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Ishmael Reed Essay - Reed, Ishmael (Vol

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Ishmael Experiencing the Sublime - Online Essay

Ishmael Experiencing the Sublime

In the novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, a mysterious unknown, such as the whale oil painting displayed in the decrepit Spouter Inn and the crucial characters of Queequeg and Captain Ahab, troubles Ishmael throughout his journey. The abnormality experienced throughout the duration of each situation evokes an intense sensation of anxiety and fear.
Feeling a �damp, drizzly November in [his] soul� (Melville, 18) and craving a change, Ishmael, the narrator, embarks on a journey to re-discover himself. With inadequate guidance, a scarce money supply, and no apparent reason for boarding a whaling vessel, Ishmael decides it�s necessary to experience the world. Despite his centrality to the.

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looking just like any other ordinary painting to a stranger, caught his attention immediately. He finds himself face-to-face with an image which he describes as �a boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted� (Melville, 26). He tries to find different interpretations of the image: �there was a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvelous painting meant� (Melville, 26). The blue mass of something hovering in the center literally caught Ishmael in a trance. The curiosity in determining the meaning of this painting evokes a sense of fear due to a lack of knowledge instilled in Ishmael. This painting, a mere picture on the wall, stimulated him like never before. After some speculation, Ishmael finally imparts his theory that the painting is depicting a threatening scene of nature, �a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane;.

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strongly agrees with the negative connotation of the unknown. As explained above, Ishmael cannot exactly define the whale oil painting, not because he is unintelligent, but because of man�s ignorance. Yet, this ignorance or unknown cannot be pinned on Ishmael. According to Nechas, �(Ishmael�s) use of the affix becomes the banner of his refusal to assume anything definite about the universe and divine presence within it; nothing can be known from the evidence provided by the unfathomable surface of the universe, and this information is all that is available to man� (Nechas, 201). This affix, the �un in unknown, strongly defines the reason for Ishmael�s lack of knowledge: there are certain.

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Ishmael Reed – биография, книги, отзывы, цитаты

Life and career
Reed was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he attended the University of Buffalo, a private university that became part of the state public university system after he left. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1995.

In 1998, Reed spoke about his influences in an interview: "I've probably been more influenced by poets than by novelists — the Harlem Renaissance poets, the Beat poets, the American surrealist Ted Joans. Poets have to be more attuned to originality, coming up with lines and associations the ordinary prose writer wouldn't think of."

He moved to New York City in 1962 and co-founded with Walter Bowart the East Village Other, a well-known underground publication. He was also a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, an organization among whose members were some that helped establish the Black Arts Movement and promoted a Black Aesthetic. Although Reed was never a participant in that movement, he has continued to research the history of black Americans, and while working on his novel, Flight to Canada, coined the term "Neo-Slave narrative." He used the term in 1984 in "A Conversation with Ishmael Reed" by Reginald Martin.

In 2005, Reed retired from teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for thirty-five years, and is currently Visiting Scholar at California College of the Arts. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife of more than 40 years, Carla Blank, the acclaimed author, choreographer, and director.[13] His archives are located in Special Collections at the University of Delaware in Newark. Reed's author-maintained website appears at

Published works
Reed's published works include his ten novels. Among his other books are six collections of poetry, including New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007; ten collections of essays, most recently Going Too Far: Essays About America's Nervous Breakdown (2012); one farce, Cab Calloway Stands In for the Moon or The Hexorcism of Noxon D Awful (1970); one libretto, Gethsemane Park; a sampler collection, The Reed Reader (2000); two travelogues, of which the most recent is Blues City: A Walk in Oakland (2003); and six plays, collected by Dalkey Archive Press as Ishmael Reed, The Plays (2009).

He has also edited 13 anthologies, the most recent of which is POW WOW, Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience—Short Fiction from Then to Now (2009), a collection of the work of 63 writers, co-edited with Carla Blank. Spanning more than 200 years of American writing, Reed in his "Foreword" calls it "a gathering of voices from the different American tribes." POW WOW is the fiction companion anthology to From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900–2002 (2003), in which Reed endorses an open definition of American poetry as an amalgamation, which should include work found in the traditional canon of European-influenced American poetry as well as work by immigrants, hip hop artists, and Native Americans. The 2013 Signet Classic edition of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn features a new Afterword by Ishmael Reed.

Since the early 1970s, Ishmael Reed has championed the work of other contemporary writers, founding and serving as editor and publisher of various small presses and journals. His current publishing imprint is Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, and his online literary magazine, Konch, features poetry, essays and fiction.[14] Reed is one of the producers of The Domestic Crusaders, a two-act play about Muslim Pakistani Americans written by his former student, Wajahat Ali.Its first act was performed at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Hall in Washington, D.C. on November 14, 2010, and remains archived on their website.

