Every time I look at this painting I can easily get lost in the vibrant colors and layers of texture. However, it is in the fantastical details where we find deeper meaning. The world is split between man and woman. Adam, punished for his indulgences, is trapped in the tree, unable to escape. The teary eyed roses represent the omniscient women who know of man’s undoing. Although the women have awareness, they cry for the loneliness of their kind. With so much temptation on earth, how do we mediate our desires so we can have healthy relationships?
Freud would argue the act of giving in to temptation is controlled by the “id.” This pleasure seeking, pain avoiding entity in our unconscious is only subdued by the healthy functioning of our “ego.” Although I think Freud was onto something, there are other ways to understand temptation and how it impacts relationships. If I had to choose one word to glorify in psychology it would be: context. We are more than just instinctual drives. Each individual learns from their experience and is perpertually affected by their history, culture and environment. Each generation has distinctive perceptions of temptation because of their differing contexts. Today, the facility with which we use social media, smart phones and video games has significant influence on our ability to relate to one another. North American culture reveres whatever is fast, easy and expensive. As a result, we can fall into patterns of self absorbtion, blind to the necessity of relationships. The biblical story of Adam and Eve fortold of a separation between the sexes, a prediction that in many ways continues to be true.