Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael, about a telepathic gorilla, won a Ted Turner award for book with a hopeful vision of the future. It's become a bestseller translated into many languages and I recommend it as must reading if you've never read it. This portion of the interview discusses the book AND his thoughts on civilization, beyond civilization, the Sixth Extinction and the disaster that hierarchy is...
Rob Kall: This success doesn't seem like such a good thing
Daniel Quinn: (laughs)
Rob Kall: - to most of the people.
Daniel Quinn: Yeah, that's probably true, but what I'm trying to direct them to is: to look at the foundations instead of picking at individual things. Saying, "We've got to stop being dependent on petroleum. We've got to develop alternative renewable resources for power. We've got to get rid of gasoline powered automobiles. We've got to stop polluting the air, the greenhouse gases. We've got to stop doing the things that are causing climate change." These things, these particulars - rather than to look at the underlying organization - that says, "This is the way. It may be terrible, but this is the way people were meant to live. There is no other way. There is nothing beyond civilization."
Rob Kall: Can I read the final two paragraphs that you sent me on this?
Daniel Quinn: Yeah.
Rob Kall: You wrote: "The success of our civilization is prodigious, and it's success has never been more spectacular than it is right now. It has plunged us into a sixth extinction that, unless checked, will bring an end to humanity as surely as the fifth extinction brought an end to the great dinosaurs. But it must continue at any cost and never be abandoned under any circumstance, even if it kills us.
Our civilization is a cloud that darkens the entire living community of out planet; but by God it stays up in the sky, and it doesn't fall to earth. This is it's success, and we know in our bones that it must continue at any cost and never be abandoned under any circumstance, even if it kills us and all life on this planet."
Daniel Quinn: (laughs) Something to think about.
Rob Kall: Well you know, I call my show the Bottom Up Radio Show. I believe we're transitioning from a top down world to a more bottom up world. The top down world was catalyzed by agriculture, and the creation of cities and civilization, and slavery and domination, and hierarchy and centralization - and that it's the internet, this huge new communication method that is changing the way our brains work, particularly among the young, that's shifting us a to a bottom up mode. And it's really got me thinking about civilization, and if it has been a mistake: a detour on the human path on the biological path of Gaia, the Earth.
Daniel Quinn: Yes. Well, all of them began as experiments; and people, humans are prone to experiments, so the tendency is admirable -- sure, try something out! But then our civilization became obsessed with the idea that there was no other way to live, and everybody had to live this way. The other civilizations that I've talked about, they didn't have that idea. They didn't conquer the people around them and make them live the way they lived. They didn't spread out all over North America and South America. We are unique in that, and that uniqueness is terrible! And it's something that we have to think about. I think everybody should be aware of it.