The Apple Orchard

Adam and Eve, Albrecht Dürer, 1504

 

“Come just after the sun has gone down, watch
This deepening of green in the evening sward:
Is it not as if we’d long since garnered
And stored within ourselves a something which

From feeling and from feeling recollected,
From new hope and half-forgotten joys
And from an inner dark infused with these,
Issues in thoughts as ripe as windfalls scattered

Under trees here like trees in a Dürer woodcut –
Pendent, pruned, the husbandry of years
Gravid in them until the fruit appears –
Ready to serve, replete with patience, rooted

In the knowledge that no matter how above
Measure or expectation, all must be
Harvested and yielded, when a long life willingly
Cleaves to what’s willed and grows in quiet resolve.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

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The Experience of Loving

“The experience of loving, that now disappoints so many, can actually change and be transformed from the ground up into the building of a relationship between two human beings, not just a man and a woman. And this more authentic love will be evident in the utterly considerate, gentle, and clear manner of its binding and releasing. It will resemble what we now struggle to prepare: the love that consists of two solitudes which border, protect, and greet each other.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rome, May 14, 1904

Letters to a Young Poet

 

Adam and Steve, photo (supposedly) by Johnny Willough

The Original Poet

 

In the Garden of Eden Adam’s first task was to give everything a name. Whenever God created a new animal or plant, he showed it to Adam and, according to the Book of Genesis, “whatever he called each living creature, that was its name.” In the variant version of the Koran, God “taught Adam all the names.” The biblical Adam is the original poet, capturing the essence of a thing in words. His Koranic counterpart is more of a decipherer, discerning the secret nature of things through the word hidden inside them. In both instances, the conferral of names is a human prerogative; a thing remains unknowable until a human voice sounds out its distinctive moniker. Even God needs Adam to give names the breath of life.

Until recently that Edenic innocence still existed between things and their names. In the ninth Duino Elegy, Rainer Maria Rilke could ask:

“Are we, perhaps, here just for saying: House,Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Jug, Fruit tree, Window—possibly: Pillar, Tower?”

Of course for Rilke this isn’t just mouthing names but involves “such saying as never the things themselves / hoped so intensely to be.” In his view, things, when invoked, if not conjured, become more fully themselves. This is a magical notion, and a deeply appealing one, but can anyone still believe in it?

This observation about Rilke suggests something of his complex nature, since he was a great realist. He wrote, “How good life is. How fair, how incorruptible, how impossible to deceive: not even by strength, not even by willpower, and not even by courage. How everything remains what it is and has only this choice: to come true, or to exaggerate and push too far.”

His realist approach to life and his artistic temperament contributed to his non-conventional approach to the Bible.

Rilke wasn’t a practitioner of Christianity, (he preferred Islam) yet much of his work deals with religion. He wrote: “Religion is something infinitely simple, ingenuous. It is not knowledge, not content of feeling (for all content is admitted from the start, where a man comes to terms with life), it is not duty and not renunciation, it is not restriction: but in the infinite extent of the universe it is a direction of the heart.” (Selected Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke)

Adam

Adam, Auguste Rodin, 1880-81.

Rodin drew his inspiration directly from the section of the Michelangelo’s fresco entitled The Creation of Adam

 

“High above he stands, beside the many
saintly figures fronting the cathedral’s
gothic tympanum, close by the window
called the rose, and looks astonished at his

own deification which placed him there.
Erect and proud he smiles, and quite enjoys
this feat of his survival, willed by choice.

As labourer in the fields he made his start
and through his efforts brought to full fruition
the garden God named Eden. But where was
the hidden path that led to the New Earth?

God would not listen to his endless pleas.
Instead, He threatened him that he shall die.
Yet Adam stood his ground: Eve shall give birth.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Eve

Rodin—The Eve, photo by Edward Steichen, 1907.

Steichen recorded the aging sculptor clothed in timeless drapery and sitting at the feet of the plaster model of his Eve, a soft-focus image that appears almost as the sculptor’s dream.

 

EVE

“Look how she stands, high on the steep facade
of the cathedral, near the window-rose,
simply, holding in her hand the apple,
judged for all time as the guiltless-guilty

for the growing fruit her body held
which she gave birth to after parting from
the circle of eternities. She left
to face the strange New Earth, so young in years.

Oh, how she would have loved to stay a little
longer in that enchanted garden, where
the peaceful gentle beasts grazed side by side.

