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 surprised 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...
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