The Fall Of Man is happening all the time

A friend recently sent me Idris Parry’s 1978 tranlsation of Henrich von Kleist’s short story On The Puppet Theatre. In the introduction to the translation in the Southern Cross Review, Parry writes:

Kleist shares with Kafka the insight that it is only our concept of time which makes us think of the Fall of Man as a historical event in the distant past. It is happening all the time. The biblical story is a mythical representation of constant human awareness of self and therefore of separation.

In this understanding, awareness of sense of separate self (eating of the Tree of Knowledge) = separation from God = The Fall. After eating from the tree, man hides himself from God.

Genesis names this tree The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In other words, the original “evil” act is to see oneself as separate from God. Here we can begin to play by substituting freely the words evil, sin and separation. What if I say, when I see myself as separate(d) from God, separation comes into the world? Or, Jesus died for our separation? (As Cynthia Bourgeault points out, Christ died for our collective sins. The idea that Christ died for my individual sins is just a guilt trip).

The story also contains von Kleist’s prescription for this malady. According to Kleist, there are two states of innocence: the state of ignorance, and the state of complete knowledge. However, since there is no way back, only the second of these can save us:

Does that mean, I said in some bewilderment, that we must eat again of the tree of knowledge in order to return to the state of innocence?

Of course, he said, but that’s the final chapter in the history of the world.

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~ by scalambra on April 17, 2011.

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