But Adam was resolved to leave, to go
out into this New Earth, and facing death
she followed him. God she had hardly known.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Not a Man, A Cloud in Trousers

The Infinite Recognition, René Magritte, 1963

 

A CLOUD IN TROUSERS
(Облако в штанах, Oblako v shtanakh)

Prologue

Your thought,
Fantasizing on a sodden brain,
Like a bloated lackey on a greasy couch sprawling,–
With my heart’s bloody tatters, I’ll mock it again.
Until I’m contempt, I’ll be ruthless and galling.

There’s no grandfatherly fondness in me,
There are no gray hairs in my soul!
Shaking the world with my voice and grinning,
I pass you by, — handsome,
Twentytwoyearold.

Gentle souls!
You play your love on the violin.
Crude ones beat it out on the drums violently.
But can you turn yourselves inside out, like me,
And become just two lips entirely?

Come and learn,–
You, decorous bureaucrats of angelic leagues!
Step out of those cambric drawing-rooms

And you, who can leaf your lips
Like a cook leafs the pages of her recipe books.

If you wish,–
I’ll rage on raw meat like a vandal
Or change into hues that the sunrise arouses,
If you wish,–
I can be irreproachably gentle,
Not a man, — but a cloud in trousers.

I refuse to believe in Nice blossoming!
I will glorify you regardless,–
Men, crumpled like bed-sheets in hospitals,
And women, battered like overused proverbs.

 

Part I

You think I’m delirious with malaria?

This happened.
In Odessa, this happened.

“I’ll come at four,” promised Maria.
Eight…
Nine…
Ten.

Soon, the evening,
Frowning
And Decemberish,
Left the windows
And vanished in dire darkness.

Behind me, I hear neighing and laughter
Of candelabras.

You wouldn’t recognize me if you knew me prior:
A bulk of sinews
Moaning,
Fidgeting.
What can such a clod desire?
But the clod desires many things.

Because for oneself it doesn’t matter
Whether you’re cast of copper
Or whether your heart is cold metal.
At night, you want to wrap your clamor
In something feminine,
Gentle.

And thus,
Enormous,
I hunch in the frame,
And with my forehead, I melt the window glass.
Will this love be
Tremendous or lame?
Will it sustain or pass?
A big one wouldn’t fit a body like this:
It must be a little love, —
a baby, sort of,
It shies away when the cars honk and hiss,
But adores the bells on the horse-tram.

I come face to face
With rippling rain,
Yet once more,
And wait
Splashed by city surf’s thundering roar.

Running amok with a knife outside,
Night caught up to him
And stabbed him,
Unseen.

The stroke of midnight
Fell like a head from a guillotine.

Silver raindrops on the windowpane
Were piling a grimace
And yelling.
It seemed like the gargoyles of Notre Dame
Started yelping.

Damn you!
Haven’t you had enough yet?
Cries will soon cut my throat all around.

I heard:
Softly,
Like a patient out of his bed,
A nerve leapt
Down.
At first,
He barely moved.
Then, apprehensive
And distinct,
He started prancing.
And now, he and another two,
Darted about, step-dancing.

On the ground floor, plaster was falling fast.

Nerves,
Big ones,
Little ones,–
Various!–
Galloped madly
Until, at last,
Their legs wouldn’t carry them.

Night oozed through the room and sank.
Stuck in slime, the eye couldn’t slither out of it.

Suddenly, doors started to bang
As if hotel’s teeth
Were chattering.

You entered,
Abrupt like “Take it!”
Mauling the suede gloves you carried,
And said:
“You know,–
I’m soon getting married.”

 

Les mariés dans le ciel de Paris, Marc Chagall, 1970

 

Get married then.
It’s all right,
I can handle it.
As you can see, I’m calm, of course!
Like the pulse
Of a corpse.

Remember?
You used to say:
“Jack London,
Money,
Love
And ardor,”–
I saw one thing only:
You were La Gioconda,
Which had to be stolen!

And someone stole you.

Again in love, I shall start gambling,
With fires illuminating the arch of my eyebrows.
And why not?
Sometimes, homeless ramblers
Will seek to find shelter in a burnt down house!

 

Part II

Glorify me!
The great ones are no match for me!
Upon everything that’s been done
I stamp the word “naught.”

As of now,
I have no desire to read.
Novels?
So what!

This is how books are made,
I used to think,–
Along comes a poet,
And opens his lips with ease.
Inspired, the fool simply begins to sing,–
Oh please!
It turns out:
Before they can sing with elation,
On their calloused feet they tramp for some time,
While brainless fishes of imagination
Are splashing and wallowing in the heart’s slime.
And while, hissing with rhymes, they boil
All the loves and the nightingales in a broth-like liquid,
The tongueless street merely squirms and coils,–
It has nothing to yell or even speak with.

