I’m not wasting a precious second of my time mourning you”. My heart may be sore but I’ll limp along for a while and keep it wide-open.

  29. Neptune sesquiquadrate Venus.

    It’s a waste of time, and I say that as a person who has done her share of stupid things. Looking back, I suspect most of it had to do with health issues I had no idea I had until I finally quit eating gluten, now I’m much less obsessive and self-pitying than the person I used to be ten years ago.

  30. I’ll feel sad sometimes for things that didn’t work out how I wanted them, but not any longer than I can help it. I’ve got a life to live – and dreaming up or crying over what is not part of my life anymore isn’t how I want to use my energy. I’ll take an imperfect experience of reality over a perfect fantasy every time.

  31. I pine and pine and pine. I hate it. Have had enough pining for a lifetime. Pining is the opposite of the real thing…satisfaction, happiness, having it.

    That said, I’m a writer and I’ve written well and written crappily under the influence of THE PINE!

    Venus square Neptune blah blah blah

  32. I’ve wasted time pining. But then I didn’t have the tools or knowledge of how to stop really. Now that I’m in my 30s it’s different and I’m working on acknowledging feelings, allowing them, moving through them and saying that’s enough it’s time to work towards the dream instead.
    My relationship ended because i want children. I’m in a pine period which I’ll work through but I’m conscious of not wanting to stay in this state. I’d rather use the energy searching for my dream (to have children) and being disappointed if it’s not to be.. then being in that relationship (even though we were very compatible and i’ll miss him) and pining for children. I guess I miss the hope that it would happen with him.

  33. Vivian, Ruth, Tam (and those like minded here), I couldn’t agree with you more! I pine (not by choice but by circumstance – I do suffer I suppose from this by perpetuating it, but as Tam says how does one turn it off??) and I have never been more productive creatively in my life! I have written almost a whole story, written songs, and all due to pineing. I am not always my most productive when in this state, but it seems to open a door to my creativity. (Mars and Sun in Scorpio in the 12th.)

  34. It’s not something I’m very prone to myself, however if WB Yeats had not spent half his life pining for Maud Gonne (who wouldn’t have him) some of the world’s greatest love poetry might never have been written.

    So take a bow, all ye pining artists, you make the world a beautiful place 🙂

  35. LOL, opal. Well said about Yeats.

    I have Venus opposite Neptune, and Pisces is the sign on the cusp of my Descendant (I also have 3 planets in the 12th house – so that gives my chart a Piscean/Neptune flavor mixed in with the other stuff). I’m much different now but when I was a teenager and in my early 20’s I liked the idea of pining. I’m not sure if that makes sense. I would move on quickly once I suddenly had something to pine about, because it wasn’t so romantic when I was actually going through it – it sucked. Usually I got through it by channeling it into music or writing; but if there was any kind of serious unresolved stuff that came out because of the relationship (which happened with some specific relationships) I worked through it in a very obsessive and Plutonian way until I finally burned it off.

    I’m older and wiser now, I’m happy to say.

  36. brown penny, brown penny, brown penny
    I am looped in the loops of her hair…

    I pined for someone for a long, long time. I was an idiot. Living well IS the best revenge.

  37. I know that pining has been attributed to a Venus Neptune contact but my Venus in Aquarius sextiles my Neptune in Sagittarius wide. Ten degrees. So that would be discounted by most. I guess I’d attribute my pining to my tight Neptune moon contact. Neptune in Sagittarius at seven degrees squares my moon in Virgo at six degrees. I write about one of the most intense pining phases of my life in my novel Bullshit Rodeo. I was in love with a Leo writer/artist/musician. I was so in love I wanted to die. Couldn’t get out of bed. Spent some time on a psych ward. I could say I don’t advocate pining but that would be like saying I don’t advocate water. Water exists. I like to drink it, shower and bathe in it, swim in it, use it to boil my ramen noodles. I idealize romantic/erotic love. The love I’ve found in real life has so often fall short of my vibrant fantasies. But I also have Saturn (in Gemini) trining Venus (in Aquarius) so I do know what real love and sacrifice feels like. When love of any kind informs your art it can be a beautiful thing. I’m sorry that Billie Holiday experienced so much pain in her life but man oh man I’m glad I have her songs. 🙂

  38. Avatar

    I’m neither for nor against it. Pining is a pleasure pasttime, not unlike alcohol, daydreaming, or great sex. It’s the 12th house incarnate –it allows the imagination to explore relentlessly and awakens your sensuality. But like alcohol, daydreaming, and great sex, it’s highly addictive and should be kept in check. Unless you want it to take over your life!

    (Spoken as a Venus-Neptunian… ?)

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