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Of Apples and Innocence
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked, though the same may not be said of the truth. Dull as the hazy sunlight that penetrated the air, thick with the smoke of apathy, the two lovers lay beneath the leaves of the golden trees. Freedom from desire and wisdom was a cage filled with the sweet scent of jasmine and the miasma of indifference. Adam and Eve were the blissful prisoners of their own ignorance, lazy as butterflies, slumbering in warm cocoons. The absence of truth is the victory of peace, and all was eternally well in the Garden of Eden.
All was well in our generation, born to the tune of a thousand revolutions’ end. As we were raised under thick, sturdy roofs, our disasters were destined to be made within walls of our own making. Our Garden of Eden was our innocence, our belief in the possibilities of the future. Our bliss lay in the simplicity of shelter from the demons of generations past. Our apple trees grew slowly from seeds rooted in calm, though the fruits they’d bear were to blossom overnight. Every child is born beneath the same golden trees of Eden… but what is our apple? What is today’s symbol of the epic fall from grace, what is today’s forbidden fruit? When do the golden leaves fall from our trees, signaling the end of shelter and the end of childhood?
Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll were the vices of choice for generations past, but I’d like to believe our generation is capable of outdoing the best. We’ve taken the forbidden fruit and pumped it up with growth hormones, we’ve intensified our sins as the apples fall from electronically-charged trees blossoming in knowledge that travels at the speed of light. The added element of our generation’s forbidden fruit is instant gratification. The ripe, sweet taste of fast forward will make you a believer at first bite. Our generation does not believe in the pause button, we race through every seemingly superfluous scene until the credits start rolling. We can’t stand to listen through the whole song, we can’t stand to hear a steady beat. Click click click, our generation will never hear the end to its anthems, might as well write out the second refrain altogether. We need everything expressed in an express manner. Centuries of others have been taught the beauty of patience, for thousands of years our religions have preached the delay of indulgence… but we are ripping out the tales of redemption from our Bibles and burning our bedtime story books.
The serpent hissed of knowledge and godliness as Eve’s eyes closed to the commandments, reciting the verses she had been created to believe. Power is the most seductive temptress, and though Eve’s programmed heart resisted, her curious mind, thirsty for theatrics, prevailed. Weaving the tale of Good and Evil with its ruby-studded eyes, the serpent’s split tongue flickered against Eve’s ears… wouldn’t you like to know of good and beauty? Wouldn’t you like to know of evil and suffering? Oh, Eve, wouldn’t you like to know you’re alive?
Chuck Palahniuk asks, “Did perpetual happiness in the Garden of Eden maybe get so boring that eating the apple was justified?” Perhaps, having always viewed the rotting apple core as a victory rather than a disappointment, I am bound to judge the serpent as a saint rather than a demon. The serpents of our generation free us from the true disasters of existence and allow us to be distracted by homemade tragedies. Rather than contemplate the state of this dissolving universe, we are content to think upon the shallow, footnote evils that are deemed deserving of front page bold print by the New York Times.
Perhaps we indulge in these bite-sized tragedies because of our need for distraction from the greater scheme of things. Very early on, our generation realized the fragility of human life… we fell asleep to the haunting lullabies of hurricanes and burning planes, the gentle whisper of mortality. We watch the grass die on this side of safety and hand ourselves over to temptation as the serpents promise us emerald shores. Without the blinding bright lights of puckered-lip photographs snapped at arms length, we may very well be trapped in these concrete castles with Biblically naked eyes. So the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil finds itself nearly bare as this era of power-hungry children rip the flesh from its limbs with starved fervor and false desperation. Alcohol, name brands, green leaves, and colored contacts are our vices of choice… the shallow nature of our generation attempts to cover up our early loss of innocence, but conceals like cheap foundation on porcelain skin.
Eve, with dilated pupils and shaky hands, reached for her crimson downfall with baited breath. The fruit was deceptively light, as the consequences were heavier than Eve’s blank mind could address. Her dull teeth broke through the shiny skin, into the flesh of the apple. Innocence was drained from Eve’s fingertips as the serpent hissed and narrowed its eyes in anticipation. Eve looked around the beautiful, blossoming garden with wide eyes. There was truth, there was beauty, there was suffering, there was death, and Eve’s voice echoed across the oceans, “I am naked.”
