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The Alphabet – Results

The Alphabet  – Results

Such a range of behaviours refutes the suggestion that these species are “one-trick ponies”—a criticism that is often levelled at claims for culture in non-primate species . . . it could be argued that bowerbirds may be considered to fulfil the same criteria on which we base our use of the term culture when applied to our close relatives, the great apes.

Joah R. Madden, ‘Do bowerbirds exhibit cultures?’, Animal Cognition. 2007


Bowerbird letter T
Bowerbird letter K

Results

The letters were randomly sown onto the garden beds of Bundanon House coinciding with a male Satin Bowerbird’s territory at 2.20 pm on Tuesday April 15 2008. By 3.55 the subject had transferred the letters Y and G to the entrance of his bower (according to an informant). The investigator witnessed the subject flying in with the letter B at 4.14. A closer look at sunset (5.35) revealed the letter L sitting below the letter B. It would appear that this letter was seized around 4pm. An informant subsequently noted seeing the letter G lying on top of Y. The ground surrounding the bower (court) is cleared but consists of a thick layer of building material which the subject fossicks and uses to construct his bower, sometimes burying ‘treasure’ in the process.

The subject collected the letters in bursts of activity. By the end of the two week experimental period a total of 16 letters had been collected. (See Table 1). Any potential meanings derived from the choice of letters were not investigated (neither was haruspicy attempted).

Bowerbird letters being scattered
Bowerbird letters being scattered

 


Table 1:  Results of the intervention  

Date & Time Letters present Additions Subtractions*  Comments
Contents prior to experiment: 1 feather (kookaburra); 1 ribbon; 1 balloon (deflated); 1 hemispherical piece of plastic, 1 paperclip; 1 plastic lid from a drink bottle; 1 torn piece of plastic tape.
Day 1 PM Y, G, L, B 4 0
Day 2 AM Y, G, L, B 0 0
          PM Y, G, L, B, T, U 2 0
Day 3 AM Y, G, L, B, T, U 0 0 It was a very wet day.
          PM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 1 0 The letter Z unlike the others was a shiny material doubled up and glued. After the rain it started to peel.
Day 4 AM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0 0
          PM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0  
Day 5 AM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0 0 Letters are being buried beneath building materials and other letters. This project may need a secondary archeological phase.
          PM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0 0
Day 6 AM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0 0
          PM*** Y, G, L, B, T, U, W 0 0 I looked online, to check what was being spelt.**
Day 7 AM Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E 2 0
Day 8 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E 0 0
Day 9 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E 0 0
Day 10 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E 0 0
Day 11 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E, D, H, N 3 0
Day 12 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E, D, H, N 0 0
Day 13 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E, D, H, N, I, F, C 3 0
Day 14 Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E, D, H, N, I, F, C, R 1 0 A total of 16 letters had been selected.

 

 

*    This column was included because male bowerbirds frequently raid each other’s bowers.

**  Suggestions for Y, G, L, B, T, U, W S, E from the first site Google listed were unhelpful: 1. jolly boates; 2. Eggleston; 3. acculturates; 4. age-groups; 5. accredits; 6. agglutinates; 7. accountancies; 8. acerbated; 9. Eagle Scout; 10. jiggliest; 11. agglutinate; 12. assault boat; 13. acculturate; 14. Johnston; 15. acerbates; 16. acerbest; 17. acrobats; 18. acerbities; 19. acropolis; 20. agentries.

*** My last day at Bundanon. My informant collected data on a daily basis for another week

Bowerbird's Bower, day 5, 8 pm

Discussion

The era of human-only discourse is at an end. The era of eco-human discourse is just beginning.

Albert Bergesen[i]

I’m jotting these ideas down on the bench outside Arthur Boyd’s studio within view of the subject’s bower. Boyd thought the arts should be integrated into modern life, as in pre-modern cultures, part of the everyday glance, attended to as daily practice / activity not segregated into art markets or entertainments, or precious offerings. This work is collaborative and self-reflexive, a discursive essay/ poem/ experiment. The key texts examine the nature of being human and how we relate to other species. We are connected intimately to each other, other biota and the planet. The fate of animals and humans are knotted, but through our social, cultural and even aesthetic concerns, we are failing to act responsibly.

