The Essayistic “I”

This week, students in Ida Lødemel Tvedt’s Cultural Criticism and the Essayistic “I” are reading excerpts from Stephen Greenblatt’s new book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve. One excerpt, which more or less avoids the essayistic “I,” was published at The Paris Review, and highlights Adam and Eve’s blindness.

They had no need to see, since they were in a world designed to meet their every need. If they wanted something to eat or drink, it was always within grasp. And when God brought the animals to Adam for him to name, Adam simply reached out and touched each of them, knowing from the touch what name to assign. Perhaps their happy blindness—happy, of course, because they did not know that they could not see—helps to explain their transgression, since it might have been difficult for them to distinguish the forbidden fruit from all others, particularly if the enemy were bent on deceiving them. In any case, their condition helps to explain their complete absence of shame, for it was only after their fall that God removed the coating that had blinded their eyes.

I’d be happy for some discussion of Greeblatt’s book here, remarks from students in the class about what they read. Notes on blindness and sight. I’d like to recommend this essay by Annie Dillard, an excerpt from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and this essay by Stephen Kuusisto, both of which complicate and challenge the primacy the visual in our culture.

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