Read My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn Free Online
Book Title: My Ishmael|
The author of the book: Daniel Quinn
Edition: Bantam Books
Date of issue: November 3rd 1997
ISBN 13: 9780553106367
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 831 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.9
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My Ishmael is, of course, the sequel to Daniel Quinn's novel Ishmael. This book focuses on much the same subject matter as the first book. Namely, that the agricultural revolution gave rise over time to the modern-day Taker culture. With this rise the Taker's put forth the attitude that they were in control of their own destiny and chose to live in a seemingly unnatural way. They decided for themselves to conquer the world without care of the consequences to all other life. Quinn's main assertion is that mankind (modern Taker culture) needs to find a better way to live lest they totally destroy themselves and do irreparable harm to the rest of the planet.
The book's perspective was told as the dialogue between a 12-year-old girl named Julie and the philosopher/gorilla Ishmael. The book is insightful because we see things in their dialogue that answer questions left hanging in the first novel. However, the dialogue itself is very weak and it's hardly believable that a 12-year-old girl is going to have some of the mature conversations she does with Ishmael. In fact, some of the dialogue begins to read like a rant from the writer.
One of the more irritable things I found with this book and with Quinn in general is his sitting on the fence attitude. He continually extols the virtue of tribal (aka Leaver) culture while lamenting our own culture. However, when asked specifically if he is saying we should all revert to a more primitive form of living he will say, "no no no you have to find your own way to live." When asked what this own way is he'll respond, "you're an inventive people..so invent!" So much for practical solutions.
My Ishmael is worth reading because of the questions it generates. Questions about our way of living and if it's the best way to live. Questions about attitudes concerning wealth, government, education, gangs, and cults are all discussed within this book. More importantly, though, are the questions that Quinn fails to answer or fails to consider which render his writing a little less significant than he intends it to be. I'm going to put important questions for the reader to keep in mind when reading this book below:
1.) Quinn constantly asserts that religion is something the Taker culture had to invent to put forth a myth about how things came to be this way. Also, that only our modern culture would have to of had a myth to explain the downfall of man and a need for prophets to tell us how to live. If these ideas are true why did Stone Age peoples have shamans and have a myth about the downfall of man? Why did New World Indians have medicine men? If prophets are a nonsensical waste of time considering they only inflict their view of how to live on people then what does Quinn consider himself?
2.) If tribal cultures know the way to live which works and have been around for hundreds of thousands of years...what makes Quinn so sure that modern Mother Culture with her inventiveness, ingenuity, and intelligence won't figure it out down the line?
3.) If primitive life was so vastly superior to modern life why the short life-spans of primitive peoples? Could it be that living in that lifestyle was a fairly tough existence where you were not expected to live a long life?
Obviously there are many other valid points Quinn makes in the novel. One of them is that our legal system is messed up. Another is that schools aren't really doing that great of a job. None of these points are shockingly original but are well worth considering how to change.
Quinn for the most part continually puts forth a pessimistic feeling in his writing. I share much with Jared Diamond in the belief that for all our current mistakes humans have an amazing ability to meet the challenge presented before them. Will they do it? Only time will tell.
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Read information about the authorI had and did the usual things -- childhood, schools, universities (St. Louis, Vienna, Loyola of Chicago), then embarked on a career in publishing in Chicago. Within a few years I was the head of the Biography & Fine Arts Department of the American Peoples Encyclopedia; when that was subsumed by a larger outfit and moved to New York, I stayed behind and moved into educational publishing, beginning at Science Research Associates (a division of IBM) and ending as Editorial Director of The Society for Vision Education (a division of the Singer Corporation).
In 1977 I walked away from SVE and this very successful career when it became clear that I was not going to able to do there what I really wanted to do...which was not entirely clear. A few months later I set my feet on a path that would change my life completely. It was a path made up of books -- or rather versions of a book that, after twelve years, would turn out to be ISHMAEL.
The first version, written in 1977-78, called MAN AND ALIEN, didn't turn out to be quite what I wanted, so wrote a second, called THE GENESIS TRANSCRIPT. Like the first version, this didn't satisfy me, so I wrote a third with the same title. THE BOOK OF NAHASH, abandoned unfinished, was the fourth version.
When I started writing version five, THE BOOK OF THE DAMNED in 1981, I was sure I'd found the book I was born to write. The versions that came before had been like rainy days with moments of sunshine. THIS was a thunderstorm, and the lines crossed my pages like flashes of lightning. When, after a few thousand words I came to a clear climax, I said, "This MUST be seen," so I put Part One into print. Parts Two and Three followed, and I began searching for the switch that would turn on Part Four... but it just wasn't there. What I'd done was terrific -- and complete in its own way -- but at last I faced the fact that the whole thing just couldn't be done in lightning strikes.
And so, on to versions six and seven (both called ANOTHER STORY TO BE IN). I knew I was close, and version eight was it -- the first and only version to be a novel and the first and only version inhabited by a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael.
ISHMAEL was a life-changing book. It began by winning the Turner Tomorrow Award, the largest prize ever given to a single literary work. It would come to be read in some 25 languages and used in classrooms from mid-school to graduate school in courses as varied as history philosophy, geography, archaeology, religion, biology, zoology, ecology, anthropology, political science, economics, and sociology.
But in 1992, when ISHMAEL was published, I had no idea what I might do next. My readers decided this for me. In letters that arrived by the bushel they demanded to know where this strange book came from, what "made" me write it. To answer these questions I wrote PROVIDENCE: THE STORY OF A FIFTY-YEAR VISION QUEST (1995).
But there were even more urgently important questions to be answered, particularly this one: "With ISHMAEL you've undermined the religious beliefs of a lifetime. What am I supposed to replace them with?" I replied to this with THE STORY OF B (1996).
The questions (and books) kept coming: Why did Ishmael have to die? This gave rise to MY ISHMAEL: A SEQUEL (1997), in which it's revealed that Ishmael was not only far from being dead but far from being finished with his work as a teacher. The question "Where do we go from here?" was the inspiration for BEYOND CIVILIZATION: HUMANITY'S NEXT GREAT ADVENTURE (1999), a very different kind of book.
With these questions answered (and 500 more on my website), I felt I was fundamentally finished with what might be called my teachings and ready to move on.
I had always taken as my guiding principle these words from André Gide: "What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it, written as well as you, do not write it. Be faithful to that which e
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