Tag Archives: Ishmael

Question Posted to the Ishmael Community

Posted this evening to the Ishmael Community, a web community devoted to the principles set forth by Daniel Quinn in his books Ishmael, The Story of B, and Beyond Civilization, among others:

My question is the result of a conversation I had this evening with a couple of Latter Day Saint recruiters on my front lawn. I was able to describe for them very well (using the ammunition provided by your books) an alternative to their explanation of “how” things got this way, including acknowledgment from them of the accurate interpretation of the Tree of Knowledge and Cain and Abel. However, I found myself in a quandary when attempting to describe “why” our culture, as opposed to the lions and bears, the Maoris and Navajo, would choose to take divine right into their own hands and take their lives out of the hands of the gods. In other words, what was the impetus that caused the Takers to become Takers? The explanation in your books very clearly identifies the myths (now borrowed by the Takers) trying to explain “how” things got to where they are now, but what seems to be missing is “why” anyone would make what seems like a giant leap and decide they were above the law that brought them through the evolutionary chain. So I pose the question to you — WHY did the Takers stop becoming Leavers? Where did this seed of self-delusion germinate? And more importantly, why would a group of Leavers (for that is what we all were, at some point) believe such a lunatic? Why would anyone assume that their way was right for everyone in the first place? There had to have been some event, some epiphany that led first to this ill-founded conclusion, and then to its growth into a shared delusion.

I’m just not sure what it is, and that information seems critical to expounding “why not”.

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All Things Zero

What is the point to the great war
that we have waged three thousand years?
Have we discovered any more
than better ways to produce gears?

The revolution that gave birth
to so-called luxury and ease —
has our great process on been worth
renouncing evolution? Please

Tell me the path we’ve named as right
that names us, humans, beyond laws
with which we learned to walk upright
and claimed as gods our noble cause:

To take for just ourselves, by right,
the entire world without remorse;
to judge what lives and what should die
and from the gods except our course.

To prove our story is not false,
the one that tells us we are kings,
we’ll turn the world to a death waltz
and put an end to living things

But those that live include us, too;
At this war’s end, we, the great hero,
must kill ourselves to see it through.
The end score – us, one, all things, zero.

03 AUG 2004

after reading Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, again

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The Right Question

An animal in a cage does not spend its time
rehashing how it got to be in that sad place,
reliving the moments from its glorious prime;
but often a puzzled look is upon its face.

Unlike man, it does not spend its time in dreams,
spinning its wheels in wasted thoughts of liberty;
it does not look upon the world and say it seems
a cursed existence, no more than a travesty.

And yet, a question stirs, a mad recurring thought,
that occupies its pacing up and down its cage;
and like its human fellow prisoners, now caught,
it looks out at the world in misery and rage.

The query that it forms is not to wonder how,
nor think about the birds that float free in the sky;
it does not ponder much beyond the here and now,
but slowly, just repeats over and over – “Why?”

22 FEB 2003

Inspired by a section of Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael

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