Thursday, April 12, 2007

The difference between Ishmael and Poison Ivy.

As I read the ending to Ishmael, I kept thinking of Poison Ivy. For those of you who don't know (and, yes, I will forgive you) Poison Ivy is one of the villains of Gotham City. She usually endangers countless citizens of Gotham with her vile plots to destroy humanity and leave the world for the plants, only to be stopped by a Batman who assures us that human beings have a right to live.

Poison Ivy says that the world was once a peaceful and nurturing place before Man arrived to plunder her. I find that some of Ishmael's arguments are as thin. Sure, I thought his prison analogy was brilliant (does it remind anyone else of a certain shadowy cave?), and what he's saying makes crystal clear biological sense: for life in general to continue, certain weaker individuals must lose their lives before they can procreate. When human beings stepped outside of the "rules", they stopped biological progress (ignoring, of course, the various parasites and bacteria which are thriving and evolving faster than scientists can create new antibiotics) for the world.

With the knowledge of the gods, they halted creation.

But, somehow, when I look at the world this continued creation would have made, it makes me wonder a little. It's not a world of plants, like Poison Ivy would have envisioned, but a world where all animals are in constant competition, living unknowingly to a more complex and self-aware end. But a perfect utopia where Man and animals starve, die of preventable diseases, and Man lives in small tribes which would kill one another on sight (as Ishmael says the Native Americans did, thus ensuring Man lived within his bounds) seems like a contradiction of terms.

In principle, I'm all for the Tree of Life. In practice, I feel like Batman facing down Poison Ivy.

That's It?

Why did this book end like every book I read in fifth grade? I could picture my fourth or fifth grade teacher fighting back a tear as he/she read about Ishmael's demise even as I read the final pages to myself. Timeless as the formula my be, it didn't leave a great impression on me.

The end message of the book? Change your way of thinking about your relationship with the Earth. I suppose to some extent the book was effective, but it's really leaving it up to the reader what a real image of unity between Mankind and Earth looks like. Oh well, It was a swell effort. I enjoyed reading something that wasn't ultra-academic for a change anyway. Great book study Scott! Thanks a bunch!