With apologies to famous Hollywood feature director Frank Capra, who joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps in WWII (the same branch my father, a radar operator, and Ray Harryhausen, a stop-motion animator were in) and made a series of seven documentaries collectively called “Why We Fight,” which are studied to this day in film classes as brilliant, virtuous pieces of propaganda, unlike Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Berlin Olympics documentary “Triumph Of The Will,” which everyone agrees is a brilliant, evil, racist piece of propaganda, because we won. Right?
Above: Portrait of Dr. Blair Irvine, courtesy GulfBase. I think he has the eyes of a sociopath, but hey, what the fuck do I know? I’m just some guy he used one morning as a TOXIC WASTE DUMP, and he thought he’d never hear from again. Wrong bet, Dr. Irvine, wrong bet. And yes, karma IS a bitch!
(Overnight, Dr. Blair Irvine, former director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Project, changed his email address, so he couldn’t get any more emails from me like the one he received yesterday! Since this is the address at which the SDRP has received its donations, your next donation to them, if you make one [and I heartily endorse the SDRP, in spite of my personal feelings about Blair], don’t be surprised if it bounces back to your account. Unless you change it, which is troublesome, I admit. But hey, I didn’t tell him to change his freaking email address! I must have really gotten to him if he went to all that trouble! Well, as B. F. Skinner said, any acknowledgement, positive OR negative, can be perceived as a reward by the subject! It would have been better to DO NOTHING, but then again, I shouldn’t have to tell Dr. Irvine, who I am sure is a confirmed behaviorist, something that well-known and simple. Another chink in the armor of a “great scientist.” Yeah, right.)
WAKE UP, DR. IRVINE, WAKE UP!
IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE! MR. BRENNER HAS POSTED HIS LETTER TO YOU ON malcolmbrenner.com/news, HIS WEB SITE! SO THE WHOLE WORLD NOW KNOWS HOW RUDE YOU WERE TO HIM, WHAT POOR CONTROL YOU HAVE OVER YOUR ANGER, AND HOW IMMATURE YOU SECRETLY ARE UNDER THAT FAÇADE OF EMOTIONAL CONTROL YOU SO PROUDLY SHOW THE WORLD! WASN’T IT NICE OF HIM TO WARN YOU? YOU SHOULD THANK HIM FOR BEING SO THOUGHTFUL, THERE WAS NO WARNING FROM YOU WHEN YOU TURNED ON HIM AND VERBALLY MUGGED HIM BECAUSE HE MENTIONED dr. Lilly’s DREAD NAME!
I HATE TO BE THE ONE TO TELL YOU, BUT MR. BRENNER SAYS HE IS PREPARED TO DO THIS EVERY MORNING, UNTIL YOU ANSWER HIS VERY REASONABLE QUESTION ABOUT WHY YOU TREATED RANDY WELLS SO NICELY, AND TREATED HIM LIKE SHIT. LIKE SOMETHING SCRAPED OFF YOUR SHOE, AFTER YOU WALKED AWAY.
YOU WERE VERY UNSCIENTIFIC, WHEN YOU LET YOUR PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT DR. LILLY OVERCOME WHATEVER TRIVIAL RESPECT YOU MAY HAVE HAD FOR MALCOLM AS A PERSON. YOUR INTEREST IN HIS WORK WAS VERY SHALLOW, AND MALCOLM SUSPECTS YOU ARE A SOCIOPATH, AND WONDERS HOW YOU COULD HAVE KEPT IT SECRET FOR SO LONG, IF YOU ARE. HE ALSO WONDERS HOW MANY OTHER UNHEARD-FROM PEOPLE ARE IN THE SAME POSITION HE IS, HAVING BECOME YOUR VICTIMS ON YOUR WAY TO THE TOP OF THE DOLPHIN WORLD?
OH, AND BTW, MALCOLM SAYS, “HEY, DO YOU OR THE U.S. NAVY OWN THE FILM OF SIMO? WHY DON’T YOU PUT IT ON THE WEB, DR. IRVINE, AND SHOW US WHAT A FUN TIME SIMO HAD, BEING CHASED BY AN AGGRESSIVE BULL SHARK! IS IT TRUE HE JUMPED OUT OF THE TANK TO AVOID IT?”
PUT THE FILMS ON THE WEB, AND LET US SEE FOR OURSELVES! I’LL BET YOU’VE STILL GOT A PRINT IN THE SDRP ARCHIVES, DON’T YOU? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? LET US BE THE ONES TO JUDGE WHAT A BRILLIANT SCIENTIST YOU ARE!
AND HERE’S A “VALID SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT” FOR YOU: WE PUT YOU, NAKED, IN A CIRCULAR TRACK YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF, AND WE RELEASE A 500-LB. (that’s 228.6 kilos, Malcolm knows you scientists like to do things in metric) TIGER INTO THE TRACK WITH YOU. BUT DON’T WORRY! WE’RE GOING TO GIVE YOU A ROCK TO THROW AT THE TIGER AS IT LEAPS ON YOU, AND IF YOU’RE A DEAD SHOT AND HIT THE TIGER RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES, YOU’LL KILL IT! AND A BELL WILL GO OFF, AND YOU’LL GET A LOVELY FOOD PELLET AS A REWARD… THIS IS THE POSITION YOU PUT SIMO IN, ASSHOLE!
WHAT DO YOU LEARN ABOUT THE BEHAVIOR OF REAL DOLPHINS IN THE WILD WHEN YOU PUT A DOLPHIN IN A CIRCULAR TANK IT CAN’T ESCAPE FROM AND RELEASE A DOLPHIN-EATING SPECIES OF SHARK WITH IT?
NOTHING! YOU LEARN NOTHING ABOUT HOW A DOLPHIN BEHAVES IN THE WILD, WHERE IT HAS ROOM TO MANEUVER, TO GET UNDER THE SHARK, TO GET OUT OF ITS WAY, TO PROTECT ITS MATES AND YOUNG, OR REQUEST AID FROM ITS FELLOWS. BUT HEY, IT LOOKED GOOD TO THE O.N.R., AND GOT YOU A GENEROUS GRANT TO LIVE OFF OF! SO MALCOLM PAID FOR YOUR RESEARCH WITH HIS TAXES, TOO, ASSWIPE!
YOUR EXPERIMENT WAS A WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT, ALL IT TOLD THE U.S. NAVY IS HOW DOLPHINS BEHAVE IN A DONUT TANK, AND IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN, SUCH TANKS RARELY EXIST IN THE OPEN OCEAN. RELEASE THE FILMS AND PROVE MALCOLM WRONG!
LIKE I SAY, MALCOLM PLANS TO DO THIS EVERY MORNING, UNTIL YOU ANSWER HIS VERY, VERY REASONABLE AND RATIONAL QUESTION. MALCOLM SAYS HE CAN HOLD OUT LONGER THAN YOU CAN, OR UNTIL YOU CHANGE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, WHICH EVER COMES FIRST. AND MALCOLM WOULD HATE TO SEE YOU CHANGE IT, IT’S SUCH A BOTHER, YOU KNOW?
HAVE A FUCKED-UP DAY, DR. BLAIR! THIS HAS BEEN A WAKE-UP CALL FROM YOUR CONSCIENCE, AND IF IT’S HARD FOR YOU TO HEAR, DON’T BLAME ME, TURN UP YOUR HEARING AID YOU IDIOT, I’M SHOUTING AS LOUD AS I CAN! — dr. Blair Irvine’s conscience
Please forgive me for not reading your mind on that cold morning in March, 1971, when the head dolphin trainer at Floridaland, Robert Corbin, introduced us. I’m really, really sorry I said something that upset you so much, but only dolphins and a few other “lower” animals have given me the privilege of mental telepathy with them, and you just weren’t on my short list that morning. What can I say, at this late date, to make it right with you?
