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Friday, February 10, 2006

A "rabbit hole" of discovery...

What started out as a quest to unravel more about a movie that I saw resulted in the eventual discovery of something that, well, I have thus far been rather curious about. Don't worry, you'll see what I mean...soon enough.

So, there's this movie called Instinct that stars Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Maura Tierney. And I happen to like it very much. For those of you who haven't seen it, and before I go ahead and say that it's a movie that you HAVE to watch and all that, because that's usually how these things work with me, I must say that its appeal lies in the ideas that it talks about. Therefore, for a creature of logic like myself, any mental stimulus is automatically a point in favor for the movie/book/article/etc. in question.

So, what is the movie about? Well, and if you're reading this to find out you've been a little lazy and not visited the official website, it's about a primatologist (Anthony Hopkins) who, after disappearing for two years in the jungles of Rwanda, suddenly resurfaces. In fact, he's discovered by the efforts of his family who've been trying to find out what happened to him. What they discover, however, is that he's spending time in a local prison having been charged with murder! After being transported back to the US, he is put in a mental institution where he becomes the study of psychiatrist (Cuba Gooding Jr.). The rest, as they say, you'll have to watch to find out. Hee hee hee.

But I was so intrigued by the ideas behind the film that I decided to check whether or not there was a book behind it all. I mean, I've had more than enough people tell me that the book was better than the movie, and I've always wondered if it was necessary for them to say that, simply because a book, unless illustrated, has no visuals. Therefore, relying solely on your imagination, and sanity, you get involved with the book as it comes to life inside your head. But that's never stopped anyone from telling me this...and I'm sure that I've done the same too. So, what is this book called? Well, it's titled Ishamel, and it's by Daniel Quinn. What is it about? I don't really know because I haven't read it, and also because I hadn't known about it until now. But reading the synopsis/review, I found that it was the story of a gorilla who had learned to communicate telepathically with humans...and the book is about the conversation that the gorilla, Ishmael, has with a person who ends up coming across an ad in the newspaper that reads as follows: "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person."

Discovering the book behind the movie that I liked was Step 2. While on the Friends of Ishmael Society website, I became still more curious about the concept of 'sustainable communities' and that led me still further down the rabbit hole. I found a link to something called the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). Truly amazing stuff this because it goes back to ideas that, for whatever reason, most of humanity has sought to leave behind. I mean, we're all so caught up in the flow of things that seem to be leading us "forward" to some kind of technological super-consciousness, that we seem to forget our roots in the natural world. I mean, it's terribly worrying for me on some days to sit here and wonder what next. The only comforting thought that I hold on to is the fact that life will go on no matter what. But it's never enough to hope, or even to put all your faith in God, because as we say in Malayalam, and this is a translation, "You put in half, and God puts in the other half." In some ways we are the masters of our own destiny. Yet, in other ways, we can't really control what happens to us.

The GEN website is particularly interesting because of all the information it has. I would encourage people to check it out, but then you'd also have to watch the movie and read the book to see how all of this ties in. Check out what they call the Four Keys to Sustainable Settlements, which are supposed to be the broad areas that a community should address in an attempt to live in a manner that is both connected with and responsible to nature and the natural world that surrounds us. And it may not be the perfect world or the Utopia that is often ensconced in stories of alternate worlds and the like. Good to see that there are people out there who have realized and are finally willing to put in the effort to go about setting things right...or better, at the very least. I'm sure as you look at the ideas presented here you're going to think that it's some hippie commune, or a sincere effort by some seriously disturbed people who're trying to go back to their "caveman" days. But haven't people always talked about life coming full circle? How's that for a little dose of brainfood?

Well, and I'm hoping that you've been provoked enough to at least consider the idea, it speaks of promise. And I realize that promise is only good insofar as the effort or willingness, or even the intent behind it that will ultimately bring about its realization. So maybe the time to finally do something about the pathetic existence that has become the story of our rigmarole, monotonous lives has come. What do you think?
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