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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

'John Lilly was a creep'


John Lilly 

There apparently was quite a dark side to John Lilly, the dolphin and consciousness researcher whom Robert Anton Wilson wrote about. 

On X, Jesse Walker writes, "John Lilly was a creep. He bragged to a military audience that he could do dolphin experiments 'that one could not do with man without getting into severe moral, legal, or ethical problems.' Then he wrote a book calling dolphins 'humans of the sea.' "

Jesse links to an article written by historian Benjamin Breen, the author of a new book on LSD research I mentioned recently.  

Jesse notes that the quote he mentions does not appear in the article he linked to, but does appear in  Breen's Tripping on Utopia book, which Jesse reviews in the latest issue of Reason magazine. I'll link to the review when it appears online.

The article Jesse links to says the "most unsettling feature" of Lilly's research "was the fact that his dolphins kept dying." It says that Lilly relied on "using pain to control animal behavior."

And this New  Yorker article says four of the seven dolphins Lilly gave LSD to died. 


Bobby Campbell said...

John Lilly stories must be circulating on tiktok and/or youtube, my son is always coming home w/ wild stories about "that dolphin guy"

Eric Wagner said...

I never met the man. As with Bucky Fuller, I wonder what Bob Wilson would think of some of these negative comments. I know a lot of people had and have negative things to say about Tim Leary, but overall I love and respect the man.

Oz Fritz said...

Breen's article reads like hack journalism, a hatchet job. Journalism with integrity seeks independent verification, nothing like that appears in his article. Maybe such verification appears in the book, I haven't read it. Journalism with integrity also seeks to get a view from both sides, nothing like that here.

Absolutely no evidence gets provided for this unverified claim: "The truth was that Lilly’s research with animals relied on what scientists at the time called “operant conditioning” — a polite term for using pain to control animal behavior."

I asked someone who knew and worked with Lilly for many years about this claim. He said, "That is so fucking outrageous, he would never do that." Of course, that expresses someone's opinion, but it does raise DOUBT about this aspect of Lilly's "dark side."

I asked the same person about the unverified, evidence free claim that "dolphins kept dying," a claim also made in the New Yorker article, equally unverified and evidence free. Apparently you can magically make bullshit sound true by repeating it. One dolphin did commit suicide by refusing to breath after being separated from the human it became emotionally attached to when Lilly's research facility in the Caribbean closed. That story is documented with a little more believability in this Guardian article:

Breen's hatchet job continues with another blatantly biased opinion from the same lone source that made the "operant conditioning" claim that Lilly "was at heart 'ruthless ... a con man.'" Exactly how so, doesn't appear in the piece, just that insulting, dirty, characterization. Maybe the dude just didn't like Lilly? That would be a first, someone making outrageous claims about someone they don't like (sarcasm intended). I know multiple people who knew John and Toni Lilly who would call that a big fucking lie. I've heard Timothy Leary speak very affectionately of John. RAW clearly held Lilly in high regard.

I don't understand the problem with Lilly attempting to teach Dolphins English or with calling them humans of the sea. Perhaps I lack wokeness.

To me, the creeps appear people who rush to judgement and try to pass it off as objective reality. Anyone who bothers to read some of Lilly's voluminous writings on his dolphin research and his life in general would recognize the compassion he had for dolphins and whales. Like every other human, including the writers of hit pieces, Lilly had flaws. He candidly admits to some in his writings. Cruelty to dolphins can't get counted as one

The lessons we can glean from RAW: apply SKEPTICISM, don't believe any old thing based solely on someone saying something, particularly from a single source. And, people's biased opinions, interpretations and rush to judgement would sound more intelligent, or at least seem easier to take, if communicated in e-prime.

michael said...

RAW's friend David Jay Brown, one of the world's greatest psychonauts (check out his _The New Science of Psychedelics_if you doubt me on this) actually lived with Lilly for awhile. He paints a different picture. And so do many others.

Lilly himself was very candid about his own outrageous behavior, and his wild, paranoid breakdown. As I read all of Lilly's stuff, the one thing that made me scratch my head was his commitment to Ketamine. I mean, I get it, but wow. I do think he was on another plane. (There's a joke about "solid state electronics" here, but I haven't had my coffee yet.)

There's a story in _The Scientist_ (where Lilly writes of himself in 3r person) where he obtains a drug not Ketamine but related to it, gets on a bicycle...and...let's just say it's not the illustrious bicycle ride we got from Hofmann. Harrowing. In many ways, Lilly makes Leary look like a Boy Scout in his Faustian quest for gnosis...

