We live in Evanston, twelve blocks from Chicago. Northwestern University is about six blocks north of us. Loyola is about two miles south. We are in the middle unit of a 5-unit, antique row house. Our backyard is cement, like a largish carport, surrounded by a maybe 3-foot band of dirt. An astonishingly large maple tree covers our backyard, making it almost impossible for grass or garden to grow.

Still, the animals find us.

We have possums, squirrels, birds, mice, a rat, chipmunks, crows and the occasional raccoon. Down the street we happened across a skinny fox chasing a local squirrel. Coyotes cruise up the canal banks or along the lagoon. Deer bop through on occasion. We harbor tortoises year-round in a large turtle pen sunk perhaps two feet into the dirt.

There are several bridges to an awareness of interconnectedness and evolution. A necessary feature of these unique bridges is that they abandon language. As language users, we habitually think in single-narrative threads, intuiting cause and effect as the way of the world when it’s the only path our words are capable of walking. We think narratively in a non-narrative world. We make the world a story. Our lives are scripts. Beyond the words, past the sequential viewing of nonsequential experience–is the simultaneity. One bridge to that world is our backyard.

I didn’t start talking until I was three. My dog slept with me every night. Jigger smelled bad. He had bad breath. Still, we communicated. Jigger and I were in communication long before I started to use words.

I adored cartoons. On Saturday mornings, I’d wake to watch the first one to go on, Heckle and Jeckle, at 6:00 a.m. In the early 50s in Chicago, there were cartoons from 6:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. Saturday mornings. That was it. Almost all the cartoon characters were animals. The cartoon people talked to the cartoon animals, and the cartoon animals talked to one another. Some of my favorite cartoon animals didn’t talk at all.

Like aboriginal origin myths around the community fire, the cartoons deeply informed a world view guided into existence by my teacher, Jigger. The world was alive, pulsing with a community of animal informants. I knew them and they knew me. This world had nothing to do with words.

Steeped in the tail end of a reductionist zeitgeist, academics compare cause and effect stories about the past that were invented to explain a narratively reconstructed, interconnected present. Evolution is hypothesized to be gradual, random and long ago.

Five-hundred years ago, whatever wasn’t understood was assumed to be known by God. Now, much of what is not understood evolutionarily is assigned to have a random nature. The reductionists say variation is random. Interconnectedness doesn’t easily fit into a reductionist evolutionist’s stories. Random was devised to fill that space. Evolutionary developmental biologists, a new breed of evolutionary theorist, are beginning to understand. Random is being challenged.

Facing my backyard, carrying with me the teachings of my dog, Jigger, I know that random is not in the world that has no words. There are many bridges to this world of simultaneous understanding. Smelly dog words are perhaps my favorite.


This entry was posted on Sunday, June 8th, 2008 at 6:03 am and is filed under 10-Myth and Story, Auto-Biography, Unconscious. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
3 Comments so far

  1. Bad Breath on August 11, 2008 1:34 pm

    Does anyone know of a good website for bad breath and halitosis for dogs?

  2. Little Brain on March 19, 2009 8:22 am

    Emmmmm, it’s really rare reading an article about ” Dog Words”

    But I found it, intersting….^_^

  3. Joel on December 15, 2009 10:42 am

    Dog’s are too deep in our “make-up” not to be more than a companion. I think the first homo-sapiens about 100,000 years ago were able to evolve the frontal brain because dogs provided the “sense of smell” for us. I don’t think Neanderthal had dogs. I think they were evolving what sapien was doing in combination with dogs. So we have the smaller brain. Also, with Neanderthal, they were close combat fighters. But if you’ve got a dog hanging on your arm, it’s hard to fight the new comers throwing spears or shooting arrows at you.

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