A lot of things have been spoiled for me over the years.
Not in terms of story spoilers, like Snape killing Dumbledore. Though… okay, I actually did get that one spoiled for me. I was in Ithaca when the book came out and a handful of us went to Barnes and Noble for the midnight release party. And while I enjoyed myself (I believe I spent a good portion of the time following Becky around and reading to her from The Gashlycrumb Tinies and showing her pictures in The Book of Bunny Suicides), I didn’t actually buy the book, because my brother was buying a copy in Wyoming the next day. You know, because I didn’t actually give enough of a shit about Harry Potter to want to drop that kind of cash on the book when I could get much cooler shit to commemorate my trip. Of course, that meant I had to go through 3 or 4 weeks of everyone around me reading the book and talking about it… and somehow, I planned on not having it spoiled. Threats were issued. I promised to leave the room when the book was being discussed. Adi told me to just read hers already because I’d never make it without someone ruining it for me. Two days later, she was the one who slipped and told me about Snape’s dastardly deed. Rolling my eyes, I caved and just read her copy. Then I could at least participate in the stupid conversations.
In retrospect, I was extraordinarily stupid. I should have just never read the book- it was rubbish, anyway.
Back on track. When I say things have been “ruined” for me, I mean that people beat things I love to death and then I want nothing to do with what I once adored. You know, like the pomegranate craze that swept the nation. I used to really enjoy pomegranates. Now, whenever I see a new pomegranate-scented/flavored product, I just feel disgust.
A lot of things have been “ruined” for me. But the worst one has got to be Eve and the story of original sin. Even though that was mostly my fault…
I have some explaining to do. Let’s back up for a minute.
I was raised Christian. But it was more than the “my parents made me go to church” situation, because my parents didn’t attend church. The only times I went to church were when I spent the weekend with friends (that’s why I’ve attended Catholic, Mormon, Presbyterian, and Lutheran services). But, both my parents believe in God, especially my mother, and we were given all kinds of children’s Bibles and Bible stories for kids and whatever as we grew up.
By the time I was 8, I had read the Bible. And I’m not talking those kiddy Bibles. I’m talking the King James Version. We had this huge one bound in white leather, with gold edged pages. And I would curl up with it for a half hour every night, reading it. And most of it was boring, and a great portion of it seemed offensive and preposterous, but Revelations and the plagues were cool…
And there was Genesis. Weirdly enough, I loved Genesis. I mean, even then, I realized that it could be seen as terribly sexist. But I thought there was more to the story than that.
Enter the budding English student.
See, Adam was boring. Adam did exactly what he was told. And he couldn’t handle being on his own (whiny git), so God made him a friend/companion/lover. And he didn’t question anything.
It wasn’t about Eve being female (I’m really not one for female solidarity and the overwhelming need of my sex to find feminist tones in everything they read makes me want to cuntpunch the lot of them). It was about her curiosity. Her thirst for knowledge. Like Tommy Gnosis says in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Eve just wanted to know shit.”
Eve was more than Adam could ever be. And, when I later found out about Lilith (the first woman according to Hebrew mythology)… Eve was still greater than her. Lilith was the bitch no one wants to hang out with. She’s the nag. She’s needy. She refused to compromise to make her relationship with Adam work- everything had to be done her way (one can say the same about Adam, which is why I dislike both of them). And when she didn’t get her way, she threw a fucking hissy fit and dumped Adam. Real mature, Lilith. Real fucking mature.
Eve, on the other hand, knew how to bend. Even before she ate of the Tree, Eve was better than Adam and Lilith both. She already had a wisdom about her, even in her naïveté. Sure, most people read it as Eve being subservient to Adam- a lesser being. But I never saw it that way. Eve was made from Adam’s rib… but Adam’s rib was just made of dirt. Like the rest of Adam. At the end of the day, they were both created from dirt, by God, to live in the Garden. No matter what else the stupid Bible says, that’s the base of it. They were equal. And if Eve acquiesced to Adam’s requests from time to time, it’s because that’s what you have to do to make a relationship work. It’s why Lilith ended up bitter and alone- because she could never learn to bend. It’s a very mature type of knowledge, and Eve had it.
But why did Eve have it? Because Eve was curious and clever. She noticed things. She made connections. She watched and learned and always wanted to know more.
