The title of my commonplace site comes from the last paragraph of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.  That paragraph is a deeply religious piece of writing in the root sense of the word— re- ligare, to bind again or bind back. Contemplating his entangled bank, Darwin sees at work there powers “originally breathed into a few forms or into one” and feels a sense of “grandeur” that “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” The poet-naturalist Henry David Thoreau, watching the flow of thawing mud and sand in a railroad embankment, sees there “the Laboratory of the Artist who made the world and me.” These acts of witness, transcending any narrow-minded opposition of religion and science, articulate the sacredness of the world as it is, in all its simplicity, complexity, and beauty. The image of the “entangled bank,” as a metaphor for that riotous power that holds us in its careless embrace, echoes through the ages, celebrating nature’s effortless abundance and the fall of energy through form, and it anticipates our computer-enabled understanding that the very riotousness that classical science once dismissed as “chaos” or randomness gives rise to dissipative structures and is the source of meaning, beauty, and order.

The aim of this website is to be just such an entangled bank: the cascading bifurcations of my own reading and walking life, here on my Magic Hillside in Hopewell, New Jersey, and “Here in the Mind, Brother,/ Turquoise Blue.”

Welcome to

My Entangled Bank

This site is an old-fashioned commonplace book in digital form. A commonplace book was a journal people used to keep in another time, filled with favorite poems, literary passages, and musings.