Turkey Trot and the Man Who Talks to Whales
By Matthew Roy Reeves (04/20/10 16:01:29)
Related animal: Turkey

Jim Nollman introduces his artistic passion for animals by describing childhood and losing touch with personal interests. “…[W]ith each passing year the chasm between us and humans and the rest of nature grows wider and wider” (5). The animal enthusiast became distracted by human culture as he grew up, and experienced his own personal evolution. “They say that a human fetus retraces the path of evolution in its development from one-celled creature to human being…I say that the process continues long after birth, but now on the level of culture” (5). Culture diverted Nollman’s passion, but it was reclaimed, nearly as nature had intended.

Where Nollman lost touch with animals he gained prominence in the American music subculture during the 60’s and 70’s. The call to return to his passion for animals, however, ended his performing career. “…[I]t finally dawned on me that there was no glorious future awaiting me in the rock and roll business” (7). After another setback, his wayward pursuit of his passions wound up in Mexico.

The casual lifestyle Nollman experienced in Mexico prompted a different approach to music, one that focused on playing and sharing music as an element of a community…of turkeys? Here was when animals finally returned to his wandering eyes in search of his passion. Turkeys next door would respond as he played his guitar, where he then actively began practicing in response to their reactions.
“I ceased to experiment on the turkey, and instead, began to play with it” (9) Nollman’s original pursuit of learning with animals was recaptured. From turkeys in Mexico came “bobwhites in Ohio, kangaroo rats in Death Valley, and a pack of wolves at a refuge in Nevada” (14). In each relationship, Nollman incorporated the medium of music into the art of collaboration.

Interspecies collaboration defines a breaking of the human evolutionary cycle that Nollman finally experienced, and was then free to engage in his passion by learning with animals as a human. He no longer represented a member in human society, like a zoologist or musician. He was an artist exploring his species identity, just as he did as a child. With the passion reaffirmed, Nollman’s art could then commence.

The Man Who Talks to Whales: the Art of Interspecies Communication (Book) [Write Comment]