Genesis 2: 8-14-Planted a garden eastward…and a river went out… and from thence it parted, and became into four heads… The name of the first.. and the name of the second… and the name of the third… And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

There is a shift from an organicist plan of horizontal systems supporting vertical stacks of vaguely named objects designed to permit a certain freedom of development through the clash of systemic rules and the subsequent condensation or sublation resulting in new synthetic processes and more importantly to phylogeny the birth as it were of new objects/phyla/critters, to an atomistic focus. The specificity of the garden, this one garden here, eastward (of no distinct reference) with an unnamed river as irrigant of the garden then to be definitively quartered into major rivers is a movement toward the discrete and controlled away from the luxuriance of interweaving constructs. While this stands in opposition to “normal” river confluence from tributary to larger flow, it may well simply represent a spring source or mountain snowpack source. This is for others to ponder in geologic terms or in the feverish quest to “locate” Eden, the ark, Atlantis, etc. What I find interesting is the specificity, the determinism built into the narrative here. Adam had been given the privilege to name the plants and animals but these four rivers seem to have been pre-named (though no name is given to the source). It is as if only what exists within Eden is Adam’s/humanity’s to name/control. Beyond the realm of people God retains naming rights as well as control. Were I to say to a person within a room that she has all control and right to linguistic choices (mostly the same thing because language is reality as what and how we classify objects and processes is how we perceive/experience our realities– this last phrase itself impossible to truly grasp since how would the whole of humanity agree upon what our reality would be, given the less we know the more sure we tend to be of our opinions while the more we learn the more open-ended and inclusive our opinions tend to be) but she cannot exit the room nor control that which is beyond the walls, would she feel master of her universe and free or confined and oppressed even in paradise? Is that thing we refer to as human nature somewhat thirsting for a ruckus over what we are told we cannot have or do? Is this not proven in the need for the tenth and summarizing commandment against coveting, itself only an extension of the basic premise of all ten that theft will not be tolerated on any level, that theft destroys the possibility of civilization be it theft of the name of the Godhead, theft of honesty, theft of belongings, respect, what have you? Humanity is hostage within Eden through limited control over language by a system of limitation on understanding. Where the mother effluvial source breaks free of Eden and separates into not-tributaries, the human animal breaks free from linguistic control through consciousness of self and other and scatters/migrates/searches as far as the globe will permit terrestrial movement until technological advances begin to open even the heavens to our wanderlust. This is the mirror stage of human development in biblical terms.

What names these four great rivers are given by God are erased in humanity’s transliterated chaos/control. Three rivers have lost their names entirely and we pretend that the river originally named Euphrates is the same one the Creator chose a name for. But this is as absurd as to assume that a Juan from millennia ago is the same Juan we parlay with at the stock exchange. Erosion, death, rebirth and language will have done their magic upon that long gone Juan/Euphrates and we remain the audience gasping at illusion, in this case the illusion of any permanency in names. That the four rivers are given names, given directions of flow and specific resources seems to imply God’s awareness of the soon to come uprising in Eden and the subsequent expulsion/freedom of its human captives. There will be exiles and so there must be a place of exile. For the ex-incarcerated it is better to wander in Nod hurting, shamed, curious, inventive than to exist in paradise ignorant as lambs. This echoes Milton’s fallen Lucifer saying “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” As we are God, we also are the contrary. Just as Lucifer was cast out to Pandaemonium so we are cast out to wander Nod. Just as heaven was not enough so Eden was neither. Oddly, though, that hunger for power over self, that unyielding need to recognize no power greater than our own logocentrism does not obliterate the divine gift/sustenance that is charity and concern for the other. At this level in human development, giving up of self in the service of others, we find self-fulfillment, nirvana into obliteration of self toward absorption into the universal process, enlightenment. As we give of ourselves, so we give light. We say, in the rocky, violent landscape “Here. Take this for you and yours. I want you to have more by my having less. I am enriched by this.” We say through charity– the opposite of theft– “Let there be light,” and return to the God of creation.