"Come with me if you want to live," was all that Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and after reading Daniel Quinn's masterpiece Ishmael, one might well receive the impression Quinn echoes such sentiments. Few books have as much relevancy in this technological, ever-changing world as Ishmael.
In the beginning, according to Ishmael, God created Man to live peacefully on Earth, sustained by the fruitful bounties of Earth and subject to God's control. That is, until Man ate of the Tree of Good and Evil in the Garden Of Eden, and conveniently forgot all the rules God had so graciously placed in front of him. From that point on, the Caucasian race, full of vanity and pride for having seen so clearly what was good on the Earth and what was not, decided to subjugate the Earth to its will. During this turn of events, totalitarian agriculture was born. And God just shook his head.
Fortunately, there are creatures on the Earth still willing to teach Man about his roots, and at the same time save Man from his selfdestructive impulses. Enter Ishmael, a gorilla with a conscience. Yes, a gorilla. Caged and controlled by man, Ishmael developed a self-awareness of his situation and of man's. Realizing that his destiny is intertwined with man's, he decides to save man from himself. Placing an ad in the papers, Ishmael finds a willing if disillusioned student, and presents a course of education guaranteed to save the world. Makes one wonder if the sign in Ishmael's office reads true, "With gorilla gone, will man survive?"
The pupil finds that all he has learned about history is a lie, created by power hungry men two thousand years ago intent on ruling the w...
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...If one does, one ends up fragmenting the entire food chain. Ecologically speaking, the Taker way of life was doomed from the beginning.
However, the reader experiences a sense of pleasure as Quinn points out that many of the primitive societies have a great deal of wisdom they can teach the world on how to live in a self-sustaining society. Of course, new ideas will mean that the paradigms of yesterday will have to be discarded. However, if innovative solutions to today's ecological problems can be found, and the wisdom of ages is preserved, man has a shot at not committing cultural suicide. In trying to control all other life on the planet man has overstepped his bounds. In the end, man must realize that he is interconnected to all other life on Earth. Just consider, for a moment, the reverse side of Ishmael's office sign. "With man gone, will gorilla survive?"
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