Charles Darwin

A short essay on Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.

The Life of Charles Darwin

One of the most well-known names in the science of today is Charles Darwin, often called the Father of Modern Biology. He is the author of “On the Origin of Species” (1859), and the accredited discoverer of the Theory of Evolution, which during the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century grew to become accepted as the origin of species, opposing Creationism, the theory that God would have created all living beings as they are today and always will be, and that we weren’t developed stage to stage in millions of years. He was not as many believe the first pioneer on the topic, however; he was merely the man who came with good evidence for the theory which could lead to its acceptance in scientific circuits.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was born in 1809 as the son of Robert Darwin, and named after his uncle, a doctor who died after accidentally cutting himself during an autopsy. Robert first planned his son to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and become a doctor too, but Darwin refused when he realised he couldn’t stand seeing the pain in a patient during an operation – this was long before the invention of anesthesia.
After studying at Cambridge, Darwin decided to go with Captain Robert FitzRoy on a journey on the ship HMS Beagle, on which he investigated the life of animals on different islands in South America. This was where he first started developing his theory of evolution through natural selection that would contradict Creationism and change mankind’s view on biology.

The Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection

According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, the species of our world were not created as they are today, as believed earlier, but descend from common ancestors that can be very different from the descendants. Through generations, these evolve through what he called natural selection, allowing them to adjust to the environment in order to survive and reproduce. For example, the human of today received her fifth finger, the thumb, through evolution, to be able to use tools which we today need for our every-day life.

The basic of the Theory of Natural Selection reads as follows:

· The prime goal for every species is to survive and reproduce, passing on its DNA, which is unique for the species, unto its next generation.

· This results in too many organisms, and decreasing nourishment available. Thus, the competition between the individual organisms increases, and the weakest will not survive.

· The organisms that died are not random, but a chosen collection of the weakest; or in better words the ones that were not suited for the environment, while the organisms suited survived. Herbert Spencer called this by the well known phrase “survival of the fittest”, inspired after reading Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species.

As a result, only those suited for the environment live on. After many generations of evolution, those left are better suited. This can take a very long time, and the weaker species as well as unnecessary limbs of organisms, functions, etcetera, can linger for thousands of years before being removed. For example, the human appendix, a part of our digestive system, is theorized not to be used for anything anymore. It is therefore believed that it is only a matter of time before we are no longer born with an appendix. The same goes for our little toe, which we no longer need to use for balance. It is not unlikely that we by time only have four toes per foot.

Vincent van Gogh

A short essay on artist Vincent van Gogh.

 Vincent van Gogh has long been famous for his influence on impressionism, expressionism, and simply the way we understand art today. Many artists today still consider van Gogh’s style to be the perfect art, which cannot be reached again, despite that his dying was over one hundred years ago. Artists inspired by van Gogh can count in thousands. One clear example is Stefan Duncan, who often is referred to as “America’s van Gogh”, and whose style is very much alike the old master’s. What has inspired the most artists over time is van Gogh’s way of choosing and using colours, which is easily shown for example on his Sunflowers pieces.

 

Post-artistic life

The artist who grew to change art history was born on March 30, 1853, in the Dutch city of Groot-Zundert. Little is known about his childhood, except that he didn’t show any interest in art whatsoever until 1870, when he was employed by the Hague gallery. In 1873, he was transferred to London and to Paris two years later. However, after this van Gogh gave up his dreams of becoming a professional art dealer, to instead follow in his father’s religious footsteps and began taking lessons in evangelization. He soon abandoned this idea too, and joined the miners of Borinage to found a ministry. This experience with the working class later enabled him to draw several of his paintings, most clearly his famous painting The Potato Eaters, and inspired him of the idea of depicting peasant life.

 

Becoming an artist

At this period of van Gogh’s life, his brother Theo was pushing him to start making something out of his life, to leave some kind of a trace of himself into the memory of human kind. Together with his brother, he decided to become an artist. His talent was doubted both by himself and by his parents, as he was inexperienced on the subject from before. But as his brother offered to support him both mentally and financially, he decided to try this new way of life.

            In 1880, he started a nine-month education in Brussels, and in 1881 he moved home to continue his training individually, trying out different types of drawing with different subjects, colours and styles. Van Gogh’s first sketches and paintings depicted peasant life, probably inspired by his earlier years in Borinage. In the end of 1881, he moved away from home to acquire lessons in drawing from Anton Mauve, his cousin by marriage. At the same time, he started a controversial relationship with Sien Hoomik, a pregnant prostitute who also already had a child. Mauve heavily criticised his choice of partner, leading to them parting ways, though van Gogh continued training his skills on his own, and often used Hoomik as his model.