In silence, the street dragged on the ordeal.
A scream stood erect on the gullet’s road.
While fat taxies and cabs were bristling still,
Wedged in the throat.
As if from consumption,
the trodden chest gasped for air.

The city, with gloom, blocked the road rather fast.

And when,–
Nevertheless! —
The street coughed up the strain onto the square
And pushed the portico off its throat, at last,
It seemed as if,
Accompanied by choirs of an archangel’s chorus,
Recently robbed, God would show us His heat!

But the street squatted down and yelled out coarsely:
“Let’s go eat!”

Krupps and Krupplets gather around
To paint menacing brows on the city,
While in the gorge,
Corpses of words are scatted about,–
Two live and thrive,–
“Swine”
And another one,–
I believe, “borsch”.

And poets,
Soaking in sobs and complaining,
Run from the street, resentful and sour:
“With those two words there’s no way to portray now
A beautiful lady,
And love
And a dew-covered flower!”

And after the poets,
Thousands of others stampeded:
Students,
Prostitutes,
Salesmen.

Why should I care about Faust?
In a fairy display of the fireworks’ loot,
He’s gliding with Mephistopheles
On the parquet of galaxies!
I know,–
A nail in my boot
Is more frightening than Goethe’s fantasies!

I am
The most golden-mouthed,
With every word giving
The body – a name-day,
And the soul – a rebirth,
I assure you:
Minutest speck of the living
Is worth more than I can ever do on this earth!

Haven’t you seen
A dog licking the hand that it’s being thrashed by?

I am laughed at
By the present-day tribe.
They’ve made
A dirty joke out of me.
But I can see crossing mountains of time,
Him, whom others can’t see.

Where men’s sight falls short,
Wearing the revolution’s thorny crown,
Walking at the head of a hungry horde,
The year 1916 is coming around.

And when
His advent announcing,
Joyful and proud,
You’ll step up to greet the savior,–
I will drag
My soul outside,
And trample it
So it spreads out!
And give it to you, red in blood, as a flag.

Ah, how and wherefrom
Did it come to this, –
Against luminous joy,
Dirty fists of madness,
Were raised in the air?

And
As in the Dreadnought’s downfall
With chocking spasms
Men jumped into the hatch,
Before the ship died,
The crazed Burlyuk crawled on, passing
Through the screaming gaps of his eye.
Almost bloodying his eyelids,
He emerged on his knees,
Stood up and walked
And in the passionate mood,
With tenderness, unexpected from one so obese,
He simply said:
“Good!”
It’s good when from scrutiny a yellow sweater
Hides the soul!
It’s good when
On the gibbet, in face of terror,
You shout:
“Drink Cocoa — Van Houten!”

This moment,
Like a Bengal light,
Crackling from the blast,
I wouldn’t exchange for anything,
Not for any money.

Clouded by cigar smoke,
And stretching like a liquor glass,
One could make out the drunken face of Severyanin.
How dare you call yourself a poet
And gray, like a quail, twitter away your soul!
When
With brass knuckles
This very moment
You have to split the world’s skull!

You,
With one thought alone in your head,
“Am I dancing with style?”
Look how happy I am
Instead,
I,–
A pimp and a fraud all the while.
From all of you,
Who soaked in love for plain fun,
Who spilled
Tears into centuries while you cried,
I’ll walk away
And place the monocle of the sun
Into my gaping, wide-open eye.

I’ll wear colorful clothes, the most outlandish,
And roam the earth To please and scorch the public,
And in front of me,
On a metal leash,
Napoleon will run like a little puppy.
Like a woman, quivering, the earth will lie down,
Wanting to give in, she will slowly slump.
Objects will come alive
And from all around,
Their lips will lisp:
“Yum-yum-yum-yum-yum!”

Suddenly,
Clouds
And other such stuff in the air
Stirred in some astonishing commotion,
As if workers in white, up there,
Declared a strike, all bitter and emotional.
Savage thunder peeked out of the cloud, irate.
Snorting with huge nostrils, it howled
And for a moment, the sky’s face bent out of shape,
Resembling the iron Bismarck’s scowl.
And someone,
Entangled in the clouds’ maze,
To the café, stretched out his hand now:
Both, tender somehow,
With a womanly face,
And at once, like a firing cannon.

Take your hands out of your pockets, wanderers.
Pick up a bomb, a knife or a stone
And if one happens to be armless,
Let him come to fight with his forehead alone!
Go on, starving,
Servile
And abused ones,
In this flea-swarming filth, do not rot!
Go on!
We’ll turn Mondays and Tuesdays
Into holidays, painting them with blood!
Remind the earth whom it tried to debase!
With your knives be rough!

