Curiously enough, when you ask someone a question about genesis in Europe or in the USA, most people take it for granted that you are referring to the first book of the Christian bible, Genesis. This, of course, is sheer cultural prejudice. Go anywhere, or go back in the past of peoples almost eliminated or already vanished, and you find notions of the origin of mankind galore. Many of these stories also involve some notion of the genesis of evil.
I personally like the Hopi version. Man and woman surface from an opening in the earth, reminding one somehow of Courbet’s Origine du Monde, the source of all existence.
Mankind, according to the Hopi, originated in the depth of our earth, subsequently escaping this womb in a gentle manner. Evil comes to play its part only much later, that is when life on earth given to man and women gets ‘out of balance’ – when, somehow, the delicate intercourse between civilisation and nature is beginning to hurt nature. The movie Koyaanisqatsi, filmed by Godfrey Reggio, carried by a series of magnificent compositions from Philip Glass, took its cue there – a both beautiful and sublime critique of the unbalancing effect of modern technology on Mother Earth.
What strikes the reader of these two stories of Genesis – the one of the Hopi Indians and the one of the Christians – is that the Indians’ version of evil comes in later, long after man’s being born. It also has a cosmic rather than a moral quality; the bible’s book of Genesis, by contrast, is utterly moralistic, so to say to the apple’s core, literally containing the seeds of evil from the outset of God’s creation of Man and Woman. Immediately, their God is forbidding something, thus, Evil coincides with creation. Don’t eat from that tree!
Most religions do contain a notion of hubris, man having the guts to take over the position of his maker, or at least vying with the godhead’s powers. Why the serpent did it, who knows? Perhaps, God testing himself by testing his creation, the serpent as his go-between…
Anyway, the serpent is instinctively sure that he must not approach Adam the Man; it must be Eve the Woman: she is the weak one. In the very first verse of this fatal biblical sequence, God has specifically forbidden Eve, not Adam, to eat from the tree planted in the midst of in the Garden. One might ask God: why then plant it there? As we know, the ways of the Lord are mysterious.
Thus, the Serpent spoketh to Eve about eating an apple: “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Pure logic it is, soothing logic so to say, or rather seductive – a promise of life after mortal sin. But damn it! These Middle-Eastern bricoleurs of myths had a vicious mind: To be a god, you must know of good and evil; God planted in us this urge to vie with the gods; thus, poor Eve was set up.
What is worse: whereas in most genesis stories sex is considered pretty good and nice, as without it there would not be Love, the Christian version – an off-shoot of those rude nomadic tribal notions – immediately comes to the point. You eat an apple from the tree of good and evil, and lo and behold: “The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked…” All this comes down to a rather ridiculous plot. Before eating the apple, Adam and Eve had been the Emperors in Paradise, emperors without clothes – that famous other story of ridicule.
To top it up, the inventor of this so-called Evil immediately punishes Adam and Eve for merely having perceived their nakedness – they have as yet done nothing. He instantly announces that Woman will suffer while giving birth, thus punished for fucking while knowing that fucking is evil – and she will be bossed by her superior master, Adam. Thank you, Lord!
Your writer has recently bought himself a little orchard in Nowhereland. Almost coinciding with this acquisition came the divorce from his maîtresse whom he has known – yes, in the biblical sense as well – for some eight years. Thus, where the purpose of buying the little plot, nicely secluded, had been to reinstitute Adam and Eve’s bliss, having no apple tree but one that bears peaches, it will now have to serve as a one-man’s siesta plot.
Contemplating the new-born fruits, I wonder whether I have unwittingly eaten one of those apples, infected with the serpent’s curse – or worse: that these peaches are very much like that apple in Paradise; they may even be apples, what do I know…. Even without my sinful Eve, I would have to be thrown out of it, not even having a chance to follow that other order of the gods: to multiply.
Then again, such contemplation may bring us to our senses. Schopenhauer, that wise man, found the solution for getting out of the Valley of Tears, i.e. rid us of our existence. Not by actual suicide. Just have one generation of men and women be disciplined enough not to fornicate, and mankind would simply die out. But such contemplation always comes too late; one should have reflected on this when one was young. What use is this knowledge now, being without a woman, and being an old and decrepit man, not even fit for the act any longer…
I shall just enjoy my little orchard.
Sierksma, La Roche 12.7/2021