The Freelance Pallbearers, 1967
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, 1969
Mumbo Jumbo, 1972
The Last Days of Louisiana Red, 1974
Flight to Canada, 1976
The Terrible Twos, 1982
Reckless Eyeballing,

The Freelance Pallbearers, 1967
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, 1969
Mumbo Jumbo, 1972
The Last Days of Louisiana Red, 1974
Flight to Canada, 1976
The Terrible Twos, 1982
Reckless Eyeballing, 1986
The Terrible Threes, 1989
Japanese by Spring, 1993
Juice. 2011
Poetry, plays, songs and non-fiction
catechism of d neoamerican hoodoo church, 1969
19 Necromancers From Now, 1970
Cab Calloway Stands in for the Moon or D Hexorcism of Noxon D Awful, 1970
Neo-HooDoo Manifesto, 1972
Conjure: Selected Poems, 1963–1970, 1972
Chattanooga: Poems, 1973
Califia: The California Poetry, 1978
Yardbird Lives. 1978
A Secretary to the Spirits, illustrated by Betye Saar, 1978
Shrovetide in Old New Orleans: Essays, 1978
God Made Alaska for the Indians: Selected Essays, 1982
New and Collected Poetry, 1988
Writing is Fighting: Thirty-Seven Years of Boxing on Paper, 1988
The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology, Selections from the American Book Awards 1980–1990, 1991
Airing Dirty Laundry, 1993
Conversations with Ishmael Reed (Bruce Dick and Amritjit Singh, eds), 1995
Oakland Rhapsody, The Secret Soul Of An American Downtown, with photographs by Richard Nagler, 1995
The HarperCollins Literary Mosaic Series, General Editor of four anthologies edited by Gerald Vizenor, Shawn Wong, Nicolas Kanellos and Al Young, 1995–96
MultiAmerica, Essays on Cultural Wars and Cultural Peace, 1997
Gethsemane Park, libretto; Carman Moore, composer (premiere, Berkeley Black Repertory Theater, 1998)
The Reed Reader, 2000
Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, 2003
Another Day at the Front, Dispatches from the Race War, 2003
From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900–2001, 2003
New and Collected Poems, 1964-2006, 2006 (hardcover); New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007, 2007 (paperback)
Mixing It Up: Taking on the Media Bullies and Other Reflections, 2008
POWWOW, 63 Writers Address the Fault Lines in the American Experience, short fiction anthology edited with Carla Blank, 2009
Ishmael Reed, THE PLAYS, including Mother Hubbard, Savage Wilds, Hubba City, The Preacher and the Rapper, The C Above C Above High C, and Body Parts, 2009
Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the “Nigger Breakers”, 2010
Going Too Far: Essays About America's Nervous Breakdown, 2012
The Complete Muhammad Ali, non-fiction, forthcoming from Baraka Books, 2015
The Final Version, a play, premiered at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in December, 2013
Kip Hanrahan has released three albums featuring lyrics by Reed

Conjure: Music for the Texts of Ishmael Reed (American Clave, 1985)
Conjure: Cab Calloway Stands in for the Moon (American Clave, 1985)
Conjure: Bad Mouth (American Clave, 2005)
David Murray has released several albums featuring lyrics by Reed

Sacred Ground (Justin Time, 2007) - "Sacred Ground" and "The Prophet of Doom" sung by Cassandra Wilson
The Devil Tried to Kill Me (Justin Time, 2009) - "The Devil Tried to Kill Me" sung by Sista Kee and "Africa" sung by Taj Mahal
Be My Monster Love (Motéma, 2013) - "Be My Monster Love"sung by Macy Gray and "Army of the Faithful (Joyful Noise)" & "Hope Is a Thing with Feathers" sung by Gregory Porter

Two of Reed's books have been nominated for National Book Awards, and a book of poetry, Conjure, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007, received the Commonwealth

Two of Reed's books have been nominated for National Book Awards, and a book of poetry, Conjure, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007, received the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal. A poem written in Seattle in 1969, "beware. do not read this poem", has been cited by Gale Research Company as one of the approximately 20 poems that teachers and librarians have identified as the most frequently studied in literature courses. Reed’s novels, poetry and essays have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Hebrew, Hungarian, Dutch, Korean, Chinese and Czech, among other languages.

