The Tree of Life

Page from Darwin’s notebooks around July 1837 showing his first sketch of an evolutionary tree

 
 

Interpretation of handwriting: “I think case must be that one generation should have as many living as now. To do this and to have as many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction . Thus between A + B the immense gap of relation. C + B the finest gradation. B+D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. Bearing relation” (next page begins) “to ancient types with several extinct forms”

 
 

The tree of life is a metaphor describing the relationship of all life on Earth in an evolutionary context. Charles Darwin talks about envisioning evolution as a “tangled bank” in On the Origin of Species; however, the book’s sole illustration is of a branched diagram that is very tree-like.

 
 

“From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin, straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favoured and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorhynchus (Platypus) or Lepidosiren (South American lungfish), which in some small degree connects by its affinities two large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.”

Charles Darwin

On the Origin of Species

 
 

17th-century depiction of the Tree of Life in Palace of Shaki Khans, Azerbaijan

 
 

The concept of a tree of life has been used in science, religion, philosophy, and mythology. A tree of life is a common motif in various world theologies, mythologies, and philosophies. It alludes to the interconnection of all life on our planet and serves as a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense. The term tree of life may also be used as a synonym for sacred tree.

 
 

Depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda by Oluf Olufsen Bagge, 1847

 
 

In George Herbert‘s poem The Sacrifice (part of The Temple, 1633), the Tree of Life is the rood on which Jesus Christ was crucified

 
 

Scenes from the Life of Christ19. Crucifixion, Giotto di Bondone, 1304-06

 
 

 In C. S. LewisChronicles of Narnia, the Tree of Life plays a role, especially in the sixth published book (the first in the in-world chronology) The Magician’s Nephew

 
 

Darren Aronofsky’s 2006 film The Fountain (as well as the 2005 graphic novel based on the screenplay) centers on immortality given by the Tree of Life.

 
 


The Tree of Life is a Terrence Malick film released in May 2011, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain

Advertisements

Sting in The Desert

هدي مدة طويلة
Hadaee mada tawila (It’s been a long time)
وانا نحوس انا وعلا غزالتي
Wa ana nahos ana wahala ghzalti (that I wanted to be with my beauty)
وانا نحوس انا وعلا غزالتي
Wa ana nahos ana wahala ghzalti
وانا نحوس انا وعلا غزالتي
Wa ana nahos ana wahala ghzalti

عمري فيك انتيا
Omry feek antia (you are my life)
ما غيرانتيا
Ma ghair antia (no one else)
ما غيرانتيا
Ma ghair antia

 
 

 
 

Riding a wave of pre-9-11 interest in Latin and Arabic cultures, Sting released Desert Rose, a single from Brand New Day (1999), his sixth solo album. The song peaked at #3 in Switzerland, #4 Italy, #15 in the UK Singles Chart and #17 in the US Billboard Hot 100.

The lyrics of the song are inspired by the Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune, of which Sting is a fan. Sting also played the villainous Feyd Rautha in the 1984 film adaptation directed by David Lynch. Both the book and the song feature the Arabic language, as well as imagery involving moisture and desert plant life.

The song is noted for Sting’s duet performance with Algerian raï singer Cheb Mami, creating a distinct world music feel to the song. It also has a popular music video featuring Sting taking a trip through the Mojave Desert in a Jaguar S-Type and then going to a nightclub in Las Vegas to perform the song with Cheb Mami. After shooting the video, Sting’s manager Miles Copeland III approached a music licensing maven, Lloyd Simon, to work with Jaguar on a collaboration, and the auto company featured the video in their prominent television advertisements during the year 2000.

 
 

 
 

Tea in the Sahara“, included in Synchronicity (1983) The fifth and final album by The Police, is a quiet, eerie song about three women who meet their death in the desert; the song is based on a story from Paul Bowles‘ novel The Sheltering Sky (1949). That novel of post-colonial alienation and existential despair was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci into a 1990 film with the same title starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich.