Thursday, July 30, 2015

[OE005] The Story: Pandora

Previous: [OE004] What We Could Do: Beyond Straw Good and Evil

Seductive Gifts: Damned When You Do

When you set the table,
When you chose the scale,
Did you write a riddle that you knew they would fail?
Did you make them tremble
So they would tell the tale?
Did you push us when we fell
-David Bazan, When We Fell

                One of the most common criticisms of God in the Genesis account is that of course Adam and Eve were going to eat the fruit. If God is all knowing, He knew that Adam and Eve would sin, and so putting the tree in the garden was essentially entrapment. To paraphrase Mr. Bazan, we were pushed and so we fell.

                Since this is not a theology article, we will skip the issue of whether or not the Judeo-Christian God was being disingenuous. Instead, let’s examine a similar story in which the gods were most absolutely being dicks: the story of Pandora.

"Screw you, Zeus."
The Story

                The story of Pandora is also a familiar one, but let’s take a minute to review it.

                After Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to men, Zeus was a bit angry. Chaining Prometheus to a rock and having birds peck out his liver every day wasn’t enough. Zeus also wanted to punish the men (and at this point, all humans were men) who accepted the fire.

                So the gods and goddesses created the first woman, Pandora, and sent her down to men with a jar (mistranslated as "box") that contained all of the evils in the world. These evils are similar to the ones released by Adam and Eve: toilsome work, sickness, death, disease, and so on.

                Naturally, Pandora opened the jar because of course she opened the jar and now there is evil in the world.

                Unlike Yahweh, who at least maintains plausible deniability, Zeus does not hide his desire to see Pandora fail. He creates her specifically so that she will open the jar containing all the world’s evils. Pandora, “the all-gifted,” is nothing more than a mechanism for forcing humans to inflict Zeus’ revenge onto themselves. It is the theological equivalent of “stop hitting yourself.”

                So we still have a clear choice – open the jar or don’t open the jar – but this time the judging authority is pushing for an unavoidable fall.
Next: [OE006] The Game Mechanic: Choiceless Choices

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