The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers -
The Tales of Adam and The Book of the Damned
In Beyond Civilization Daniel mentioned the possibility of publishing these early Ishmael-related works in book form. We're pleased to announce that Context Books plans to publish one of them, The Tales of Adam, as an illustrated book--probably in the fall of 2003. In the meantime, both works are available on audio cassette in a two-tape set called An Animist Testament.
Here are some excerpts:
From The Tales of Adam: "The Web Woven Endlessly"
Next Adam said: "When the gods made the universe, they made it in such a way that all who have eyes to see can read the Law of Life in it. They wrote it in things, not in words, so that not only man but the snail and the mosquito and the rabbit could read it. This is why no man will ever succeed in framing the Law in words: it is too simple for words. Should you meet some skeptic who says to you, 'Where is this Law? I see no Law,' tell him to watch the wolf and the deer and the jackal and live as they do. These creatures see the Law and are following it, and there are no criminals among them. . . . You're beginning to know the Law of Life. I too am beginning to know the Law of Life. If you ask me on my last day, as I close my eyes for the last time, whether I know the Law of Life, I'll tell you: 'I'm beginning to know it.' If any man tells you he knows the whole of the Law of Life or that he can encompass it in words, that man is a fool or a liar, because the Law of Life is written in the universe and no man can know the whole of it. If ever you're in doubt about the Law, consult the caterpillar or the gull or the jackal; no man will ever know it better or follow it more steadfastly than they."
From The Book of the Damned
[The Ihalmiut Eskimos of the Great Barrens of Canada] called it the Law of Life. It sounds almost too good to be true, but that's what they called it. It really couldn't have been called anything else, any more than the law of gravity could be called anything else.
- It is the Law of Life.
- Followed everywherein the seas, on the shores, in the forests, in the ponds, on the plains, in the deserts.
- Followed by everything that moves in the community of lifegreat and small, naked and armored, scaled and feathered, spined and spineless, brainy and brainlessby paramecia and elephants and sharks and grasshoppers and frogs and wolves and ticks and deer and rabbits and turtles and owls.
- It's a universal law.
- Written where only the gods could have written it.
- In the fabric of the living community.
And so a law was in readiness for Homo habilis.
- A single law.
- A biological law. But not merely a biological law.
- A sublime law.
- The pattern for a million cultures, no two alike.
- As it is the pattern for a million species, no two alike.
- A law good enough to be the basis for a billion years of cultural experimentation.
- A law never to be outworn or outgrown.
- Because it had been written by gods who were actually gods. And not blunderers.