Aaron Perry


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  • Episode 126 – Professor David George Haskel, “Sounds Wild & Broken”
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Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 126 - Professor David George Haskel, "Sounds Wild & Broken"

[“The Earth Has Music for Those Who Listen”] Professor David George Haskell shares new insights and discoveries from his latest book, Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction. Dr. Haskell discusses the special “coil” geometry of the inner ear – which is filled with fluid very akin to sea water – and how an array of cilia, or special “hairs” shared by millions of species large and small, allow us to perceive the vibratory symphonies that exist all around us. However, with our specific biological evolution, we humans are only able to hear a narrow sliver of all of the vast diversity of nature’s sonic abundance with our ears – unaided by technology. But, with the many technological instruments at our disposal, we are able to detect and “hear” the subsonic and supersonic communications of our flying, swimming, microscopic, and other animal relatives.

David invites us to frequently practice listening to nature’s many sounds, and to endeavor to experience the unity of life. He also shares with us how our musical instruments – the drums, woodwinds, and strings, are often made from trees, metals, and even animal parts that are all part of the sonic experience here on Earth, and that music is therefore a deeply ecological experience. However, David tells us, the advent of industrial machines and crowded urban landscapes has introduced an entirely new sonic experience to humanity – one that may be best described as “sound pollution” and that may have, for many of us, severed the direct experience of interconnectedness and interbeing with life that was commonplace for our ancestors. Hence the vital importance of getting to the parks, the woods, and, if possible, the wildernesses outside of our cities and suburbs.


Sound is a generative force, David tells us, akin to the earliest compression waves of genesis: before matter in the early universe was the plasma, and in it, the compression waves of the sound of creation. From humpback whales, whose sounds can travel thousands of miles through the ocean, to the tiniest of shrimp, and from the high-pitched call of the elk to the ultrasonic cacophony of bat colonies, our world is awash in sound… the sound of life.


David George Haskell is a biologist whose work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of the natural world. He is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Sewanee: The University of the South and a Guggenheim Fellow. Winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, and the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award. Dr. Haskell delivers a unique perspective grounded in modern biological/ecological science and enriched by a more prosaic and timeless cultural ethos of connection and biophilia. His 2017 book, The Songs of Trees, won the John Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing and was named one of the Best Science Books of 2017 by Public Radio International’s “Science Friday,” and was selected by Forbes.com as one of the 10 Best Environment, Climate Science and Conservation Books of 2017. His 2012 book, The Forest Unseen, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN / E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.



Podcast Episode 24 – David George Haskell The Song of Trees

Podcast Episode 64 – Bethany Yarrow, Sacred Sound & Sacred Water

Joachim-Ernst Berendt – Wikipedia (Author of Nada Brahma: The World Is Sound, and The Third Ear)



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