External video
You can view a C-SPAN interview, in which Ishmael Reed discusses his life, work and career, right here.
Since 2012, Ishmael Reed has maintained the honor of being the first SF Jazz Poet Laureate from SF JAZZ, the leading non-profit jazz organization on the West Coast. An installation of his poem “When I Die I Will Go to Jazz” appears on the SFJAZZ Center’s North Gate in Linden Alley. LitQuake, the annual San Francisco Literary Festival, honored him with their 2011 Barbary Coast Award.

Among Reed's other honors are writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation[18] and National Endowment for the Arts. In 1995, he received the Langston Hughes Medal, awarded by City College of New York; in 1997, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, establishing a three-year collaboration with the Oakland-based Second Start Literacy Project in 1998.

In 1998, he also received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award. In 1999, he received a Fred Cody Award from the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association, and was inducted into Chicago State University’s National Literary Hall of Fame of Writers of African Descent. Other awards include a Rene Castillo OTTO Award for Political Theatre (2002); a Phillis Wheatley Award from the Harlem Book Fair (2003); and in 2004, a Robert Kirsch Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, besides the D.C. Area Writing Project’s 2nd Annual Exemplary Writer’s Award and the Martin Millennial Writers, Inc. Contribution to Southern Arts Award, in Memphis, Tennessee. A 1972 manifesto inspired a major visual art exhibit, NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, curated by Franklin Sirmans for The Menil Collection in Houston, where it opened on June 27, 2008, and subsequently traveled to P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York City, and the Miami Art Museum through 2009. Buffalo, New York, celebrated February 21, 2014, as Ishmael Reed Day, when he received Just Buffalo Literary Center's 2014 Literary Legacy Award.

Ishmael Reed’s texts and lyrics have been performed, composed or set to music by Albert Ayler, David Murray, Allen Toussaint, Carman Moore, Taj Mahal, Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, Carla Bley,

Ishmael Reed’s texts and lyrics have been performed, composed or set to music by Albert Ayler, David Murray, Allen Toussaint, Carman Moore, Taj Mahal, Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Ravi Coltrane, Leo Nocentelli, Eddie Harris, Anthony Cox, Don Pullen, Billy Bang, Bobby Womack, Milton Cardona, Omar Sosa, Fernando Saunders, Yosvanni Terry, Jack Bruce, Little Jimmy Scott, Robert Jason, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Cassandra Wilson, Gregory Porter and others.

Reed has been the central participant in the longest ongoing music/poetry collaboration, known as Conjure projects, produced by Kip Hanrahan on American Clavé: Conjure I (1984) and Conjure II (1988), which were reissued by Rounder Records in 1995; and Conjure Bad Mouth (2005), whose compositions were developed in live Conjure band performances, from 2003 to 2004, including engagements at Paris’ Banlieues Bleues, London’s Barbican, and the Blue Note Café in Tokyo. The Village Voice ranked the 2005 Conjure CD one of four best spoken-word albums released in 2006.

In 2007, Reed made his debut as a jazz pianist and bandleader with For All We Know by The Ishmael Reed Quintet. In 2008, he was honored as Blues Songwriter of the Year from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Awards. A David Murray CD released in 2009, The Devil Tried to Kill Me, includes two songs with lyrics by Reed: “Afrika,” sung by Taj Mahal, and the title song performed by SF-based rapper Sista Kee. September 11, 2011, in a Jazz à la Villette concert at the Grande Halle in Paris, the Red Bull Music Academy World Tour premiered three new songs with lyrics by Ishmael Reed, performed by Macy Gray, Tony Allen, members of The Roots, David Murray and his Big Band, Amp Fiddler and Fela! singer/dancers. In 2013, David Murray, with vocalists Macy Gray and Gregory Porter, released the CD, "Be My Monster Love," with three new songs with lyrics by Reed: “Army of the Faithful,” "Hope is a Thing With Feathers," and the title track, "Be My Monster Love."

Ishmael Study Guide

Ishmael Study Guide

First published in 1992, Daniel Quinn 's Ishmael has remained in print since its publication and has been translated into over 25 languages. Mostly a Socratic dialogue exploring the the world's impending disaster and the human responsibility towards the world, Ishmael touches on a variety of ethical topics to ultimately claim that humans are responsible for the world's degradation, but could also prove instrumental in ensuring its recovery.

Ishmael was the first and only recipient of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award. This award was established to encourage authors “to seek creative and positive solutions to global problems.”

The book's mission certainly aligns with this description. Through the book, Quinn hopes to alert readers that our planet faces several pressing problems that will not solve themselves. Moreover, we must recognize the extent to which our culture is complicit for causing these problems. Our 'conventional wisdom' not only lacks objective foundation, but in fact is the cause of the impending disaster.