I’m sure you have long since forgotten the incident, but I haven’t, not only because you treated me like a non-person, but because you implied I was also very stupid, even though you had only met me for about 2 minutes. Let me jog your memory. You had run out of fish for Simo, the poor dolphin trapped in your worthless circular tank shark experiments. (More on that, and why your reputation is undeserved, later.) So you came down to Floridaland, where I was pursuing a independent study project at New College photographing the dolphins for a proposed book about them. And our paths chanced to cross outside the freezer shack, where Robert kept the fish.
Robert introduced us. I had, of course, heard of the experiment you were conducting for the US Navy at Mote Labs; everybody in town had heard about it, following your efforts to tag dolphins by burning holes in their dorsal fins and affixing plastic plaques, a rather crude and ineffective technique. Robert mentioned that I was a student who was very interested in dolphins. I told you a little bit about my project, and you seemed very enthusiastic about it at first. I remember you — oddly, in view of what happened — actually smiling, but it might just have been indigestion making you wince. A long time has passed, hasn’t it? Far too long for anybody except a real weirdo, like me, to still resent it, but I do.
Those first impressions, they are a bitch, aren’t they? It works both ways, Dr. Irvine. Both ways.
And then you asked the fateful question: “What books have you read?” If I had been able to read your mind then, I would not have given the answer that I did. Please believe me on this, is was the lack of clear, decipherable telepathy with you that ultimately let me down. I failed nobody but myself, there.
The answer I gave you was unfortunately honest, forthright and sincere. “Well, all of John Lilly’s stuff…” I started to say, preparing to explain how New College had a lousy library and it was difficult to get research papers there. But I never got a chance, because, as cold as it was that morning, the air between us froze, and you, in an instant, on a dime, in a New York minute, turned from a friendly, somewhat fatherly researcher with an interest in my work (admittedly a liberal arts approach to dolphins) into a lethal polar bear, moving in for the kill. The smile on your face disappeared, to be replaced in an instant with an expression of profound disgust, as if you had just stepped in dogshit — Great Dane dogshit. Something I’d said had obviously triggered you, and this was decades before pop psychologists began abusing that term. What could it be?
Could the mere mention of Dr. John C. Lilly’s name…? Could it? Really? How misfortunate for me, to mention the ONE NAME that would trigger you that morning! And how doubly misfortunate not to have read your fucking mind before hand, so that I’d be forewarned and not make the one mistake that would send you plunging off the end of the dock, dragging me with you! It was there, in the air over your head, clearly flashing red letters that said WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T MENTION JOHN C. LILLY’S NAME TO THIS MAN, HE’LL FREAK OUT — and I chose to ignore it. Or I just didn’t see it. I certainly didn’t mean to provoke you, we’d only just met!
When you spoke, even your voice was different. There was an edge of threat or menace in it when you said “That man is either 50 years ahead of his time, or crazy, and most of us think he’s crazy! Good day!” By “us” I took it that you mean marine mammalogists at large — speaking for the community as a whole, I guess you were — and there may also have been something in there about you having worked with him, and that’s how you knew. Then you pivoted on your heel, got in your truck and drove away, and I never even had a chance to finish my sentence.
I will not describe how I felt as you drove away; instead, here are some of the things I thought about you: • Rude, inconsiderate • Abusive, abrupt
• Talks down at me, thinks he’s superior
• Explosive intermittent disorder (this is the modern diagnosis, I suffer from it too)
• Intolerant • Must be hard to work with, being around a person so critical with a hair-trigger temper
• Doesn’t want to listen, close-minded
• Sociopath, only likes people who can help him out• No empathy with others… and so on. This is an incomplete list, but I’m sure you get the general drift.
As a result of that unfortunate meeting, I THOUGHT YOU WERE A REALLY FUCKED-UP PERSON, PERSONALLY, AND THE WAY YOU TREATED ME CAUSED ME TO HATE YOU. And I don’t like to hate things, it’s a waste of energy. But I do hate you, and I find I’ve hated you for 50 fucking years now. That probably says more about me than about you, and I admit I have anger management problems. But since then I’ve learned something important, and puzzling.
Somebody else gave you the same information, and you reacted differently to him than you did to me. So I think I’m justified in asking “What did he do right that I did wrong?” or, “What was the difference in Dr. Blair Irvine’s approach to me and this other person?”
Dr. Randall Wells, as I’m sure you’ve heard, has been an acquaintance of mine since we met in a marine biology class at Riverview High School in Sarasota in 1968 or ’69. I had a lot of social problems in high school, but Randy wasn’t one of them; he was just a nice, affable, intelligent guy, and he didn’t seem to get picked on much, so we talked a bit. Over the years, my esteem for him has only grown, and I now donate monthly a small amount, all I can afford in my current circumstances, to the SDRP, because I know that 90% of that money will go to benefit the dolphins of Sarasota Bay, and the other 10% to buy beer for the boat crew worn-out from chasing, netting, examining and logging them all day. (Just kidding!) So it is Randy’s compassion for the dolphins, and the excellence of his research, his personal friendliness toward me over time and a belief in acting locally, that make me want to donate to the splendid organization that you and Randy created together.
Now, here’s my problem, Dr. Irvine, and it consists of two words you may have heard before: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.
You see, Randy is an exceptional person, and I do not see him mentoring, or collaborating, or getting papers published, with somebody who was rude to him, browbeat him, talked down to him, insulted his intelligence, and dismissed him with a wave of your hand, all of which you did to me that frosty March morning. When Randy came to you with John C. Lilly’s name on his lips — he proudly displayed a copy of Mind of the Dolphin on the SDRP podcast last week as his first dolphin book — you reacted differently, very differently, to him than you did to me.
Was it the fact that you were renting your house from his folks that made you feel indebted to them and caused you to moderate your self-righteous anger with the lad, or did I see a side of you you don’t show to others in your profession? The sociopathic side, the side that steps on unsung grad students to get research published, the side that curses the dolphins for struggling when you burn holes in their dorsal fins to tag them? The side that decided I WAS A NON-PERSON SO YOU COULD TREAT ME LIKE SHIT THAT MORNING BECAUSE I DIDN’T READ YOUR MIND AND REALIZE, SOMEHOW, BEFORE THE WORDS LEFT MY MOUTH, THAT ME SAYING DR. JOHN C. LILLY’S NAME WOULD TRIGGER YOU INTO A RAGE OF BARELY-CONTROLLED ANGER?
What was it, Dr. Irvine, that made you react differently to Randy than to me? A short-term circumstance, I hope, something like “Sorry, I hadn’t had breakfast that morning,” or “Sorry, I didn’t get laid the night before.” Those would be comprehensible, if not excuses. Something like “My mother died the day before,” that would be an excuse. I don’t know, and for 50 fucking years your behavior toward me that morning has been like a big grub, festering in my brain, and it doesn’t go away, and if it does, I always come back to it eventually.
What you did, I should point out, was also bad news from a scientific point of view. With Randy you were apparently able to hold a polite discussion and explain to him what was wrong with Lilly’s work. He listened, learned, and grew from it. Me, you told to fuck off, and I hate you for it.
So there’s my cognitive dissociation, Dr. Irvine: which human are you? I cannot make the two images align, or even overlap: are you a kind, nuturing scientist that gets along with his colleagues or the rude, abusive (yes, ABUSIVE, when did you stop beating your wife abusive), short-tempered person I encountered that morning? And more importantly, for reasons that apparently have nothing to do with you, WHY ME? When open scientific discussions such as I presumed we were having get SHUT DOWN because someone dropped a name he wasn’t supposed to, that’s not science, that’s prejudice and bigotry. Let me remind you, you never got a chance to explain your POV to me either, and if that wasn’t your fault, it sure as hell wasn’t mine.
