The Essence of Tree Roots

Are tree roots to bring in analogy of what happens on election day?


The wisdom of life, the book with all its guidelines and secrets, the codex, can actually be found in the forest. Codex is derived from the Latin caudex, meaning “trunk of a tree”. The lowest part of the trunk, that connect to the roots, is where two worlds meet in the binding principles of life, that of ‘above ground’ and that of ‘under ground’.

It is here where the soul of the forest can be found, the market place where all traffic streams from earth (upwards, water, minerals) and sun and air (downwards sugars, after photosynthesis) are exchanged, the roundabout on the highway of life.

It is this meeting point where growth and development are coordinated, the place where past, present and future meet, the counterpoint where life starts. Vincent van Gogh painted this meeting point, Tree Roots, as only he was able to do so: colourful and straight to the heart. He understood. It was his last painting, ‘digging deep’ into the essence of life.

Translating, transposing or transforming the scene from forest to society. Is it a thought that an election day can be considered as the trunk/root meeting point of our democracy, and therefore be perceived as the soul of the ecosystem of society?

The upward stream – empowering votes followed by (tax) money – can be imagined as that of water and minerals. In the downward stream giving power to the trees – the public leaders and politicians – to build, protect and care. It is a dream scenario. Daily practice proofs otherwise.

In finding the tone of city and society it is here, at the trunk-roots interface where the determinants and indicators can be found in the process of democracy, of governing and be governed. Studying the promises before and the realisations after election day creates insights into the tone. The trunk and the roots lead us to the codex of measuring the tone.


Gogh, V.  van (1890) Tree Roots [oil on canvas]. Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum.