Thursday, March 11, 2010

You Adam, Me Eve

Look at this picture; Adam and Eve, our first parents. Theirs is the most engrossing story in the Old Testament, for me anyway. Surely there is never as heart-stabbing a phrase as:

and the eyes of them both were opened, and they perceived themselves to be naked...

We've all had those moments, in a small way, but the human race has never had such an eye opening experience as the revelations about climate change. They didn't all come at once - to our timescale it seems like it's been a slow drip feed of bad news, but in what I might call Biblical time it's instant, calamitous, the blink of an eye. Suddenly, we the masters of nature perceive we are naked, not in control of anything, not knowing what we're doing, stupid children messing with stuff we shouldn't go near. And of course there is always the snake....the one who says 'it's only the natural cycle, the climate is always changing''. Are all our eyes open yet?

The revelation for Adam and Eve was that they had committed the sin, not that they were committing it. It was over. They couldn't go back to a time where there was no sin. Now they had to live in its consequences - miserably hard work, a threatening environment, a bitter marriage full of recriminations and then, the tragedy of their children in that terrible world.

See how beautifully the artist, Karoly Patko, has painted them - Adam so strong and Eve so beautiful. She is full of narcissistic confidence as she grasps the fruit. His pose is one of command but his hand hangs back, waiting for her to guide it - he is weak. I never can see a snake in this picture. Karoly Patko hasn't included one because for him it was all a human story, no outside agency. But the snake is there, in their sinuous poses, and their averted eyes.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil - isn't it really the tree of definition of good and evil.? Nuclear power, for instance, that most people had put firmly on the 'evil' list, is now being edged back towards the 'good'. In the light of our present circumstances, let's redefine, they say. And the new plants are so much safer, it says. And if there's a problem it will be solved in the future by our children, it hisses.

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