Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Page & Thoughts on Darwin

Art Journal by megan_n_smith_99
Art Journal, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.
This is another recent page from my sketch journal. It's got some bits from here and there - whatever I was reading, thinking, etc. at the time. I had just finished re-reading Katherine Dunn's Geek Love. It's a very odd book. But that's not what I am thinking about now.

I just watched the 2009 film, Creation, which is about Charles Darwin's struggles writing On the Origin of Species. Chiefly he was troubled by ill health, the death of his daughter, and conflicts between his religious views and scientific investigations - which also lead to strife between Darwin and his religiously devote wife. That's certainly enough to trouble anyone, and he was rather a sensitive person. It's quite sad, really. If he had been born a bit later he may have found religious views a little less strict, and might also have had access to better medical treatments. No one really knows what was wrong with him - it may have been a chronic disease like Crohn's Disease or Ménière's Disease, or it may have been an infectious disease, possibly something he picked up while voyaging on the Beagle, or it could have been a hereditary disease. His daughter Annie had something similar and died as a young girl - though some my have died from TB or scarlet fever.

It seems pretty certain that Darwin also suffered from some form of mental illness -- depression and anxiety at least, which exasperated and was exasperated by his physical condition. He also suffered from great guilt at the thought that if the condition WAS hereditary and passed on to his daughter, then it might have come about because he and his wife were 1st cousins. And of course heredity was the subject of his life's work so he could not escape from those fears.

The movie was beautiful done. Paul Bettany was wonderful as Darwin, with Jennifer Connelly as his wife, and two wonderful cameos - Benedict Cumberbatch as Joseph Hooker & Toby Jones as Thomas Huxley. (I think the script writers could have reined themselves in a bit when writing Huxley's lines, he wasn't that .. rabid. But Toby did a very good job with the lines as written and it did illustrate one of the viewpoints that Darwin felt hemmed in by.)

I did not realize until after I watched the movie that Paul Bettany & Jennifer Connelly are married in real life - hopefully more happily than the Darwins, though I think that the Darwin's marriage was a little happier than shown in this film. It was just complicated.

Martha West was delightful as young Annie Darwin. It appears to have been her only acting role - I hope there will be more to come.

The soundtrack and cinematography were also beautiful done, with many shots of the diversity of life. The opening and closing credits featured Christopher Young's  piano & violin composition "Creation", which to me somehow captured the many variations on form which Darwin wrote about.

The film is based on Randal Keynes's book Annie's Box, which I now need to locate. Of this volume Wikipedia says:

:Around 2000, Charles Darwin's great-great-grandson Randal Keynes discovered a box containing keepsakes of Anne collected by Charles and Emma. He wrote a biography of Charles Darwin centred on the relationship between Darwin and his daughter, entitled Annie's Box; the script of the 2009 film Creation is based on the book."


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