Monday, September 22, 2014

#266 / Ishi

You can read a brief synopsis of Ishi's life by clicking this link. You might also want to read Ishi In Two Worlds, a book by Theodora Kroeber. Kroeber's book was published in 1961, which was my freshman year in college; I remember reading the book then.

On September 13th, a little over a week ago, Gary Kamiya, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, told about Ishi's life in San Francisco, the "second" of the two worlds he inhabited. I think it's an article worth reading.  

In my way of thinking about things, of course, we all inhabit two worlds (whether we know it or not), but most of us are not much focused on the "first" world, the World of Nature. Because of his life history as the "last wild man in North America," Ishi dramatizes those two worlds, and makes clear their differences. 

Kamiya tells us that Ishi was close to a physician named Saxton Pope, and quotes Pope as follows, as Pope wrote about his friend: 

He looked upon us as sophisticated children - smart, but not wise. We knew many things, and much that is false. He knew nature, which is always true.

"He knew nature, which is always true."

It is the World of Nature upon which we ultimately depend. That is the truth. If we forget that, we are "smart but not wise."

Good lesson from Ishi.

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  1. Thanks for this post and the link to the article. It seems to be an example par excellence of your thesis here. And I really appreciated having this more rounded portrait of Ishi the man.


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