It was with reading Lilly and everything I could get my hands on by others writing about him that I understood that:

1.) There really are "mad scientists" in this world: not melodramatic "good" scientists who "turn bad", but ones who are so driven to obtain Knowledge they do all kinds of stuff most of have a hard time even imagining doing ourselves, had we the training and resources. Ethical precepts become fuzzified, then they seem to dessicate and flake away, the scientist not noticing all this over time because they're too fascinated by their research.

And 2.) the idea that any scientist working within or quasi-near the National Security State (a lot of the time: getting funding from it) are not from the movies: there to only control the population on behalf of the gummint or Omni Corp. Personal and scientific motivation seems too often convoluted to make for a good thriller. (There would seem to be some exceptions. See below.)

An operator could be working with a scientific researcher who just wants to find out MORE about wild-assed jit. The operator might have nefarious ideas while the scientist doesn't. Or whatever the scientist is doing that's ethically questionable is overridden by a "mad" drive to Know More. It's here that "value-neutral" science died a hard death. It was already dead, as Einstein and Oppenheimer told us after Hiroshima. I mean, look at Fritz Haber pre-WWI: the educated public just didn't know enough to start the discussion about scientific ethics. The Cold War research got a high-compression nail gun loaded with thousands of nails and nailed the coffin shut for good on the idea that scientific research is value-free.

The above has some major caveats. Let's just take the life and work of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb as something that seems orders of magnitude worse than anything Lilly ever did. Try to grok his motives. His story makes for a dark thriller about scientific evil done on behalf of the CIA, but he also did yoga, planted vegetable gardens, etc. (see Stephen Kinzer's book) My gawd, look at Dr. Ewan Cameron and then tell me what a monster Lilly was.

I'm still in the library queue for Breen's book. So, I really can't say anything about it yet.

Rasa said...

I saw that note from Jesse on Xitter (pronounced with a Chinese "X" I learned today), and I raised an eyebrow. Thanks so much to both Oz and Michael for your erudite thoughts on this! Resonates with my impressions of Lilly, though I never met the guy.

I do have one nice story about Lilly. A friend of mine in Honolulu, a psychiatrist, met Lilly at a party. My friend is a bit arrogant at times, and he was eager to impress Lilly. He went up to him and posed a stuffy thought. Lilly merely said, "I have no issue with that," turned and walked away. I always loved that reply.

Jesse said...

I don't understand the problem with Lilly attempting to teach Dolphins English or with calling them humans of the sea. Perhaps I lack wokeness.

There's nothing wrong with either of those things. The problem is that someone who felt dolphins were equals to human beings would experiment on them in ways no humane person would treat a human being.

I have read all of Breen's book, not just the excerpt in the Chronicle, and Lilly does not come off well there at all. If on acquiring a copy you find errors in the citations to the Lilly section, let me know.

Jesse said...

P.S. The source for the claim that "dolphins kept dying" is Lilly himself. From THE CENTER OF THE CYCLONE, pp. 61-62: "During the next three weeks four more dolphins committed suicide by refusing to eat of breathe. Before the remaining three could commit suicide, I decided to let them go to sea."

The most plausible defense of Lilly would be that he eventually came around, freed those dolphins, and at least tried to approach his subsequent cetacean studies with a different ethic. So, with regard to Oz's suggestion about e-prime, instead of saying "John Lilly was a creep," I could have said "John Lilly's experiments in the 1960s sure as hell seemed creepy to me." Which is fair enough. But does not change how I feel about those experiments.

Jesse said...

Oh -- and as far as operant conditioning goes:

Jesse said...

(I just noticed that the link I just shared has a typo -- "S." rather than "C." as the middle initial -- that might lead one to think it was a different Lilly. But no, it's him:

quackenbush said...

I don't have anything to add to the meat of this discussion, but I will note that there was a rumor that Lily got a boob job, but I could not find any solid evidence to support that.

Oz Fritz said...

I look forward to reading Breen's book and finding out what the problem with Lilly's dolphin experiments might look like. A general comment Lilly may or made not have made to the military, sans context, provides no information to justify labelling him a creep or the experiments creepy.

