The Interspecies Library...

...includes some of the best essays by author, Jim Nollman, taken from past issues of The Interspecies Newsletter, which was published in paper form for over 25 years. These days, the newsletter is published monthly, and online. You can receive it for free via email, by sending us your address using the provided box on our homepage.
  • Discover how a slight shift in perception can transform a mountain stream.
  • Or learn how our artists are playing with the most powerful forces in nature including desertification, animal migration, and the aurora.
  • Read how the language of activism sometimes hinders the change that activists seek.
  • If you're interested in animal communication, try "Who Communicates", which gives a basic account of what species are known to communicate to one another as well as to human beings. One version of the article later turned up as the cover story in the April 1998 Utne Reader. The article then got expanded as a chapter in Jim Nollman's recent book, The Charged Border: Where Whales and Humans Meet.
The influence of our 8-page printed newsletter was always far greater than its size indicated. Essays that first appeared in the newsletter later turned up in magazines and journals from several countries, such as Orion, Utne Reader, Whole Earth Review, The Sun, Resurgence, Omni, NewAge, E, Outside, BePal, Switch, Spuren, and Actuel.  These essays have also been published in at least a dozen book anthologies.
Below, is a list of the essays available on this site, described by title, edition, re-publishing history, and they also include the first paragraph. You can also click to our homepage to conduct a keyword search of all the essays on this site. You can download a .pdf version of some of the more requested essays, for easier reading and printing.
The Logic of Whale language:Interspecies is deeply involved in the process of how to test cetacean calls for their language potential. Like everything else we do, we conduct this research from an artist’s perspective, which assures that our own lingual exploration offers a radical departure from the controlling techniques developed by cognitive scientists, John Lilly and Lou Herman, whose work focused exclusively on captive animals. Interspecies is deeply involved in the process of how to test cetacean calls for their language potential. Like everything else we do, we conduct this research from an artist’s perspective, which assures that our own lingual exploration offers a radical departure from the controlling techniques developed by cognitive scientists, John Lilly and Lou Herman, whose work focused exclusively on captive animals.

Bear Ethics and Fly Aesthetics: Winter 2001 Newsletter, A chapter in The Beluga Cafe, (Sierra Press, 2002) Do certain animals demonstrate a sense of ethics and or aesthetics? Maybe they do but we can no longer recognize it having educated ourselves to perceive them void of sentience. Here's a book excerpt about an expedition to the Canadian Arctic in which the author recognizes the bear as an ethical being, and a moose as an educator. If beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, then even buzzing flies might compose beautiful music. This narrative takes us on a journey into the mind of a man who's learned that the animals hgave a lot to teach us if just let them into our consciousness.


How Nature Makes Music: Fall 2000 Newsletter, appeared in Resurgence MagazineGenerally people have the perception that only human beings sing songs and create music. If they paid closer attention and listened, they would discover that nature creates music on its own behalf, sometimes utilizing the same scales, rhythms, and harmonies, as humans do. Trekking locally, I recently encountered twin cascades dropping into a wonderland of pools. Stopping to listen closely, I observed that the cascades were tuned in perfect thirds.
Art for the Earth : Compiled from various newsletters.IC's aesthetic calls attention to environmental issues in an elegant yet incontrovertible manner. We encourage all artists to consider creating new works that include natural processes in their manifestation. Here's three conceptual art projects we think more people need to hear about.
The Beluga Spiral: Compiled from several newsletters 1998-2000, Later appeared in Blue Wings, The magazine of Finnair.  Riding shotgun in an old Volvo station wagon, heading through uninterrupted forest of birch, spruce, and alder. My driver, Rauno Lauhakangas, informs me we’re passing through the heart of the lake district, then hands over a roadmap displaying a freshwater labyrinth spreading a hundred miles in every direction. Noticing a road sign warning us to be on the lookout for moose crossing the highway, I compare the sway of these Finnish hills to northern Maine, only to be interrupted by Rauno. "The name of my country is Suomi, not Finland. The error got started by the Romans, who referred to a far northern people called Finns." Then he brightens, "I like having a fin appendage—just like a whale."
Yellow Jacket Saints: Spring 1988 newsletter. Later appeared in Jim Nollman's book, Spiritual Ecology (Bantam, out-of-print). ...It's been a dry summer here, a dry year, a dry two years; the kind of weather that persuades the wasps to arrive, build their hives, and multiply. I am cutting a joint into a flat board with a spatula-shaped Japanese saw. The yellowjackets are attracted to the sweet smell of fir sawdust. One buzzes up a sawing arm, passing through the invisible boundary of my personal space until—swish—a reflex makes me to wield the tool as a weapon. My ears register the slightest "tick" as spring-steel whips up against the hard cuticle of insect hide; then "hzzz" the saw vibrates into song, followed by "thud" as it slams into the earth.
For the Seventh Generation: Spring 1990 newsletter. Later appeared in E Magazine. Excerpted many places. ...Over the past ten years, the Iroquois concept of the seventh generation has transformed into an important symbol of the deep ecology movement. As the story goes, when the indigenous Iroquois held their council meeting, one member first spoke this invocation: In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.


