Jejudo, South Korea
Don't know if anybody's interested in this but I thought it was hilarious:
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name therof.
Adam sitting on a pleasant green slope while orderly animals file slowly past under a clear and sunny sky. By extension one can equally well imagine the naming of particulars in the vegetable and mineral kingdoms with angels of the lower order bringing samples of each kind to Adam.
Adam is looking from some distance at a disorderly gathering of creatures dimly illuminated by wavering torchlight and perhaps raising a dust that conspires with the night to obscure them. Adam's task is to pick out as many kinds as he can, never being sure that two that look alike should bear the same name or that he has given names to all. Nor can there be anything final about the process: once he is expelled from Eden, the creature he encounters will no longer be simply pleasant companions, but potentially harmful or useful, and therefore new groupings will suggest themselves. In short, there is no transcendental order of elephants or Platonic Idea of grasshoppers. Whether we distinguish between crickets and grasshoppers or even between grasshoppers and elephants is a matter of our own purposes.
It is as if angel or devil -- I prefer Derridevil -- came to Adam after the Fall arguing that there had never been a Garden of Eden: Adam had never been cast out but was always absent from it, for if it had ever been present to him he would not have required language, the signature of absence. Such an argument would finally arrive at the conclusion that there are no animals to name, and no Adamic self to name them -- only language 'inhabiting' a hillside. And of course if Adam had challenged: "How can you be explaining this to me since in naming me and allowing me to name you, you are deferring the possibility of our presence," the answer would have been, "Right, we are two traces confronting each other across the uncanny abyss."
Or, alternatively, the Derridevil might have argued: "Well, now, in addition to losing your happy habitation, I've come to tell you tht you believe in something you never had: language. It isn't really possible, you know. How could God have told you to create language by doing things like naming animals without Himself using language? You can't really imagine an origin for language, can you? Besides, look at the absurdity: here a snake, there a snake -- but they are not the same snake. Even this snake is not the same as the one you looked at a minute ago -- because the one you looked at a minute ago was not the one you looked at a minute earlier. Moreover, when you tell Eve about this snake, the snake you are talking about will be absent, whereas this one is present. You won't even be thinking of the same thing: she obviously responds to snakes rather differently than you." And who can doubt that if Adam had asked the Derridevil, "How is it you can explain all this to me if there's no language," the answer would have been ready. "I'm only speaking under erasure; I'm allowed that under diabolic license."
Wendell V. Harris
[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 11-16-2001).]