So all in all, Dr. Irvine, I don’t think very well of you, but I allow that I might be mistaken, because Dr. Wells likes you, I mean, you are his mentor and everything, and I don’t think, as I have said, Randy would work for very long with somebody who abused him. I am quite confused as to who you really are, and I hope you see fit to clarify the situation for me, as I find it very difficult to go forward with my own work like this, unable to rectify two polar-opposite views of you. So please tell me, if you will, why I saw the unpleasant side of the distinguished scientist that morning, and why Randy did not.
I’ve decided not to critique the famous experiments with Simo that Randy filmed for you, although I will say, in passing, that dolphins do not in nature swim in 6′ deep donut-shaped pools, and any evidence acquired thereby can only be applied to the behavior of dolphins in the wild by a rather thinly stretched interpolation.
In closing, Dr. Irvine, I hope I have expressed myself clearly, and that you now know the reason for my impertinence in mentioning Dr. Lilly’s unspeakable name to you on that sorry morning. It WAS totally my fault that I failed to read your mind, and for that I can only offer sincere, if abject, apologies. Let me finally say to you the words that I have been wanting to say for 50 long, sad years: EAT SHIT AND DIE, YOU WORTHLESS WASTE OF PROTOPLASM! FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON. I THINK YOU’RE A BUNKO SCIENTIST, AND IF YOU WERE CRUEL TO ME, WHO ELSE WERE YOU CRUEL TO? WHAT OTHER NON-PERSONS DID YOU STEP ON TO GET WHERE YOU ARE? I am sure they remember the encounters, even if you don’t.
Thank you for reading this letter. I will continue to donate to the SDRP because I believe in and trust Randy, not you. I hope I have made myself clear, and have a really fucked-up day.
Most sincerely, Malcolm J. Brenner, author of Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover and other books.
It’s a good interview, wherein I get the chance to discuss some of the DoS attacks against me after the Bubba the Love Sponge interview in 2011. And Mr. Bender showed a lot of sympathy, or at least empathy, with me as a zoophile.
As he points out, I’ve inadvertently become the poster child for zoophilia! When I’ve NEVER advocated it as a way of life, simply for some tolerance, and a new view of animals as something other than victims.
Well, better me than “Mark Matthews,” right? At least I can write, and I had the good sense to tell my story as a novel!
John C. Lilly Interview, Part 2, Future Life, August 1980
In Part 1, Lilly described early work with the sensory isolation tank that led to his interest in the dolphin mind, and his attempt to bridge the human-dolphin communications gap with (then-current) high speed computers, Project JANUS. Here, he continues to describe the project.
MB: So you don’t anticipate nearly as much trouble on the dolphins part as it would be to phonate in air, as you were doing earlier?
JL: Oh no, this is all underwater. Though they have started to phonate in air, mimicking JANUS’s output. Apparently they’re eager to learn.
MB: Have you received widespread public support for Project JANUS?
JL: Enough. We’ve always had just enough money to keep going, never too much. I’m glad we didn’t have too much. I found out long ago that if there’s too much money available for something, all sorts of people move in on it and waste time. If you have just enough to go on, you eliminate all the people that aren’t really dedicated to it, because they feel they can’t afford to stay in it, and they can’t. So the people left in the JANUS Project are the people who feel they can afford do sacrifice large salaries and affluent living just to be able to do this program.
MB: One question raised by Ian Watson’s novel The Jonah Kit is whether there might not be dangers in interspecies communication, specifically dangers for the dolphins in contact with the alien human mind. Look at the history of slavery, or the American Indians, for instance; take away their food source and their land, their power base, and you render them ineffectual. lMight we not “ghettoize” the dolphins, the way we have other human races?
JL: Well, there’s quite a difference, isn’t there? There’s a limited territory on the land; and land is only 29 percent of the total surface of the planet, and of that only 10 percent is inhabited by humans. So humans take up only 2.9 percent of the planet, and of that 2.9 percent there are very stringent requirements for survival of people. You have to have agriculture and manufacturing and so on for human survival. When you contrast that with the 71 percent of the of the planet that is inhabited by cetaceans, you have a freedom of territory — or a lack of territory, more like it — freedom of travel — that none of the terrestrial mammals have ever had. It’s an entirely different universe, so there’s no way to compare it with restrictive human depredations on humans and territorial aspects. The whole territorial concept kind of disappears.
MB: Yes, but obvious our pollution of the sea must represent a threat to their existence. The whole problem with the dolphin kills at Iki, Japan, comes from the fact that the northern waters got pollute, forcing those populations south. Could the day come when the sea w9ill no longer support dolphins, and they’ll be dependent on humans for their existence?
JL: I don’t know. I don’t have the global view yet. I think we’re overrating our abilities to pollute the oceans. Once we thought the oceans were an infinite sink for all our wastes. Local effects, yes. Off large cities with huge manufacturing and all that, you can poison the fish with mercury, but it’s still a very shore-based view of the oceans; an ocean is a big place. You just fly across the Pacific from here to New Zealand and look at all that water! I think it’s rather egomaniacal to think we can influence that very much, especially if we can get our awareness up to the dangers of certain kinds of chemicals and reduce that. I go along with one of the biologists, John D. Isaacs, who was writing about so-called “pollution.” What are our concepts of pollution? One of them is sewage. I’m not talking about industrial waste, now; I’m talking about human shit. What is it? Mainly a culture of Escherichia coli, the colon bacillus, and according to the biological view the colon bacillus is a universal symbiotic inhabiting the colons of all mammals. Now, whales and dolphins all shit in the sea; the colon bacillus seems to be one of the basic substratum for the perpetuation of life. So you can look at it not as a contaminant, but as a substrate for the building up of bacteria, of protozoans, plankton, krill and hence, finally of multicellular life such as mammals. So if you look and a much more thoroughly biological viewpoint about the turnover of life on the planet, the colon bacillus is somewhere near the bottom of it, and is essential.
To people who like clean bathrooms, and don’t like shit around, and object to other people throwing it around, this may sound like a radical point of view, but it isn’t; it’s basically scientifically correct as far as I can make out. So when we confuse pollution with the whole basis of life, that shows how far away from nature we really are, and how far away from nature most of our knowledge is. The shore areas are where we know most because that’s where man is. I can’t speak for most of the sea. If you can get floating cities, and really look at the ecology, and get people who live at sea, not in the usual vessels we use to cross oceans, but the kind where you can live in intimate contact with the sea creatures, I think we’ll know a lot more. Farming the sea would be a much better way to approach it; encouraging the organisms that are essential to other organisms. The oxygen on the planet depends on it.Somebody was saying the other day that three-quarters of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by photosynthetic organisms of the sea, as opposed to those on land, so the essential support of the atmosphere depends on the sea, for the absorption of carbon dioxide and the creation of oxygen which is necessary for all for of aerobic life. Of course, the anaerobes could take over, as they do in a stagnant lake…
MB: You have observed that the dolphins seem to be a as interested in communicating with us as we are with them. Do you think that, in the future, they will be interested in cooperating to help us run the planet?
JL: Well, that’s a question I’ve stopped asking. There are lots of questions I’ve stopped asking with the prospect of being able to ask them of the proper people — the dolphins and whales. At the time you open a new doorway, as we are hoping to do, you stop asking questions about what you’re going to find on the other side because you’re waiting to find it.
I don’t know that we’re bring enough to do this, to work out means of communicating with the dolphins; then after we work out the means, are we bright enough to understand an alien mind? I don’t know, but we’ll give it a good try. And hope that we get some really bright people who will exert their best efforts in this area. Not just in our group. I think orcas are going to be very interesting…
MB: There are reports of unusual psychic experiences with dolphins., are you investigating those avenues of communication?