Though Quinn denies affiliation with most movements that claim Ishmael as a product of their ideology, the novel has been praised by supporters of the environmental, simplicity, anarchist, deep ecology and anarcho-primitivism movements. Instead of aligning himself with these, Quinn likes to identify Ishmael as a product of his new tribalism philosophy.

Though the novel has generated significant criticism over time because of Quinn's various claims, it remains popular largely because of its bold and uncompromising theses.

How To Cite in MLA Format

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Ishmael Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Ishmael is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

The Takers are civilized people.

Mother Culture is a personified concept that Ishmael uses to explain how the Takers perpetually enact the story that claims man is the apex of evolution and rulers of the world. In Ishmael's construction, Mother.

Asked by Nasir Ray T #544237

Answered by jill d #170087 on 9/8/2016 1:23 AM View All Answers

Ishmael repeats that the agricultural revolution was more than just a technological event - it was also a philosophical one. Mother Culture teaches that human life was meaningless and ugly before the revolution, and the narrator agrees that most.

Asked by Nasir Ray T #544237

Answered by Aslan on 9/9/2016 2:22 AM View All Answers

After some thought, the narrator figures out that those who live in the hands of the gods continue to evolve, while the Takers do not. Man became man by living in the hands of the gods, evolving from Australopithecus to Homo sapiens sapiens. but.

Asked by Nasir Ray T #544237

Answered by Aslan on 9/9/2016 2:21 AM View All Answers

Study Guide for Ishmael

Ishmael study guide contains a biography of Daniel Quinn, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

Essays for Ishmael

Ishmael essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

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Ishmael Book

Ishmael Book

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. Daniel Quinn. 262 pp. 1992. Bantam/Turner Books: New York. $10.95 paperback. ISBN 0-553-37540-7

Ishmael is about a man seeking peace from the disillusioned lies he has been lead to believe. He comes across an ad in the newspaper stating teacher-seeking student, willing to save the world. The ad inspires him to seek out wisdom of the unknown truth. To the man's surprise the teacher is a caged gorilla. This gorilla "Ishmael" is not just a gorilla he is gifted with the revolution of mother culture; his objective is to teach captivity. Ishmael criticizes human civilization and states "your captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live (25)." He explains that you can try and escape but it is a constant battle against mother culture, keeping people bound to the civilized way of life.

If one begins to see the lies as reality change would not likely be erected but if the multitudes began to see the lies then that Ishmael explains is what we must hope for.

As a civilization we are all part of a story, each enacting a role and to this story we are held captive. We are unaware of the story because we have habituated to the hum of mother culture in our ear. We are all blind to the reality of the story but Ishmael says once we are aware of the story then it becomes our reality. The irony of the story is that there is no way out, to get out is to die. The only option is to be aware of mother culture and challenge the inherent lies we have been lead to believe.

Ishmael describes the two distinctive stories between the Leavers and the Takers. Leavers are primitive they live harmoniously with other species and the earth. They hold on to the traditions and the past, preserving the knowledge of their ancestors Takers are civilized and their objective is to conquer the world. Mother culture would describe the past as useless where traditions are lost and ancestral ways should be forgotten. The Takers perceive the Leavers to live an animalistic life; a life style that should no longer be tolerated. Leaver's primitive hunting-gathering way of life soon turned into the Takers agricultural expansion, which ignited the cycle of worldly destruction. Mother culture influences the Takers to believe that more is better; bigger and greater material things are to be desired when in reality it is not prosperous, it is wasteful and disastrous to the world. The ideal of civilized man is to turn the world into an absolute utopia. Contradictory to the ideal the result is consumption and pollution, which causes global destruction. Resolution to the problem will remain unresolved until man becomes aware of the destruction being caused by civilization.

The Takers think that the laws that govern all other species do not apply because through agriculture and technology their belief is that they are exempt from famine, disease and extinction. Ishmael clearly explains that this is not the case. He states, "any species that exempts itself from the rules of competition ends up destroying the community in order to support its own expansion. (135)" For man to live in harmony with the planet the Takers must examine their ideals and mythology by adopting a new paradigm. Change must occur so civilization can fit the guidelines of the natural law. Man is unaware of this law that must be complied with in order to achieve civilized flight (107). Because man is not in compliance with the law it makes flight impossible (108). With absence of natural law civilization is forced to peddle faster and harder pushing itself to stay up when the law is creating a greater force of resistance. Civilization is blind to the reality of the fall, consumed by momentary pleasure. What they don't see is that they are headed for a crash. Mother culture is the false conscious whisper in our ear that it is the individual that should be held accountable for failure not the flaws of society. The individual must peddle faster and if he/she crashes then it is there own fault for not peddling fast enough.

