The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers
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- The Question (ID Number 605): I am now fighting two distinct battles. One against the idea that people are supposed to rule the world, and the other against the notion that governments are supposed to rule people. Frankly, I'm surprised you're not an anarchist. You've indicated that the 'laws' that governments write are inferior to those that grow and evolve with cultures. But, in the answers to questions 502 and 592, you seem to concede the inborn right of you and your tribe to govern yourselves- to patently old minds that are merely elected, and often critically opposed to your ideas. You contend that the problems of our culture developed systemically, yet you feed a failed, corrupt system (the U.S. government) with your vote. I find it difficult to believe that you can see the potential of walking away from civilization without ceasing the opportunity to walk away from corruption. Al Gore is a great alternative to George Bush for president, just as a clean knife is better that a rusty one for impaling one's self.
- The Question (ID Number 601): On more than one occasion in your books and in your responses to questions you categorically reject the idea of gods, in particular the Abrahamic god. Yet in "The Holy" Tim, after being prompted by Pablo who "sees" this all the time, finally sees the glory the cactus has to offer him. Therefore I have two questions. If you do not believe that there is a God or gods in this world, then what or who is Pablo (whom you saw yourself as a young child)? Second, both in "B" and in "The Holy", you position the Abrahamic god as an opponent of the very world he allegedly created. Why do you believe that a Satan/Ba'al zebub or an anti-christ figure would be so much more in tune with your world vision?
- The Question (ID Number 573): I'm surprised by your answer to question #561 in the Q&A (Jamband Culture). Not even a nod to potential, huh? Yes, you are correct that the vast majority of the concert goers do not make a living tribally, but it doesn't mean that many aren't striving for it. Out of the jamband culture has sprouted numerous tribal bands who have undermined the major record labels by starting up their own labels. (These young bands were all merely fans at one point) Tribal bands have undermined "ticket bastard" (as it is often refereed to as) by selling their own tickets on-line. (Something Pearl Jam could never quite do) Numerous tribal production companies have started up around the country. Even the corporate amphitheaters are starting to be ignored as hundreds of independent and band sponsored festivals are springing up around the country. More and more longtime fans are starting to find ways of making a living through production, promotion, and even writing with tribal like websites, magazines, and newsletters. And as you move further away from the bands, you can find numerous fans finding other tribal ways to live and make a living while following their favorite bands. Over the years, I've met "tribes" on the road who supplemented income by vending food and clothing. Once I met a group who made their living customizing VW busses in between tours. I think the point I am trying to make is that like you have said before, we have to get our feet wet. I doubt you believe that "tribal businesses", like you defined in Beyond Civilization are the only way to go. I'm beginning to look at the jamband culture (and others) as hierarchies in which all levels buy into. Those at the bottom of the hierarchy give the least support to the community and in return, get the least back (the excitement of a few shows). Those at the top of the hierarchies (the bands) give the most, and receive the most support in return. In between are various groups offering various levels of support, and receiving various levels of support in return. It is a hierarchy, but a hierarchy without a disgruntled and rebellious underclass.
- The Question (ID Number 549): I must admit that I was greatly disappointed with Beyond Civilization. Perhaps I am still too entrenched in the philosophies of the Takers, but I was hoping for something more tangible, a path to follow in my life. Writing this now, I feel like a whining child asking a parent how to get himself out of sticky situation but I feel that I must put it down anyhow. You speak of tribes as if they are a dime a dozen, people just waiting around on street corners to abandon the only thing that they know to follow in this endeavor. I am sure that you speak to many people on this subject and you realize that the reason they have come to feel lost in society is because they are disconnected from those who might understand them. Of all the people that I know (some who are the most intelligent and caring individuals that I have ever met), not one is willing to sacrifice the advantages that our culture has to offer for a heightened sense of personal fulfillment. Most believe that they can find everything they need within our culture, and I am not sure that they are wrong. I do not have a tribe, Mr. Quinn, and I would go so far as to guess that most other people do not. It is frustrating for me to read your work and then apply it to my life. I am $20,000 dollars in debt to the federal government (the cost of improving myself through a college education), I work waiting tables while I try (unsuccessfully) to publish my short stories, and I save up money to travel to places around the world where (somewhere in my heart of hearts) I hope to find some kind of real freedom. You have a wife that seems to share your ideals and (I assume) a group of friends and followers, you have had a successful job in publishing, and you are currently a successful writer. Surely you see that your plan is more easily applied to yourself than to those like me. There are no circuses in town for me to join (nor would I want to become a part of them) and I do not wish to live a homeless lifestyle if I cannot help it.