JL: Not at present; they’re not reliable enough. Nobody has yet worked out a way of giving good, solid demonstrations of network of mind, except through physical means of communication. This depends on your basic belief system about mind. Is mind a universal network all over the planet, of which we’re only vaguely aware, or is mind going from one isolated mind contained in a brain to another one? I have no way of making a choice. As I keep explaining to audiences that keep asking about ESP and mental telepathy, in the people I’ve come in contact with it’s either a “wild talent” without much discipline or it’s a mediumistic sort of thing. Whereas communication by sound is universal in both our species, and if we can work out the proper means, anyone can use the method.
MB: Has the work of any science fiction authors influenced you in any way?
JL: When I was doing the early tank work, I began to look for people who had the freedom and imagination I was finding. And people like Olaf Stapleton and Frank Herbert were obviously getting into the same realms of thinking and experience that I was already in. So I used them as examples. Herbert’s now on the Board of Advisors of the Human-Dolphin Foundation. I also asked the staff of Project JANUS to go see the movie Alien, because it presented such an alien alien. Something utterly un-human. (Nothing like a dolphin, of course.)
MB:Then you find yourself on common ground with certain science fiction authors?
JL: I don’t know what “common ground” means, we’ve been talking about infinities! Openness to new domains is more like it. In The Star Maker I felt Stapleton had finally gotten a god that was big enough. Like the old story about the minister and the astronomer. The astronomer is showing the minister the Andromeda Galaxy, and the minister looks up from the telescope and says, “Now doesn’t that prove the existence of God?”
And the astronomer says, “That’s not the problem. The problem is, your god isn’t big enough!” Stapleton’s god was big enough.
MB: What is your dream or hope for the future of interspecies communication?
JL: To get it going…
(The opinions expressed here are those of the respective parties, and publication of this interview doesn’t necessarily mean endorsement of those opinions.)
Not to boast, but Lilly later told me he thought this was the best interview anyone had done with him. I felt very proud hearing that!
John C. Lilly, a fascinating combination of characteristics, had the mind of a scientist, the heart of a mystic and the vision of a genius. Unfortunately, it never really came together.
“YOUR GOD ISN’T BIG ENOUGH:” An Interview with John C. Lilly
By MALCOLM J. BRENNER, FUTURE LIFE #20, August 1980
John Cunningham Lilly is that rare breed of scientist willing to talk openly about his belief in God—or, more precisely, his belief in his mind’s ability to simulate God with a reasonable degree of accuracy. An M.D. with psychiatric training, Lilly is best known for his sometimes controversial research on interspecies communications with bottlenose dolphins, a study he’s pursued for over 25 years (Man and Dolphin, Mind of the Dolphin, Lilly on Dolphins, Communication Between Man and Dolphin).
A self-described “permissionary” possessed of a sometimes dangerously insatiable curiosity about the workings of the human mind, Lilly has also immersed himself in sensory isolation tanks (Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, The Deep Self), experimented with hallucinogens and Sufi mysticism (Center of the Cyclone), deep dyadic relationships (The Dyadic Cyclone with Antoinette Lilly), and explored the fringes of his own consciousness in The Scientist, a “novel autobiography. ” With Antoinette Oshman Lilly, his wife, partner and “soulmate,” he has started the Human-Dolphin Foundation headquartered in Malibu, CA.
Lilly is currently conducting tests at a California oceanarium on a new computer program designed to overcome the difficulties of human-dolphin communication, Project JANUS (Joint Analog-Numerical Understanding System). Dr. Lilly was interviewed during the Second Annual Mind Miraculous Symposium of the Church of Religious Science in Seattle.
MB: How did the sensory isolation tank work you did at the National Institute of Mental Health in the early ’50s lead you to the dolphins? JL: I began that work at the National Institute of Mental Health, just wondering what would happen if you freed yourself up from a lot of external stimulation, and lowered all the inputs to the lowest possible level; what would happen to your mind under those conditions? It was just curiosity, just that sort of extracurricular activity one does in one’s general research; they didn’t even know I was doing it on my own time. I was working on monkey brains, and I’d go off to the tank and come back to the lab with a different perspective.
When they got wind of this, they asked me to get deeper into it. I was floating around in the tank in 1954 and started wondering about these things. I was beginning to find that my freedom of thinking was immensely increased, freed up from the necessity of temperature and gravity and light and sound and all that. There was this huge freedom of imagination, of experiencing things inside, which isn’t there any other way that I know of. And I was just wondering whether there wasn’t somebody floating around 24 hours a day their whole life who might be experiencing this all the time, and who would consider it absolutely normal.
So I began to talk to various people about dolphins, Pete Scholander and various others, and got interested. And then the brain thing came in, looking at their brains, seeing if the substrate for mind was there. And it was. MB: When you were doing that early tank work, did you have any of the type of apparent “contact” experiences with other civilizations or creatures from other planets or dolphins you wrote about in Center of the Cyclone? JL: No, there was a period there from ’54 to ’58, when I left NIMH, where the dolphin work and the tank work were overlapping. I began to see that the dimensions of mind were far greater than I’d been assuming they were, and were assumed by psychiatrists and psychologists. And I didn’t own up to it at the time it was happening. I didn’t own up to it until I was free to set up a tank in the Virgin Islands without all this government support and financing.
In fact, none of the tank work was ever directly supported by government grants; it was all done extra-curricularly. And I didn’t realize how important it was until I began to see how my thinking was changing as a consequence of these experiences, and the kind of vastness of the whole business. The mysteries of the mind… I was really immersed in them. And I began to see that the dolphin mind was probably far greater than our consensus reality allowed our minds to be. That’s why I want to communicate. MB: In the early ’60s, you got a lot of publicity from media like Life and Newsweek, and there was a big surge of interest in the possibility of interspecies communications with dolphins. Did that make your work more difficult? Did it make other scientists more skeptical of you because you’d “gone public” before your results were confirmed? JL: That was unplanned; the results began to come out in sources like The Journal of Acoustical Research & Engineering, and the media got interested. They were reporting on what we were doing; we weren’t seeking them. Now, as to what you mean by “other scientists,” I don’t know. MB: Other marine mammalogists. JL: Well, I’m not a marine mammalogist. Never have been. I’ve never been a cetologist or a delphinologist in the narrow sense that those people call themselves. I’ve never approached dolphins that way; I’ve always approached them from the standpoint of mind. They won’t even assume dolphins have a mind, so right off the bat we’re in entirely different domains of discourse. I’ve never felt that conflict they’ve felt; it’s their conflict, not mine.
MB: Between the period in 1968 when you released your dolphins and the beginning of Project JANUS, did you get discouraged about your dolphin research?
JL: Well, the time wasn’t right. The computers weren’t fast enough, small enough, and didn’t have large enough memories to do the job I wanted them to do. MB: Between Aristotle in 350 B.C. and the resurgence of dolphin interest in the ’50s, due largely to your work, we have a terrible gap in our curiosity about these creatures. Why? How did we lose that closeness with the dolphins that the Greeks and some other ancient peoples had?
