Other: Art Made Together with Non-Human Animals
"The Man Who Talks to Whales" - Nollman's Approach to Animal Collaboration
By Katie Edwards (04/13/13 15:32:31)
Related animals: Dolphin, Human, Lion, Turkey, Whale

In Chapter 1 Nollman states that his relationship with animals has always been different than that of most people. While the other students in his science classes had no problem dissecting animals, sixteen-year-old Nollman took a stand and refused because he strongly believed animals to be equal to humans. He describes a metaphorical pedestal which most humans use to look down upon animals, yet claims they are perfectly capable of the same sentiments we are and should be respected, not belittled. I thought this description of the human-animal relationship as one of man's superiority and animal's subordination was very relatable. Although I love animals and would never wish to cause them harm, I do often treat them as cute little creatures or as pets. I act as if I am their owner rather than their equal. Believing in the possibility of animal communication requires that I stop viewing animals as entertaining or for my enjoyment and instead view them as beings with extremely intelligent and complex minds. I liked the way Nollman suggests that rather than learning about animals we should make an effort to learn from them.

Chapter 4 describes the “protocol” of various human-animal and interspecies relationships. Nollman differentiates between a protocol and a symbiosis, claiming protocol is “a social behavior established between individuals,” while symbiosis is a “physical co-dependency” between species (51-52). I found the example of the lions and the Bushmen to be intriguing. To think that lions and humans could come to a mutual understanding in which neither felt threatened or in danger is astounding. I think of lions as large, intimidating beings, and yet both the lions and the Bushmen were comfortable around each other. They understood when each should go to the watering hole, and how they should go about their daily routines in relation to the other. Once the ranchers were introduced into the scene, however, the relationship completely changed. There was no longer an understanding of how each species should act, and the confusion led to the destruction of what was once an incredible situation.

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