Philosophical Gorillas and Freshman English Class

Back when I was 14 years old, a scared little freshman starting high school, I entered Mr. M’s English class expecting another boring humdrum hour. As Mr. M, a tall quirky bald man, handed me a little reading packet I had no idea what I was in for. The handout was a chapter from Ishmael, a story about a talking gorilla named Ishmael (weird, I know). But my relationship with that gorilla began in freshman english class and has been an immeasurable part of my life ever since. What the gorilla had to say has changed my perception of the world forever. I’m not really one for philosophy exactly, but Ishmael shook my brain loose. I started contemplating things I never had before, and noticing things I never had before. Without spoiling anything, Ishmael brings into question our entire world and culture. This is a MUST READ!! I have to admit, that English class ended up changing me. I will always be so incredibly grateful to Mr. M for straying from the prescribed curriculum to teach us so much about philosophy, life, and literature. My little group of nerdy friends were obsessed with him, and we would debate abstract theories and symbolism more than we should have.

Recently, I finished another one of Daniel Quinn’s masterpieces. The sequel to Ishmael called My Ishmael. I didn’t think that it could get better, but it did. This time told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl, the story is completely different but still illuminating in countless ways. I recommend these books to anyone with a brain and a beating pulse or a slight itch to change the world. I can’t guarantee it won’t be life changing.

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