JL: The Mediterranean was much warmer in the time of the ancient Greeks, and they were much closer to the sea. And Aristotle was, I think, a kind of observing genius who got in contact with fishermen and people who were in close contact with the dolphins. And they must have had dolphins in captivity, caught in shallow pools or something like that, and they just were free with them, spoke to the dolphins, and the dolphins spoke back. It was this intimate contact, which we reproduced in experiments back in the ’50s and ’60s, which led to Project JANUS. In the modern oceanaria there isn’t much of this. It’s beginning, but it’s not there yet. It’s shallow-water intimacy with the dolphins. Humans in deep water are pretty ineffective; dolphins in extremely shallow water are pretty ineffective, but you have to balance those two things together, and I think that just by chance the Greeks did that. If you follow the history of humans since then, they got away from that, away from the sea. They stuck to deep water when they went to sea, and this tidepool thing just disappeared. The whole attitude—the belief systems and so on—were counter to it. The Jewish-Christian-Muslim ethic took over, and we totally moved away from that free-floating thing the Greeks had. The interest in dolphins as reincarnated humans and all that disappeared. MB: One point Robin Brown makes in his book The Lure of the Dolphin is that, in terms of their morals and their scruples, the Greeks actually placed the dolphins above their own gods! One can detect a lot of the same thing in your writings—that there is a morality in the dolphins that prevents them from harming humans, under most circumstances.
JL: Ethics. It’s taught. The Greeks worshipped dolphins; they had a dolphin cult. Temples to them were found in the Negeb desert in Jordan, for instance. It was a very, very different socialized belief system which disappeared. And the modern point of view, which we started going after, was just sort of empirical approaches to them based on all sorts of considerations the Greeks didn’t have, such as their large brains, their behavior in captivity—those sorts of things. MB: Do you think the Greeks kept dolphins in captivity for religious purposes? JL: Yeah, I think that the original Delphic oracle, before the gal who was breathing vapors from a vent in a volcano, was probably a seaside thing that was never written up, in which certain people began to use dolphins speaking in air as oracles—spiracle oracles, you might say. But that’s speculation. MB: You said earlier that you weren’t expecting a “breakthrough ” at this stage of Project JANUS. Is it fair to ask what you are expecting? JL: A lot of hard work, one step after the other. For a while we’re going to have to be really restrictive, because it’s going to be a lot of hard work by a very few people. It’ll be a while before we can get our feet on the… get our feet wet. We don’t talk about “getting our feet on the ground’’ any more. MB: What level of communication do you think you can achieve with the equipment you now have? JL: I don’t know; that’s open-ended. Imagine starting out with humans, say, somebody that didn’t know your language, with the JANUS program. Now, in the JANUS software there is a program which chooses alternate tables of frequencies; one for the dolphins, based on their frequency discrimination curve, and one for humans, based on ours, and we’ve been working with humans on this. Turns out that there are new gestalts that develop. For instance, if you type H-E-L-L-O and activate JANUS, it comes back with the frequency for H, and the frequency for E, the frequency for L, and repeats it, and the frequency for O. This makes a little tune. And that word has been used so many times around the lab that everybody knows when the computer’s saying “hello!” MB: Like the tones on a touch-tone phone? JL: No, it’s not, because the touch-tone phone is designed so you can’t do that. Each button has two tones, so a pure tone won’t affect it; they’re fouling you up on that. It doesn’t have the clarity it would if they were pure sine waves. The basic idea is quite different, actually. What does the phone have—12 buttons?—of which we only use 10 for normal dialing. And we have 48 buttons, each one of which gives you pure sine waves, and each of which you can remember, without trying to untangle multiple frequencies. So you’re hearing pure tones the way you would keying a synthesizer with only one oscillator instead of three. MB: But you type in ”hello” and what comes out is a characteristic tune? JL: A gestalt, right. An easily recognizable acoustic gestalt. It looks as though we will be doing a very peculiar job, which reminds me of Herman Hesse’s Bead Game in Magister Ludi, in which they’re combining mathematics, logic and music in a very complex game. And that’s what we’re doing, really—developing a whole new vocabulary in the acoustic sphere which is representable by ordinary typewriter script. John Klemmer came up and started playing with it, and he wants to write music this way. So now you can type out music on an ordinary typewriter. For instance, we worked out what that theme they used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind means, where they start communicating with the aliens. You have these five notes. Well, it turns out that on the JANUS program those are S, U, Q, B and K. MB: Not much of a message… JL: Yes it is, because anybody who’s seen CE3K recognizes it instantly. So you’ve got all these new degrees of freedom in the acoustic versus the symbolic typing. For instance, we can type out a very long message on JANUS, put it through a phone line, bring it back into JANUS, and JANUS will type out what those sounds mean. MB: Why did you decide on a computer system, rather than a frequency-shifting real-time vocoder, as described in Mind of the Dolphin? JL: I wanted a system that is more easily, reliably reproducible than a human talking. MB: Punch a key on the computer and you always get the same sound out the other side? JL: Right. It’s an elementary approach where you have a chance of learning new things about the dolphins’ perceptual systems. Then you can eventually design something that’s much more sophisticated, based on the basics you discover with this approach.
It’s what you might call a survey apparatus. You’ve got a general purpose computer you can reprogram; general purpose interfaces you can reprogram through the computer so the voice can be reprogrammed, the ear can be reprogrammed. So you can try different approaches. We’re initially starting with pure sine waves as the output to the dolphins, from about 3,000 to 40,000 Hz., and varying the duration. We’ve had to modify our initial guesses to match their frequency-discrimination curve a little better. We may then add clicks, continuous FM whistles and tones. This is just the initiation, the opening-up of the whole field. JANUS is the first system that has total round-trip feedback, where the computer has a voice and ears, instead of dictating to the dolphins, as some other researchers are doing. They ignore what the dolphins have to say, mainly because they don’t have the sophisticated approaches that allow the computer to hear and interpret the sounds. MB: Will the computer have a memory system that will allow it to build up a vocabulary of dolphin sounds? JL: Not initially, though we will be building that up through the transitional symbolic vocabulary. We’re starting with 48 symbols, which is a sufficiently large population so we can get a large number of different strings. English has 44 phonemes in it. That should appeal to the dolphins; they like long strings and complex strings, a great variety of sound. And we’re covering their frequency-discrimination curve where they’re best at it, the way English covers the human curve. MB: So the objective of JANUS is to set up an intermediary language between humans and dolphins? JL: Yeah. Now language… we’ve set up a code system to develop any number of languages, and we’ve tried to arrive at a reproducible standardized system, which you can’t do with a vocoder, because of the variations in individual voices… yet vocoders have degrees of freedom this doesn’t have. The vocoder will respond to different kinds of voices, and the dolphins will answer in different voices. But here, we’re requiring a rather narrow slot in performance on their part, which we can record and follow.
So at one end of the spectrum you have this rather rigid system we’ve devised, and at the other you have a somewhat more flexible system. We’ll probably meet in the middle somewhere, so there’s more flexibility and it’s more like a voice. MB: Now, if I were a dolphin inputting into JANUS, would I have to input in the same pure sine wave tones JANUS puts out to me? JL: Well, we had a gal who put a pair of headphones on—we used the human scale on this —and she had a Moog synthesizer, the keys on it marked like a typewriter, so you can tell just what you’re typing out. She was typing things in, listening to the tune, then singing it back into JANUS through a microphone. And she could make the transfer; she would type out words on the synthesizer, hear them, then with her own voice sing to JANUS, and JANUS would type out the same thing. But she’s an expert singer. MB: So you don’t anticipate nearly as much trouble on the dolphins’ part as it would be to phonate in air, as you were doing earlier?
JL: Oh, no, this is all underwater. Though they have started to phonate in air, mimicking JANUS’s output. Apparently they’re eager to learn.
MB: Have you received widespread public support for Project JANUS?
I meant to write this at Christmas, but due to this and that, didn’t get around to it. But here it is, and it is an astonishing fact:
In the month between Nov. 19 — Dec. 20, I got 20 orders for Wet Goddess!
I haven’t had that level of holiday sales since 2010 or 2011, when the book was new, or still relatively new, and David Farrier did his now-notorious interview with me.
