Good afternoon everyone, everyone good afternoon!

The book I have chosen to discuss this week means a lot to me. Whenever anyone asks me about a book that impacted my thinking, this book is my answer. Please enjoy my brief description, and if you decide to read this book, you will be rewarded with quite a story.

"Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn is a philosophical novel that explores the relationship between humans and the natural world through a unique narrative framework. The story centers on a disillusioned narrator who responds to an ad from a teacher seeking a pupil interested in saving the world. This leads him to Ishmael, a telepathic gorilla who becomes his mentor. (I know that is a bit of a stretch, but rewarding if you can stay with it!)

Ishmael divides human societies into two categories: the "Takers" and the "Leavers." The Takers represent modern, industrialized societies that exploit the environment, while the Leavers are traditional societies that live in harmony with nature. Through their dialogues, Ishmael challenges the narrator to reconsider the common assumptions about civilization, progress, and human destiny.

A central theme is the Takers' cultural mythology, which began with the Agricultural Revolution. This mythology promotes the idea that humans are the pinnacle of evolution and have the right to dominate the earth. Ishmael argues that this mindset leads to environmental destruction and the potential collapse of human civilization.

Ishmael also introduces the concept of "Mother Culture," an invisible force shaping beliefs and behaviors within Taker society. This narrative perpetuates the false notion that human well-being is separate from the well-being of the planet. Ishmael highlights the interconnectedness of all life and the need for a new cultural mythology that respects the natural world. Ishmael also delves into how organized religion has played a role in our culture.

Ultimately, "Ishmael" challenges readers to question their cultural assumptions and consider the ethical implications of their relationship with the environment. The novel advocates for sustainable, ecological principles and a rejection of exploitative practices, encouraging a deeper reflection on humanity's place in the world and the choices shaping our future.


IshmaelIshmael by Daniel Quinn; D. Quinn; BookSource Staff (Compiled by)

ISBN: 9780613080934
Publication Date: 1995-05-01