Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 5:47:16 PM
The book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn has inspired me to take a closer look at the world I live in and really reflect on the life that I have been lead to believe is a full one. It is considered to be a work of fiction and yet opened my eyes to the very real issues that most humans, referred to as “Takers”, are inflicting upon the world. By challenging the fundamental beliefs of society, it teaches us that our only hope lies amongst one another. It is imperative that we break out of the prison that popular culture, referred to as “Mother Culture”, has put us in.
I received this book as a summer reading assignment from my former high school and was eager to read it because of all the raving reviews it had gotten from my peers and teachers. I was expecting it to be highly engaging but seriously doubted it could be considered “life-changing” as so many others had described it. The week before the impending school year started, I picked up Ishmael and set myself up for a journey that most avid readers can only dream of.
The story is narrated by the main character, whose name is never revealed, and recounts his experiences with his teacher, Ishmael. He starts off wary and reluctant, much like the reader, but gradually the minds of both are opened, and we are able to look at Taker culture from an almost objective point of view. We are forced to reflect upon and question the things that Mother Culture has unfalteringly taught us to be true.
The first time I read Ishmael, I was astonished by what I had just learned and was constantly seeing every flaw it pointed out about my greedy lifestyle. No other book had ever sent a message to me that was so strong; I couldn’t help but to see it everywhere I turned. Newscasters on my brightly lit television screen rambled on about new explorations that had been made underneath the sea, new discoveries that had been made by the astronauts plunged into the solar system, with complete disregard of the fight man-kind is pitting against Mother Nature. Eventually, Mother Earth always wins.
This novel gave me an almost uncontrollable need to spread its message to the Takers that surround me. Whenever I now hear someone talking about the best book they have ever read, I am tempted to proudly interject with Daniel Quinn’s title and explain how it will give them a rare perspective on the ever- changing world we live in and realize that all the things that have remained constant during the reign of mankind are based off of deluded beliefs that will end up destroying us all.