Sunday, July 26, 2009


We behave as if these words, these sounds that we make daily without consideration, are something that has always been, will always be. WE feel that it is something eternal. These words really mean something. They have inherent value. But the truth is that it is all gibberish invented from necessity. When I want to eat, I grunt a certain way and it sounds like “eat” or “food” or “hungry” and then that other over there knows that I want something and learns which cries mean what. Anyone that has lived with a cat or dog for some time can understand this. One learns that this whine means I’m hungry, this yip means I want out, this bark means someone is coming and so on. We have a greater range of noises that we are capable of making thanks to our complex vocal systems. Lucky us, that we have lips and tongues and teeth and a larynx that makes a greater range of sounds possible. I can make a noise that not only means I want to eat but means that I want to eat oranges. Other primates are capable of deciding that they would prefer bananas to oranges and can even communicate this using sign language or charts pressed on them by humans in white lab coats. They simply lack the physical sophistication that would allow them to speak. Meanwhile many birds can do better in terms of speech, but lack the intelligence to say much. (This is not really to say that they are inferior in any way, but rather that they have not had a need to capitalize on that particular habit to further the evolution of their species. They have taken a different route.) Gray parrots can both reason and then speak to us in our own language, which in my book makes them superior to us as a species as I don’t see us (other than the occasional two year old or horse whisperer) trying to speak in parrot or magpie or any language, verbal, visceral or otherwise, employed by any species other than our own.
We think we are so great. We think our words are so grand. It is all really gibberish. Cats and dogs and rats even learn to respond to our prattle. I attribute this to a sort of social intelligence, meaning that they have learned that communication with our species benefits them in some way. They are networkers. They have a memory of past interactions and capitalize on their previous experiences and this is what we generally think of as intelligence: an ability to adapt to surrounding circumstances and other organisms for the benefit of one’s own survival. The reason that we think that this sort of opportunistic system for organizing external stimuli is superior to any other is that it is the method we employ. We coo over how intelligent dolphins and apes and cats and rats and dogs are because they are networkers like us, because they will jump through hoops for fish if necessary. Their intelligence is similar to our own in this respect. Their method for survival involves interacting with others just as our own method depends on such interactions. So we think that they’re the greatest.
We think we are great and therefore those things which share traits with ourselves are great. We are species-centric. The way that we evolved through time is THE BEST no doubt, and our mode of communication is ACES. Our way of approaching the world is THE WAY. We don’t consider that we are noise makers. We are the kind that cover the world with our nests and destroy the habitats of other life forms to make more space for ourselves. We have the might so we are RIGHT! We fill the night sky with our artificial light. We fuck the night over with this light pollution so that nocturnal species suffer disorientation that affects their mode of survival. We don't ’care. You shouldn't be nocturnal. You should be like us. Our way is THE BEST! We wreck everything for everybody, shit all over the world and babble incessantly, even sending our babble out into space. Because we feel that there is something special about ourselves. There is something unique about the way we think and speak.
We are a mad hatter species. That dirty old man muttering to himself and occasionally shouting into the crowd is to society what we as a species are to the universe. We are creepy. We are crazy. We take up a lot of space with our noise and filth. Yakka yakka yakka, blah blah blah. We can even write it down. Some of us used to be able to read. Now we have television and radio and cell phones so we can chatter, cha cha cha cha cha cha cha yakkity chat and listen to our own clamber day and night. We think that we matter, that what we say matters, that what we say is real. We make these noises daily without consideration, but seldom do we manage to say anything that comes even close to describing something real, something that would stand beyond language in a space that we never seem to quite reach. Meanwhile, the chatter goes on.

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