I read the Genesis story of Adam and Eve as a story of people—creatures with consciousness—reacting to a condition of not knowing. They were created and given the breath of Life, consciousness of their being, yet existed as contingent creatures with limited knowledge. Not knowing presents a seemingly intolerable existential threat. I read their response to their condition—reaching out, grasping and eating of the Tree of Knowledge—as driven by the base-line drive for their psychosomatic selves to survive. It is likely a heretical explication (from a Christian perspective), and certainly an unorthodox one, to see a reptilian instinct to survive in the serpent’s urging the apple, but there’s value in revisiting the story outside the classic good/evil, spirit/body matrix.
In “The Apple of Your I” — also called "Samsara" — I relate the Genesis story of the instinctive, insistent and overwhelming need to know what cannot be known—Adam and Eve reaching for, grasping and eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge—with Buddhists' locating suffering in grasping after a fixed certainty that is neither fixed nor certain, in the pursuit of protecting a self that similarly is not the fixed entity it appears to be. In both stories we see people who, out of their limited understanding of the full nature of existence, assert themselves, insist on an “I” that knows, and are thereby rent by their grasping from integration with Being. We see distorted perception creating and fueling grasping, and the suffering it creates.
Note about gender: Initially entitled “The Apple of Man’s I,” this piece was originally highly gendered. With time I came to understand that while various classic types of ego-assertion have gender correlation, the underlying phenomenon is unrelated to gender. While I’ve modified the object somewhat—such as removing Albert Einstein in favor of Margaret Thatcher and Gertrude Stein—those modifications aren't yet reflected in the images above. Even with those changes the initial gender overlay is still evident; there’s more reworking to be done.