On culture, language, and animals

This is a fascinating article about a book I’m going to have to get about animal culture. Not animals in culture, but culture in non-human animals. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the link between complexity in matter and energy, and how that creates and affects consciousness, and it’s some remarkably mind-melting stuff. This article is lit-related mostly in how it basically outlines that animals are conscious too and talking all the time. Bizarrely, I wrote my first poem in a month or so a couple days back and it was about this. Universal translators can’t come soon enough.

I was taught at school that animals have instinct but humans have learning. Later that got more refined: animals can only ever pass on things through their genes, but we humans can pass things on by example and by teaching — in short, by culture. Culture is why we’re humans and they’re not.

But like all adamantine barriers we have drawn up between human and non-human life, even the most cursory examination reveals a million leaks and porosities. Of course non-human animals have culture.

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