Saturday, September 16, 2006

Whether or not to eat "The Apple".

Sometimes I find it interesting to contemplate the lore and mythology on which our society has been based. These come in all types of packaging- such as commercial culture, received history, urban legends, and religion. If one tries to view these messages with an objective perspective, the possibilities of alternative interpretations can be fascinating to consider.

I've always been intrigued by the story of Eve and "The Serpent'". Eve is persuaded by "the serpent"to pick the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and offer it to Adam. Adam accepts the offer and the couple becomes aware of their nakedness. God is unhappy about this, and casts them from the utopia known as Eden. For the Catholic church, this was the "original sin". Due to the action of the original humans, we are all born into a state of spiritual flaw- already compromised and in need of a saviour. That savior was Jesus Christ, according to the church of Christianity. Within the church, this logic is inescapable. It provides the rationale for the structure of faith itself.

But I am also compelled to examine this story's meaning from a secular point of view. Not everyone in the society is a practicing Christian, yet the message of "the fall from grace" is pervasive throughout. Eve's sin was to question the dictates of the ultimate authority. Without this unwavering adherence to "the law", she (and Adam) became lost. For the individual in society, this is a cautionary tale. We have leaders who, through the "divine right of democracy and the free market", have been chosen to show us the path. The means of dissemination for "the word" has been transferred from the "church" to the media. The hierachy of the priesthood finds its reflection in the structure of government and law enforcement.

We are taught that if we obey the dictates of our leaders we can expect to prosper in a worldly utopia. If we consume from all the authorized sources, we will be protected. If we question the logic of the establishment, then we are rashly acting above our station, and assuming powers and knowledge that threaten the entire system. This is a potent message and a truly ingenious method of social control.

I wonder if somehow, by questioning the value of the conventions of mainstream society, I haven't cast myself from a figurative "Eden". Would I be happier had I not challenged the received assumptions, and exposed my own vulnerability within the system? Am I recapitulating the "original sin"? I look outside of myself, and see folks going about the business of our society, embracing the wisdom of authority and extolling its vitues... they seem so satisfied in their faith. Have I not endangered my peace and innocence by eating the "apple" of discord?

7 Comments:

Anonymous lee said...

I would rather eat from the tree of knowledge any day, and suffer the consequences than be stuck in a perpetual state of identity foreclosure. To accept without questioning is to accept a merely mediocre (if that) life. Those fleeting moments of transcendence and enlightment are not available to those who accept without question. Only explorers get to see the really cool stuff.

Besides, even when I did accept without question the rules of religion and the rules of my parents, I wasn't happy.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eat me!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Anon-

This really strains my revulsion of censorship. I'm goin to interpret your pithy comment as a witty minimalist take on seduction.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

lee,

I don't experience any regret that I have chosen the path I am on. Sometimes I wonder what it feels like to accept things at face value, and "join the team". I guess that's what pharmaceuticals are for.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous lee said...

In my experience, those who appear to accept things at face value are really struggling to maintain that particular composure.

P.S. Anon is so...witty.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous rob said...

I don't know if you back track and read old comments but here it goes anyway.

This conncept was something I've pondered a long time ago. The tree of knowledge supposedly also bears the fruit of knowledge. By this account eve and adam take in knowledge, i.e. the act of questioning, Rationality. Thay have fallen from the paradise of ignorance. The animal like ignorance that feels no shame in nakedness and naturalness.

The tale seems to be more an allegory for evolution then a construct for social control.

So now with just reason how do we get back in to paradise? I guess through faith. Faith may have come in the form of christ. But obviously only after christ was alive. This tale exists in the torah. So where does redemtion come from is taken not from the christian perspective? How does judiasm account for salvation?

I don't have these answers but the "law" as it is now is a human construct. "Law" as it was before a divine construct a allegory for natural laws.

I leave you with that. But would enjoy carring on this dialogue some other time.

P.S. I'd love to here about school and educational experiences. I thnk the first amendment's got your back so speek up.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Rob,

Yeah, I always get notified via e-mail if I get a comment.

I don't know if this concept can be integrated into a worldview that includes evolution. A Christian might say that the story constitutes a type of de-evolution.

I don't know enough about Judaism to speak on its take on salvation. I do agree it's an interesting question.

4:35 PM  

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