The Takers are unconscious of their four actions that are fundamental to civilization. First they exterminate their competitors. Second they destroy their competitor's food and make room for their own. Third they deny their competitors access to food. Fourth they store food by taking and killing more than they can eat. By allowing these four fundamentals to continue the Takers are breaking the peace-keeping law. This inhibits diversity and by inhibiting diversity the mortality rate of other species increases, resulting in extinction. We may never fully see the solution to the problem as a civilization but Quinn suggests that there is still hope.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Ishmael is a stimulating and thought provoking book. Quinn is amazingly talented at putting a complex subject matter into a simplistic story line. He challenges the reader to think about the society we live in and reexamine the things that we accept as truth. Some of the analogies were a little confusing at first although after rereading it became clearer. In different sections of the book he went on tangents and at those points it became hard to tie the story together, but he did a wonderful job retelling it to clear up the points that were not at first clear. The ideas suggested were explained in a way that made the book take on a very realistic role. Although, the book is fictional Quinn brought to light many truths that we must be aware of. The unsettling realities of this world are not pleasurable topics of conversation but it also not something that can be overlooked. Quinn offers this story not only to bring reality to the surface but also to encourage a sense of hope. Ishmael is an inventive and compelling book. It will encourage readers to take action and reevaluate their own personal story.

There were many intriguing points made in this book one of which may be disagreeable to readers. Quinn suggests that if an area is over populated and the land is unable to sustain the people we should let them die off. He also states that if we feed them and increase food production then the population will continue to increase. The problem is significant but the solution Quinn suggests is controversial. People do not have a choice in where they are born, if the land does not supply enough resources then we must bring the resources to them. From Quinn's point of view we may only be ensuring that overpopulation will persist. Although, there are other alternatives for population control that he did not suggest such as education on contraceptive use. We are responsible as a civilization to care for others and feed the unfed.

The dialogue Quinn describes between Ishmael and the man brings the story to life as if I were apart of the conversation. His eloquent way of explaining a complex situation comes across simplistic and well thought out, which makes it easy to read. Quinn is an optimist; he brings to light the failures of civilization but believes there may still be hope. Quinn is hopeful for a solution to end the destruction caused by civilization. According to Hegal's theory of absolute truth there may never be a solution even if we are hopeful of one. His theory suggests that the world must first be understood before it is changed. The only way to understand the world is to acquire the absolute truth. As humans we are all imperfect, which prevents us as a civilization from acquiring the absolute truth. Therefore, civilization will never conform to the laws of peace keeping or limited competition. If the natural laws continue to be broken by civilization then we will continue to exist in a state of anomie. Emile Durkheim describes this as an unstable society. He suggests that we should rely on science as the solution to the problem. If part of the structure of society is not functioning within the laws, then science will determine a way in which all species can coexist with equilibrium. The civilization that Quinn describes has a lack of morality and if capitalism continues society will not be stable.

Durkheim compares primitive societies with modern societies, relating to Quinn's theory of the Leavers and Takers. The primitive society or the Leavers were like-minded people; there was minimal division of labor and a high level of morality. On the contrary, the modern society or the Takers are individualistic. Their society progressed through increasing the division of labor, which lead to the agricultural era. The agricultural era created more jobs and made the way for technological advances but with progress came conflict.

Max Weber also has an equivalent of Quinn's Leavers and Taker, which he calls substantive rationality and instrumental rationality. The substantive are the Leavers; they are altruistic and unified as a group. The instrumental or the Takers are practical and focus on the individual. Instrumental rationality influences the individual to resort to the iron cage of bureaucracy. Man abuses the resources available for personal gain. In Ishmael's story man is abusing the earth with desire to concur. C. Wright Mills similar to Quinn believes that the problems of civilization are not the fault of individuals but social construction is to blame. It is only through social movement that social change may occur.

Relevance to the Class

Ishmael is a book that is relevant to any subject and any educational discipline. Ishmael relates not only to sociology but can also be applicable to any field of study, particularly to history and business. Quinn illustrates many points about civilization and how it has evolved over time. This signifies former ways of life and cultural changes that have occurred that are relevant to our history. Ishmael would be beneficial to the business department because these are the people who are mostly running the world. It may help future corporation owners to form new paradigms. Once they realize the reality of mother culture they can evaluate the positive or negative effects they are having on civilization. With this new reality they may question to who's benefit is this corporation. Ishmael is a fiction book that is relevant to the times we live in. It touches on serious issues that are often overlooked. Ishmael challenges us to be aware of the destruction civilization is causing and to resist the curse of mother culture.

Minor in Sociology

Sam Houston State University