Ishmael is a gorilla that understands more about humans than humans do and acts as an unorthodox teacher and spiritual guidance counsellor for people by communicating with them telepathically. As surprising as it may sound this is not a joke and is the makings of genius storytelling by author Dan Quinn. If you have ever looked at our ‘developed’ society beyond the glossy facade and noticed that things just don’t seem right or that success as defined by this society doesn’t actually seem as rosy as it’s portrayed to be, these books are for you.
At their core these works of fiction are about freedom; freedom from the modern slavery of our institutions and societal constructs. Freedom from the human penchant to chart a path toward global and self destruction that began when we started putting food behind lock and key and has accelerated for centuries to where we find ourselves now, near the end of a age of cheap and plentiful oil. Ishmael urges one to re-evaluate everything you think you already know about people and this planet. It will turn your world upside down. It will sting and it will resonate.
Despite being fiction these novels deal more in fact and reality than any encyclopedia or text book. Not the easy details we can all agree on, rather the difficult truths of human progress and if it is indeed progress or a series of progress traps that ultimately lead to our own undoing.
History is viewed through an entirely unique lens in a way that makes us rethink all that we believe we already know. Ishmael refers to ‘mother culture’ and the influence of the stories we are all raised on and the subtle corrections we all make on any behavior that would deviate from how mother culture expects us to live. We are the police officers and prison guards that preside over our own unwitting enslavement.
Ishmael makes it his purpose to help a small number of individuals that he teaches see alternate ways of viewing human past, present, and potential future.
In Ishmael we are introduced to the concept of humanity being wholly distinguished as being either Leavers or Takers. The former are tribal cultures past and present that only use what they need and do not produce more than they can consume. Takers are those who are part of more ‘advanced’ cultures that consumption should always increase and be maximized. One is a path to harmony with nature and the other is a path to self-destruction.
In My Ishmael his student is a young girl, his first non-adult pupil. This leads to a lengthy analysis of the public school system and it’s true purpose (spoiler: it’s not to educate kids). Ishmael also elucidates just what a pivotal moment in human history it was when we first made more food than we could eat and chose to lock the reserves away. We have been forever negatively changed and continue on this destructive path.
These are must-read books.