Me and ‘B’

The idea of this blog originally was, well, rather vague. I have always had a journal. Just that it wasn’t necessarily where thoughts on the day, month, minute (whatever) were recorded. No, instead it was really more of a book of … secrets, ideas, thoughts, stories, research.

Over the years the topics have ranged rather widely — history, genealogy, DIY projects (I’ve never made). Recently I read ‘J.R.R Tolkien: author of the century’ by T.A. Shipper — this bit is why I bought it (besides the fact I love Tolkien of course) from the back cover;

Professor Shippey offers a new approach to Tolkien, to fantasy and to the importance of language in literature, and demonstrates how his books form part of a live and continuing tradition of storytelling that can trace its roots back through ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ to the ‘Elder Edda’ and ‘Beowolf’

Delicious. Made me actually shiver when I read the back cover in the bookstore. However, next I could read, oh, Raymond Chandler, or ‘Welcome Home: travels in smalltown Canada’ by Stuart McLean. My reading is diverse. Often I use my journals to jot down quotes, or notes to reference later.

One topic that has always intrigued me is the ideas of “Eco-philosopher’, Daniel Quinn. He is a storyteller, and it was through one of his eco-fiction books that I first came upon his ideas. From

Ishmael is a half ton silverback gorilla. He is a student of ecology, life, freedom, and the human condition. He is also a teacher. He teaches that which all humans need to learn — must learn — if our species, and the rest of life on Earth as we know it, is to survive.
The book opens with a deceptively ordinary personals ad: “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world.” Seeking a direction for his life, a young man answers the ad and is startled to find that the teacher is a lowland gorilla named Ishmael, a creature uniquely placed to vision anew the human story.

After that book I discovered there was a mailing list for other wannaB “eco-philosophers”, and so I joined. It was an amazing time for me. It would have been around 1994-95. I learned alot and I met some fantastic and interesting people. Just all online. We’d debate back and forth on topics ranging from population density to Native Hunting rights. Quinn’s philosophies are basic, but there is an underlying complexity you discover that exists underneath. There are no fingers in the dam solutions for Quinn. One of his tenets says “there is no one right way”. There are many ways, and many solutions. Programs don’t work. Changing “meme’s” works. Quinn asks in ‘Ishmael’:

A male silverback Gorilla.
A male silverback Gorilla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The next book of his was ‘The Story of B; an adventure of the mind and spirit’. That is where I got the ‘B’ or “A Billion Being ‘B'”.

‘B’ is the main character in the book. Here’s a snip from

You realize that you have always been lied to — Ishmael helped you to see that — but just how far will Mother Culture go to protect herself? The Story of B pushes further into the place that we all must journey if we are to maintain human life on the planet: into our own history, and out of the lies. Forget everything you ever learned. It’s all a lie.

So I bet about now you’re like “what does this have to do with anything”? Admit it, you where. Ok, so in an act of “personalization” I choose to change my “by” to my real name. Paula. So I decided to be “PaulaB”. Of course this now gives me the option in the future to add other “authors” to the journal; to have other women share their stories. Just something I’m tossing around. Stay tuned.

I’m inspired by Quinn’s use of parables to make his points. As I am telling my stories I am passing on the knowledge of my experience, my “parables” perhaps in a way even. Emotions often get so entangled with memory that it is impossible to know where the reality ends and the “tale” begins. In the telling, events are scribbled down to mere words. Telling stories is something I realize I have been surrounded by my whole life.

I promise, this blog is not going to end up some “eco-warrior” blog, but I do like Quinn’s ideas and they make me think.

So I will leave you something from Quinn himself:

WHO is the Awakener?

A few days after “Uru in the Valley of Sleepers” appeared on our website, a reader responded by asking, “Does ‘U-R-U’ equal ‘You-Are-You’?” It represented an astonishing insight — and one I had totally missed myself! I went on to explain that authors are sometimes the last to know what they “mean” by what they write.

“YOU ARE YOU” is of course the Awakener. As I never get finished saying (because readers never get finished asking), only YOU can know what YOUR resources are. Only YOU can know what YOU can achieve where YOU are and in YOUR situation. When everyone wakes up to this fact, then we will at last be free of Mother Culture’s hypnotic lullaby: “There’s nothing YOU can do. You must wait for OTHERS to do something — world leaders, industrial leaders, religious leaders, and so on. On your own, YOU are helpless, so you may just as well go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. You are NOT Uru — you are NOT YOU. You’re not YOU, you’re NO ONE, a person without resources, without influence, without a voice to speak, without ears to hear, without eyes to see, without mind or hands to bring to bear on any task. So don’t listen to Ishmael, don’t listen to B, don’t listen to Uru. Listen to me and sleep . . . sleep . . . sleep. Because there’s nothing YOU can do. You must wait for OTHERS to do something — world leaders, industrial leaders, religious leaders, and so on. On your own, YOU are helpless, so you may just as well go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. . . .”

The sleepers in my fable were those who didn’t hear the awakening message, which is: “You are YOU!” No one but YOU can tell you what to see. No one but YOU can tell you what to say. No one but YOU can tell you what to listen to. No one but YOU can tell you what to think. No one but YOU can tell you what to make.

There was only one message that was the same for everyone Uru met in the Valley of Sleepers: AWAKEN OTHERS. This is the message of Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael, and it’s the only answer that I can personally give to each and every person who says to me, “But what can someone like ME do?”

Daniel Quinn

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