Jeff's Reviews > Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
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Jan 02, 09

Read in January, 2009

My wife has been after me to read this book for years now. I was somewhat tenative about it...I was actually downright stubborn about not reading it...but finally relented, and I'm glad that I did.

To say the least, an unusual use of the Socratic dialogue structure to discuss the place of mankind in the world. And while I see Quinn's point, and realize that what he is saying is for all intents and purposes "the truth," I also understand, as the narrator in the book undoubtedly does as well, that erasing 10,000 years of human mindset as to it's place in the grand structure of the universe is pointless.

In the end, you have to try to imagine the world that Ishmael is trying to get the narrator to embrace. Perhaps we do not need to be a new society of hunter-gatherers to regain some kind of peace with Nature. But then how do we acheive it? Do we each become responsible for procuring our own foods? We shut down mass production of food? We give up division of labor? How? To what end? Perhaps these are merely the excuses that Ishmael becomes so disgusted with, but they are valid in their own right. Granted, we must achieve some harmony within the world of which we are a part. We must come to understand that we were never meant to "rule the world" as a species. And perhaps come to an understanding that evolution does not end with us. But thought and civilization...even technology can be preserved and utilized to acheive these ends.
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