Ishmael Essay, Research Paper
a review of…
In the past few centuries there have been a handful of books written that offer up ideas about humanity that are so completely new to a reader but are so completely convincing that they can force a reader to take a step back and assess all that they know to be true about their life and their purpose. Daniel Quinn has succeeded in creating such a book in Ishmael, a collection of new ideas about man, his evolution, and the destiny that keeps him captive.
When I began reading Ishmael I was amazed by the ideas offered by Quinn. Like in Rambo and the Dalai Lama by Gordon Fellman I was looking at the world not as it must be but as it could be. I was very suprised and excited, that as a member of generation X that tries so hard to create their own destiny, that I had never perceived or questioned Mother Culture .
In the first one hundred pages if Ishamel I found a number of convincing ideas that I believe I will take away with me. The greatest of these being that the technology that we believe will prolong our existence is the same driving force that propells us to extinction. I believe that Quinn illustrated this idea superbly with his narrative of the aeronauts. Man
knew that he could fly but he didn t know all the rules. And instead of leaving it be until
he did he was so sure of himself that he made his attempts blindly and came to a much
quicker end than if he hadn t tried at all.
Toward the middle of the book my ability to accept Quinn s ideas began to waiver. I believe this began when Quinn starting explaining the whys of man s perceived destiny through religion or man s need to overcome his religion. Now, I do believe that religion influences everyone, even those that don t have it. And I ll admit that Quinn offered many great points in history to back his theories, but I believe they were just theories. It was at
this point in the students learning that I began to think that Quinn might still be learning himself. I think many of the ideas presented in the rest of the book are not as obvious to a conditioned mind.
Throughout Ishmael Quinn has offered ideas about how man is living in its own captivity. This captivity seems to be death through narrow mindedness and I think I would have to agree. But I believe their was another point or idea presented by Quinn but in a less direct manner. This was presented in Ishmael himself. Throughout the book I felt more drawn to the ideas of Quinn s not just because they were simply convincing on their own, which they were, but more because of who they were coming from, a gorilla. Although I accept to these ideas as coming from Daniel Quinn, a man, while reading I am drawn to believe that this wise old gorilla would never lie. I think that Quinn chose the gorilla because of how it is perceived by the Takers, an earlier version of ourselves with the ability to evolve as we did. I think that many people would like to know what an animal is thinking and might also like to believe that they know something we do not, an unknown wisdom that we as humans can not figure out.
Ishmael is definitely a book to be learned from. It would seem that we need to take what we have learned here and help society to understand. But as I look more losely it seems like such an impossible task. In the age where media dictates and Mother Culture is thriving like never before are we as humans ready to say, Hey! ybe there more than one way to look at this. But then I reflect on our Peace Studies class, which I anticipated to be a coming together of open minds to explore new ways of creating and maintaining peace, and see how far off we are from looking beyond ourselves. We still think that we can fix the world if we work harder at what were doing, even though the work were doing has only brought us closer to what were trying to avoid.