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Re: Doug rocks at NSS

Subject: Re: Doug rocks at NSS
From: Wild Sanctuary <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 09:27:38 -0700
Sorry I missed the event. But knowing what we are recording (or
looking at) is just another layer to the wonderous mystery of the art
and craft of recording. It adds to the knowledge and magic, but it is
by no means, the raison d'etre or a license to record in the field,
Cliff. There is absolutely no reason to feel defensive or diminished
because others hold a different opinion. When I began this process
late in life in 1968, having been taught to fear the creature world
from childhood, I couldn't distinguish a robin from a suidae (pig).
So I, in particular, hold or offer no rigid criteria for recording in
the wild having learned very slowly, over time, that pigs can't fly.
As the late Edward Abbey once said, "Just get out there and enjoy the
wild in your own way!" Each of us must discover our own special path
and will learn (or not) to make the necessary distinctions that
enrich our experience.

With 15,000 referenced and identified (bird, insect, mammal,
amphibian, crustacean, etc.) creatures in the Wild Sanctuary archive,
collected over 35 years, now, there are probably tens of thousands
more that I don't know and maybe several thousand that haven't even
been named (by Western academics). I will die in ignorance and so be
it. I will not let that diminish the fun I have when recording in the
field. Nor will I allow myself to be criticized, or be the object of
scorn, or be made to feel inferior for not knowing the origin of a
particular sound. I record primarily because I love the sound that
comes through my headphones when there is a lovely biophony present.
For me, all other reasons pale. You know, we have a very large
investment in our (human) primacy and the Cartesian rationale that
has framed our academic deconstructive sense of the world for the
past 200 years. Thankfully, that unfortunate perspective is beginning
to change. As Loren Eiseley once said: "We are too content with our
sensory extensions, with the fulfillment of that ice age mind that
began its journey amidst the cold of vast tundras and that pauses
only briefly before its leap into space. It is no longer enought to
see as a man sees - even to the ends of the universe. It is not
enough to...see the lightning, or times past, or time to come, as a
man would see it. If we continue to do this, the great brain - the
human brain - will be only a new version of the old trap, and nature
if full of traps for the beast that cannot learn."

Bernie Krause, PhD

Wild Sanctuary, Inc.
P. O. Box 536
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
707-996-6677 tel
707-996-0280 fax

>Ok, I'll bite on this one.  I really enjoyed the debate, but there was
>a bit of friction.  A dichotomy emerged between the more scientific and
>well-informed birders, and those of us with a natural curiosity and
>love for the sounds of nature but little background in biology.  My
>take on this as someone new to this community, is that there has to be
>room for different points of view here.  Martyn asks if you would
>record the chairman of the board without knowing his name, but I've
>recorded many a street musician without knowing his name or why he or
>she plays, without knowing the techniques and theory behind the music,
>but the experience of listening is still valid and in fact very pure.
>I'm a musician and composer of soundscapes, so while I do search out
>the name of a bird when my love of its particular call heightens my
>curiousity, I more often capture sounds for the feeling they elicit,
>for their musicality on the whole.  While this is not science I hope
>that it is art, and that it furthers the cause of preserving the
>natural soundscape.  This may be hard to accept for brilliant folks
>like Doug and Martyn who have such encyclopedic knowledge and so
>obviously love what they do, but I hope they will leave a little wiggle
>room for 'undisciplined' recordists such as myself.... ;-)
>On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, at 08:54 PM, Martyn Stewart wrote:
>>  I found it a bit strange that as nature recordists, a lot of people
>>  didn't know birds and their calls, simple but true, like I say, you
>>  wouldn't record Frank Sinatra without knowing his name would you?
>>  I think we all benefited from the discussion, there was no real
>>  dynamite
>>  to throw at each other, a bit like handbags at dawn :)
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