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Quote on porpoises by Thelonious Monk, great jazzman and father of bebop

I just came across this quote on porpoises by Thelonious Monk, the great jazzman and father of bebop. Of value in itself, it is also important as an appreciation of animal insight from outside conventional white culture. It is cited by historian, Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History at UCLA in his book Thelonious Monk : the life and times of an American original.
 
Monk then explained to the room, "They say if you can ever make a tape of a porpoise and play it back, down slow enough, it's the same as the human voice. They are so close to the human species. Because they have the same box here [pointing to his throat]." After explaining that they communicate at very high frequencies, Monk performs a pretty convincing imitation of a porpoise cry. He then launches into a lecture about how man might benefit from harnessing the porpoise's ability to sense everything around them: "You know, it's an amazing thing to study the porpoises. With the study of the porpoise, they going to find out possibilities of completely obliterating a blind man's stick. Walk down the fucking street blind as a bat, and naked. They'll put a little sonar thing in his ear or something that is able to tell when you're getting up to anything, the kind of object, the texture of the object, whether it's a building or a person...it could tell that it's either a hard surface or cloth. Because they've checked out porpoises and they can't figure out, they hadn't been able to figure out why a porpoise can swim in dark, murky waters, so you can't see nothing at all, and they won't hit a motherfucking thing."
 
From Thelonious Monk : the life and times of an American original
http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0917/2009008526-s.html
Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog



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