An Open Letter to the Whole Goddamn Marine Mammalogy Community!

The Great Satan himself. (Photo unattributed.)

by Malcolm J. Brenner, bachelor of freaking arts, Communications!

I am told by a friend who hangs out in such places that my 1971 experience with Dolly the dolphin is one of those topics that ultimately comes up when guys get together in their local bar, lounge, club, etc. and the talk turns, as it inevitably does, to sex.

“Yeah,” somebody will eventually say, “but how about that guy who had sex with a dolphin, huh? How about that, man? I mean, wow, sex with a dolphin, how weird is that?” And so on.

(For the phrase “had sex with,” please insert your favorite crude euphemism into whatever orifice is unoccupied.)

Now, let me point something out: IF NOBODY HAD EVER HEARD OF ME OR DOLLY OR WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN US, NOBODY WOULD EVER BE UPSET ABOUT IT, OR WITH ME. Because nobody cares about things they aren’t aware of. Duh!

Therefore, I rightfully conclude that most people are NOT unhappy with me because Dolly and I made love (which is how I always describe our experience); no, they are not.

They are unhappy with me because I had the nerve to write and self-publish a goddamn book about it (and get reviews, give interviews, make a movie, etc.)!

To some, this admission or confession of bestiality is so shocking that they want to kill me by various gruesome methods, maim or torture me, castrate me, lock me away forever, but to date, NONE OF THEM HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO PAY MY PSYCHIATRIC BILLS, which kind of indicates where their heads are at. They express real and sincere anger at me for speaking out about my experience of interspecies love and communication, of which making love was the peak, although not the final, experience. They accuse of me “romanticizing it,” to which I answer:

What else do you call it when a dolphin you’ve just had sex with rests her snout on your shoulder and stares into your left eye with her left eye, taking a full minute or two to tell you things that we humans have no words for?

Look, members of the marine mammalogy community, I think John C. Lilly had feet of clay, was exploitative/abusive of those around him, did not always treat his dolphins well, abused recreational/psychiatric drugs — I’ve been around enough to know most (but not all) of the stories about him are true.

But let me point out something important to you, which you seem to be unaware of:

John C. Lilly is DEAD!

He died 19 days after the attack on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. in 2001.

Rumors of his impending resurrection

have been somewhat exaggerated!

Dead, dead, DEAD, finito, muerte, morte, passed out of this vale of woe, dearly departed, in the next world, bit the bullet, he’s knocking on Heaven’s door.


The question becomes,

“Why are you still blaming him whenever you have difficulty getting the funding you think your research deserves?”



Hanging out in sensory deprivation tanks? No. Cracking animals’ skulls to probe their brains? No. Taking lysergic acid diethalymide, or giving it to dolphins? Nope! Tripping in deep space-time? Nah. Teaching underwater basket weaving at Esalen? No, not even that!

Here’s the REAL problem people have with Dr. John C. Lilly: He didn’t really give a shit what you thought about him! And, when necessary, he didn’t hesitate to let you know it, point-blank.

I will recount a scenario which I witnessed with my own eyes. To tell it briefly, Lilly was being interviewed by a radical leftist writer on assignment from PENTHOUSE, and since we both showed up about the same time, Lilly invited us into a trailer parked outside his house in Los Angeles. The writer set up his micro-cassette recorder and began the interview, but right off he adopted an unnecessarily confrontational attitude towards Lilly’s experiences in “altered states,” such as he wrote about in Center of the Cyclone.

It only took the radical writer (crap, he was wearing a leather jacket and driving a Porsche, for godz’ sake) about 10 minutes to start really pissing Lilly off, and when, in deep frustration, he asked where Lilly stood on the subject of – gasp! – NUCLEAR WAR, the neurophysiologist gave him an answer he didn’t want to hear.

“I don’t know,” Lilly said. “Maybe our energies here are needed on some other planet?”


That was just too much for Mr. Leather Jacket! He and Lilly both stood up, and, after a brief face-off, Lilly told him to get out, and if Lilly felt like it, the writer MIGHT come back and finish the interview tomorrow!

The writer didn’t let the door him in the ass. As the sound of his Porsche’s pancake engine faded, Lilly turned to me, a bemused smile on his lips. “I’ll tell you something my father passed on to me,” he said. “You should never lose your temper with anyone, but you should always be able to make it look like you have! What did you say your name was…?”

Out of all the pieces of advice I have gathered from learned and sage individuals over the years, that is the funniest, and truest and the most useful!


So, marine mammalogists of the world, and especially the USA: If your research doesn’t get the funding you think it deserves,


because John C. Lilly is dead, and probably will remain that way for the foreseeable future, thank you.

This concludes Malcolm’s message to the the marine mammalogists of the world. You may now return to your regular duties.

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