The best defense of Lilly: get informed about his life by reading about his life and extremely ethical approach to Science and to dolphin research. Juxtaposing the two comments in the tweet,nthe first to the military implying you can do things to dolphins that you can't do to humans then calling them humans of the sea seems a cheap "gotcha" to make him appear hypocritical. It also reveals a lack of awareness of how Lilly's attitudes toward dolphin research drastically changed over time. These attitudes, and dealings with the military get told in detail in John's autobiography, The Scientist and in the biography John Lilly, so far... by Francis Jeffrey and John C. Lilly. Nothing in either book suggests inhumane treatment to dolphins. One can argue that unfavorable things got omitted, perhaps so, but both books give a warts and all transparency to Lilly's life. The simulation of John Lilly as inhumane differs 180 degrees from Timothy Leary's as given in his introduction to The Scientist . From the penultimate paragraph: "Above all, we adore the wry, mischievous humanity of the man. The Scientist is indeed 'A Metaphysical Autobiography'. This is one of the great personal stories of our culture, written with the scientific precision that most call honesty."

Teaching dolphins English gets mocked by Breen in the Chronicle. He labels it a "quixotic obsession" meaning that this research appears a line of work foolishly impractical that Lilly lost control of. Does Breen have the scientific background to make such a judgement? The practical aspect of this research gets documented well Jeffrey's biography. After Lilly's book Man and Dolphin got translated into Russian in 1967, the Soviets banned the killing of dolphins in Russian waters. The foundation for dolphin research Lilly set up, CRII, "established a body of basic scientific information on dolphins, previously almost nonexistent." Just a couple of examples. John Lilly did more to raise the profile of dolphins and whales than any other individual.

Oz Fritz said...

Breen writes in his article, "... the fact that his dolphins kept dying." This statement, sans any context or other information, appears grossly misleading. It suggests, through innuendo, that the suicides resulted from bad research practices and occurred continuously over a lengthy period of time. The 5 dolphin suicides occurred in a short period of time after Lilly decided to close the facility where they lived. Reading of this episode in The Center of the Cyclone p.61 - 62 with more context and information than "dolphins kept dying" clearly shows compassion and care for the well-being of the dolphins in the CRII project. Omitting this context and information allows anyone to inaccurately assume the worst. A partial truth to deceptively further a negative view. This further demonstrates the negative bias Breen holds against Lilly and the dolphin project. Their suicides had nothing to do with giving dolphins LSD - that charge appears in the New Yorker article, not Breen's.

A big part of the reason for this decision came as a result of losing a lawsuit and having to pay a large judgment. The lawsuit came from an unnamed photographer hired and fired by Gregory Bateson who claimed he'd been offered tenure then unfairly terminated. This individual isn't named in the biography, parallels between the two suggest that it could have possibly been the same videographer that characterized Lilly as a con man in Breen's piece; This account appears in John Lilly, so far ... p. 143.

The link Jesse provided to Lilly's paper on operant conditioning goes to a paywall that I'm not going to pay $18 to read. Nothing about controlling them with pain appears in the synopsis. Operant conditioning gets defined as:

"a form of learning in which the motivation for a behavior happens after the behavior is demonstrated. An animal or a human receives a consequence after performing a specific behavior. The consequence is either a reinforcer or a punisher." i.e. a reward or punishment.

To correctly say that Lilly used operant conditioning on dolphins then to misrepresent that conditioning as a "polite term for using pain to control animal behavior" sounds inflammatory, to me. It further serves to feed the character assassination. Many human children also get subject to operant conditioning, albeit informally for most. One of the punishments for children is getting sent to their room. I guess you could call that painful and children animals.

Maybe I'll find out from Breen's book why he has it in for Lilly. The negatively biased account Breen writes in the Chronicle article doesn't sound like it has the aim of objective history. It reads more like someone with another agenda.

Jesse said...

When you say "how Lilly's attitudes toward dolphin research drastically changed over time," that's what I meant by "he eventually came around, freed those dolphins, and at least tried to approach his subsequent cetacean studies with a different ethic." What's disturbing to me in Breen's account is this interval where he was clearly coming to see dolphins as human-like beings but continued to treat them like something less.

As for the operant conditioning paper, here's an excerpt at the Internet Archive:

The upshot: Electrodes were inserted into the dolphin's brain, and it learned how to "turn on the rewarding stimulus" and "turn off the punishing stimulus." A "punishing stimulus" delivered via electrode certainly sounds to me like "using pain to control animal behavior."

quackenbush said...

“There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” ― John Lilly

Jesse said...

