Reflection: Interspecies Communication
The Man Who Talks to Whales Reflection
By Erik Shalat (04/15/13 13:26:18)
Related animal: Bird

Chapter one of Jim Nollmanís book, The Man Who Talks to Whales, begins with a view into what led Jim to make his ground breaking work communicating with animals. He believes in our youth it is much easier to relate animals to people, the apparent social gap between the two isnít as strict. However, by the age of sixteen he had still retained
the sense that animals received an unfair presence in society; animals exhibit traits and characteristics that make them more than just mindless beasts running purely on instinct. Animals can feel joy and pain and sorrow and much more. One thing I found particularly interesting what that Jim found anthropomorphism to be offensive since it suggests that the only way to make animals relatable is to make them virtually just humans. Eventually Nollman moved to Mexico where he first started experimenting with music and animal interactivity, inspired by a neighborís turkey that would resonate gobbles with his flute playing. This is where his story becomes a bit more metaphysical and less grounded in substance.

Chapter four, Interspecies Protocol, takes us deep into his ongoing journey past the initial experiments with the turkeys. Interspecies Protocol is a sort of mutually understood agreement between animals and humans. Having an interspecies protocol is a symbol of animal respect, as it shows that there is a certain amount of control being in the animalís control; they are not forced to buckle under human whims. His first example of protocol is with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert, who would schedule trips to a watering hole in an effort to avoid conflicts with lions. When ranchers were introduced to the desert they started intruding on the lionís water hole time and this disrupted the balance leading to the extinction of the bushmen.

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