talkin about Eve’s generation

Robert Pogue Harrison on Eve and “natality,” Hannah Arendt’s term for the “initiation of new beginnings through human action”:

Eve was created as a Stepford wife of sorts, with everything provided for her except the prospect of self-fulfillment. The same was true in a sense for Adam, yet, impressionistically speaking, Adam seems to have been less at odds with the mindless, ultimately feckless happiness the couple was expected to enjoy in their garden of ennui. This is evidenced by the intuition of several artists who have depicted the expulsion, among them [Michelangelo, Dürer, and others]. It is invariably Eve who is moving toward the exit first [see below], as if in eager anticipation of her new future, while Adam, looking forlorn, seems in dread of what’s to come. Adam, no doubt, did not hear the call of natality as intensely as Eve. Indeed, it is doubtful that he ever would have taken the initiative when it came to the forbidden fruit. Eve’s transgression was the first true instance of human action, properly understood. It was in itself already an act of motherhood, for through it she gave birth to the mortal human self, which realizes its potential in the unfolding of time, be it though work, procreation, art, or the contemplation of things divine.

From Harrison’s Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (U of Chicago P, 1972), 14-15.

Image

from The Little Passion
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
no date
woodcut
4 7/8 x 3 7/8 in.

…for Pat Taylor

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