WITH MAN GONE, WILL THERE BE HOPE FOR GORILLA?
So posits Daniel Quinn's novel that uses Socratic dialog to discuss society, nature, culture, morality, and mythology, an questioning of humanity's relation to nature. The ambiguous meaning of the question perfectly epitomizes the philosophical nature of the novel; is man the destroyer or conservator of nature?
Naturally, the answer is a resounding BOTH.
Ishmael, the gorilla philosopher, guides a man through his philosophical journey. Beginning with a careful deconstruction of societal assumptions, Ishmael ultimately builds a new basis for understanding ecology and morality, one that provides new guidelines to, in effect, save the world.
Far from a condescending, guilt-producing morality tale on the benefits of environmentalism, Ishmael provides true insight into ancient cultural attitudes that have brought imbalance to the natural world. Quinn's novel, born after several decades of his own research and thought, is intensely rich and dense with ideas. It simply begs for discussion. This is the type of book which begs to be written in, underlined, dog-eared, and argued over.
I recommend it to everyone who has ever, as the books protagonist student has, wanted to save the world in a grand way. Though Ishmael does not pretend to have all of the answers, he does have the questions. And for now, that is the best place to start.
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