Monday, September 19, 2016

The Kingdom of Speech / Tom Wolfe, 185 pp.

Apparently, Darwin was nearly scooped by a lowly field worker on the whole evolution thing. That's OK, though, since he got a bunch of important stuff wrong.

So says Tom Wolfe in this hilarious somewhere-between-an-essay-and-a-book publication. The upshot is that the emergence of language in humans, what Wolfe frequently refers to as the Word, represents a clean break with evolution, in that other animals have nothing even close to linguistic facility. Moreover, most of our anatomy which is differentiated from other apes, such as our (almost) hairlessness and relatively poor fighting strength, proffers an evolutionary disadvantage rather than the reverse. Language is a tool that humans developed rather than a mutation. Or something like that.

Complicated, engaging, and quite fun, many will disagree with Wolfe, but they will do so with far less verbal flair. Don't know if that proves his point, but it makes this title worth a read.

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