What’s even more impressive is that three of those orders were multiples, one for 3 copies, and two for 2. What does that mean? It means they don’t just want to find out about dolphins for themselves, they want someone else to read it. Total sold: 24 copies.
When you consider that the narrator (me, aw shucks) is a zoophile, this is remarkable. What message does it send, giving Wet Goddess for a holiday present? That you are a zoophile? That you are interested in communicating with dolphins and willing to invest $18.95 + S/H? That you have a streak of perverse sexuality in you?
Yes. Perhaps all these things, perhaps other reasons that haven’t imagined. “The Universe is,” as Exeter the alien from Metaluna said in the 1956 special-effects spectacle This Island Earth, “vast, and full of wonders.” I hope it always remains that way.
I don’t get around much anymore, but I do get on line, reading, writing and watching videos. In some ways, this telepresence is wonderful: saves gas (trips to the library) and gives me access to the whole universe of human information, fake news and all. In other ways, it’s a pain in the ass, which is why I got off Facebook, plus Zuckerberg’s politics are Fascist. But what was I getting at? I can’t remember, so herewith some more reviews.
Witness of Another World, a film by Alan Stivelman
Most documentaries assume a point of view, then show you a bunch of images to convince you they’re right. A good example would be Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s 2013 film Blackfish. I studied documentary film in college and kept an interest in it all my life; it is infinitely more interesting to film a documentary, where you never quite know what will happen next, versus a feature, where you are shooting, piece by piece, a structure, following a script, and trying to get everything right (i.e. no jets overhead, no telephone poles projecting from the actors’ heads, etc.).
Blackfish is the most influential documentary I’ve ever seen; I am convinced that film alone “ruined” a visit to SeaWorld for hundreds of thousands of people, cost $ millions at the box office and brought about the organization’s newfound commitment to quit breeding and exhibiting orcas when their current stock dies off.
Like I said, a very successful documentary.
Witness of Another World is equally moving and convincing, but in a different way. For here we have a boy, Juan Perez, who was by his own story taken aboard an unidentified flying object 40 years ago, and has never felt at ease with himself since. He has grown into a man not so much shunned by others as shunning them, because they mock and humiliate him and his experience, because they do not understand that he has seen something supernatural, something metaphysical, something genuinely mysterious.
In a video flashback, as the 12-year-old Juan is being questioned on live TV as to what he saw, he suddenly freezes, then presses his hands over his eyes and breaks into tears. He cannot put the experience into words, and if he could, who would believe him?
Finding a UFO encounter with that depth of time and footage behind it is extraordinary, but what makes Argentinian director Alan Stivelman’s film even more remarkable is the entrance of Franco-American UFO researcher Dr. Jacques Vallee, who interviewed Perez way back when, and now re-emerges offering some hope.
Stivelman isn’t one to stand aloof from is subjects, like a nature documentarian filming a hunting lion. From the first frame he admits his involvement, saying he stumbled across Juan’s case and wondered what became of him. Now, he determines (somehow, it’s not made clear) that Juan is from the Guarani tribe, ancestrally. Perhaps the tribe has some wisdom to help him?
Indeed they do, and the film features the gnarled faces and sage advice of two tribal elders. The Guarani culture has recognized the spirit world for generations, and Juan’s bizarre experience fits right in.
Other documentaries try to persuade you of the reality of UFOs with fuzzy photos or jumpy films. Witness of Another World presents a human being, changed and remolded as new interpretations of his experience reveal themselves. It is, in its own way, much more moving and effective.
This is what the UFO does: it alienates us from our own debunking, scientific, materialistic world. It is perhaps, as Vallee suggests, the breakthrough of the irrational, like some uber-quantum particle, into the rational world; or rather, the temporary dissolution of the rational world in something like a dream-state, where the laws of reality allow you to meet your grandfather again, these many years dead.
Do I need to say that Witness of Another World is one of most remarkable documentaries I’ve ever seen? It needs to become the new touchstone of the supernatural film, bringing compassion and humanity to a subject has long been argued on a digital, yes/no basis. I urge you to to view it, buy it, and share it with other like-minded people. Do it today!
Reality Denied: Firsthand Experiences with Things that Can’t Happen — But Did. Non-fiction by John B. Alexander, Colonel U.S. Army (Ret.)
I remember, before my teens, my father would from time to time take us out to The Viking Smorgasbord in Ardmore, a suburb of Philadelphia near Radnor, where we lived. It featured a vast, rotating table, covered with all kinds of Scandinavian delights, but what I remember most clearly (and oddly) are the spiced, pickled plums. I’ve never tasted anything like them.
Of course, the most important part of visiting a smorgasbord is to remember not to eat too much of any one item. This leaves room for more variety. On the other hand, only having a taste or sample of an item — variety itself — sometimes becomes boring, and you want to eat something (think ice cream or chocolate cake) in depth. Unfortunately, you are stuck at the smorgasbord.
Such is the fate of the reader of Reality Denied, a lack of any depth. Author Col. John B. Alexander devotes at most a chapter to each subject and a brief synopsis of what was obviously a complex event. This is simply insufficient, but my criticism of this book doesn’t end there.
I bought Reality Denied for one reason, to read Chapter 3, “Speak To Me,” where the colonel finds that his (now ex-) wife is conveniently telepathic while in the Bahamas to research dolphins. What does he do with the remarkable link to an alien, literally extra-terrestrial intelligence? Why, he orders a pod of dolphins to swim hither and yon, like a platoon of soldiers on a parade field. Having thus proved the utility of human-dolphin telepathy in the wild, he carries it backward to a captive dolphin whose most perceptive comment about his living arrangements is that he can’t jump twice like they wanted, the ceiling is too low. (“Look up!” is the exact transmission.) So he agrees to bob twice. Problem solved!
Do I need to say that I AM ASHAMED BY THE LACK OF IMAGINATION SHOWN BY THIS HUMAN BEING?
I mean, Alexander had the brightest minds in the ocean at his beck and call, and he never asked them about their lives? How bio-echolocation works? How they breathe while sleeping? How they fend off sharks? Do they dream? Can they make things up, i.e., lie, tell stories, invent religion… What are those big brains so preoccupied with?
If Alexander did any of this, he doesn’t write about it here. He makes communicating with another species sound about as exciting as reading a train schedule. He goes on to chronicle other unbelievable adventures, such as “spoon-bending parties” where telekinesis is exhibited, and… that’s all I can think of now. There’s plenty more here, I’m only halfway through the book, I’ll probably finish it someday, I might as well get my $9.99 Kindle fee out of it. But there’s no real impetus to do so.
AM I THE ONLY HUMAN BEING WHO HAS USED HUMAN-DOLPHIN TELEPATHY TO TRY TO ENTER (be it ever-so-hesitantly) THE DOLPHINS’ WORLD?
Apparently so. Why, or why not? Is it even of interest to anybody else, what dolphins on the high seas think and feel as they go about their extraordinary lives?
In answer, all I can say is it became very important to me 48 years ago, and it has never stopped being important since. Colonel Alexander, you should be ashamed for writing such a dull book about such exciting subjects!
(Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”, 1967)
It seems very unlikely to me, but apparently I am part — perhaps even a major part — of a vast, undefined, poorly-documented conspiracy of gays, homos, perverts, queers, lesbos, zoophiles, dog-fuckers, chicken-rapers, donkey-humpers, child molesters and people who fuck dead people.
What, you ask, is this mysterious, shadowy organization about?
Beats me, but that is the opinion of many of the people who write on the Dolphin Lover YouTube page. So it must be true!
These people, it seems — two of their first names are Dante and Laura — want to condemn me not for what I say, but just for speaking out, admitting I’m a zoophile and telling the story of me and Dolly, the dolphin.
