The People and their Planet
Hello my name is Daniel Quinn and today I will be talking to you about the parallels between the film Baraka and my novel Ishmael. To give you all some context before I start, I will explain the premises of both pieces of work. Baraka is a non-narrative documentary film that was released in 1992. Throughout the film there is no narration or dialogue, it is just a compilation of multiple events. Some of what is shown includes natural events, life, human activities and technological phenomenon. The film was shot in multiple locations that includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Ryoan temple in Kyoto, Lake Natron in Tanzania, burning oil fields in Kuwait, the smoldering precipice of an active volcano, a busy subway terminal, tribal celebrations, of the Masai in Kenya, and chanting monks in the Dip Tse Chok Ling monastery.
To go along with my look at the film today, I will also explain a bit about Ishmael as well. I wrote the book the in 1992 and it has been called a philosophical novel for the themes and questions that I put into the story. It examines mythology, its effects on the ethics of others, and how that can relate to the sustainability of the environment. In the novel I use the style of a Socratic dialogue in order to deconstruct the notion that humans are the pinnacle of biological evolution. I break down that perception in the book in order to create a more realistic interpretation of who humans are and what they represent to the earth.
I also hypothesize that belief a human supremacy is nothing more than a myth that people continue to believe and act upon as response to this supposed mentality of superiority. Throughout the novel I also assert that modern civilization is reinforcing and enacting the myth of human supremacy through their actions, which could have dangerous results for the rest of the planet if it is continued. The plot of Ishmael followers a nameless narrator answers a newspaper ad that advertises, “Teacher seeks pupil.” When the narrator goes to meet this teacher, he is shocked to a find a gorilla named Ishmael. What is even more surprising is when the Ishmael starts to communicate with the narrator through telepathy. So Ishmael is able to communicate with narrator projecting his thoughts into the mind of others.
From there the teacher pupil relationship between the two begins and they start to discuss some of the earlier points I mentioned. This novel is similar to Baraka, because it seems as if the film provides a visual representation of some key points in my novel. The two most prominent points that can be seen in the film are my descriptions of two kinds of people, the takers and the leavers. Takers are members of the dominant culture that sees humans as the rulers of the world, and that it is their destiny to continue growing, expanding their influence on the earth and beyond, usually through the use of...