Any story that explains the meaning of the world, the intentions of the gods, and the destiny of man is bound to be mythology. You think of mythology as a set of fanciful tales. The Greeks didn’t think of their mythology this way. Surely you must realize that. I’m talking about living mythology. Not recorded in any book — recorded in the minds of the people of your culture, and being enacted all over the world even as we sit here and speak of it. So you see that your agricultural revolution is not an event like the Trojan War, isolated in the distant past and without direct relevance to your lives today.
As we, the Takers, see it, the gods gave man the same choice they gave Achilles: a brief life of glory or a long, uneventful life in obscurity. And the Takers chose a brief life of glory, bringing the whole thing to the point of collapse in only five hundred generations. Man is the trailblazer, the pathfinder. His destiny is to be the first to learn that creatures like man have a choice: They can try to thwart the gods and perish in the attempt — or they can stand aside and make some room for all the rest.
I had to face it: I didn’t just want a teacher — I wanted a teacher for life. Over the next decade, he taught me all he knew of the world and the universe and human history, and when my questions went beyond his knowledge, we studied side by side. Someone has to stand up and become to the world of today what Saint Paul was to the Roman Empire. Is it really so impossible in an age when a stand-up comic on television reaches more people in ten minutes than Paul did in his entire lifetime? In my experience, you never really know how you’re going to handle a problem until you actually have it. —Daniel Quinn
A humbling account of the extant homo species’ extent of mythology in its everyday lives and it’s blinding unawareness of it. The story we tell ourselves about us, maybe different than we presumed and may be coloured by hubris. A sense of control is always what we desired, but in there lies a big assumption; that we can simply keep on tuning things without letting the interplay of systems settle in their balanced states. Like Icarus, the man that should not fly too high in the sky because of the heat of the sun, nor too low near the sea, because of the dampness that clogs his feathers. The sun’s heat in the atmosphere gets ever warmer, slowly melting our wax. So too, is the dampness of the sea reaching greater heights with rising water levels and more evaporation. All that makes the zone where Icarus can still fly without perishing to complacency or hubris speedily smaller, until both he and we meet one of those limits. A good example of how fictionalizing stories can help us examine our naive narrative, to see where it will leads us and lets us choose whether we want to take corrective action or that we rather enjoy our the brief moment of glory.
I give “Ishmael” five stars.