The earth
Has grown fat like the mistress’ face,
Whom Rothschild had over-loved!
May flags flutter in the line of fire
As they do on holidays, with a flare!
Hey, street-lamps, raise the traitors higher,
Let their carcasses hang in the air.

I cursed,
Stabbed
And hit in the face,
Crawled after somebody,
Biting into their ribs.

In the sky, red like La Marseillaise,
Sunset gasped with its shuddering lips.

It’s insanity!

Not a thing will remain from the war.

Night will come,
Bite into you
And swallow you stale.
Look,–
Is the sky playing Judas once more,
With a handful of stars that were soaked in betrayal?

Slumped in the corner of the saloon, I sit,
Spilling wine on my soul and the floor,
And I see:
In the corner, round eyes are lit
And with them, Madonna bites the heart’s core.
Why bestow such radiance on this drunken mass?
What do they have to offer?
Can’t you see, once again,
They prefer Barabbas
Over the Man of Golgotha?
Maybe, deliberately,
In this human mash, not once
Do I wear a fresh-looking face.
I am,
Perhaps,
The handsomest of your sons
In the whole human race.
Give them,
The ones molded with delight,
A quick death already,
So that their children may grow up right;
Boys — into fathers
Girls — into pregnant ladies.
Like wise men, let new born babes
Grow gray with insight and thought
And they’ll come
To baptize infants with names
Of the poems I wrote.

Athletes glistened in the carriages on the street.
People burst
Overstuffed,
And their fat oozed out,
Like a muddy river, it streamed on the ground,
Together with juices from
A cud of old meat.

Maria!
How can I fit a tender word into bulging ears?
A bird
Sings for alms
With a hungry voice
Rather well,

A poet sings praises to Tiana all day,
But I,–
I’m made of flesh,
I’m a man,–
I ask for your body,
Like Christians pray:
“Give us this day
Our daily bread.”

I’ll climb out
Filthy (sleeping in gullies all night),
And into his ear, I’ll whisper
While I stand
At his side:
“Mister God, listen!
Isn’t it tedious
To dip your generous eyes into clouds
Every day, every evening?
Let’s, instead,
Start a festive merry-go-round
On the tree of knowledge of good and evil!
Omnipresent, you’ll be all around us!
From wine, all the fun will ensue
And for once, Peter will not be frowning,
He’ll perform the fast-paced dance, ki-ka-pu.
We’ll bring all the Eves back into Eden:
Order me
And I’ll go,–
From boulevards,
I’ll pick up all the pretty girls needed
And bring them to you!
Should I?
No?
You’re shaking your curly head coarsely?
You’re knitting your brows like you’re rough?
Do you think
That this
Winged one, close by,
Knows true meaning of love?
I too am an angel; used to be one before,–
With a sugar lamb’s eye, I stared at your faces,
But I don’t want to give presents to mares anymore,–
All the torture of Sevres that’s been made into vases.
Almighty, You created two hands,
And with care,
Made a head, and went down the list,–
But why did you make it
So that it pained
When one had to kiss, kiss, kiss?!
I thought that you were Great God, Almighty,
But you’re a miniature idol, — a dunce in a suit,
Bending over, I’m reaching
For the knife that I’m hiding
At the top of my boot.
You, swindlers with wings,
Huddle in fright!
Ruffle your shuddering feathers, rascals!
You, reeking of incense, I’ll open you wide,
From here all the way to Alaska.

Let me go!

You can’t stop me!
Whether I’m right or wrong
Makes no difference,
I will not be calmer.
Look,–
Stars were beheaded all night long
And the sky is again bloody with slaughter.

Hey you,
Heaven!
Take your hat off,
When you see me near!

Silence.

The universe sleeps.
Placing its paw
Under the black, star-infested ear.

Vladimir Mayakovsky
1914

 

Originally titled The 13th Apostle (but renamed at the advice of a censor) Mayakovsky’s first major poem was written from the vantage point of a spurned lover, depicting the heated subjects of love, revolution, religion and art, taking the poet’s stylistic choices to a new extreme, linking irregular lines of declamatory language with surprising rhymes. It is considered to be a turning point in his work and one of the cornerstones of the Russian Futurist poetry.

The subject of Mayakovsky’s unrequited love was Maria Denisova whom he met in Odessa during the Futurists’ 1913 tour.Born in 1894 in Kharkov to a poor peasant family, Maria at the time resided with the family of her sister (whose husband Filippov was an affluent man) and was an art school student, learning sculpture. Vasily Kamensky described Denisova as “a girl of a rare combination of qualities: good looks, sharp intellect, strong affection for all things new, modern and revolutionary.” Mayakovsky fell in love instantly and gave her the nickname, Gioconda.

