Friday, July 20, 2007

Review of "Ishmael"

I haven't written a book report in such a long time...since grade school perhaps (general education college courses at the latest). Had I read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael as a teenager, at the height of the book's popularity, I would have read something groundbreaking, no, earth-shattering. Knowing what I knew then, and believing what I believed then, I wouldn't have known what to make of it. Takers? Leavers? Culture? Myth? Knowledge of good and evil? Living in the hands of the gods? Limited competition?

Before picking up this book, I had acquired some of the knowledge and experience necessary to make my reaction to Ishmael rather uneventful. The telepathic, wise gorilla was seemingly preaching to the choir of one. With that said, Ishmael's lecturing was the best part of the book. The bits and pieces of "story" - The narrator answering an ad, the narrator trying to relocate his teacher, etc. - were, in my opinion, less interesting. Give me the propaganda directly. Give me the analysis in words that I wouldn't have written, but with ideas that are not new to me. The "story" part was rather frustrating.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable read, probably because the concepts weren't difficult for me to digest. It wasn't an intellectual, philosophical, ideological challenge because most of that grand gorilla's concepts weren't new to me. I would like to discuss this book with someone who wasn't ready for Ishmael's concepts, or is in direct opposition to the gorilla. That would be interesting.

I have since passed the book along to my brother, and I guess it won't be so groundbreaking to him, either. At least I'll be able to listen to Pearl Jam's Yield, consciously connecting some of the album with the book. It'll make for a new kind of listening experience.

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