Yet there are concepts with unexpected insight, including re-framings of Book of Genesis stories, as when Ishmael envisions the story of Cain and Abel as a description of the split between the early agriculturist Caucasians and the Semitic herders that lived to the south of them.His student’s conclusion that the “mark of Cain” is fair-colored skin doesn’t impress the teacher much but intrigued me.His theory is that overpopulation is being perpetuated on a global scale through an over-production of grain and that Takers presume themselves to be god-like in their ability to produce more food than they need; the implication is that those without enough food should be sacriﬁced for the balance of the planet, although he doesn’t say this outright.
Many critics of this book see Ishmael’s gloriﬁcation of the Leavers, represented by more primitive, tribal cultures, as unrealistic and even inaccurate.
The argument, for example, that they have always lived in balance with their environment, never depleting resources unlike their Taker counterparts, turns out to be easily refuted.
The professor is explaining, in great detail, the origin of man and the course of human evolution. Though one might not expect much in the way of cultural insight from a gorilla, Ishmael is clearly different.
To illustrate his points, the professor draws various maps of the so-called “Fertile Crescent” in the Middle East and references biblical stories with the ease of an Ivy League historian. He has apparently taken to educating himself during the long hours in his cage, and as a result has become well-versed in human civilization.
Daniel Quinn grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and studied at St.
Louis University, the University of Vienna, and Loyola University of Chicago.
Subsequent works include Providence, The Story of B, My Ishmael: A Sequel, Beyond Civilization, After Dachau, The Holy, At Woomeroo, The Invisibility of Success, and The Teachings.
Imagine this scene: A man is sitting in the dimly lit office of his adopted professor.
First it was global warming due to the destruction of the ozone, then came the lists of species that had become endangered or extinct due to our control of land, and most recently it is the energy crisis.
Evidently, the current incarnation of humanity, however glorious, comes with strings attached.