This experiment coheres in various guises: essai, artwork, research, play, poem, joke, part of an ongoing search for knowledge skirting around peer review. One ostensible objective was a curiosity as to whether encyclopedic knowledge could be usefully excavated to uncover issues of common interest to a human investigator and the avian collaborator. The experiment took place outside the breeding season so the full range of the subject’s display, range of vocal mimicry, dancing, and the quality of build or decoration of his bower could not be assessed.

 

If once this method [experimental research] were followed with diligence and attention, there is nothing that lyes within the power of human Wit or of human Industry, which we might not compass; we might not only hope for Inventions to equalize those of Copernicus, Galileo and others, but multitudes that may far exceed them.

Robert Hooke    [ii]

What is an experiment? It is an action performed by the scientist so that the nonhuman will be made to appear on its own. It is a very special form of constructivism . . .  since it overcomes its own construction.

Bruno Latour [iii]

Science seeks to understand the order of things and events, their laws, hidden qualities and relationships. You and I are both subjects for science and innumerable other disciplines. Carolyn Merchant attacks Francis Bacon for his project of experimentation at any cost, including torturing nature.[iv] Sociologist Raymond Williams and the anthropologist of science Bruno Latour, together with many ecocritics, argue that our separation from nature was a foundational epistemological step for modernity. Latour suggests that the world as abstractly ordered, defines “humans and nonhumans, their properties, their relations, their abilities, their groupings.”[v] He argues that this “purification” within modernity created “two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of human beings on the one hand [and] that of nonhumans on the other.”[vi] Don’t trust someone because they wear a white coat, don’t trust an ontological claim just because it is dressed as a scientific experiment, science is a set of working hypotheses not ahistorical and objective facts.[vii]

It is claimed that Boyle helped create three ‘technologies’: a material technology (the air-pump); a literary technology (which became the scientific paper); and a social technology of scientific convention for evaluating and settling claims on knowledge. [viii] All three combined to create what we now think of as scientific practice, a dualistic structure of thought separating humans from the rest of nature. It also separates science form other human practices. Donna Haraway argues that through the work of Boyle, ‘This separation of expert knowledge from mere opinion as the legitimating knowledge for ways of life, without appeal to transcendent authority or to abstract certainty of any kind, is a founding gesture of what we call modernity.’[ix]

This writing up is a poem and series of essais, interconnected parallel to Jed Resula’s notion of ‘compost’ derived in part from Charles Olson’s Distances and Robert Duncan Opening of the Field with Barthes ‘The Death of the Author’ and Foucault’s ‘What is an Author?’ plus the notion of intertextuality. Resula writes, “I think of poems as ecosystems, precariously adjusted to the surrounding biomass,” and poetry as an”ecology in the community of words.”[x]

The choice of Y for Yakka to start his alphabet collection may not be significant, or could reflect his grounded attitude to life with few pretensions to art, or perhaps the subject was excited by the sudden increase in capital, but exhausted from the additional searching and collecting. Animals are individuals and learn like humans, as Montaigne noted: “Even among wild birds, songs are not equal to each other; all birds learn according to their own skills.” (1580)[xi] Which behaviours are the product of social learning is not always clear. Charles Darwin recorded young males birds practising song for nearly a year.[xii] We know more about how passerine birds learn to sing (similar to how humans learn language) than how immature males learn to create bowers.

Gail Patricelli has shown that the subject’s behaviour is not pure instinct; males are responsive to and learn from female preference behaviour. Research supports emergent and interactionist models of the mind-brain-body, pointing to humans as embodied ecological organisms in a constant dynamic relationship with the environment. Nature, mind-body, culture, tools and techne (embodied skill) are intertwined, processural and emergent. Given this fact, creative projects and practices are vital to help realise an ecologically sustainable future. What kind of art, culture, experiences, excitement and contemplation can inform a sustainable future?

