Monday, January 27, 2014

Ishmael

Ishmael has been covered ad infinitum elsewhere.  Wikipedia will give you a Cliff's Notes style version of the Takers and the Leavers and how man isn't as outside of nature as s/he s/he thinks s/he is (well...that's why we don't use that style often - it would mess with HTML parsing).  While I don't think Quinn's book is particularly sophisticated or written particularly well, he raises a lot of interesting ideas and I'm glad one of my Facebook friends recommended I read the novel (thanks Kristi!).

What made it more interesting to me is that I've been reading Margaret Atwood's series: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam.  Many parts of it, including the religion of the Gardeners covered extensively in The Year of the Flood, read like aspects of Ishmael's philosophy.  At one point it's noted that the Crakers, who can eat leaves and poop nutrient-rich leavings like a rabbit, have had agriculture bred out of them.  There's no shortage of discussion in Ishmael about how agriculture is a huge burden on humans, at least the form we practice that requires increasing food to provide for increasing population which can provide increasing food...at the cost of a life more attuned to what's easy and maintainable and operates within the normal dictates of nature.  The entanglement of food and reproduction: both genetically restructured in the Crakers.  I could see hints of the philosophy in PZ Myers The Happy Atheist as well.  But it seems like atheism (atheism as related by a biologist) and a book arguing humanity is not the center of creation should align.

My favorite quote from Ishmael was on page 214, "You can't just stop being in a story, you gave to have another story to be in."  An excellent way to phrase the idea that you should always be trying to tell the story you believe you're in, at least to yourself.  Because if you're not telling it, it's still there and others are telling it.

1 comment:

Sean Sandquist said...

Ishmael is really good. You should read the sequel, My Ishmael, as well.