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.


mlinden said...

Very nice. That is so true about Poison Ivy. I think Quinn owes Warner Bros some cash. I like your comment about contradicting terms with refeerence to Native Americans, that I agree with too.

Scott said...

There are misconceptions all around. Good points mind you, good points, but none the less I quite disagree with your analogy of poison ivy. I think Quinn is often misunderstood, we it comes to this issue. Read the book more carefully, he is not suggesting that all become hunter-gathers. If anyone thinks this, you read the book wrong, probably more becuase of Daniel Quinn then any one else.