Giorgio Agamben takes apart the ‘anthropological machine’ that has corrupted our relations to animals, he even suggests the logical outcome is the Holocaust. We must address these relations now: “it is more urgent to work on these divisions, to ask in what way − within man − has man been separated from non-man, and the animal from the human, than it is to take positions on the great issues, on so called human rights and values.”[xiii] He notes that whether through myth or science we worry about how human and how animal we are.[xiv] Donna Haraway has looked at how the discipline of primatology does the same. [xv] She is better known for investigating cyborgs, the limits or otherwise of flesh and machine, now life is being commercially produced and DNA is patented. [xvi]

This experiment is conscious of the fragility of the sequence, of this relationship, of our shared sustainable future that requires that our lavish consumerism be tied to sustainability, but how to do this? We are taught the alphabet but our education system fails to make us citizens of our environments.  Why not “goe to Schoole to the wisedome of Bees, Ants and Spiders?” Thomas Browne asked in the middle of the bloody English civil war.[xvii]

Aesthetics is an important part of the answer, both a natural aesthetics and art:

  1. Contact with the natural world – we value and cherish what we know and appreciate. With over half the world’s population tipping into cities, and our generation witnessing the end of the hunter-gatherer way of life, we are losing contact.
  2. Imagination – nourished by art, science and philosophy (including ‘applied anthropomorphism’). Alexander Nehamas notes, “The worst, the most difficult thing that affects us as people is the failure of the imagination. We do not realise that various things are possible, which is to say that we don’t realise that most everything is contingent, that things could be different.”[xviii] This is a political act; after all “the human is a political animal.” (Aristotle, Politics, 1253a3).
  3. A natural aesthetic – which follows from 1. & 2. An aesthetic of direct experience with nature and art working with nature (including indigenous ways of dwelling and broader philosophical, historical, and socio-economic contexts).

All three feed into a new mode of dwelling which pays attention to the environment, but we have to have some knowledge of our environment to realize attention. [Cognitive naturalism

What form of writing emancipates us to take on this challenge? Poetic (or the poem), discursive, playful, structurally open. Serres Taussig

We are refusing to share the planet. For example, one billion tons of plastic detritus waft through the oceans, concentrated on the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. If humans vanished overnight it would still take 100,000 years for this marine garbage patch to photo-degrade.[xix] Satin Bowerbirds appreciate any plastic, if blue. We are all bricoleurs and I am a bowerbird.

Bowerbirds have full employment but no health cover, no pension, no rights and little respect. We should treat each animal as an individual, which art and documentaries occasionally can [xx] while aware that they, like you, are environmental emergences, not the Western “bounded, unique” individual.[xxi] But you are not obsessed by status, becoming who you are from what you buy – it doesn’t work, depression is a uniquely human epidemic. Frank Furedi argues: ‘Today we fear that individuals lack the resilience to deal with feelings of isolation, disappointment and failure. Through pathologising negative emotional responses to the pressures of life, contemporary culture unwittingly encourages people to feel traumatised and depressed by experiences hitherto regarded as routine.’[xxii]

We gain more pleasure and understanding that way and the downward spiral of biodiversity loss may be halted. The most recent report (May 2008) forecasts that by 2050 catastrophes loom.[xxiii] Political action is needed, but there is no perfect model of government or legal system, no single secret to happiness; Herder used the phrase ‘garden of the common good’. [xxiv] What we must strive towards is living in a society which cultivates not destroys nature (Herder talked of diversity of national plants- contra Linneaus), which is focused on happiness and appreciates diversity and art which expresses both human spirit and our relative historical natures. He asks for attention to the uniqueness of an art work, for an aesthetics that starts “not at the top, but from below.” [xxv]

The key demonstrates varieties of learning, given the volatile nature of the environment and use use of techne and technology; we have to keep learning, but how? Tim Ingold tried to make knots by following a set of instructions but both he and his students failed. He states, ‘In copying a tutor, the novice is guided by the movements, not formal instructions.’[xxvi] Knowledge is usually viewed as information, and humans as devices for processing it, but Ingold argues, ‘to the contrary, that our knowledge consists, in the first place, of skill, and that every human being is a centre of awareness and agency in a field of practice.’[xxvii] In his account, ‘behaviour is generated… by the agency of the whole organism in its environment.’[xxviii] The claims of privileged knowledge whether by scientists, anthropologists, historians or poets must be treated with a pinch of salt. Humans are ecological creatures who make sense of all that happens all the time. As Mark Johnson puts it, we are: “weaving together the threads of our lives. In order for us to have coherent experiences, to make any sense at all of what happens to us, to survive in our environment, and to enhance the quality of our lives, we must organize and reorganize our experiences from moment to moment.”[xxix] What enables me to live my particular life is seen as cultural but capacities emerge in the life history through development.