"There is a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, and I believe Jimmy Buffett and I snorted it in 1976." —Kinky Friedman

Oz Fritz said...

Jesse, you either don't know or aren't saying what horrible experiments Lilly allegedly did to dolphins that led to the judgment publicly labelling him a creep. Based on the given information, this judgement relies upon an out of context, uncited remark Benjamin Breen attributes to John Lilly. I showed how Breen, in the Chronicle piece, deploys and twists "facts" out of context to put Lilly in a bad light. You write that Lilly "eventually" came around to treating dolphins with ethics on par with humans implying that it took a considerable amount of time. I strongly suspect you have no idea how long it took John to change his position. I suspect this because Lilly gives a clear account of why he changed his mind and how long it took in The Center of the Cyclone in roughly the same area of the book you cited earlier. The criteria for your decision to castigate one of the leading scientists of the XXth Century and a pioneer of psychedelic research appears scientifically imprecise and ill-informed while assuming the worst case scenario.

I wonder how apparent the extreme irony of this condemnation appears? Ethically treating dolphins with the same respect as humans has a direct causal relationship to Lilly's work with dolphins. Before Lilly, no one, scientist or otherwise, considered treating dolphins on par with humans. It's well documented that more than anyone else, Lilly changed how humans perceive the sanctity of the life of dolphins. The reason cans of tuna say "dolphin friendly" indicating dolphins weren't harmed manufacturing this product, has a direct causal relationship with Lilly communicating his findings on dolphins. It doesn't seem unreasonable to conclude that Lilly has partial responsibility for saving countless dolphin lives. The saying: "no good deed goes unpunished" certainly applies here.

Oz Fritz said...

Regarding operant conditioning, in the two excerpts posted from the internet archive nothing gets said about using pain to control the animal's behavior. The language appears very scientifically precise and describes the "punishment" (quotation marks in the paper) as either negative or unwanted stimulus that dolphins learned to quickly turn off. The conclusion, stated with certitude, that this "punishment" = the scientifically imprecise and emotionally charged descriptor "pain" comes from you via the videographer Breen quotes. The paper does not back up the premise that Lilly used pain to control the behavior of dolphins even though you believe it does. The paper does say that one of the "punishments" or negative reinforcements involved the dolphin not getting what it wants. This seems similar in degree to the negative reinforcement of a child getting sent to their room or grounded for a week for bad behavior.

For the sake of argument, let's suppose we have enough omniscience to know the dolphins experience of negative reinforcement that we can call it pain. Pain seems such a scientifically imprecise descriptor because of the extremely broad bandwidth of what falls under this heading. Pain can range anywhere from an electrical shock lasting a fraction of a second, like touching a hot stove, to the pain experienced by suspected terrorists tortured by the CIA during the Bush administration. Or the extreme pain experienced at this very moment by millions of people in the Gaza strip. There is pain and there is PAIN; not very scientifically precise.

Leary called Lilly's writing scientifically precise as quoted above. He equated that scientific precision with honesty. Following his cue, we can call the scientifically imprecise criteria used to negatively judge John Lilly dishonest. Always assuming the worst case scenario to condemn Lilly recalls the attitudes and illogic of some conspiracy theorists.

Jesse said...

Oz, my knowledge of when/how he changed his mind comes directly from CENTER OF THE CYCLONE. His change of heart is not, as far as I can recall, discussed in the Breen book.

I have not gone into detail on the Lilly section of the Breen book because you said you're going to read it anyway. At that point you will have access to Breen's citations (which aren't in the Chronicle piece) and can tell me—as I invited you to do upthread—if you think he is misrepresenting anything there.

Oz Fritz said...

If it seems like I'm taking this personally it's because I am. Les Claypool wrote a song about me called "Oz Is Ever Floating." John Lilly is the only other character in the song. I was responsible for him appearing there. I recorded the song with Oysterhead in Vermont at the Phish studio. John Lilly wasn't in the song initially. I told Glenn and Lee Perry, owners of Samadhi Tanks, about the song thinking it might eventually bring some good publicity. They asked if they could play the rough mix for John who was very near the end of his life at that point and received permission to do so. John said he enjoyed the song, which didn't have his name in it then, but didn't get what the lyrics meant. Understandable as the lyrics seem pretty abstract and don't mean anything except that I'm apparently always floating. Les researched John Lilly after getting my request to play it for him and rewrote the lyrics to include his name.
You can watch and hear the band play it on Conan here:

Jesse said...