And then we have the serpent. The funny thing about the Bible is how very hard it tries to portray Good and Evil as black and white entities, but fails miserably at the task. And we get that right off the bat with Genesis. God is supposed to be this all-knowing, benevolent creator… and yet he locks Adam/Eve away from knowledge about the world they live in and, in fact, fucks up when creating Adam, making a lonely creature who he later has to make a companion for because of his initial blunder. God comes across as arrogant and kind of douchey.
But Satan… yeah, he’s a slippery minx. He’s not entirely in the right. After all, he’s trying to get Adam and Eve to flagrantly disobey the guy who gave them life. “Dooo it, Eve, baby. Flip him the bird and come share this apple with me.” But is he entirely wrong? After all, he’s just trying to give Adam and Eve the knowledge about the world that they probably should have, seeing as they live in it and all. He’s helping them survive.
Then again, he’s also temptation in its purest form. And he’s a lesson in trust- God asked Adam and Eve to trust him, but the snake made them break that promise and destroy that trust.
No matter what, Eve gave into temptation and took that apple. And took a bite. And gained great knowledge. She could have ruled the whole goddamn world with that knowledge. But, instead of simply abusing the power… she shared it. She gave it to the person she loved. She traded power for wisdom and love. And that is beautiful.
Anyway, I have a point. I promise.
See, almost three years ago, I got my first tattoo. It’s a snake on my left thigh. And I got it for a wide variety of reasons, but the first and foremost reason was as a nod to the story of Eve. One day, I actually want to get a tree up my left side with an apple hanging from the branches, so the snake is at the base. But that requires more money than I currently have to toss around on such things.
But the snake is more than just the symbol of temptation. Outside the story of Eve, the serpent often represents knowledge. And treachery. And guardianship. And is associated with medicinal knowledge (the caduceus, anyone?). One of my favorite Greek myths, the story of Athena and Medusa, involves a woman being transformed into a creature with snakes for hair.
The serpent is everywhere in folklore and mythology, in both wicked and benevolent roles, but rarely exhibiting strong characteristics of either. The serpent is such an ambivalent creature- it cares little for the concepts of good and evil. It always felt like, of all creatures in these stories, the serpent was the one who understood truth better than any other.
And I love that about it. So, I chose a snake as my first tattoo.
But there’s a little more to it. When I chose the design, I wanted the tail of the snake coiled, not in a traditionally circular pattern, but in a lemniscate. The mathematical symbol for infinity. I wanted this to symbolize limitless knowledge, the never-ending pursuit of learning.
Now, back to the idea of things being spoiled. See, I directed this play over a year ago. And one of the main characters was Lilith. And for months and months and months, I had to hear from the actress about Lilith and Eve and Adam. She became obsessed with the story, and the more she talked about it, the more disenchanted I became with it all.
It’s taken this long for me to be able to enjoy the story of Eve again, a story I’ve loved since I was a child (and continue to love for the complexities I see within it). For a year, I’ve hated the fact that I let that story be destroyed by my own actions (because, no matter what, I was the one who chose that show and I was the one who cast that particular actress in that role), because it always meant so much to me. Eve wasn’t the nit wit everyone made her out to be. To me, she was strong and smart and wonderful.
But, through it all, I’ve never doubted my decision to get that snake permanently stabbed into my skin.
Whenever I’m feeling stupid and worthless and not good enough for the people I’m with (which, frankly, is quite often)… I find my finger tracing that lemniscate made by the snake’s tail and drawing courage from the action. I know it’s all in my head, but the action has gotten to be a habit with me. It comforts me. It reminds me that, while I might not be the smartest person in the room or the quickest wit, I’m constantly learning and growing. That I learn for the sheer love of it. That I will buy books about subjects I know nothing about and read them in my spare time, around schoolwork and actual work.
And that comforts me. Because it proves that I’m not willfully ignorant, I’m just uninformed on certain subjects. And I can fix that.
So… that’s why I tend to ramble on here about what I’ve read recently. I love to learn. I love to share that knowledge with the world. I like to talk about things and debate them. I just… I don’t want that part of me to die. Nobody can spoil that for me but me, and I won’t let that happen.
I’m like Eve. I just want to know shit.
On a totally unrelated note… Is it possible to eat a banana without making it really dirty? Because I can’t do it. No, really. I can’t. Thus why I can’t eat them in public.
Apparently, it’s not “socially acceptable” to deep throat your banana and giggle insanely. And it’s really unacceptable to suck on it until the banana literally breaks in half.
What? I’m good at what I do.