Ishmael Interpretive Questions for Discussion
If humans know that they are destroying the earth, why are they not doing anything about it?
I think this is because normally most humans especially those who are in power are greedy, shortsighted and destructive. This is because humans are born this way, and the reason that we are not doing anything about it is not because we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s because our current way of government, and they have the power (but not the authority) to silence the people that contradict them. Currently most people in power use what is called 90 day thinking, which is only thinking about what benefits their economy and themselves the most in 90 days.
This type of thinking has become a habit, and what we are doing now is a habit: using finite recourses, deforestation to help keep up with economic growth, everything we do and continue to do will become a more severe habit, and thus will be harder to overcome. This is a quote on page 83 from Ishmael: “It’s because there’s something fundamentally wrong with humans. Something that definitely works against paradise. Something that makes people stupid and destructive and greedy and shortsighted.”
Why does Ishmael tell the student that if he takes this journey he will be alienated by all the people he knows?
I think that this is because he will have an entirely different view of the world and this will be very different from the rest of his culture. His beliefs of creation and evolution after the journey will be so different from what his culture would expect from him they will consider him as not their own, as an outsider, as foreign. This is a quote on page 40 from Ishmael: “And when we’re finished, you’ll have an entirely new perception of the world and of all that’s happened here. And it won’t matter in the least whether you remember how that perception was assembled. The journey itself is going to change you, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing the route we took to accomplish that change.
Why is the student so surprised that Ishmael refers to the human story as a myth?
I think that this is because no one has every questioned the creation story and submitted a good enough argument to actually be believable. What Ishmael was saying was very out in the open and could be easily noticed given that someone bothered to notice it. The student was also surprised that all the information that Ishmael used was repeated everyday, and the student had never put all those things together and thought about it before. I think that the reason Ishmael noticed it was because he is not a human and was not raised to believe it like most children are now, and was an outsider to it and questioned it. This is dialogue between the student and Ishmael:
Student: “I could give them an account, but it certainly wouldn’t be a myth.”
Ishmael: “Naturally you wouldn’t consider it a myth. No creation story is a myth to the people who tell it. It’s just the story.”
Ishmael Interpretive Questions for Discussion
Why did Ishmael tell the Jellyfish story?
I think that he told the Jellyfish story because as he said before “Naturally you wouldn’t consider it a myth. No creation story is a myth to the people who tell it. It’s just the story.” So what he was showing the student was that to any living organism that has the ability to think, thinks that they are superior and the world was made for them. He also did this to help him explain to the student that no creation story is a myth to the people who tell it.
Why does Ishmael have something against human kind?
I don’t think that Ishmael has anything against human kind, I think that some people may think that because he’s questioning human kinds believes. I think that any creature that wasn’t a human would think the same thing. The reason that he’s questioning our believes is because it seems so obvious to him that the truth is out there, but no human is conscious of this because either they don’t notice it or they notice it and just don’t go off thinking about it because they don’t think that there’s anything to think about and that all of it has already been figured out.
Another hint to the fact that Ishmael does not have anything against human kind is that he hardly makes any comments, but more often questions. And every single question he asks is certainly not offensive or harmful, otherwise the author (the student) would obviously re-act to it, and would probably not come back the next day. Ishmael questions could be interpreted by some people as harmful, but I think that all he’s doing is simply questioning something that we take as fact.