Common to the Christian and Jewish creation scripture is a parable about an event in a garden, where our species made some sort of fundamental error involving what is spoken of as a Tree, a Serpent, and a Fruit.

If we examine various perspectives on these stories from a semantic vector (where meaning, value, and contrast are explored more deeply) and take a bit of playful licence with the plot, we find that there is an underlying structure which is not readily apparent, and it relates to ‘things which come first’ — in domains that contain the fundamental elements we use language to construct, interpret, value, record and convey meaning through.

This is a central element of what we call learning, and the character of our relation with language generates the character and prowess of our learning — from which our action emerges. I believe the story in Genesis is fundamentally about different modes of learning, and that it contains a key to experiential access to the long lost treasures that are therein recorded. In every case, they are treasures of re-unification.

What I am exploring here need not be seen or understood as ‘theology’ and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with religion, or a specific religion — or even spirituality. In fact, although I may use metaphors drawn from these domains, feel free to proceed just as though I am telling the story of why we have language, and symbolic representation (metaphors, especially) using a commonly familiar plot-frame. While telling this story I will try to show a hidden danger, somewhat alike with substituting one pole of a single magnet for every instance of every magnet — and losing access and knowledge that another pole ever existed.

The story in Genesis III is my focus, because it is here that purportedly a terrible accident occurs, which is commonly spoken of as the source of human error. For the moment, we will suspend our common ideas of logic along with the interpretations we are familiar with, and presume instead that this story is a crucial element in the ladder our species ascended — or the hole they fell into — that resulted in the cognitive, emotional, intellectual and relational positions we now inhabit.

Perhaps in so doing we shall find clear evidence of something so unexpected...that it could change not only how we think about knowledge, and how our minds work — but what we are and become as a species. To do so we will need to have and preserve for each other the opportunity to see the story and its elements from some uncommon perspectives.


We think knowledge is our servant (and it can be) but for the past 5000 years and perhaps especially for the last 150 years the reality and outcomes of human relation with formal knowledge has been ‘mostly serpent’...instead. I agree it appears heroic, but most of that appearance is revealed as adept and often predatory mimicry when we examine the facts of global and personal circumstance as well as the response to ‘the outcomes of the shapes of the ideas humans make about themselves and their universe’.

There are some ways of interacting with language, meaning and symbols that by their nature guarantee their own survival and elaboration first. When we are trapped in the ways we are taught to explore and relate with meaning, elements of how human knowledge and relation systems work — transform into ‘more Serpent than Servant’.

This process hides its tracks so adeptly that no trace of its activity is ever apparent — unless some aspects of our root-metaphors are allowed to shift away from what they normally highlight — in the dimensions of meaning, and relation-shape.

There’s one sort of knowledge that leads to direct connectivity with the problems and the solutions (something like revelation) — this form of knowledge ‘dissolves itself in scales’ until it has provided direct access to experience and understanding.

There is another more formal sort of knowledge — and it is very concerned with formality. It actively obscures what it represents, while highlighting its own status and credentialing authority instead. It assembles itself in scales...making something we might liken to trees, on which each branch is a new and yet similar tree — no matter how far one might zoom in or out in perspective.

The latter is the kind that our species has been largely stuck with for thousands of years; and the former is our birthright. When we are stuck with only the latter, we cannot remember how to find or play with the former — which is meant to be the master of the pair.


Some metaphors are more important than others:

Life, Time, Light, Unity, Separation, God, Evil, Source, World, Animal, Star, Food, Eye, Self, Other.

These seem like concepts — regular metaphors, but they aren’t — they are examples of holophores — the generative sources from which metaphors accrue character, shape, meaning and relational continuity. Part of their power is that they are very general, and another part is that they are very ancient.

These ‘root metaphors’, or holophores get ‘folded’ into more complex children by sentient hosts (like us) — which results in concepts and assembly-methods for valuing, sustaining, linking and communicating ‘concepts’ as language and activity. When there is damage to these roots in the domain of general accuracy, or direction of travel (away or toward greater general accuracy), the damage resident in their children, in terms of meaning-shape-relation, is geometrically magnified. This happens at a speed in human populations that makes lightspeed seem like a crawl in comparison — depending of course upon the scale of our perspective in time.

When we change our relationship with these holophores, the rest of our pre-existing knowledge explodes with change as a repercussion — because nearly all the other metaphors and assemblies we can make, depend upon ‘roots’ like these for their ‘source-shape’. Because they are already present in all the extant concepts we assemble and encode, changes in this domain of meaning-relation — and ability — radically alter what we are capable of learning, perceiving, experiencing, and doing.


There are dimensions of relation and understanding far more vital and profound than those we refer to with tokenized knowledge — such as the outcomes of the application and common agreement with systems of knowing emergent from sciences or philosophies.

It is from these dimensions (of ‘playful’ integration) that the tiny shaving of them we emerge with and tokenize into formal existence as knowledge is taken. Unfortunately for us, for almost all of human intellectual history — and certainly in our own lives and nations — ‘the best parts’ of knowledge were ‘hidden’ long before the sliver we would eventually receive and disproportionately revere would come to lodge in us as the sole replacement for our birthrights of organismal sentience and relation.

If our access to an ever more generally correct relationship with holophores is co-opted against us, erased by common agreement, or damaged — we become slaves to ways of knowing. If on the other hand this access is instead experientially available, protected, nurtured and celebrated by common agreement, we get something we’ve rarely glimpsed on Earth, and it is not entirely unlike our concepts of Paradise.

I say that it must at this point in our cognitive and human evolution become obvious to us as a species that the root powers not only of intelligence but of sentience lie not in specificity, but in vast and truly ‘magical’ integrations — perhaps primarily occurring in domains our modern ways of knowing would be forced to scoff at because their shape and history does not allow them to ‘lose their chains’ of ‘what is known’, and thus ‘make large the wings’ of what is to be discovered or more truly revealed with nothing more than the agreement to proceed for the sake of mutual uplift.

Perfect specificity is deadly. Creatively recombinant (broken) integration — now that’s something worth pursuing.