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Someone Who Influenced My Life

In: English and Literature

Submitted By heaterp19
Words 593
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Why would an author of a book influence me so much? It is because Daniel Quinn has written "My Ishmael" in such a beautiful way that what he's thinking comes across to you like as though you're having a conversation in person with him. He uses a talking Gorilla as a means to convey his points of view on how the world is in a degenerative mode and though I felt this strange at first, it became clear later as to why he used a Gorilla in the first place. The Gorilla here represents nature's voice and is a reminder that we need to look for ways to communicate with nature, first hand. This was the first eye opening aspect from the author. The second was the author's penchant for coming up with brilliant stories to derive and communicate his point to the reader. Instead of driving in his philosophies by pure theory would have been boring and heavy, but the author uses wonderful and thought provoking stories to do the same, so effectively. The first was the simple concept of food kept under lock and key. This is a practice that comes so naturally to us, but he brings out why this is a very unnatural way of things. For early man, what grew in the world belonged to everyone in the society, and to put it under lock and key is to basically create a working class who will do tasks, useful or useless, in order to earn their bread. Ishmael's (the name of the gorilla) teachings turn toward the subject of formal education, which he argues is merely a way to keep children out of the work force and is otherwise unnecessary because humans learn on their own, naturally following their own interests and picking up information necessary to operate in their culture. In tribal cultures, this information inherently includes that which is relevant to surviving in the wild by learning to hunt and gather food, as well as easily adopting their culture's values, customs, and so on. In Taker culture, the otherwise automatic process of learning is hindered and convoluted by the institution of formal education, which largely forces students to study topics that they do not apply outside of the classroom and that they therefore largely forget once the information is no longer needed to pass tests or similar evaluations. This is a brilliant way to put this across, because according to the author here, formal education is leading to our ruin. Going back to food under lock and key, Ishmael claims that it creates hierarchical social structures in which the cooperative ethos is lost, resulting in distress and conflict within the society, such as crime, suicide, poverty, famine, and senseless violence. He argues that although Taker societies flourish in terms of material wealth—such as technological advancement and greater scientific progress—they fail utterly with regard to what he believes to be actual wealth: the sense of belonging and security that hold together the fabric of human tribal societies. Ishmael finally says that humans don't need to travel to extraterrestrial places to know how to live sustainably. He claims that we just have to look for answers in ourselves and is confident that we will find them as well. My view of the world was very naive before reading this book, but after doing so, it has completely matured and changed. I will always look at the world differently and that is all thanks to Daniel Quinn and his book.
Quinn, D. (1997). My Ishmael.

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