Does a bowerbird have culture? We should keep in mind Clifford Geertz’s approach to culture as the matrix of symbols, rituals, attitudes, meanings, skills and perspectives about life enabling human societies to cohere and function: “not a power, something to which social events, behaviours, institutions or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they can be intelligibly – that is, thickly – described.”[xxx]

Human culture is in permanent motion, change and development in dialectic with environments. At different times and in different cultures people perceive and interpret the world uniquely, with particular social, economic, political, and religious behaviours. Bowerbirds are much more reliable.

What are commonly designated as cultural processes are biological, and historical processes are evolutionary … In this account, behaviour is generated … by the agency of the whole organism in its environment.
Tim Ingold[xxxi]

N. Katherine Hayles situates us firmly, “in an increasingly virtual postmodern world.” From this perspective, ‘ecology’ expands past cognitive science, and the phenomenological anthropology of Ingold, to include the technological and information orientated culture, and, “the profound interconnections that bind us all together, human actors and non-human life forms, intelligent machines, and intelligent people.”[xxxii]

Globalisation ties us closer together still, and has uncomfortable consequences for an increasingly perilous for the planet’s biota, including us. Not only global warming threatens massive disruption to agriculture, the still growing population will demand more resources, and use more of the planet as harder systems are exploited as the ones to hand become exhausted, seed varieties are being lost and toxins from the chemistry industry are filling the environment, more people living close together make a flu pandemic or some new disease/mutation quite likely, and with so much travel, impossible stop spreading. Then there are still nuclear missiles aimed at each other, and the rich nations are still massively over-consuming the world’s resources and we have no idea of how to stop the momentum and change people’s behaviour, or find a political system that looks ahead further than a few weeks or months.

Conclusion

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
the bowerbird is involved
In what I know.

Adapted from Wallace Stevens, ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Bowerbird’

Human achievements dominate the world and the manipulation of time and space has been wildly successful, but at a high cost, both to natural environments and the creatures that live there – more bird species are becoming extinct in our lifetime.[xxxiii] The cost to Homo sapiens is increasing disengagement from natural environments and the biota we have co-evolved with, resulting in ignorance of the natural processes that support life, thus tolerance of their destruction, and ignorance of how our own lifestyles impact on habitat loss, dwindling species and some species slaughtered in unimaginable quantities daily. Global warming is just one environmental problem.

The key essais presume to remind us that writing is useful because it provokes inquiry, critical thinking, and learning. They communicate with the academy (and subject) from a safe distance, promoting diversity of knowledge and skills, perhaps edging towards forms of writing the late Val Plumwood called, “interspecies dialogues, dramas and projects previously unimaginable.”[xxxiv]

Earlier I talked o the need for imagination, but we need more, a knowledge base for a rich engaged imagination and then courage to use it, to see the world differently. Sven Lindquist “You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.”[xxxv] This text has plenty of references, draws on many disciplines but it is not enough to read about this, we need to feel what we are talking about, and need to feel further the joyousness and the calamities we are inflicting on our environment. That’s why poems are handy; they provide cognitive workouts, act as catalysts for cognitive opportunity, cognitive in the sense of an embrained body – one of the key concepts attacked in the Key essays.

In the face of loss, contingency, despair and death we can imagine God, or sing, play and make. David Rothenberg concludes Why Birds Sing: “For the same reason we sing – because we can. Because we love to inhabit the pure realm of sound . . . No explanation will ever ease the eternal need for song.”[xxxvi] Our endeavours are too often disciplined, avoiding healthy ways of thinking/feeling through dwelling on this earth through play, songs, poetry and imagination. It is not just a matter for scientists or philosophers, or poets; we must all step more lightly on the earth.

Humans are Homo techne, leading to art and science, technology and industry, we must work with that. We know so much and must take responsibility for what we believe in and what we do. We are more creative and more curious than other species and can use these characteristics to challenge our received assumptions about the world and how we belong. To understand how and why humans treat the world as we do, we need to understand ourselves better and regain touch with our environments. This exact small sample cannot tell us what we want to know, or what we need to know but is an example of an opportunity for fun, wonder and learning, a step towards mitigating the environmental crisis.