Mayakovsky started working of the poem (which he claim was born “as a letter, while on a train”) in the early 1914. He finished it in July 1915, in Kuokkala. Speaking at the Krasnaya Presnya Komsomol Palace in 1930, Mayakovsky remembered: “It started as a letter in 1913/14 and was first called “The Thirteenth Apostle”. As I came to see the censors, one of the asked me: Dreaming of doing a forced labour, eh? ‘By no means, I said, no such plans at all. So they erased six pages, as well as the title. Then, there’s the question about where the title has come from. Once somebody asked me how could I combine lyricism with coarseness. I replied: ‘Simple: you want me rabid, I’ll be it. Want me mild, and I’m not a man, a cloud in trousers.”

Picasso’s Promenade

Photograph by Chema Madoz

 
 

“On a very round plate of real porcelain
an apple poses
face to face with it
a painter of reality
vainly tries to paint
the apple as it is
but
the apple won’t allow it
the apple
it has its word to say about it
and several tricks in its bag of apples
and there it is turning
on its real plate
artfully on itself
blandly without budging
and like a Duc de Guise who disguises himself as a gas duct
because they want to draw his portrait against his will
the apple disguises itself as a beautiful fruit in disguise
and it’s then
that the painter of reality
begins to realize
that all the appearances of the apple are against him
and
like the unfortunate pauper
like the poor pauper who finds himself suddenly at the mercy
of no matter what benevolent and charitable and redoubtable
association of benevolence charity and redoubtability
the unfortunate painter of reality
then suddenly finds himself the sad prey
of a numberless crowd of associations of ideas
And the apple turning evokes the apple tree
the earthly Paradise and Eve and then Adam
a watering-can a trellis Parmentier a stairway
Canadian Hesperidian Norman apples Reinette apples and Appian apples
the serpent of the Tennis Court and the Oath of Apple Juice
and original sin
and the origins of art
and Switzerland with William Tell
and even Isaac Newton
several times prizewinner at the Exhibition of Universal Gravitation
and the dazed painter loses sight of his model
and falls asleep
It’s just then that Picasso
who’s going by there as he goes by everywhere
every day as if at home
sees the apple and the plate and the painter fallen asleep
What an idea to paint an apple
says Picasso
and Picasso eats the apple
and the apple tells him Thanks
and Picasso breaks the plate
and goes off smiling
and the painter drawn from his dreams
like a tooth
finds himself all alone again before his unfinished canvas
with right in the midst of his shattered china
the terrifying pips of reality.”

Jacques Prévert

Lovers Throughout the Centuries

“My main inspiration for this film, which isn’t referred to anywhere, is Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve. I’m a big Mark Twain fan, but that’s maybe my favorite book of his. ”

Jim Jarmusch

 
 

 
 

Only Lovers Left Alive is a 2013 British-German vampire film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Wright.

Married for centuries and now living half a world apart, two vampires wake as the sun goes down. The only solace he finds from miserable modernity is Eve. Lovers throughout the centuries, the two would be soul mates – if only they had souls. Adam sits holding a lute, in his cluttered Detroit Victorian , as Eve wakes up in her bedroom in Tangier, surrounded by books. Acting like addicts, blood for them is a drug that provides a wave of euphoria as well as sustenance. They are dependent on local suppliers of the “good stuff”, fearing contamination from blood poisoned by the degradation of the environment. Adam visits a local blood bank in the dead of night, masquerading as “Dr. Faust”, paying “Dr. Watson” for his coveted O negative, while Eve relies on their old friend Christopher Marlowe, who faked his death in 1593 and lives under the protection of a local man.

After influencing the careers of countless famous musicians and scientists, Adam has become withdrawn and suicidal. His desire to connect through his music is at odds with the danger of recognition as well as his contempt for the corrupt and foolish humans he refers to as “zombies”. He spends his days recording his compositions on outdated studio equipment and lamenting the state of the modern world whilst collecting vintage instruments. He pays Ian, a naive human “rock and roll kid”, to procure vintage guitars and other assorted curiosities, including a custom-made bullet with a brass casing and a wooden tip. Having acquired substantial scientific knowledge over the years, the vampire has managed to build contraptions to power both his home and vintage sports car with technology originally pioneered by Nikola Tesla.