Interspecies Protocol: Summer 1991. Will appear in 2002 in: The Man Who Talks to Whales (Sentient Press)...There is an intriguing story told about the Bushmen who lived in the remote reaches of the Kalahari Desert until the middle decades of the twentieth century. Their oral history went back a thousand years, and recounted a people existing around a waterhole shared with lions, hyenas, leopards, elephants and Cape buffalo. Though the Bushmen's history revealed many instances of tribespeople mauled, trampled, or impaled by nearly every species in the ecosystem, there was not a single account of a Bushman ever being attacked by a lion. Nor was there a case of a Bushman killing a lion. Yet lions were a constant presence at the perimeter of the Bushman camps.


Why Wash Birds?: Winter 1992 newsletter. Later in Orion magazine for their Autumn 1992 theme issue: Animals of the Heart...A friend of mine washes birds. Whenever an oil spill occurs in the Pacific Northwest, she quickly fixes an overnight pack and drives out to the coast to volunteer her services to clean the oil-soaked wildlife. Oil spills occur with increasing frequency these days, and her descriptions of these self-funded excursions sometimes sound as if she were an angel making an ecocircuit of Hell. If not an angel, at least an altruist trying to make small amends for the irresponsible excesses of her species.


Incident at Boat Bay: Fall 1992 Newsletter; subsequently published by New Age Journal (August 1993)...I had been ill, stole away from camp to spend most of the afternoon sleeping in the boat. Refreshed, I was rowing back to shore in the dinghy when I heard the first scream. My initial thought was that one of three little girls in camp had been stung by a yellowjacket. Then a second scream. This one was much louder, much more urgent, announcing more pain than any single yellowjacket could cause.


The Sentient Garden: Spring 1994 newsletter; later published in Jim Nollman's book Why We Garden (Holt 1994), and then by The Sun (September 1994)...The more I learn about my garden, the less objective I feel about it. Now that I can rattle off the Latin names and vital needs of so many landscape plants you might think I would regard them as botanical specimens each possessed of a unique genetic recipe and species-specific traits. Call me sentimental. i think of them as friends.


Sex, Dolphins, and Rock & Roll: A report from a Canary island Pilot Whale project, 1994; Appeared in New Age Journal (June 1994) ...As a researcher who has spent the last twenty years communicating with animals through music, I've gotten used to fielding all sorts of queries from people who want to know exactly what it is I do. And so I am not surprised when, the day before I'm scheduled to leave for my latest and most intriguing oceanic expedition, i am approached by my friend Kirk, who runs the local music store. As i pick out some guitar strings, Kirk wants to know where I'm headed. "The Canary islands," I tell him. "We"ll be working with pilot whales. maybe sperm whales if we get lucky.