Oz, if you have a personal reason who wanting to defend Lilly, I understand and appreciate that. But when a paper describes "an unwanted, or negative or punishing stimulation started by the apparatus"—the apparatus in question involving electrodes inserted into a dolphin's brain—it sure looks to me like it is describing pain. Yes, pain is a spectrum; no, this wasn't as painful as being starved to death in Gaza. But that doesn't really affect whether the phrase that you objected to ("using pain to control animal behavior") is true.

And those electrodes aren't even what my grouchy tweet was referring to! That was early work. Lilly was not yet claiming that dolphins were our equals—though he does seem to have been ruminating on the idea a bit. In a 1958 paper he remarked that "it may be best to hurry and finish out work on their brains before one of them learns to speak our language—else he will demand equal rights with men for their brains and lives under our ethical and legal codes." But he called that comment a "joke" and a "fantasy." He doesn't seem to have actually gotten all the way there yet.

But by 1963, by Breen's account, Lilly believed that dolphins were literally trying to speak English—and that they were doing this to communicate, not just to mimic us like a parrot. Surely if you think an animal's mind is working on that level, it is problematic to then start talking about using them for "work of the type that one could not do with man without getting into severe moral, legal, or ethical problems." Yet Breem quotes him saying that to that military audience in 1965.

Anyway. You can check his citations when you have the book and let me know if you think he is misrepresenting them. Since you raised doubts specifically about that 1965 quote, I'll give you Breen's source for that right now: Charles C. Berdjis, ed., “Proceedings of a Contractors’ Conference on Behavioral Sciences, 14 and 15 October 1965” (Edgewood Arsenal Special Publication, EASP 100-11, February 1967).

With all that said: As I already conceded, but am happy to reiterate, my tweet could have been better phrased. Your remarks about e-prime was completely appropriate, not least because I was speaking specifically about John Lilly for a period in the 1960s; I should not reduce an entire life to one part of it, especially when he later came to regret some of what he did in that period.

Oz Fritz said...

Jesse, thank-you for providing the citation. Seeing the context and additional information Breen omitted allows for more benign interpretations than Lilly did horrible things to dolphins. From skimming the various papers, it seemed the gist of the conference involved studying how the human brain works under various kinds of stimulation like drugs. Part of the studies involved experiments with monkey and rat brains comparing them to human brains.

Lilly's remark comes in a discussion after the presentation of a paper: "Extrapolation: Application of the Results of Animal Experimentation to Man." In the paper it says: "In animal experiments it is generally possible to control quite strictly the conditions of the experiment so that only the factor under investigation is varied whereas in a human population the interpretation must be made against an infinitely varied background."

Yes, there would be ethical, moral and legal problems rounding up a group of humans and restricting their environment, without their consent, to study their behavior. At the time, and to some extent still is I expect, this appears standard operating procedure for animal experimentation.

Lilly's quote with more context:

"My particular interest in research is exactly in this area of the problem of carrying data from animal work to human work and also in the reverse direction. I just want to put in one additional factor that I think is important. (I am sure Dr. Berdjis thought of
this and that he has mentioned it implicitly in his paper.) With man. one is sometimes very much limited by some very stringent legal and social considerations. One can do certain things with animals that one couldn't possibly do with man at the present time. We are in this position with the dolphins. We do work of the type that one could not do with man without getting into severe moral, legal or ethical problems. In other words, we can for example obtain brains under ideal conditions for neuroanatomical studies. I don't know how long this situation will last. At the present time we are still able to -use animals who have brains as large and larger than ours and have an intelligence (even though alien and different from ours) that is
probably comparable with ours in their own medium, the sea. I don't see any other way of interpreting the data we have accumulated, to date. on structure and on function in this particular species. The extrapolations to man from dolphins are very difficult, and the reverse direction is very difficult also."

To me, this seems a dispassionate, scientific observation of the situation at the time. I see no reason to label Lilly a creep or his experiments (without even knowing what they consist of)creepy. No evidence has been presented that Lilly abused dolphins in his research. If people want to use their XXIst Century moral standards and their imagination to condemn an observational comment made about 60 years ago, go ahead. That doesn't sound like objective history, to me.

Oz Fritz said...

Jesse, I want to thank-you for reconsidering your tweet. I didn't catch that the first time you said it, sorry for missing that, my apologies.

