Regarding the Dawn of Language and thus the Dawn of History as a Continuous Narrative of Events, Places, People, and Things

At least he knew he was a “he” and not an “it.” The lesser members of the troop did not, acting like hyenas, smearing themselves with filth and spurning the grooming advances of their fellows. But he knew this was wrong. They were different, they were the People of the Gourd. Antelopes would drink from the watering hole with their mouths, and mudfish would flap in the shallows, breathing in the wetness. But the people of the gourd would scoop up the water in vessels and bring it to the shade-trees and drink together.
*
One day after picking nits from one of the females he went to the gourd-field. He found a big, dry gourd and sniffed it to be sure it was good. It was. He brought it back to the water hole and found two of the younger males wallowing in mud.
*
Enraged, he cuffed them about the face and shoulders with his open hands, bellowing and plucking at his erection. He cracked the gourd open on a rock and tore out the seeds and fibers, flinging them at the bleeding males. He waded into the water, scattering the lizards and two gazelles that had paused to watch the fracas. He filled the gourd and drank from it. He filled it again and poured it over his head. He filled it a third time and brought it to the males and forced them to drink from it. They crouched and trembled in bewilderment. He pointed to the gourd and to the water and to the two of them, over and over again. He barked at them and pointed to the gourd. He pointed at them and howled, his larynx going raw as he pounded his fist against his chest, leader of the People of the Gourd — a people who didn’t know that they were any different from the animals and insects they ate. Still they shook, uncomprehending.
*
He paused for a moment, panting. His grandfather had done the same thing, trying to show the lesser ones where to find the fattest grubs in the rotting logs. But every morning the lesson was gone. For them, every morning was the first morning, and every night erased what had come before. They needed some way of knowing that would last beyond the final swallow of water, the last taste of the grub. They needed some sound for things that was apart from the thing itself.
*
Finally, he held the gourd up in the light and croaked out, “Gooooord.”
*
So it began.
*
— Steve Kilian
*
The Polar Turtle

Sun O)))

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4 Responses to “Regarding the Dawn of Language and thus the Dawn of History as a Continuous Narrative of Events, Places, People, and Things”

  1. herecomeslucy Says:

    Lovely story. But really, wallowing in mud is good for you.

  2. Does Steven Pinker know about this?

  3. Pinker than you think!

  4. […] Kilian Dawn of Language Godzilla’s Ghost Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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