Other: Art Made Together with Non-Human Animals
The Man Who Talks to Whales - Response
By Mona Luo (04/21/14 00:30:45)
Related animal: Turkey

Chapter 1: The Turkey Trot
I found myself quite torn by the reading this week. Part of me wanted to dismiss the author’s claims for being too outlandish and unfounded, while another part of me agreed heartily with a lot of what he had to say. I have never found myself to be spiritual so phrases like “mystical resonance” set off all sorts of alarms in my head. However, from the concluding section of the first chapter it seems that Jim Nollman is quite self-aware and has gone through his own struggle balancing the scientific with the spiritual. Figuring out how to go about an interspecies collaboration has had me quite stumped in these past weeks, but this text was quite illuminating. The idea of focusing on the individuality of the animal and its participation (rather than subjugation) seems to be the key to communication and collaboration. After reading about his turkey collaboration I wondered if the same thing could be done in reverse. Instead of the animal responding to the human’s trigger note, what if the human responded to a particular animal vocalization? Could animals be enticed into creating a collaboration with humans? In some ways I think I have done this with the cats I have been around. When they meow I will meow back, or say something to them. I have one particular cat that seems to like to carry on “conversations”. If I only responded to them if they meowed in a certain way, would I find that they meowed more or less in that particular manner? Would they start experimenting to see what other vocalizations would elicit a response?

Chapter 2: Interspecies Protocol
In this second chapter I have honed in on the particular line: “Even the most dangerous predator is accorded status within the status quo, and so deserves certain rights to live and enjoy good health”. Humans are quite biased when it comes to animals. Many people are more than ready to assign good and evil to animals (often unconsciously) when it really comes down to nature and survival. As was brought up by Deke Weaver after the performance last week, we tend to sympathize more with animals our size. We also love cute things. There are all sorts of petitions to save the pandas or help baby seals, but when was the last time you saw anything on the giant Gippsland earthworm (earthworms that get up to 3 meters)? Not only should fierce predators be allowed to live and enjoy good health, but “ugly” creepy-crawlies as well. Many insect species will probably go extinct before anyone has even had a chance to identify them. Nollman claims that, “if a modern human being is to accept the concept of protocol, he or she must also accept the idea that animals are possessed of individuality and distinct personalities”. However, certain “simpler” organisms do not necessarily possess individuality, or at least it is not apparent. For instance, insects. Does that mean that they are not deserving of a protocol as well? That seems a little bit biased.

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