 

Postscript

 

“You might like to hear about your Bower Bird.  During my last week at Bundanon he decided to move house, abandoning his bower and building another one just across the path.  At first I speculated that perhaps he had found the intellectual challenge of all those alphabet ideas too much, and was longing for a blue plastic toy life.  However over the next few days some of the letters were moved across to his new home, so maybe he was just being more selective in his intellectual interests.”
Maggie Henton, Bundanon artist in residence, 20.6.08

 

I had finished the experiment and was writing it up when I came upon a disturbing study. Darryl Jones and Thomas Nealson undertook a study that counted 544 individual birds from 57 species, and performed 544 experimental approaches with 34 species of birds. It is probably the most comprehensive study of the impacts of human activities on bird communities so far conducted. They conclude that, “birds will avoid humans if possible.” [xxxvii] have been hunted for food, decoration and sport for thousands of generations, when will they learn to ignore us like some of the birds of the Galapagos Islands?[xxxviii] The Green Catbird, a close relative of the Satin Bowerbird was one of the few exceptions on the Jones/Nealson study, and my presence did not appear to disturb the subject’s in any way or disrupt his creativity. [xxxix]

 



[i] Albert Bergesen, ‘Deep Ecology and Moral Community,’ in Robert Wuthnow (ed.) Rethinking Materialism, Erdmans, p208.

[ii] From the Preface of Micrographia. Hooke was ‘Curator of Experiments’ of the Royal Society from 1662 to 1677.

[iii] Bruno Latour, ‘Pasteur on Lactic Acid Yeast: A Partial Semiotic Analysis’, Configurations, 1992, 1.1:129-146

[iv] Though she traces that trope to Leibniz who wrote, “the art of inquiry into nature itself and of putting it on the rack–the art of experiment which Lord Bacon began so ably.” See Carolyn Merchant, ‘The scientific revolution and The Death of Nature’, Isis 97.3 (Sept 2006).

[v] Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter, Harvard University Press, 1993, p15.

[vi] Bruno Latour, 1993, p10–11.

[vii] See Alan Chalmers, Science and its Fabrication, Open University Press, 1990.

[viii] Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and The Experimental Life, Princeton UP, 1985, p25.

[ix] Donna Haraway Donna J. Haraway, Modest Witness, Second Millennium: FemaleMan Meets OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience, p26, Routledge, 1997. critiques the whole traditions of `Western’ science and politics as being ‘the tradition of racist, male-dominant capitalism; the tradition of progress; the tradition of the appropriation of nature as resource for the productions of culture’, p26.

[x] Jed Rasula, introduction to This Compost: Ecological Imperatives in American Poetry. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 2002, p7.

[xi] Quoted David Rothenberg Why Birds Sing, Basic Books, 2005, p18.

[xii] Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871, I. i. ii. 55.

[xiii] Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, Stanford University Press, 2004, p16.

[xiv] Giorgio Agamben, From Homo Sacer to The Open,

[xv] Donna Haraway, Primate Visions

[xvi] Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, 1991.

[xvii] Religio Medici para 15 (The Religion of a Doctor) 1643, a spiritual testament and a psychological self-portrait, a best-seller which brought its author fame and respect throughout Europe

“Thus there are two books from whence I collect my Divinity beside that written oen of God, another of his servant Nature.” Para 16

[xviii] Interviewed by David Carrier, Bomb Magazine, 65, Fall, 1998, p36-41. As Douglas Oliver writes; “Our greatest cruelties often arise from a failure to imagine.” Douglas Oliver, A Salvo for Africa, Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 2000, p9. And Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos noted: “wisdom does not consist in knowing the world, but in imagining the ways it should go to become better.” Zapatista Stories, trans. Dinah Livingstone (London: Katabis, 2001, p76. I mistrust the word as being too disruptive, as if ordinary ratioinalkity and pratical thinking was bereft of imagination. Shelley wrote in that a man to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.” §87 ‘A Defence of Poetry’.

[xix] See Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, Virgin Books, 2007.