- The Question (ID Number 545): I've read all your books, and I think they are amazing pieces of work! Your books have changed how I see the world. As a result they have changed how I live my life and what I value. I have a problem though. My family doesn't think what I'm doing with my life is a good idea. They think I've bought into something that I will forever regret! In fact I think they may even think I need to be saved from this "Ishmael type thinking" Which I know isn't true. But I'm still pissed off about it, because family is pretty important to me. Here are some of the things I've heard. 1.You and your ideas may be a conspiracy to give us poor people false hope while the Jews steal from us." 2.Quinn is a Jewish name, therefore you are a Jew and you are in cahoots with the Jewish power who controls the worlds wealth. 3.Ishmael was a Jew in the bible, and of course the bible is the Jews handbook. So the character you used also leads to the conspiracy of you trying to keep us gentiles brainwashed. 4. You got rich off your books, us poor people still have to make a living. Those are all I can think of off hand. The reason why I'm writing this to you is because with the knowledge you have, I'm hoping you can challenge these bullshit myths. Or you can point me in the right direction so I can put these myths to rest. If you have time, it would be great to here your thoughts on this.
- The Question (ID Number 531): Mr. Quinn, here is an interesting question that a member of our discussion group asked: DQ relies heavily on natural selection as a framework to explain why early American civilizations were abandoned--they didn't work as well as another form of social organization (presumably tribalism), so the people "walked away." (like the children of Israel "walked away" from Egypt, pillaging and looting) So my question is, what's to stop anthropologists and other naive puppets of Mother Culture from using the same argument to explain why tribal peoples "walked away" from tribalism to civilization? DQ would say that wasn't a free choice; they were misled and coerced -- but how do we know that the people of, say, Teotihuacan weren't misled and coerced, when we have no records of what happened and there are signs of conflict (or at least looting and pillaging)? DQ might then say that the civilizations weren't environmentally sustainable, while the tribal cultures that our civilization "civilized" were sustainable. But how does that figure into natural selection when the unsustainability is not yet affecting mortality? The way our civilization wiped out tribal cultures was no less "natural" than the way crazy ants (Paratrechina longicornis) wipe out other species of insects -- meanwhile, the Teotihuacanis and Maya had not even come close to reaching the environmental limits of their surroundings... so their behavior is *not* explainable by natural selection.
- The Question (ID Number 514): You say that there is no one right way to live, but you are wrong. The one right way to live is letting others live in a way that either works for them or has worked for them for as long as they can remember. The one right way to live IS letting everyone else live as they have seen fit.
- The Question (ID Number 469): I may be confused about the inclusion of Michael Time in your website.....Is it a belief that changes for survival will come from the bungled searching of the roots of society - from the revolutionaries who don't understand what they seek but only know they have to find it? I would hope that some more vital upwelling could provide a wave of change....It just seems so far off when the Michaels of the world lead the way. He has so many personal issues, he seems far removed from an unselfish cause.
- The Question (ID Number 466): If man's appearance on earth was no more significant than the jellyfish, as per Ishmael, than what is the significance of the possibility of the disappearance of man and or the jellyfish?
- The Question (ID Number 463): While I think you point out some legitimate examples from history of people "walking away," you also acknowledge that the "jungle option" no longer exists. If history is any indication, people do not act to change circumstances in civilized societies until those circumstances have become intolerable. I fear your books amount to shouting for the driver to hit the brakes after the car has go off the cliff.
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