Who Communicates: Winter 1995 newsletter; also in Utne Reader (April 1998), The Charged Border by Jim Nollman (Holt 1999), ...For hundreds of years now, somewhere in the world, some mother has revealed to her child tucked in bed, the words Little Red Riding Hood exclaimed to the wolf in disguise: "Grandma what big ears you have!" By such mythical tales we teach our children—at their most impressionable age, no less—that humans communicate with the animals. The pigs and chickens, the monkeys and the frogs, and of course the wolves, all comprehend our vocabulary and grammar. In France the animals speak French. In the Philippines they converse with us in Tagalog. The animals have their leaders and their philosophers. They can be scrupulous and corruptible, compassionate, cloying, priggish, Christ-like, Machiavellian. Their numbers include not only species, but fools and heroes, wicked villains, legendary beauties, long-suffering parents, bumbling sidekicks. The best and the worst.


Not Touching Ferns: Fall 1995 Newsletter. A report to help promote whalewatching as a viable economic alternative to coastal whaling. ...Having traveled to Japan many times over the past twenty years to promote living whales, the question everyone in the States always wants me to answer is whether or not the Japanese are showing any signs yet of getting out of whaling. The quick answer is "sort of". A better answer is offered in the following essay. It may surprise you.


What The Raven Said: Winter 1996 newsletter; Later rewritten for Jim Nollman's book The Beluga Cafe....A raven glides in low off the plain, lands ten feet in front, walks right up to me. I sit up tall and stare. The bird pulls its head back but moves not an inch. I decide for no good reason that it's a male. He's not very large by raven standards, the size of a dressed chicken. He stands so close I might reach out and touch him, but i decide against it. That long scimitar-shaped beak could do real damage if he took offense. He cocks his long beaked face this way and that as if trying to figure out the best way a bird whose eyes are arranged on each side of his head might stare directly into the eyes of a primate whose eyes are set on a flat plane. He seems to solve what to my mind is an insoluble problem of eye contact, because he soon starts croaking and squawking in a whispery, soothing tone. I am soothed.
Swimming to Utopia: Winter 1998 newsletter, reprinted in many places....The concept of a "cetacean nation" was the most visionary notion floated at a recent whale conference I attended at Hervey Bay Australia. The idea was originally conceived in 1961 by Dr. John Lilly, subsequently advocated in the 1970's by Jacques Cousteau, crystallized as a White Paper in 1993 by one of the founders of Greenpeace, Michael Bailey, and promoted at Hervey Bay by Scott Taylor of the Cetacean Studies Institute, based in Santa Fe.


On their Own Behalf: Summer 1998 newsletter. This is also an excerpt from Jim Nollman's most recent book, The Charged Border, Where Whales and Humans Meet. (Holt 1999). To order the book directly from IC, go to our members page. ...No matter how luminous the whales and dolphins may appear to us today, it is the dark festering topic of whaling that dominates our historical relationship with cetaceans. Until a mere thirty years ago, human beings were involved in a mass slaughter of whales that left several species at the brink of extinction, a precipice from which several of them have never fully recovered. Today the clamor to resume whaling echoes loudly in the halls where resource policies are legislated.


ZeroCircles: Fall 1998 newsletter. authored by Daniel Dancer, describing his Interspecies-sponsored Earth Art project manifested in 50 U.S. National Forests. For more info go either to the IC projects page, or directly to the Zerocircles website....Art has always nudged society in one direction or another, sometimes functioning as a catalyst for radical change, other times merely supporting the status quo. As we approach the millennium, art's capacity to spark transformation becomes increasingly relevant since we are all living within a culture whose notion of progress is dependent on gobbling up the Earth. While scientific and economic arguments for nature preservation are powerful and convincing, they are not enough to shift our course. Human drives run very deep, and to change them we must create new stories and do meaningful art about our relationship to the land. This, not science, will ultimately capture people's hearts and minds to reawaken our native connection to nature.


What's Wrong with Nature Films?: Fall 1998 newsletter. Also published in The Whole Earth Review (Fall 1991). Over the past decade this essay has been excerpted at least twelve times in journals around the world. ...With the environmental agenda so packed with issues of crisis management, who has time to give much attention to a subject as abstruse as the aesthetics of the nature film? But it's important, because, after all, the nature film could be the most vibrant tool at our disposal for educating the general public, ideally reaching them before all those tough environmental issues ever reach the crisis stage.
Home
Raven
Projects
Member