Our forbidden fruit tastes like deep bass beats, necessary intoxication, and corruption in the form of premature exposure to the evening news. 6th grade girls are posing for MySpace pictures in bikini tops and low slung jeans, while pre-teen boys are being trained in the art of warfare courtesy of a TV screen and a blue plastic controller. 13 is the new 21; 21 is the new tombstone. As with all the world before us, we desire what we cannot have; the difference is that with a few tip-tap-clicks of this button or that button, we can have it. We can have it all.
We are the generation that will pay $150 for a pair of jeans conveniently pre-destroyed for us, ‘cause do we really have the time to spend climbing trees and breaking in knees when nuclear clouds could replace the fluffy whites of our childhood at any given moment? We thrive on this corruption. We give ourselves to Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs. We give ourselves to MTV. We give ourselves to the streets. We depend not upon morals or convictions but upon the white cords that connect us to the wafer thin devices blocking out everyone and everything around us. We are constantly plugged into the consumerist mantra, addicted to the ability to drown out our thoughts with the desire for more more more. In never being content, in always craving the bigger and the better, we are prepared to meet true deficiencies with diverted eyes. These vices are our battle gear. Even so, we lose the war. We are all-too aware of our premature corruption. The forbidden fruits fail to fill our empty stomachs. Hey kid, get busy living or get busy dying.
God was betrayed. He expelled the two lovers from their garden, forbade them from ever returning. Eve and Adam were cold and lost and confused by the world around them. This was a world of anger and desire, a world which they knew nothing of, having been cradled at the breast of innocence for so long. But God’s decisions are final; for all time, mankind was to live and die in this savage jungle.
Who’s to criticize our generation for falling prey to the same temptations that shifted mankind to the edge and brought us to the fall from grace? Are we to blame for our eager hunger? The difference between our lives and the Garden of Eden is this: where Adam and Eve had lush gardens and their blissful ignorance, we are not even assured of tomorrow’s existence. We are living in a new era of crisis, the battle between preparation for the future and living in the present. Whereas Eve chose to give into the serpent, perhaps we have been bitten with the desire for knowledge because we have had Good and Evil thrust upon us. None of us chose our early fall from grace, no one is to blame but the changing world around us which will claim our fathers lives but will never claim responsibility. Our lives are merely side effects of a past generations’ revolution. We are not fighting these wars, we are watching them… a television without a remote control… the one scene we can’t fast forward.
So we choose to be aware. We choose corruption over innocence; we choose throbbing heartbeats over deep slumber. We have had the pacifiers ripped from our lips, can you blame us for screaming? Our generation has sat back and watched, confused, as buildings have burned and oceans have raged. These serpents have come and tempted us and we have accepted their offers of Knowledge, in hopes that maybe we could understand the Good and the Evil that smiles at us from the front page of every Wall Street Journal and tabloid magazine. We have given into temptation, we have fallen from grace. But, hell, what has grace ever offered us? The Garden of Eden meant blindness and clamped lips. There was always this fire, this pain… by giving into our vices, we are consequentially free to acknowledge the burning we always knew was there. Blame it on the serpent, but this generation has bitten into the forbidden fruit willingly. We’ve seen both sides of blessing and have chosen the road of the demons. Innocence has never meant more than ignorance, and for once, a generation is handing itself over to temptation without a fight. These apple trees are dying, and so are we. Let’s rip the forbidden fruits from fallen branches… let’s die wise.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked, and of this truth they were painfully conscious. The truth had always existed within the walls of Eden, Adam and Eve were simply blinded by the golden shimmer of their own grace reflected off the shiny skin of the forbidden fruit which they had not dared to eat. (Is it an outrageous lie or a coping mechanism when we ignore the truth?) Sharp as the lightning that pierced the sky, the two lovers fell from grace. Adam and Eve were genuinely aware of their nakedness and their corruption. Freedom from innocence and ignorance was an open door to a land of vices and evil, but a true land. The Garden of Eden was never more than a cocoon; and it was time for the very first generation to break free its wings. Eternity was never enough.