Mind you, it’s OK for them to call me disgusting, sub-human, perverted, sick, degenerate, and saying I (not my story, ME) make them puke. But let me tell them they are mean-spirited and hypocritical (well, a little stronger than that), and I am apparently defending this VAST, SHADOWY CONSPIRACY to undermine the American Way of Life, promote illegitimate values AND TRYING TO SPREAD ZOOPHILIA ACROSS THE LAND!
(Because we all know that everyone — yes, even YOU – harbors a dark, secret desire to fuck, or be fucked by, a goat, and one must RESIST this toxic impulse with every fiber of one’s being and will every hour of the day and night or be sucked into the quivering morass of despair and self-hatred that is BESTIALITY!)
Wow… who knew?
A lot of the comments on the site are simply infantile. To the latest person who wrote “You make puke,” I responded “Great, send me a picture of you puking to add to my collection.” I’ve gotten so many, I could wallpaper my new house with them!
The people who fear my voice so much they want to muzzle me are something else, however. They represent a dark strain of American culture now on the ascendancy in this country that doesn’t want ANY voices of protest or defiance of authority to be heard. Funny, I thought that’s what the United States was all about, a constitutional republic where the people rule themselves and we can speak out freely on ANY SUBJECT without fear of prosecution by the government.
What people like Dante and Laura think is that I am operating with the objective of subverting American morals of decency and righteousness. Gee, it’s nice to be finally recognized for what I do, folks! And I’ve done it ever since the late 1970, when a Georgia cop radicalized me by knocking me off a stool and saying “Let’s let the nigger upstairs take care of him.”
Well, I don’t know your name, Georgia pig, they told me you were FBI but I have reason to doubt them, you were too fat to make the government payroll. But I do want to thank you for the experience because, for a few moments, I, a hippie college student, was a “nigger” with no rights in that situation, and I knew if I didn’t play my cards right I was going to end up in a shallow grave in a pecan grove somewhere, or maybe in a pig stye.
And NOBODY knew about Dolly, then, except me, and her, and her dolphin lover, Jimbo.
That experience gave me a newfound respect and admiration for my black brothers and sisters. (Latino, Asian, Native American, Irish, Italian, Vietnamese, Guatamalan… there’s no end to the victims of hate.)
LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT, this is the country that A) murdered 95% of the Native Americans, B) massacred their food source, the buffalo, almost to the point of extinction for their hides, C) captured Africans to work as slaves, D) fomented Jim Crow laws and the KKK to control the “slaves” when they were freed, E) to this day denies WOMEN, who compose slightly more than 50% of the population, equal rights with MEN, because, you know, bathrooms might be compromised, F) denies trans-gender people the right to pee where they feel comfortable because they only want to get into the bathrooms in women’s clothes so they can watch little girls go pee and then molest them… and on and on, ad infinitum, a catalogue of tragedies, travesties and slaughter that, taken all together, makes everyone in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America (they stole our name!) blush with shame every time they hear it recited.
We have, in the highest office in the land, President Bonespurs, a man so righteous and selfless he says thing like “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” and, of women, “You can grab them by the pussy,” meaning, I should point out, by the labia, not by a feline.
And these people, Dante and Laura among them, are worried about me being a source of unAmerican values? Jesus Christ, the dead elephant in your living room stinks, has shit all over and is attracting flies, and all you can worry about is ME?
I ought to be proud of that, because it means my voice, and my message (WHICH CONCERNS DOLPHINS, not zoophilia) is getting out and being heard. And once in a while, some open-minded person with an open heart too sneaks in there and writes a message supporting me, or acknowledging the great love Dolly and I felt for each other.
To those few who have supported me, or at least wanted to hear impartially and without preconception what I have to say, I thank you. You are what this country is all about, the right to criticize the leader without losing your head. There’s a reason that’s the First Amendment, folks, and it wasn’t because the Founding Fathers couldn’t think of anything else to go first.
So when these pathological haters criticize me for speaking out about my experience, for being a zoophile or denying their pathetic, outdated “facts,” what they are really trying to do is silence me, shut me up, stick their fingers in their ears and go “NYAH, NYAH, CAN’T HEAR YOU,” and make me go away.
But I won’t go away. I will continue to tell our story, which is the story of an admittedly rocky interspecies relationship that turned great, then tragic, until they shut me up, one way or another. And I don’t think they have the courage or the will to do that. They are just so much hot air. Bullies are always cowards underneath their bluff and bluster, that’s what six years in public school playgrounds taught me. If you stand up to them, they melt away like shit in the sun.
And if they do manage to shut me up, watch out, because they’re coming for you next. Arm yourselves, and resist because you’ll be fighting (once again) for what the United States is really all about, freedom. Not freedom to make a buck, not freedom to make love with who you want, but just the freedom to speak freely, a right which has been and still is denied to most of the world’s population. And it’s worse than a pity, it’s a crime against humanity, and one of the reasons we remain stuck in vicious nationalism, racism, ethno-centrism and sexism, all the other -isms.
I am the canary in the coal mine.
If the definition of a liberal is a person who can’t sleep because someone out there isn’t getting what they deserve, the definition of a conservative is someone who can’t sleep because someone out there might be getting something they haven’t earned. Apparently in the USA, this includes health insurance, equal rights, shoes, housing, food and clothes. You are, after all, only promised a right to the persuit of happiness, not happiness itself.
It’s a heavy burden, practicing Satanism, raping 400-lb. dolphins, spreading inequity and throwing banana peels in the path of Mitch “Moscow” McConnell, but somebody’s got to do it!
I am that man, and I admit it. All who are with me, raise their hands. You are the true citizens of the USA, and I thank you. I ask my accusers, repeatedly, to show me where in the Dolphin Lover video I actually endorse, promote or advocate for zoophilia as a life style, and they can’t, of course, because you see, I never do. Never. Not once.
Zoophilia has been a source of so much stress, fear and worry in my past life, because of the perceived threat of haters like Dante and Laura, that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. (Okay, maybe I would on Tim Clarke and Duncan Seidel, two guys who used to try to bully me in grade school, but only them.) But that doesn’t matter to the professional haters, because they mistake my explanations of my behavior for excuses,my telling my story as promoting bestiality as a lifestyle and my very existence as an affront to human decency.
As if they knew anything about that.
They will be sad to learn that I am at peace with myself, that I have forgiven myself for letting Dolly die and her for committing suicide, that dolphins are the non-human people of the sea whether they (and SeaWorld) like it or not, and that dolphins, bless them, will go on being the wonderful, dreadful, perverse, loving creatures that they are, for as long as they can exist in the seas of this planet.
That’s what it’s all about, folks. That’s why I do what I do.
To spare (spear?) you the trouble of paging back, I’m going to reproduce my first letter to Mr. Browning here. He has not responded to my last letter, and I do not anticipate hearing any more from him.
Did he spear gun “Flipper”? You read the mail, consider the state of movie special effects in 1963 and be the judge.
Mr. Ricou Browning
Browning, Ricou & Fran
5221 SW 196th Ln
Southwest Ranches, FL 33332-1111
Feb. 20, 2019
Dear Mr. Browning,
I briefly met you once in 1971, I think, at the Miami Seaquarium. You were very busy fixing something that had sprung a leak, as I remember, and didn’t have much time to talk. I did remark upon your having played The Creature from the Black Lagoon,of course, which makes you immortal in the eyes of monster-lovers everywhere.
Another issue has cropped up, repeatedly, over the years regarding statements by Dr. John C. Lilly about how a dolphin named Pam was treated during the filming of “Flipper!”, the original 1963 movie. According to Lilly, the scenes where the dolphin is shot with a spear gun, and beaches itself, were actually filmed that way, with the dolphin impaled by a spear.
