Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is a novel that analyzes the creation myth believed by most humans living in the world today, along with mythology, ethics, and how all of these relate to human sustainability on the earth based on the way we are now living. The novel is todl by two main characters; First was the narrator who goes unnamed, who is the pupil. In the beginning of the story he begrudgingly answers an ad in the newspaper reading "TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person." When he goes to the printed address, he walks in to find the other main character: Ishmael. Much to his surprise, Ishmael is no ordinary teacher, in fact he is a full grown Gorilla who communicates telepathically with the narrator as they hash out "how things came to be this way."
One of the main points they discuss is the human creation myth, or the story of Evolution.
The way we tell the story, solar system born, earth formed, bacteria grow and multiply, then ocean animals form, move to land, mammals appear, and finally man pops out of all of this.
The end.
In this novel, Ishmael asks the question that I am going to ask you:
1.Why does the story stop there?

In case you don't know what i mean by that, I'll share the story that Ishmael shares to encourage the narrator to come to the answer to this question:
(This story is told by a jellyfish)
15 M. years ago the universe was born, then the stars around us were born, and this planet, but nothing happened here until after a billion years or so, life appeared. For many millions of centuries the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But slowly more complex beings formed: Single celled, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on...but finally jellyfish appeared.

2. How does this relate to our own creation myth? (big bang + Adam and Eve)
3. If you could, do you think you could tell an unbiased story about the creation of the universe?
4. In the novel this discussion led to the question, why do we feel superior? Why do you think we view the world the way we do? Are there biblical stories that tell how God created man as superior? Are there other cultural pieces you have read in class that tell how God wanted man to be superior?

2 comments:

Eric M. 11-12 said...

I believe that the author chooses to stop at humans for two key reasons. The first being that nothing has evolved from humans yet. There is no being that stems directly from us, so as of now we are where the evolutionary cycle has ended. Second, I believe that the author is trying to say that humans are the absolute culmination of the evolutionary process. We are the only sentient beings on earth, so therefore there is no evolutionary improvement that can stem from us. We simply just are too adaptle as we are now.

Liz S.11-12 said...

Do you think that we would recognize when a more adapted human came to being?
I think it's interesting the way that our governments are set up now that they are all very intertwined in a way that 'conspiracy theorists' think that they could shut the general population out if need be, and i think that is very possible! but I wonder if it would be recognized if some scientists found out that there was a smarter, more adapted and intelligent human around.