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 Ishmael 
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I've read about a third of Ishamel and am having a difficult time embracing the concept of a telepathic gorilla. I think the message of environmental concern is important and much needed, but I'm not crazy about the delivery.

What are your thoughts about Ishmael?


Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:35 pm
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Location: Southwest Middle School - Gastonia, NC
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I agree. I read about half of the book. I thought once I read some of the book it would become easier to read. However that is not the case. I am getting over the idea of the gorilla, but I am having a difficult time with the concepts. Help!

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Daphne King


Wed Oct 22, 2003 1:14 pm
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I feel "Ishmael" is easy reading compared to other readings we have had, except for "Nickel and Dimed." I think the gorilla is trying to tell us to treat animals on an equal footing with humans and to treat the environment with respect before we lose everything.


Wed Oct 22, 2003 5:51 pm
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I am currently about two-thirds of the way through the book. The genius gorilla is a little hard accept, but it is easily forgotten if you try. I think the gorilla is used because it is not human, but relatively close genetically speaking. The author draws more emphasis to what he is saying by having the gorilla be the human's teacher. Because Ishmael is not human, he is able to reach his enlightened state. He is outside of the human mythology and able to view it more objectively.


Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:38 pm
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Well said, Andy. I agree with your assessment of why the author used a telepathic gorilla! Actually, I found the gorilla to be an interesting plot device, but I am a science fiction fan. However, I am awaiting Tuesday's class with a mixture of dread and amusement... I doubt that we'll get into a "knock down drag out" argument over this book, because most of our class members are too well behaved, and not disposed toward speaking their true minds. However, in a different setting, I can imagine some fiery arguments over this very odd book!

I am very curious what this book has to do with the philosophy of education. About all I can constructively get out of it is that it is a well articulated illustration of how someone can have a world view very different than my own. I certainly won't be dating all the books I read for the rest of my life as being "post Ishmael," as did one of the reviewers! If I had been the "seeker" in this book, I would have had to stop Ishmael in hundreds of places, not accepting his assertions as facts, as did the man in the book.

I am concerned for the environment, and I believe that some earthlings ignore it to our peril - I just don't believe in "worshipping the Earth". Too many environmentalists believe and "run with" whatever dire predictions and "facts" some "self appointed experts" (without solid scientific credentials) tell them! It also bothers me that many environmentalists don't "put their money where their mouth is" - they want to tell other people what to do, or have the government do it. They don't care about the family that put their life savings into a plot of land, that is then found to hold some supposedly rare bug or worm. The family can't build on it or sell it. There are many examples of environmentalism that has gone overboard. They can't even agree if we have global warming, or are going into the next Ice Age!

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Joyce Jarrard


Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:32 pm
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The first time I was in college over 15 years ago, I was enrolled in a philosophy class. This book brought back memories of that time and in particular that class, which was very unconventional..... so much so I won't go into our class fieldtrips, etc...

Anyway, one conference that we attended also sticks out in my mind, it was a new age type think tank group and the message was basically that our society always tends to believe that no matter what messes we make or trouble we get into (whether environmental or whatever), there will always be some new technological advancement to fix it or cure it. This conference challenged that underlying premise and asked us to think about the ramifications of taking such a position so universally.

That is my two cents over 15 years later.


Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:24 pm
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I just finished the book and want to tell those of you struggling just to hold on because in my opinion, it is worth it. Joyce talks about "earth worship" but I really did not have that thought when I read the book. Rather, I thought, and have always thought, how very delicately we are connected with the earth. Those of us who love nature draw immense strength in the power of the connectedness of all living things. I think the book sets us (mankind) up to make a huge difference in the future, by making more thoughtful decisions. Many folks say this book is a slap in the face of religion but to me it is quite the opposite. As far as educational applications, I keeping thinking about interdependency within the community and the lessons we can learn about balance.


Sun Oct 26, 2003 6:13 pm
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I liked what Cindy Price had to say about the book. I'm not sure where the discussion is going to go on Tuesday, but I'd like to see what the class thinks about balance. Whether it's nature, personal or professional - the balancing of our priorities vs. everything else that is going on in our lives is a constant struggle. I am interested in knowing the class's concept of educational "balance". I am not a believer in accidental circumstances, I believe all things happen for a purpose; hence, the equilibrium nature strives to attain is something we should aspire to if for no other reason than to emmulate "someone's" good idea from the beginning.


Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:56 am
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First of all, I loved Ishmael. I read it in 3 sittings over 2 days (about 4 hours). FIrst, "earth worship". I think that term is misapplied to many. Native americans for instance. They didn't worship the earth so much as respected it and worked with it. They relized the balance. Crazy environmentalists may be more earth worshippers, but I don't know. Second, balance. As a counselor/psychologist I believe more in balance than anything. Ecologically and psychologically. I think that is point of this book. The fact that we take everything for granted, and support it with biblical inference and interpretation is blasphemous! Look at how many religions there are and how many Chistian denominations there are and you will see so many varied opinions. Everyone thinks they have the right answer, but they aren't asking the right question which is, "Where is unity?", and "How can we settle our differences with the earth and ourselves?" ON the website QUin talks about starting now, not to reverse the earth but to make an effort to preserve it and get humanity to work with, not against the earth.
A thought came to me while on grandfather mountain the other day. I was saddened that every drives up, smokes, and then bitches that they have to climb some stupid stairs. My thought is, they shouldn't be allowe dup. WHy, because they think going up a mountain is about conquering it. It's not, it's about conquering ourselves. The worlds not be conquered, our inner selves are.

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"But we shall rightly call a philosopher the man who is easily willing to learn every kind of knowledge, gladly turns to learning things. and is insatiable in this respect." Socrates


Tue Oct 28, 2003 8:37 am
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