Who likes Daniel Quinn and Ishmael?

Who who WHO who who who?

[monkey noises!]

For the uninitiated, Quinn is an ecological writer who teaches that our “totalitarian” form of agriculture tends to create a surplus, which inevitably leads to population growth. But this can’t go on forever, so we need to start learning from indigenous cultures which never bought into totalitarian agriculture. Plus something about a talking gorilla. (That would be Ishmael.)

I read Ishmael several years ago. I thought it was an interesting idea and agreed with a lot of what was written in the book. I would like to go back and read it again some time and also read some more of Quinn’s books. I recently read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel which gives a much more scientific account of human evolution from the perspective of biogeography. It would be worthwhile reading that book along with Ishmael for another perspective.

However, it seems something of a cult has sprung up around Daniel Quinn, especially in the USA. People seem to believe that reading his books and encouraging others to read them is the key to saving the Earth from the impending ecological disaster. :unamused: You can check out Daniel Quinn’s website if you want a bit more background information: ishmael.com/welcome.cfm

There was a film made a couple of years ago called Instinct starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. inspired by the book Ishmael (although it is definitely not a movie of the book).

Yes Yes YES!

One of my all time fav reads…have read it three times and will probably read it a few more times b4 we wipe ourselves out…

Basically, as you walk thru life, try to make as small a footprint as possible.

You can’t break the laws of nature…they are as immutable as the laws of gravity or aerodynamics…

Grow only what you need and eat all you grow.

Is it available in Mandarin? Yes. (Answered my own question)

God, I tried reading Ishmael several years ago and it was literally the only book that I’ve thrown across the room in frustration. I’m pretty sympathetic to environmentalist causes, but I got so annoyed with Quinn’s constant use of imperfect analogies and his condescending tone (if you disagree with my analogy, then you are an unenlightened fool, and I must bang you over the head once again with this analogy.)

Sample dialogue:

Gorilla: Let’s say you’re riding a bike and you go off of a cliff. As you’re falling off the cliff, you’re still peddling. When you hit the ground, you will die in spectacularly bloody mess. The Earth is currently falling and still peddling. Once we run out of resources, we will crash in a spectacularly bloody mess.

Boy: But I think technology can help our problem. And what if we adopt stricter conservation laws? Wouldn’t that help?

Gorilla: Would conservation laws stop a bicycle from falling?

Boy: Um, no.

Gorilla: So you’re saying that if you were to go off a cliff, you would not fall to the ground?

Boy: No, but…

Gorilla: You are an unenlightened fool who is blinded by your cultural prejudices. Let me explain to you using another analogy. Let’s say that a bicycle falls off of a cliff…