“You can’t convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana with the promise it will get 20 more bananas in chimpanzee heaven. It won’t do it. But humans will” -Behaviorist Yuval Noah Harari
National Public Radio interview with Professor Bwana Ungawa; Honkus Screed Chair in Philology; Noam Chomsky School of Linguistics, Lord Greystoke Institute of Technology
NPR: So tell us Professor Ungawa, give some understanding to lay science people and reporters like myself, what is the acronym MERGE? How were you inspired to this theory?
Ungawa: Macaroni Enhanced Radio Gestation Etymology or MERGE, came to me in a meditative state when attempting digesting pasta.
NPR: Ok, so that explains the ‘macaroni enhanced’ aspect but what is ‘radio gestation etymology?
Ungawa: As Descartes noticed, we appear to be speaking freely in a way deemed appropriate to circumstances but is not caused by the circumstances. Or in lay terms, ‘Just plain BS.’ So we can produce speech over an unbounded range, constantly inventing irrelevant crap, in a way that is not determined by external stimuli and in a way that does not seem to be caused by any internal structure. And we can produce this bullshit in ways that others with similar capacities to absorb crap can comprehend and recognize as nonsense similar to their own. Well, that sort of creative aspect of comprehension is a total mystery. But that’s my language. Now questions arise for everything; bullshit visionaries in science; bullshit organization of motion or the sport of cricket particularly; bullshit audition or hearing voices in our heads, particularly our own voices that tend never to shut up; bullshit arithmetical ability mostly prone to numbers that don’t add up .. for instance Keynesian economics; bullshit comparisons to chimps fluent in sign language whose paintings are as accomplished as those by masters of modern art, any pseudo-cognitive bullshit. Bullshit happens. In language, bullshit spreads like memes. So, all of this verbiage and related crap, gestated in idle imagination, is my etymology spread via media, for instance radio.
NPR: Ok, well said professor. But let’s followup that idea; for example we have Sesame Street consigns philosophy to an entity that lives in a garbage can…
Ungawa: As per your example, each of us has somehow acquired the capacity for crap which, from the very first step, is largely mysterious. Take a child. Almost instantly and reflexively, he or she is able to embrace, out of the environment, all datum which is garbage related. How? A chimpanzee has roughly the same auditory & visual system but plainly it does not. And that is just the first step that is not understood. How did we acquire the infinite capacity to produce and immerse in rather endless, inane bullshit?
NPR: What can we say points toward this human genius for constructs? Are there any clues?
Ungawa: The most elementary combinatorial operation which finds its place somewhere in every computational process is simply an operation that takes two objects already constructed and forms a new object out of them. For instance a toilet and seat to the combined brilliance of a toilet seat. That is MERGE. This occurred to me while I had the seat up, when hurling my pasta.
NPR: So, the regurgitation of ideas is innate?
Ungawa: Whatever the lexical genitalia are, they have to be put together, and the easiest way for them to be put together is for some process to attract them, like estrus or ‘heat’ in layman’s terms. That’s MERGE. If you need more than that, then ok, there’s more – like cunnilingus – and anything more will be specific to language. For instance ‘blow-job.’
NPR: So language is as old as any sex act would be a cognitive event?
Ungawa: You got an operation that enables you to take sexual objects or concepts of similar sort, already constructed, and make highly enhanced or imaginative sexual objects out of them. That’s MERGE. As soon as you have that, you have an infinite variety of hierarchically structured expressions, such as dildos, available to you. This is why obelisks, dildos on a grand scale if you will, are expression of language through symbolism throughout civilization.
NPR: So, it’s not a question of which came first? The symbol or the language?
Ungawa: It looks as if – given the time involved – there was a sudden ‘great leap forward.’ Some small genetic modification somehow morphed us all into Maos and made this human capacity for dildoism possible. And with it came an entire range of lethal options that are available to humans within a theory of mind – a follows-orders theory of mind – so you know that some petty tyrant is trying to kill you because you don’t think what somebody else wants you to think.
NPR: A sort of ‘just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you’ phenomenon?
Ungawa: Well, paranoia takes place not only in a person, but also a group. We know, from physical anthropology, that this was a very small copulating group – some little group of bonobo in a corner of some playboy paradise – apparently. It was in that group, in Desmond Morris’ Tarzan, or that is to say within an authentic naked ape, some observation took place, leading to some future hominid adapted capacity of language; pointing to later phenomena like Mao’s great leap forward. Dildoism wouldn’t have arisen without this critically important person.
NPR: Professor Bwana Ungawa, thank you for your time.
note: this satire is based on actual interviews with Noam Chomsky whose quotes I have ‘modified’ (to say the least.) As much as I appreciate and admire Chomsky’s work in relation to social justice, I think his science stinks. It were never a black & white world, eh?