The film is one of several Jarmusch productions, alongside films such as Night on Earth, in which the action mainly occurs at night-time. Swinton stated after the film’s release: “Jim is pretty much nocturnal, so the nightscape is pretty much his palette. There’s something about things glowing in the darkness that feels to me really Jim Jarmusch. He’s a rock star.”

The film’s greatest triumph is how it manages to avoid and subvert the clichés surroundings vampire folklore. The v-word is never mentioned, and in a playful twist, it is the humans who are derisively referred to by Adam and Eve as “the zombies”. The two of them are cultural snobs, looking down upon humans as mindless beings who go about their days without a thought to the finer things in life.

It’s a personal take on how Jarmusch himself must feel. A film-maker who has built his hipster reputation as an independent New York artist working outside the mainstream, those like him who devote their time to the counter-culture will always feel isolated from the rest of the world. In Adam and Eve’s tender relationship he has made his warmest film yet, a movie with the message that the price of genius doesn’t have to be loneliness if you find a loving kindred spirit.

The Private Lives of Adam and Eve

 
 

Eve’s Diary is a comic short story by Mark Twain. It was first published in the 1905 Christmas issue of the magazine Harper’s Bazaar, and in book format in June 1906 by Harper and Brothers publishing house. It is written in the style of a diary kept by the first woman in the biblical creation story, Eve, and is claimed to be “translated from the original MS.” The book may have been written as a posthumous love-letter to Mark Twain’s wife Olivia Langdon Clemens, or Livy, who died in June 1904, just before the story was written. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Eve’s Diary is finished — I’ve been waiting for her to speak, but she doesn’t say anything more.” The story ends with Adam’s speaking at Eve’s grave, “Wherever she was, there was Eden.”

 
 

Eve’s Diary, page 3

 
 

The “plot” of this novel is the first-person account of Eve (modeled after his wife Livy) from her creation up to her burial by, her mate, Adam (based on Twain himself), including meeting and getting to know Adam, and exploring the world around her, Eden. The story then jumps 40 years into the future after the Fall and expulsion from Eden. It is one of a series of books Twain wrote concerning the story of Adam and Eve, including Extracts from Adam’s Diary, That Day In Eden, Eve Speaks, Adam’s Soliloquy, and the Autobiography of Eve. Eve’s Diary has a lighter tone than the others in the series, as Eve has a strong appreciation for beauty and love.

 
 

 
 

The book version of the story was published with 55 illustrations by Lester Ralph, on each left hand page. The illustrations depicted Eve and Adam in their natural settings. The depiction of an unclothed woman was considered pornographic when the book was first released in the United States, and created a controversy around the book. One library in Charlton, Massachusetts banned the book for the depictions of Eve in “summer costume.”

Mark Twain wrote Adam’s Diary at the Villa Viviani, near Florence, Italy, where the family had moved in late September 1892, after a summer at Bad Nauheim, Germany. There he wrote several works, including Those Extraordinary Twins which would later be rewritten as The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson. He began work on Adam’s Diary during December of 1892 as early in January 1893 he noted that both Pudd’nhead Wilson and Adam’s Diary had gone to the typist.

When the copy of Adam’s Diary was finished, Mark Twain sent it to Webster and Company manager Fred Hall on 13 March 1893, along with another recently completed story, Is He Living or Is He Dead?, suggesting that Hall try to place them with the Cosmopolitan or Century magazine. The diary he declared “a gem, if I do say it myself that shouldn’t”. Although turned down by both Cosmopolitan and Century, the diary finally found a place in The Niagara Book, a volume that Irving S. Underhill, the son of an old friend from Buffalo, was preparing in the hope of promoting Niagara Falls as a tourist attraction.

While the revisions of Adam’s Diary were made to include references to Niagara Falls, Mark Twain apparently never really liked the Niagara Falls portions of the story. In August 1895, near the beginning of his world lecture tour, he revised a copy of the Niagara Book piece, marking out the Niagara Falls passages and localized allusions and making a few additional changes.

He made further revisions as he was writing Eve’s Diary in order to publish both diaries as companion pieces. On 16 July he wrote to his daughter Clara: “This morning I gutted old Adam’s Diary & removed every blemish from it.” “Matters did not allow the publication until 1931, when Harper’s [sic] finally published them together as The Private Lives of Adam and Eve.”

Twain had long been fascinated with the story of our First Parents. Examples of literary works involving Adam include: Chapter 53 of The Innocents Abroad, where the narrator revels in “tumultuous emotions” at finding himself beside Adam’s tomb, and bewails that fact that neither of them had had the opportunity to know the other. And in 1877 Adam’s Expulsion, though not published until [The Bible According to Mark Twain], marked his first attempt to present Adam as an actual character and to delve into his motivations and reactions. Adam is based on Twain himself.

