[Book Review] Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Mante Petersen, 128 YinD

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn

ishmaelAs we have been conditioned to consume varying amounts of information at an exponential rate, fatigue sets in trying to conceptualize our global community. In my quest to find truth in a world that often presents complexities beyond fathom, this novel embodied a cathartic outlet, training my thoughts to be preventive rather than reactionary when trying to construct my personal philosophies of becoming a better global citizen. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn, receiver of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship for the best work of fiction offering positive solutions to global problems, begins his novel with a teacher seeking a pupil advertised caveat as having only one caveat, “Must have an earnest desire to save the world”.

I found this book to be highly quotable and self-indulging, usually a turnoff for myself when reading books that share the genre of trying to capture spiritual enlightenment amongst its readers. Nonetheless, I was fascinated from beginning to end. The author has a keen gift for bringing clarity to difficult subject matters, with an even greater ability to convey ways of self-application to become more knowledgeable and empowered through one’s daily transgressions.

I fully understand some may critique Daniel Quinn for over simplifying amelioration to world problems, however, Ishmael does not hide behind a cloak of having a blueprint to live one’s life in the form of utopian dogma. There is no denying that this book is fiction, but it does give the sentiment of trying to push a nuanced way of thinking through challenging the reader to end conformity within status quo and conventional wisdom. Quinn’s approach to this story seems meant to inform the reader “how to think” and not, “what to think”. A lot of the narrative gives way to open ended questions, which can sometimes be frustrating, but all the more satisfying if you are a person like me who attempts to think beyond the face value of socially structured dichotomies in order to navigate purpose of self.

While reading, Ishmael validated cynicism and optimism all in one when it came to my personal meditations and evaluations of the role humans contribute to our universe. Adore it or loathe it, my only hope for potential readers upon this novel’s conclusion, is to just feel something. Whether that something lies on the spectrum of manifesting in hyper self-awareness, a critique of your perceived realities or going about critical thought with a more holistic approach to capturing empathy when forming perplexed decisions; allow this book to converse with you.

Enjoy and happy reading my friends.


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