Ishmael: A Novel

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Ishmael : Does it seem at all plausible to you that the law we're looking for could be written in this community? Ishmael : And can you think of any other laws from which you are exempt because you're humans? Ishmael : the law we're looking for is the law that keeps the living community together. It organizes things on the biological level just the way the law of gravity organizes things on the macrosopic level. Ishmael : The law we're looking for here is much like that with respect to civilizations. It's not about civilizations, but it applies to civilizations in the same way that it applies to flocks of birds and herds of deer.

It makes no distinction between human civilizations and beehives.

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It applies to all species without distinction. This is one reason why the law has remained undiscovered in your culture. According to Taker mythology, man is by definition a biological exception. Ishmael : Those species that do not live in compliance with the law become extinct. In the scale of biological time, they become extinct very rapidly. Ishmael : The laws of aerodynamics don't provide us with a way of defying the law of gravity.

I'm sure you understand that. They simply provide us with a way of using the air as a support. A man sitting in an airplane is subject to the law of gravity in exactly the way we're subject to it sitting here. Nevertheless the man sitting in the plane obviously enjoys a freedom we lack: the freedom of the air.

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Ishmael : The law we're looking for is like the law of gravity: There is no escaping it, but there is a way of achieving the equivalent of flight the equivalent of freedom of the air. In other words, it is possible to build a civilization that flies. Ishmael : The law you're looking for has been obeyed invariably in the living community for three billion years. He nodded to the world outside. And this is how things came to be this way. If this law had not been obeyed from the beginning and in each generation thereafter, the seas would be lifeless deserts and the land would still be dust blowing in the wind.

All the countless forms of life that you see here came into being following this law, and following this law, man too came into being. And only once in all the history of this planet has any species tried to live in defiance of this law and it wasn't an entire species, it was only one people, those I've named Takers. Ten thousand years ago, this one people said, No more. Man was not meant to be bound by this law," and they began to live in a way that flouts the law at every point. Every single thing that is prohibited under the law they incorporated into their civilization as a fundamental policy.

And now, after five hundred generations, they are about to pay the penalty that any other species would pay for living contrary to this law. Ishmael : What would have happened if this law had been repealed ten million years ago? What would the community be like? Narrator : I'd have to say there would only be one form of life at each level of competition. If all the competitors for the grasses had been waging war on each other for ten million years, I'd have to think an overall winner would have emerged by now.

Ishmael : Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive almost anything short of total global catastrophe. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all. Ishmael : one species exempting itself from this law has the same ultimate effect as all species exempting themselves. You end up with a community in which diversity is progressively destroyed in order to support the expansion of a single species. Ishmael : in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The Takers are a profoundly lonely people.

The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness. Ishmael : You see now that the Takers and the Leavers accumulate two entirely different kinds of knowledge. Narrator : Yes. The Takers accumulate knowledge about what works well for things. The Leavers accumulate knowledge about what works well for people. Ishmael : Then tell me why it isn't just a waste of time for you to learn a story that is now all but extinguished. Narrator : People can't just give up a story.

That's what the kids tried to do in the sixties and seventies. They tried to stop living like Takers, but there was no other way for them to live. They failed because you can't just stop being in a story, you have to have another story to be in.

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Narrator : The premise of the Taker story is the world belongs to man. The premise of the Leaver story is man belongs to the world. Narrator : Divine intentions. It would seem. There is a sort of tendency in evolution, wouldn't you say? If you start with those ultra simple critters in the ancient seas and move up step by step to everything we see here now and beyond then you have to observe a tendency toward. And toward self awareness and intelligence. Narrator : That is, all sorts of creatures on this planet appear to be on the verge of attaining that self awareness and intelligence.


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So it's definitely not just humans that the gods are after. We were never meant to be the only players on this stage. Apparently the gods intend this planet to be a garden filled with creatures that are self aware and intelligent. Narrator : Man's destiny is to be the first to learn that creatures like man have a choice: They can try to thwart the gods and perish in the attempt or they can stand aside and make some room for all the rest.

But it's more than that. His destiny is to be the father of them all I don't mean by direct descent. By giving all the rest their chance the whales and the dolphins and the chimps and the raccoons he becomes in some sense their progenitor. Narrator : In a billion years, whatever is around then, whoever is around then, says, "Man? Oh yes, man! What a wonderful creature he was! It was within his grasp to destroy the entire world and to trample all our futures into the dust but he saw the light before it was too late and pulled back.

He pulled back and gave the rest of us our chance. He showed us all how it had to be done if the world was to go on being a garden forever. Man was the role model for us all! Narrator : In other words, the world doesn't need to belong to man but it does need man to belong to it. This literary-work article needs cleanup. Please review Wikiquote:Templates , especially the standard format of literary-work articles , to determine how to edit this article to conform to a higher standard of article quality.

Wikipedia has an article about: Ishmael novel. Categories : Literary works cleanup American novels Philosophical novels.

ISHMAEL by Daniel Quinn | Kirkus Reviews

Namespaces Page Discussion. Is it man's destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him-- one more wonderful than he has ever imagined? Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Bantam. Condition: New. Seller Inventory More information about this seller Contact this seller. Language: English. Brand new Book. When Bantam Books first published "Ishmael," a cult was born.

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Winner of the Turner Tomorrow Award -- a prize for fiction that offered solutions to global problems -- it was an utterly unique story that earned raves from readers and critics alike. By the time the mass market paperback edition of this novel was published last year, word was spreading like wildfire. Now this irresistible novel of a spiritual adventure is available in trade paperback for the first time ever.

The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search of truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils only to find himself alone in an abandonded office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell. As readers everywhere seek out books that offer answers to their burning questions about spirituality, the popularity of this remarkable novel continues to grow at an astounding pace.

Skinner in "Walden Two. Seller Inventory CBL Book Description Bantam, Seller Inventory ZZN. Book Description Condition: New. New Book. Seller Inventory BTX. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory BB Never used!. Book Description Penguin Random House. Brand New. Brand New!. Items related to Ishmael:A Novel. Ishmael:A Novel.