            In 1882, he decided to end his relationship with Hoomik, and moved to Drenthe, as had artists such as van Rappard and Mauve done before him. It didn’t take long until he moved back, home to his parents. This was when his personal style took off, after being introduced to France’s newfound artist JeanFranqois Millet, of whom he started to model many of his drawings. He soon moved from home again, renting a studio from a Catholic church, in which he started studying anatomy.

 

The Potato Eaters and Paris

His first greater piece was entitled The Potato Eaters, finished in 1885. The piece did prove his talent, but not until after his death. After this failure, he decided to search for further education, and joined thus an academy in Antwerp, where he first heard of Peter Paul Rubens and several Japanese artists. Both these factors would affect his style enormously.

            In 1886, van Gogh and his brother Theo moved to Paris and experienced the art of many post-impressionistic artists. He realised how out of date the darker colours he had used in The Potato Eaters were, and dropped this palette in order to start experimenting with brighter colours. At the same time he started trying out the styles he had found in Japanese artworks a year earlier, mixing this with the ‘normal’, Western style.

 

Sunflowers and mental illness

Moving to Paris had resulted in many new connections in the artistic and post-impressionistic world, such as Gauguin, Pissarro, Monet and Bernard. Van Gogh and Gauguin moved together to Arles to create a school of art, and it was in Arles that van Gogh started drawing the sunflowers that later would be one of his essential pieces.

            By the fall of 1888, van Gogh started to show his first signs of mental illness. He started suffering from epilepsy as well as psychotic attacks and delusions. After threatening Gauguin with a knife, he returned to their home and cut his own ear off, and gave it to a prostitute as a gift. This episode had him hospitalized, and when he later was released he found that Gauguin has turned his back on him, leaving Arles, thus leaving van Gogh’s dream to shatter.

            In the end of 1888, van Gogh travelled to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he committed himself to a mental institution. Even though this led to impossibility to draw for long periods of time, he still managed to complete The Starry Night, which is seen as one of the central pieces of his life. As in all of the works during his asylum period, The Starry Night is covered with swirling lines and circles, which by many is believed to symbolize his mental state.

 

Death and after-life

After leaving the mental institution in 1890, van Gogh suffered from a period of depression, believing his life to be miserably wasted. He actively created several new paintings for a while, until he on July 27, 1890 attempted suicide; he shot himself in the chest, thus dying from the wounds two days later.

            After Vincent van Gogh’s death, his brother Theo took care his paintings, and after his own death half a year later, so did his widow, who dedicated the rest of life to give him the recognition he deserved. Almost immediately his painting started selling massively in Holland, and it didn’t take long till he was known worldwide as one of the world’s greatest artists. The man who only sold one painting in his lifetime still is considered one of the most ingenious men.

Cloverfield

I just watched the 2008 American horror/sci-fi film Cloverfield, and it was amazing. Really, long time since I last saw such a great film. Basically, it is about a monster attack against Manhattan, filmed with a amateur camera by a couple of friends who happened to witness the whole thing. The film includes the time from a couple hours before the attack started, until Beth and Rob, the last holders of the camera, have a bridge crashing down above them, rocks falling down and then the film stops. The greatest part of the film is probably the work around it, though; the characters have fictional MySpace pages, there are websites for fictional products that featured and so forth. Also check out the IMDb FAQ for the film (AFTER you’ve seen it!).

*******seven stars 

A Way of Life

Read.

I have always been thinking. Always, since I was born. Love, hate, sorrow, religion, why is the world as it is? What is the reason of hate, what causes sorrow? Sorrow is a matter we need to accept, someone we are forced to understand and cope with. Everyone dies, and that is a fact and not anything we are able to change. But we can change the fact that people are killed young, that animals (and by animals I include the human being) are killed every day, that some starve and some are bathing in champagne. We can change the fact that some people does not live a life, simply because no one let’s them.

Throughout my life, I have been interested in several religious standings, most frequently Christianity, however I do not agree with too many parts to call myself a Christian, which I have discovered recently. Something to make clear right away is that I am a vegetarian, believing that the value of every creature on the Earth is the same, something that the Bible does not agree with. What this world need is a new Bible, a new book of truth with the modern ideas, the updated world which I don’t see any religions following. Wherever I turn, I find nothing but basic hate against women, homosexuality, other animals, other people. What is wrong with this world, is everyone born to hate? I believe not.

I will not call what I hereby create a religion, but I will call it a way of life. I hope for others to join me in my crusade against misery and hate, my crusade for a world in which justice and love without exception prevails. This is a protest, a protest in which I wish your help. If others ever care to join me, please write me an e-mail and I will create a member list in which you are featured. Ofcourse, you can all listen to these advices on a better way to live without becoming a member.

Thank you for reading.

Yours sincerely,
Anton Johansson

Quote of the Day

”Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”

– Kristian Wilson, Nintendo Inc, 1989