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Paradise Lust: Searching For The Garden Of Eden With Brook Wilensky-Lanford

First Posted: 10/12/2011 7:37 am Updated: 12/12/2011 4:12 am

In Pararadise Lust: Searching For The Garden of Eden, Brook Wilensky-Lanford documents the journeys of a few of the metaphysical explorers who tried and -- spoiler alert -- failed to find our happiest homeland.

Wilensky-Lanford's hero explorers -- men like Elvy Edison Callaway, a lawyer who discovered Eden in northern Florida after supporting Clarence Darrow in the Scopes trial -- are mostly a lovable lot filled with good intentions and bad intel.

They occupy a fascinating world that is part fictive, part factual and though their attempts to superimpose the scriptural on the cartographic are, of course, doomed, the inevitability of failure doesn't deflate their stories, which are all the more compelling for transpiring largely inside their heads.

Knowledge is fine and mortality even has its perks -- fewer high school reunions for one -- but it is no small wonder that so many people regret the fall from grace: We had it good in the garden. On this side of the flaming sword we've had to endure famine, war and political primaries. The urge to get back to where we once belonged is as natural as it is universal.

Since our collective expulsion, the ranks of paradise seekers have grown as steadily as theories of our providence have proliferated. Explorers have sought paradise in the Amazon, in Babylon and under the ice caps. Some have been searching for something closer to utopia, a place apart from their struggles, while others have set their sights on absolute perfection.

Paradise Lust is, in part at least, about the way humans relate to the physical world and our fundamental unwillingness to accept its flaws. Each explorer acts like an immature lover, believing in his beloved's capacity for perfection. The failure of each expedition or theory provides more and more support to the hypothesis that we will all feel like travelers forever.

Wilensky-Lanford was kind enough to sit down with HuffPost Travel and discuss the explorers who have gone off in search of Eden. For would-be paradise seekers, we've created a guide to the theoretical gardens around the world.


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