[xx] Animals are individuals with unique behaviours, but rarely observe them close enough to realise that. See Jan Aldenhoven and Glen Carruthers, ‘Kangaroos – faces in the mob’, ABC TV November, 1992.  Or James Mollison’s large scale but intimate photographic facial portraits of orphan gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-utans and bonobos. ‘Face to Face’, Natural History Museum, London, Summer 2005. He uses a medium format camera from 70 cm away.

[xxi] Clifford Geertz, ‘From the native’s point of view: on the nature of anthropological understanding’, in Rabinow & Sullivan, Eds., Interpretative Social Science, U of California P, 1979, p229.

[xxii] Frank Furedi, Therapy Culture, Routledge 2004, p6.

[xxiii]  Mr Pavan Sukhdev, ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/economics/index_en.htm (part of the ‘Potsdam Initiative’ for biodiversity).

[xxiv] Letters for the Advancement of Humanity, (1792 to 1797)

[xxv] Quoted by Kristin Gjesdal, ‘Hegel and Herder on Art, History, and Reason’, Philosophy and Literature 30.1 (2006). Herder would not have agreed with the younger Hegel, re the end of art because art is one universal definition that gets articulated more and more adequately through progress. Herder thought each work of art was unique and had to be approached through its individuality as well as its genre, form, style materiality etc.

[xxvi] Tim Ingold, ‘8 themes in the anthropology of tools’, Social Analysis, March 1997

[xxvii] Tim Ingold, ‘Three in One: On Dissolving the Distinctions between Body, Mind and Culture’, April 1999, http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Paper/ingold/ingold2.htm.

[xxviii] Tim Ingold, ‘8 themes in the anthropology of tools’, Social Analysis, March 1997, p470

[xxix] Mark Johnson, Moral Imagination, Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993, p152.

[xxx] Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973),p14.

[xxxi] Tim Ingold, ‘Epilogue’ in Ingold & K. Gibson, Tools, Language and Cognition in Human Evolution, Cambridge UP. 1993, p470.

[xxxii] N. Katherine Hayles, ‘The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest,’ in New Literary History, 30:3, 1999, p696.

[xxxiii] “Even though only 1.3 per cent of bird species have gone extinct since 1500, the global number of individual birds is estimated to have experienced a 20 per cent to 25 per cent reduction during the same period.” Çagan H. Sekercioglu, Gretchen C. Daily, and Paul R. Ehrlich, ‘Ecosystem consequences of bird declines’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), December, 2004. www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/101/52/18042.

[xxxiv] ‘Journey to the Heart of Stone’ in Culture, Creativity and Environment: New Environmentalist Criticism, Eds., Fiona Becket and Terry Gifford, Rodopi, 2007

[xxxv] Roger McDonald quoting Sven Lindquist in ‘Exterminate all the brutes’, Granta, in Th Australian’s Review of Books, December 1997 p7. This review about the extermination of Aborigines and the Stlen generation and Wik debate, sad times for Australia.

[xxxvi] David Rothenberg, 2005, p228-9.

[xxxvii] Darryl Jones and Thomas Nealson, ‘Impacts of bird watching on communities and species: long-term and short-term responses in rainforest and eucalypt habitats’, Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, 2005, p22. http://www.crctourism.com.au/crcbookshop/Documents/Jones_birdwatching%20rainforests.pdf. See also  Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Niles, L.J. (1995). ‘Ecotourism and birds in coastal New Jersey: contrasting responses of birds, tourists and managers’, Environmental Conservation, vol. 22, pp.56-65. Burger, J. & Gochfeld, M. (1998). ‘Effects of ecotourists on bird behaviour at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida’, Environmental Conservation, vol. 25, pp.13-21.)

[xxxviii] There are 29 species of land birds (22 endemic) and 19 species of sea birds that breed in Galapagos (5 endemic). And of the 13 species of Darwins finch, it is not true that they cause the eureka moment of evolution for Charles Darwin.

[xxxix] Blue paradise – the threshold, emancipatory potential of being close to keeping a distance from wild animals for their sake. I watched from a distance of about five metres. Only the Brush Turkey and Lewin’s honeyeater were similarly unaffected, even a species like the eastern robin that seems quite unafraid of humans and is often seen at close quarters prefers bush away from humans.

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