the entangled bank


photo by Dan Sherburne, West Fork Cuivre River in Missouri


“An Entangled Bank.” From the conclusion of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, First Edition (1859)

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.



link below to the online version of “Origin of Species”

http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species/chapter-14.html

Julia Child cooks primordial soup

I love Julia Child. It makes me happy just watching someone with that much talent have that much fun. I think a big part of her genius was her freeness and unconsciousness — she trusted herself more than she worried about the outcome. Very few of us achieve that in life.

So, here is Julia teaching us about primordial soup. I want to be able to teach this well some day.

This view of life

  • There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

    Charles Darwin
    Origin of Species (1859)

  • Charles Darwin cropped 1258

    This beautiful passage is at the very end of the concluding chapter of OOS. It’s pretty amazing that someone with the analytical ability of Darwin could also write prose like that. Our education system today would probably steer a student of Darwin’s intellect and interest in the natural world toward a course of study emphasizing quantitative and technical studies with disinterest or outright contempt for literature and classical studies. It was precisely Darwin’s ability as a polymath that made him one of the great thinkers and communicators of all time.