Rebellious Soul: Expulsion from the Garden

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Masaccio, Expulsion from the Garden, 1427
Rebellious Soul
A Walk on the Wild Side
Curated by Leo Yuan

"The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken." (Genesis 3:23)

With shame, regret, agony, and perhaps most unbearably, sin, mankind are banished from the land of paradise. Look at Adam. He is so ashamed that he tries to cover his face but in turn exposes himself more. While God's condemnation is still emanating out of the arch, and the armed angel is ruthlessly pointing out to them their seemingly doomed future, all that Adam and Eve see is the hardship of life and privation of everything that lies beyond that gate they just walked out. And we seem to catch a glimpse of a 15th-century view towards common people's lives, one that is filled with unstable livelihood, misfortune, insecurity, and a constant fear of uncertainty of the future -plagues and wars, a life just too fragile with too much misery. Hence the idea of there exists an after-life, a much better one of course, is crucial for one to endure the hardship of this life. And often one's only goal becomes to work his way back to that gate, beyond where, life is always easy and assuring.

It is always interesting to me to see men justify everything from a cause-and-effect perspective. Known to all, Eve is induced by a serpent into eating an apple from the tree of knowledge, who then gives it to Adam. The apple opens their eyes and they realize their nakedness and become ashamed. Discovered by God, they are expelled from the garden. Therefore essentially, the apple, interpreted as the original sin, is what drives man out of the paradise. But is it? Don't humans take active roles in this story? Isn't it ironic that we're always tempted to do that one thing they are told not to? And what lies between that transient moment of sweet defiance and the long regret that follows? I wouldn't know if men are born good or evil, but Adam and Eve seem to tell me that men are born rebellious. It takes efforts for authorities to tame them, and by all necessary means, to suppress them to a state of obedience. And yet, when they are told not to think of a pink elephant, all that they think is a pink elephant.

Curator's note: In this first piece of the collection, I try to explore the primordial act of rebellion by tracing back to the Scripture. And the rest of the collection will continue on what happens after man walks into the wilderness with his rebellious soul.

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