Arthur Radio Voyage #12 with live set by Bow Ribbons

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This week Arthur Radio decided to set its boat out on a southward-flowing current, with special guests Pete Vogl and Willow Gibbons (who together make the musical duo Bow Ribbons) at the helm. We bid goodbye to the stone grey waves lapping around the edges of Manhattan, passed through the tepid manatee-filled waters of Florida, and traveled onwards until we reached the hot swells surrounding the coast of Brazil. The plan was to eventually catch up with a family of Humpback whales in Ecuador, to learn of their beautiful songs and hopefully join them in chorus.

We paused to relax on a calm patch of water by the beach, where tropical birds flitted about chirping messages to one another in nearby Pepper trees. Pete took out his guitar and sat next to Willow, who stood on the deck in the sunshine, ready to sing. Closing our eyes, we listened with the sun shimmering orange on our eyelids as Willow belted out the lines, “I will spend a lifetime in space, I will make a nest in this place…

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Download: Arthur Radio Voyage #12 with live set by Bow Ribbons

Contact to inquire about their first full-length album, coming out on vinyl in May 2010.

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The Clock is Ticking: Disappearing Cultures & Languages in the 21st Century

Above: In a remote region of the Brazilian rainforest, one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes points bows and arrows at an over-flying airplane. Tribes such as these are in danger of becoming extinct unless their land is protected from logging and disease. Photo by Gleison Miranda, Funai. (Read full article here)

Of approximately 6,000 languages currently spoken on Earth, many are not yet recorded, and less than half are being taught by elders to children of the next generation. Every two weeks or so an elder dies, and with them another language vanishes from the face of the planet. In Africa, 80% of the continent’s 2,000 languages are still unnamed, unwritten, and disappearing faster than they can be traced. At this rate, over half of the world’s languages may disappear within the 21st Century, taking along with them an immeasurable “wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain” (National Geographic: Enduring Voices).

Above: National Geographic’s map of endangered languages. Click to enlarge.

This loss of languages has tremendous implications for our future as the human race; the speakers of these unique modes of communication carry with them a different way of being, seeing and processing life in this world that we can all learn from. As modern culture becomes further alienated from the natural world, we must work even harder to respect and learn from these cultures who believe “the earth itself can only exist because it is being breathed into being by human consciousness” (Wade Davis, anthropologist and ethnobotanist). If we are not to destroy our natural world, we must try to better understand our impact upon it. If these marginalized cultures become extinct, we will lose a tremendously valuable record of humanity’s evolution and evidence of all that the human mind is capable of:

A language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules; A language is a flash of the human spirit, it is a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an eco-system of spiritual possibilities.
– Wade Davis

Watch Davis’ excellent lecture on this subject below:

Learn more at the National Geographic: Enduring Voices campaign website.

Read a great NY Times article on recording endangered languages here.

Today's Autonomedia Jubilee Saint – JORGE AMADO

August 10 — Jorge Amado
Brazilian peopleʼs novelist, one-time communist.

Huesca, Spain: FIESTA OF SAN LORENZO.The charred bones of Lorenzo, in a
reliquary shaped like his head, are carried through the streets amid
giants, moors and hobby horses. Festive dances and bullfights held.

Wiltshire, England: TAN HILL FAIR is held on the highest peak of
Wiltshire Downs, miles from any town, a survival from ancient times.
Salt beef and beans eaten.

1815 — Senecan prophet Handsome Lake (Ganioda’yo) dies, Onondaga, New York.
1912 — People’s writer Jorge Amado born, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.
1981 — Reagan approves work orders for the Neutron Bomb.