SONGBIRDS AND WHALE
Besides all the planning to reverse the destruction imposed by Trump and through him other evil-doers now seeking the exits, we are going to have a lot of pondering about what happened and how it could.
Today a great enlightenment has come for me through a neurolinguist named Martin Sereno, which he explains in this vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rconzwB422s It was recorded in 2008 but has never to my knowledge been developed, particularly from the viewpoint of explaining politics.
His research discovery, which was in the course of looking for the origins of human speaking through examination of the vocalizations of earlier vertebrates comes to the conclusion that there are two pathways to speech.
One is best exemplified by the warning sounds of birds. You’ve probably heard the “beeping” noise of robins when a fledgling falls to the ground or when a cat is nearby. It’s almost like the mechanical beeping of a truck when it backs up because that’s similar. This is a warning sign birds (and monkeys) will make if there’s danger, like a hawk overhead or a leopard on a branch. It’s hard-wired, not taught.
That is, the animal will automatically make that noise whenever it senses danger, even if it is deaf! And all the animals will know what it means and react to it, even different species. A wise outdoors person will know what an outbreak of cawing or staccato warnings means and will pay attention, being extra alert.
The other kind of sound has to do with courtship or perhaps “speaking” to one’s children. It is melodic, learned and so has dialectical variations, like meadowlarks who say “Would you like to go up in my swing?” in one field and in another field a few miles away will say “We all love fresh fruit.”
Whales make that kind of song though it sounds quite different from birds to our ears, but Sereno tries playing the hollow groanings of whales four times as fast as normal which makes them sound like birds, and at a higher pitch which makes them sound even more like birds. These are melodies of communication, attraction, and even affection. One could say “love” with some justification.
Both birds and whales must communicate over long distances to call mates and keep in touch with relatives, but only birds need alarm sounds, because what does a whale fear? Not even sharks. Just humans and humans have not been able to kill them in great enough numbers for enough years for whales to have evolved hard-wired warning sounds. So far I do not see research about what whales call out when humans are around, but surely they do.
Listening to this vid on this day of definitive vote counting may have been what linked the two kinds of vocalization, making speeches, demonstrating the two candidates in our now ending election. Clips have been posted of each man speaking.
The most vivid are Trump, both before and after his dementia increased. Erik and Donald Jr. also speak this way in mindless alarm. It is the danger call, the fear call, the alarm to every entity in earshot that some terrible predator is about and they should take cover. It’s not rational but hard-wired, primal to all vertebrates and therefore powerful. Complete sentences are irrelevant so it works even for a demented nutcase. It does not have content but carries enormous emotional energy and grabs attention in all creatures.
The other kind that both songbirds and whales use are like Biden weaving a story, attractive but thoughtful, not just a knee-jerk reflex. One needs to listen and follow the narrative that’s like a melody, so it doesn’t appeal to many non-college white men, but it does attract the women who sing lullabies to babies. It’s traditional guitar as contrasted with rock.
The same difference is apparent in the speakers in one of our other major contexts of the spoken word, which is sermonizing. Evangelicals are wildly emotional, flailing their arms and inventing predations beyond all imagination, shouting virus particles, sending alarm and contagion in all directions. Then offering hope and safety if we will only run into their arms like chicks seeking shelter under mom. They are often that ridiculous. Good cartoon material.
The other moderate Christians are hampered by their lack of new constructive approaches to the implacable problem of a big anthropomorphic invention, formed two millennia ago in the days of the earliest tribes to be thinkers instead of just alarmists. The invention of writing gave an edge to thinking but froze it in place. This constraint on progressive evolution is imposed by scientific advances that are hard to grasp, even for educated people, and therefore must be transmitted over long intellectual distances which do not always exist in small towns with close horizons.
So Trump is a screamer and Biden is a conversationalist. No wonder we are split down the middle. Some are on one side of the New World that has split us and others still hang on to the past we know and do not want to leave.
Somewhere is a video that was on Twitter briefly before it was removed. On in a person looking to be Trump is in a kindergarten playroom sitting on a bouncy ball. A WH staff member comes to take him to an important meeting but he doesn’t want to go. He just wants to play. The situation escalates until the staff person drags “Trump” from the room, bawling and hanging on to the furniture. It was vivid and entirely believable. The other kids pay no attention. He has nothing to do with them.
We often make distinctions between logic and emotion but that’s not the division line here. In fact, one of our problems that is least tractable is that of climate change which is BOTH, which suggests the reason — like some people haven’t understood it vividly enough to have emotion about it and worried people warn through graphs and time-lines until catastrophes begin to arrive.
Our other major problem besides Trump, is the pandemic, which is all emotion without any logical structuring — just grief and fear versus defiance. Not enough testing, masking and distance to get a clear picture of what’s happening. We thought we were whales, lords of the world, but we were only songbirds building fragile nests.