My objection to the statement, "using pain to control animal behavior" resulted from it getting used to misrepresent operant conditioning. The slanted picture Breen's source paints implies the dolphins got subjected to constant pain. It also implies that the high pitched sounds the dolphins made in that scenario came as a result of the application of pain when that's how dolphins communicate naturally. The negative reinforcement of an electrical shock lasts a fraction of a second. I really don't know, but from other remarks Lilly made at that 1965 conference, it seems more accurate to say that he used negative reinforcement to observe rather than control the dolphin's behavior. He mentions using electrical stimulation to observe how the dolphins responded and how quickly they learned how to shut it off. He doesn't mention using negative reinforcement to induce particular behavior. He attempts to scientifically obtain data on how the dolphin brain works.

From The Center of the Cyclone p. 60 regarding LSD experiences from 1964 - 1966 : "In the awe, reverence, and wonder of exploring the many spaces present inside myself and in the universe I found that I was developing a very powerful ethic. This ethic was beginning to regulate my life, my attitude, my relations with others, and my professional career. This ethic I epitomized in The Mind of the Dolphin when I said that I had borrowed Erik Erikson's rephrasing of the Golden Rule, 'Do unto others and not do unto others what you would have others do unto you and not do unto you. The others are to include other species, other entities, other beings in this universe.'

I finished the book, The Mind of the Dolphin, in 1966; it was published in 1967. At the time of the publication I had all the information that was needed to carry out the instructions of the two guides and to follow this new ethic. However, to do so was going to cost me a lot of inconvenience, a lot of friends, a lot of pain, and my family.

I suddenly realized that I must stop the dolphin research. It was not being done in consonance with the new ethic. What I was doing and allowing to be done in my name was counter to where I wanted to go and hence it must be eliminated."

This doesn't sound like someone continuing actions that he knew to be wrong. He stopped the research pretty quickly after his realization.

Peace out.

michael said...

Rarely do I read anything riveting in the comments section ANYWHERE on Internet these days, but Oz and Jesse here have been must-read stuff.

Thanks to both of you for your close readings and citations, even going to the trouble of copying out relevant passages. Love you both for this!

Oz: I admire your spirited defense of John Lilly.

With hindsight (so easy!) we can find fault with Lilly. And I've thought a lot about his dolphin research over the years and I've read all his stuff (and BTW: it was weird, Oz, that you named Francis Jeffrey on the very same day I was trying to find out more about him, but only because of a short piece he wrote in a very old book, Psychedelics Encyclopedia), and lots about Lilly in books by others.

I corresponded a bit via email with Breen before this book dropped; he told me what his main thesis would be. I looked forward to it. It came out and I read two reviews (I'm still waiting to get hold of it) and felt a letdown. I told myself to stop reading reviews, 'cuz I want to see for myself when I get the book. And I can't help it, but this issue - the treatment of Lilly - is kinda pissing me off.

Still, I will devour that book in a couple weeks. (If people in Sonoma County would just RETURN your books on time, pleeeze?)

Oz Fritz said...

Michael, I thought your first post on Lilly in this thread spot on.

michael said...

>"There is a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, and I believe Jimmy Buffett and I snorted it in 1976." —Kinky Friedman<

"That the problems before us are subtle, and that the demarcation line between 'sanity', 'un-sanity', and 'insanity' is extremely thin, is no reason for neglecting this neurological benefit of neurophysiological investigation." - Korzybski, Science and Sanity, 4th ed, p.306: not nearly as funny as Kinky Friedman.

Just a thought, but when I was a teenager I read some stuff about a guy who thought maybe we could crack the code of dolphin language and learn to communicate with them, because their brains have more mass per bodyweight than us, which is one of many bits of data you might not be drilling in a dry hole with this hypothesis, etc, etc.

Lilly was swinging for the fences. If nature threw him a fastball out over the heart of the plate, he may have connected, hit it 447 over the centerfield fence and changed the world with interspecies communication with an intelligence that may have been isomorphic to ours. He went for it. Nature threw him a filthy curveball and he struck out. He was looking for the heat and his knees buckled: "Swung on and missed!" Still, you want a slugger on your team, even if they don't connect all that often and strikeout a lot.

How fucking easy it is to say, "Anyone knows Nature throws a curve on that count! He's a creep for thinking he'd get the high heat."

For my pals in Europe or elsewhere, sorry about the extended metaphor around what was our national pastime: it's Spring Training here in this patch of the Northern Hemisphere. And some us just can't grow up.

Eric Wagner said...

Boris Karloff reading Wisden.