Week One Assignment
– The book “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn can be a life altering book. Basically,
it’s about a conversation with a gorilla that, along the way, will help to
explain how the world got to be the way it is. The assignment for week one
is to read Ishmael and complete the following questions. We will keep coming
back to these questions throughout the semester. Copies of Ishmael on tape
are available in the Media Services section of the
I recognize that asking you to read a book in one week may be a lot. However, it is the only text that will be used in the class. All other material will be provided to you by the instructor. More importantly, however, reading Ishmael the first week of class is really important to getting the class up and running. Should you have any questions along the way, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Ishmael Question Outline
1. What did Ishmael say we are captive to?
2. Who is the teller of our culture’s “story”?
3. What two terms does Ishmael use to define people of our culture and peoples of other cultures?
4. What terms does Ishmael say that our culture uses to define people of our culture and peoples of other cultures?
5. How did members of our culture come to understand “How things came to be this way”, according to Ishmael?
6. In the narrator’s “journey”, what does Ishmael state they are going to do?
7. What does Ishmael say will happen at the end of the journey?
8. What is a story?
9. What are the two stories currently being enacted on the earth today, according to Ishmael?
10. How does Mother Culture explain human history?
11. How does Ishmael explain the stories of the Leavers and Takers?
12. What does an explaining story explain?
13. What have the Takers been told that keeps them calm?
14. What does Ishmael mean when he says “Think mythologically?”
15. What do “ideas” do, according to Ishmael?
16. What is the Taker creation myth?
17. What creation story did Ishmael tell to help the narrator understand Mother Culture’s creation myth?
18. What is the point of Ishmael comparing the two creation myths?
19. How do you feel about our Mother Culture’s creation story now?
20. What story is our culture enacting, according to Ishmael?
21. What does this story reveal about the god’s intentions?
22. Do you agree with Ishmael’s interpretation of the premise of “Taker story”? In other words, is Ishmael’s interpretation of what Mother Culture tells us correct? Why or why not?
23. Do you agree with this premise, was the world made
for humans? Why or why not? If the world
was made for humans, then what?
25. According to the narrator’s telling of the middle part of the story, when did man take “possession” of the world?
26. What is the world like without humans?
27. What is man’s role in the world?
28. What does man have to do in order to “rule” the world?
29. What is the problem of man’s conquest of the world?
30. What element of Mother Culture’s story, according to Ishmael, is needed to complete our culture’s explanation of how things came to be this way?
31. What is the evidence that human’s are fatally flawed?
32. What does Ishmael conclude based on this?
33. According to Ishmael, one of the most striking features of Taker culture is its’ dependence on prophets. What is the purpose of the prophets in Taker culture?
34. Why do we need prophets to tell us how to live?
35. Why is it that we don’t know how to live?
36. What is the complete explanation of how things came to be this way, according to Ishmael?
37. How do you feel about this story, is this what Mother Culture tells us? Is this how YOU feel?
38. What are the 3 things that the Takers do which are fundamental to their (our) civilizational system which are never done in the rest of the community of life?
39. What does the narrator conclude about what they Takers are doing?
40. What does the narrator conclude about the law of Limited Competition?
41. Would/will it be easy for the Takers to give up their way of life? Why?
42. What does Ishmael say that the creation story is?
43. What do you think about this, does this make sense?
44. Where did the Semites get the idea that the people from the north had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
45. According to Ishmael, what was one of the clearest indications that the creation story was not authored by Taker ancestors?
46. What then, did the fall of man represent?
50. What is culture?
51. Are the Leavers and the Takers different with regards to how they view, and value, the past?
52. Why does Taker culture need prophets to tell us how to live?
53. What does Mother Culture teach us about life before the agricultural revolution?
54. Yet, despite all it’s stupidness, emptiness, worthlessness, ugliness and misery, did Leavers give up their lifestyle easily?
55. Agriculture gave humans power/control over their food supply and put peoples lives in their own hands. Yet, there are still things that aren’t in our hands, such as?
56. So what did the agricultural revolution do?
57. What will happen to the world, according to Ishmael, if we take the Taker premise?
58. What will happen to the world, according to Ishmael, if we take the Leaver premise?
59. What is the meaning of the world, divine intentions and the destiny of man according to the Leaver story?
60. What then is man’s destiny, according to the narrator?
61. What is man’s place in the world?
62. What do people need?
63. What is Ishmael’s program for humans?
64. On Page 251, Ishmael likens Taker culture to a prison and that, in a prison, there must be an industry to keep the inmates busy and to take their minds off of the boredom and futility of their lives. What does Ishmael say is our prison industry is?
65. Are we consuming the world? What do you think?