Many of Twain’s joking references to Adam are among his most outrageous remarks. When he thinks of a plight of his own, like unjust copyright laws, he is reminded of Adam: “Adam was the author of sin, and I wish he had taken out an international copyright on it. For international copyright could have won, then. But when there came to be two men, it was too late, because there was one to oppose it, and experience shows that that fellow would have had the most influence.”

Mark Twain wrote Eve’s Diary in Dublin, New Hampshire, in July 1905, following a visit from Harper editor Frederick Duneka, who suggested he write the story for the magazine’s Christmas issue. From the beginning he thought of the story as a companion piece to Adam’s Diary, with Eve using Adam’s record as her “unwitting and unconscious” text. That desire led to the revision of Adam’s Diary, as described earlier. Although Twain wanted both pieces to appear in Harper’s, Duneka rejected the idea, saying that they would be issued together in a single volume as soon as “matters” allowed doing the book properly, and that Eve’s Diary itself would go into the Christmas magazine.

Blake’s Effort to Redeem Errors

William Blake illustrated Paradise Lost more often than any other work by John Milton, and illustrated Milton’s work more often than that of any other writer. The illustrations demonstrate his critical engagement with the text, specifically his efforts to redeem the “errors” he perceived in his predecessor’s work.

There are twelve plates in each of the Paradise Lost sets, one for each of the books in the poem. While some of these, such as Satan, Sin and Death: Satan Comes to the Gates of Hell, depict specific scenes from the epic; others, such as Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve, are syntheses of several scenes. In the latter case, Blake employed visual barriers to separate the elements from different scenes, such as the arc of the bower in Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve.

In Blake’s mythology, Albion’s fall from a divine androgyny to a sexual nature divides him into the Four Zoas, their spectres (representative of hypocritical morality), and their emanations (female halves). In the Paradise Lost illustrations, Adam is analogous to the fallen Albion, Satan to Adam’s Spectre and Eve to Adam’s emanation.

 
 

Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve

 
 

Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels

 
 

Adam and Eve Asleep

 
 

Raphael Warns Adam and Eve

 
 

The Creation of Eve

 
 

The Temptation and Fall of Eve

 
 

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden

They Shall Be One Flesh

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from a man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis, Chapter 2

The Bible

 
 

“Saying whatever you want it to say. It is just us expressing ourselves like a child does, you know, however he feels like then. What we’re saying is make your own music. This is Unfinished Music.”
John Lennon

 
 

The bottom of the front cover has a quote from Paul McCartney – When two great Saints meet it is a humbling experience. The long battles to prove he was a Saint. On the bottom of the back cover it reads “May 1968. Made in Merrie England.”

 
 

Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins is an album released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in November 1968, on Apple. Following Lennon’s wife, Cynthia Lennon, going on holiday, it was the result of an all-night session of musical experimentation in Lennon’s home studio at Kenwood. Lennon and Ono’s debut album is known not only for its avant garde content, but also for its cover. The album cover features Lennon and Ono naked, which made the album become controversial – to both the public and the record company, EMI, who refused to distribute it. To calm down the controversy, the album was sold in a brown paper bag, and distributed by Track and Tetragrammaton, in the UK and US, respectively. The album, while failing to the chart in the UK, reached number 124 in the US. The album was followed by Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions.

 
 

Original photo

 
 

Lennon and Ono used a time-delay camera, which was set up by Tony Bramwell, to take nude photographs of themselves for the album’s cover, which were taken at 34 Montagu Square, in Marylebone (London), the location of a flat leased out by Ringo Starr. in early October 1968. Lennon explained that they “were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed action shutter.” The front cover showed them frontally nude including Lennon’s penis and Ono’s breasts and pudendal cleft, and both Lennon’s and Ono’s natural pubic hair, while the rear cover showed them nude from behind including their buttocks. Lennon’s idea was to have the nude shot for the front album cover. Neil Aspinall said that Lennon gave the roll of film to an Apple employee, known as Jeremy, with instructions that the pictures were to be developed. Jeremy said that the pictures were “mind-blowing”, Aspinall, however, said that “Everything was always “mind-blowing” to Jeremy” then going on to say: “but – just that one time – he was actually right. He couldn’t believe it.”

