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The Kingdom of Speech and the Human Beast

Tuesday, 16 February, 2016

Note the date and place your orders. Tom Wolfe’s new book, The Kingdom of Speech, will be published on 30 August. His central argument, and it is a controversial one, is that speech — not evolution — is responsible for humanity’s great achievements. It’s expected that the book will expand on on Wolfe’s 2006 Jefferson Lecture to the National Endowment for the Humanities. Speaking of the “Human Beast” then, he said:

“Evolution came to an end when the human beast developed speech! As soon as he became not Homo sapiens, ‘man reasoning,’ but Homo loquax, ‘man talking’! Speech gave the human beast far more than an ingenious tool. Speech was a veritable nuclear weapon! It gave the human beast the powers of reason, complex memory, and long-term planning, eventually in the form of print and engineering plans. Speech gave him the power to enlarge his food supply at will through an artifice called farming. Speech ended not only the evolution of man, by making it no longer necessary, but also the evolution of animals! Our animal friends — we’re very sentimental about predators these days, aren’t we — the lions, the tigers, the wolves, the rhinoceroses, the great apes, kangaroos, leopards, cheetahs, grizzly bears, polar bears, cougars — they’re ‘endangered,’ meaning hanging on for dear life. Today the so-called animal kingdom exists only at the human beast’s sufferance.”

The book is bound to be one of the hottest reads of the year because it’s expected that Wolfe will challenge Darwinism and, perhaps, argue the case for intelligent design. This time last year, he told the New Yorker that the way in which academics have ostracized proponents of intelligent design for “not believing in evolution the right way” invoked images of the Spanish Inquisition. Financially secure, his reputation established, this elegant homo loquax can afford to speak his mind without fear of of censorship.

The Kingdom of Speech


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