Eden Lockdown (2003)
The pristine purity and simplicity of the Adam and Eve story has exercised extraordinary power over the minds of man through some twenty centuries. In this corrupt, polluted, beastly world of the 20th century man [sic] find themselves drawn to that romantic, pure and beautiful mirage of the original love story. As life becomes increasingly complicated, crowded, industrial and technical, man has always tried to return to that Garden of Eden.
Rebels, reformers and revolutionaries through the ages have tried to transform human nature and man's material environment. Why? Because man cannot forget how good and happy life was in the mythologized original garden plot east of Eden. Peasant rebels, religious reformers, political revolutionaries, from Moses to Marx, from Maximillian Robespierre to Jerry Rubin, have tried to recreate the legend of an ideal existence. History is an endless tale of human degeneration and human recreation, of corruption and improvement, of backwardness and progress, of war and peace.
"Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold..."
From Paradise Lost, the Limerick by Carol Wyvill:
To the serpent's wiles Eve did succumb.
She ate, and she gave Adam some.
His head said, "You'll rue it,"
His heart urged him, "Do it."
He ate. Satan's mission was done.
The couple were covered with shame.
They fought about who was to blame.
By love still beguiled
They were soon reconciled.
But they'd fallen from grace, all the same.
The Archangel Michael, in verse
Which was long-winded rather than terse,
Related to Adam
Things which would happen.
So Adam felt better -- and worse.
They were kicked out of Eden, it's true.
No wonder they felt a bit blue.
But the changed world was wide,
And they walked side by side,
Setting off to begin life anew.
From Politics and the Garden of Eden by Bob Wallace:
The only religious joke I tell is one I made up: the human race has Fallen and can't get up.
Shame is based on what you believe people think of you. That's why Adam is afraid; he's concerned about what God will think. Guilt, on the other hand, is about the violation of an internal standard. Adam and Eve have no guilt; instead they feel shame.
There is not one word in the story of the Garden of Eden about guilt, only ones about shame.
How does all of the aforementioned apply to politics? Most -- all? -- politicians are not ruled by guilt. They're ruled by what others think of them -- by shame, embarrassment, humiliation. Isn't one of the main reasons they go into politics is because they're desperate for attention -- to convince others to think well of them?
I have not seen George Bush show one iota of guilt about what's he done in starting a war under false pretenses. Since he's not ruled by guilt, then he must be ruled by shame, which he hides under arrogance and conceit -- hubris. Pride on top, shame underneath. I've heard that saying many times.
And from Garden of Eden, a Los Angeles restaurant:
A sanctuary where beautiful people eat, drink, dance and honor the legendary history that is Hollywood.
Yes, only in Hollywood could Eden still exist -- as a fern bar or digitized special effect.
But, certainly, the Eden myth is heady stuff -- whatever permutation it takes. One philosopher's meditation on the nature of free will is another neocon's delusion of democratic paradise through pre-meditated war.
And if politicians like Bush are governed by shame -- then who's got the guilt? In an idealized green garden, could it be those who voted for him and other Frist/Delay types? Shouldn't such supporters feel guilty about being so easily duped by a "compassionate conservative" who said he wasn't interested in empire building?
And who has a totally blank moral slate -- one wiped clean of both shame and guilt?
Could it be the mainstream media -- like those 24/7 skin shedders at Fox News who hiss administrative talking points into our ears?
Today's image is a reminder of the former beauty that is now caged. And only time served and a very difficult review by the electoral parole board can stir hopes of restoring the garden that once was our nation.