 
 

 
 

The cover provoked an outrage, prompting distributors to sell the album in a plain brown wrapper, covering the nude front cover. Quotes from Genesis Chapter 2 were placed on the back of the brown bag, which were chosen by Derek Taylor. The album’s title came from the couple’s feeling that they were “two innocents, lost in a world gone mad”, and because after making the recording, the two consummated their relationship. Lennon had said that the album cover “just seemed natural for us. We’re all naked really.” Ono saw the cover as a significant declaration: “I was in the artistic community, where a painter did a thing about rolling a naked woman with blue paint on her body on a canvas; […] that was going on at the time. The only difference was that we were going to stand together, which I thought was very interesting […] it was just standing straight. I liked that concept.” Copies of the album were impounded as obscene in several jurisdictions (including 30,000 copies in New Jersey in January 1969). Lennon commented that the uproar seemed to have less to do with the explicit nudity, and more to do with the fact that the pair were rather unattractive (and the photo unflattering; Lennon described it later as a picture of “two slightly overweight ex-junkies”).

In the Land of Gods and Monsters

Lana Del Rey‘s new short film Tropico is a 30-minute visual directed by Anthony Mandler (National Anthem, Ride) and starring model Shaun Ross. Featuring her tracks Body Electric, Gods and Monsters and Bel Air, it’s a lurid tangle of Americana and an extension of her aesthetic, with themes of innocence lost, good vs. evil, and trading your body for money. As she puts it in the iconic words of Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.”

A Statement in Favor of Individual Freedom

 
 

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) – originally titled Le Bain (The Bath) – is a large oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet created in 1862 and 1863. Rejected by the Salon jury of 1863, Manet seized the opportunity to exhibit this and two other paintings in the 1863 Salon des Refusés where the painting sparked public notoriety and controversy.

Odilon Redon, for example, did not like it. There is a discussion of it, from this point of view, in Marcel Proust‘s Remembrance of Things Past. One interpretation of the work is that it depicts the rampant prostitution that occurred in the Bois de Boulogne, a large park at the western outskirts of Paris, at the time. This prostitution was common knowledge in Paris, but was considered a taboo subject unsuitable for a painting.

It is not a realist painting in the social or political sense of Honoré Daumier, but it is a statement in favor of the artist’s individual freedom. The shock value of a nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men, which was an affront to the propriety of the time, was accentuated by the familiarity of the figures. Manet’s wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and his favorite model, Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, who has Meurent’s face, but Leenhoff’s plumper body. Her body is starkly lit and she stares directly at the viewer. The two men are Manet’s brother Gustave Manet and his future brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff. They are dressed like young dandies. The men seem to be engaged in conversation, ignoring the woman. In front of them, the woman’s clothes, a basket of fruit, and a round loaf of bread are displayed, as in a still life. In the background a lightly clad woman bathes in a stream. Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them. The roughly painted background lacks depth – giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio. This impression is reinforced by the use of broad “photographic” light, which casts almost no shadows; the lighting of the scene, in fact, is inconsistent and unnatural. The man on the right wears a flat hat with a tassel, of a kind normally worn indoors.

 
 

Judgement of Paris (circa 1515). Engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi to a design by Raphael

 
 

As with the later Olympia (1865), and other works, Manet’s composition reveals his study of the old masters, as the disposition of the main figures is derived from Marcantonio Raimondi‘s engraving The Judgement of Paris (c. 1515) after a drawing by Raphael.

Scholars also cite two works as important precedents for Manet’s painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, The Pastoral Concert, 1508, attributed to either one of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian or Giorgione, and Giorgione’s The Tempest, both of which are famous Renaissance paintings.

 
 

The Pastoral Concert (c. 1509), attributed to either one of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian or Giorgione

 
 

The subject was perhaps the allegory of poetry and music: the two women would be an imaginary apparition representing the ideal beauty, stemming from the two men’s fantasy and inspiration. The woman with the glass vase would be the muse of tragic poetry, while the other one would be that of the pastoral poetry. Of the two playing men, the one with the lute would represent the exalted lyric poetry, the other being an ordinary lyricist, according to the distinction made by Aristotle in his Poetics. Another interpretation suggests that the painting is an evocation of the four elements of the natural world (water, fire, earth and air) and their harmonic relationship.

 
 

Giorgione, The Tempest (circa 1508)

 
 

There is no contemporary textual explanation for The Tempest, and ultimately, no definitive reading or interpretation. To some it represents the flight into Egypt; to others, a scene from classical mythology (Paris and Oenone) or from an ancient Greek pastoral novel. According to the Italian scholar Salvatore Settis, the desert city would represent the Paradise, the two characters being Adam and Eve with their son Cain: the lightning, as in ancient Greek and Hebrew times, would represent God who has just ousted them from Eden. Others have proposed a moral allegorical reading, or concluded that Giorgione had no particular subject in mind.