[Milton-L] A Christmas Card Greeting

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Thu Dec 16 20:04:46 EST 2010

I had mixed feelings about the image.  "Tasteless" is fair.  But I don't
think calling it tasteless is quite enough.  This work seems to me to be a
legitimate, imaginative reading of the fall.  Adam and Eve are copulating
behind a tree filled with eyes.  A serpent is slithering away, looking back
at the couple, as if to say "My work here is done."  A large, horse-like
creature with a single eye for a head is galloping toward the couple.  The
predominance of eyes signals 'knowledge," sexual experience being the mode
of the attainment of this "knowledge" and the loss of innocence.

If these signals aren't enough, two apple cores lay on the ground near the
couple's heads and storm clouds are entering the scene from the right,
following the horse.  The storm clouds are placed opposite the four rivers
watering Eden (in the upper left of the painting), so that the couple
copulates between paradise and judgment.  The transition from innocence to
experience is therefore the product of a sexual awakening, and the painting
itself is representative of our postlapsarian existence between Paradise and
the final judgment.

This reading of Genesis has a long history.  Jerome shared it; Blake shared
it.  I'm still trying to figure out why part of me still agrees that it's
tasteless.  My guess:

It's tasteless as a Christmas card.  Christmas is not about the fall through
sexual experience or about impending judgment.

But, I don't think this work is tasteless as a work of art.

Jim R

On Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 7:25 PM, Julia Walker <walker at geneseo.edu> wrote:

> Not only is this tasteless, it is ungrammatical.
> Julia Walker
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