Lilly told me (not hearsay) that Pam was shot a total of 3 times in the peduncle to get the take. The first time, she swam back and allowed the spear to be removed. The second time, she couldn’t make up her mind what to do. The third time she headed for the high seas, had to be netted with the spear in her and returned to the beach to do the scenes with Luke Halpin and Katherine Maguire. Then, apparently, the spear was removed and the wound(s) treated.
Reportedly Pam was so traumatized by this she would not approach humans again. She was sold to Dr. Lilly who reportedly used her for LSD experiments, but that’s another story.
Lilly said “you” did this, but did it actually happen, and if so, what were the circumstances? Why couldn’t the effect have been done by an optical, or some other process? Were you directing the scene, or was somebody else? What really went on? And why was the dolphin left screaming on the beach during Halpin and Maguire’s scene? I just want to know the truth, and would like to get it from your lips. Lilly also told this story to David J. Brown, who included it in an interview with Lilly in his book Mavericks of the Mind,so the story is getting around.
I would like to know the truth, not only because I’m dedicated to it in my profession as a writer, but I would hate to see your reputation sullied because of it. It’s a nasty story, and I’m sure there must be some explanation for it; the film footage is there, unfortunately, to show that it happened, and I don’t think you had any animatronics that could do a scene like that in 1963.
Sincerely, Malcolm J. Brenner
Mr. Ricou Browning
Browning, Ricou & Fran
5221 SW 196th Ln
Southwest Ranches, FL 33332-1111
March 6, 2019
Dear Mr. Browning,
Thank you for responding to my letter of Feb. 20 with your information. Since the story has already been made public by David Jay Brown’s interview with Lilly in his book Mavericks of the Mind, do you mind if publish it, together with my letter inquiring about the incident? Putting them both together will allow me to rebut Lilly’s story.
However, I do mean to question you a little further, if you will indulge me. Please assume I am somewhat familiar with professional movie special effects. How exactly were the shots done of the beached dolphin with the spear sticking out of its side done? It’s thrashing around a lot, as I remember. Was this an early animatronic, a dummy, something like that? Do you remember who made it? I would appreciate knowing.
Finally, I think “a writer of any integrity” would check out the sources of all stories he/she heard and verify them before going public with them. Very often, he will have to explain things to an editor. Although I met Dr. Lilly and his wife Antoinette, attended a couple of his workshops (they mistook me for staff at one!) and interviewed him regarding his work with dolphins, I have no knowledge of where he got the story. However, in the spirit of open inquiry, I thought I’d ask as you are the last person who was there. I hope my boldness hasn’t offended you.
Sincerely yours, Malcolm J. Brenner
Dear Mr. Browning,
Thank you for your letter of March 20. Nothing you could tell me about Dr. Lilly (and very little about Ivan Tors) would surprise me. Lilly was widely known for both his abuse of dolphins and drugs.
What surprises me more is that you did not answer my question. You have responded satisfactorily about the scene where the dolphin was shot with a spear gun, but as to my question about the dolphin on the beach thrashing around with a spear in it while Luke Halpin and Kathleen Maguire are delivering their lines, no answer. You said, rather vaguely, that the scene was rendered by “special effects,” an all-inclusive term so vague as to be meaningless.
The IMDb data base does not list a special effects person in the crew of “Flipper,” and there is no credit given for special effects. (However, Dr. Lilly is listed as a consultant; TCM lists him as a “scientific advisor.”) It would be uncommon not to list such a credit, wouldn’t it?
Mr. Browning, it’s really a very simple question: If, as you say, a dummy, model or animatronic dolphin was used in the beach scenes, who built it? What person or shop in Hollywood? There were only so many people at the time who could do this and pull it off. The dolphin on the beach looks amazingly realistic to me, so whoever it was must have been good!
Over the years, you’ve made a lot of money off dolphins. I don’t begrudge you that, but I’d like to know the truth of what happened during the making of “Flipper.” I think you owe it to the dolphins. We now know they are creatures who name themselves, who recognize themselves in a mirror, who are arguably non-human persons. The truth is very simple to recognize, there’s no hiding it. You are being evasive and trying to divert me by bringing up Lilly. Please answer the question, and truthfully. Thank you.
Malcolm J. Brenner
August 8, 2019
I apologize for not concluding this business sooner, but I have had an illness and also moved. Please note the new address, above, if you choose to reply.
This will be my last letter to you on the making of “Flipper” and whether the stunt dolphin was shot with a spear gun or not. Since you did not respond to my previous letter questioning the veracity of your claim that the shots on the rocks were done with undefined “special effects,” I presume you refuse to speak any further on the subject. Am I right?
Just let me finish by telling you that I bought “Flipper” from Amazon and watched it. And I thought that, at the time, it was very sympathetic to Florida families, what with the red tide, the hurricane and all. I guess it made Ivan Tors, or somebody, a lot of money.
However, regarding the subject of this letter: In the scene where the dolphin is spear gunned, the dolphin is hit on the left side of the peduncle with the spear, and immediately flexes sideways in that direction reflexively, it appears. Then, in the next scene, it changes direction, heading back where it came from and dragging the spear gun behind it. The spear gun lodges in some rocks.
(I regret I can’t capture some frames here for you to view, but I’ve had difficulty with Amazon letting me find the right frames.)
If, as you say, the spear’s pronged head had been replaced with a hypodermic needle, it seems to me it would have bent, broken off or been dislodged from the force of that flexion, not to mention the spear gun getting stuck in the rocks.
I will give you that you probably used a model for the distant scenes of the dolphin on the rocks. They were taken from such a distance I couldn’t tell.
However, when we come to the closeups of Luke Halpin with the dolphin on the rocks, with only apparently seaweed for padding, what I see looks like a very drugged dolphin. It isn’t flopping around, it isn’t trying to get off the rocks, and it sure as hell isn’t a motorized model or the primitive sort animatronics they had in 1963. It breathes most convincingly, just like a real dolphin.
As you know, drugging dolphins is very dangerous, because they have no breathing reflex, something our friend Dr. Lilly discovered at Marineland in the mid-50’s, much to the disgust of veterinarian Forrest Wood.
The titles for the movie, both opening and closing, bear no mention of who might have done the “special effects” you claim were used, or who might have built the prop dolphin.
I can only conclude that not only did you shoot a real dolphin with a spear gun (you have admitted as much yourself, except you say you used a hypodermic needle instead of the pronged head) but that you drugged that dolphin afterward to enable it to withstand the pain while you filmed on the rocks with Halpin. I’d contact Halpin, but I hear he has Alzheimer’s.
As I said, Mr. Browning, this is my last letter. I intend to post all our correspondence to my blog, malcolmbrenner.com/news, to make it available to anybody who wants to read it. I will, of course, include whatever answer you decide to make to this letter.
Not only have you admitted to spear-gunning the dolphin (and I doubt your explanation), but I now also accuse you of drugging that dolphin and failing to remove the spear from it in a timely manner. In short, you knowingly abused and tortured it to get the shots you wanted because you didn’t have the budget to do anything else (hire a special effects man, build a dummy).
Kind of subverts the whole premise of “Flipper,” doesn’t it? When you torture an animal to make a movie about a kid who has fun with animals, what does that say about you as a person? I think it’s hypocritical and debased and sadistic. You objectified a creature that is much like a human being, pretending it didn’t have feelings so you could get your shot and make your movie. And if you did it to them, you can do it to me, or anyone.
Care to convince me otherwise? – Malcolm J. Brenner
(Addendum: I can find no mention in Google’s database of “Eva Rinseya,” the French actress mentioned in Browning’s second letter. If anybody knows anything about her, please contact me.)