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Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears: Language as Physics


The book analyzes the language of Paleolithic (hunter-gatherer) society, the origin of all human societies, and reveals something startling: that these people understood language as a force of physics, the physics we now refer to as the quantum potential. What anthropologists and historians thought was superstitious and primitive turns out to be congruent with the way the universe actually works.

Available for purchase sometime in 2024


Building on the thesis that language is physics (see the work of physicists David Bohm and David Z. Albert), the book confronts the double-slit experiment, a simple laboratory exercise that rocked physics in the first half of the 20th century. At their professional peril, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, David Bohm, Basil Hiley, John Archibald Wheeler, and John Bell explored the implications of the new quantum potential revealed by the experiment Albert Einstein called “spooky.”

Their findings have large implications for the rest of us. We learn that the space-time focus of classical physics is a special case of physics. The universe in fact operates in an enigmatic energy-momentum manifold—as aboriginal people have been saying since the Pleistocene—not space-time. Witness the message of Chauvet, Lascaux, Trois-Frères. Witness Navajo cosmology. We find ourselves in the eerie presence of this energy-momentum physics in the language of all these people, from the Kalahari Desert to the Alaskan tundra.

With language (which is the same as consciousness: see Hegel, Heidegger, von Humboldt, Wittgenstein) restored to its proper place as a force of nature, the confiscated (by anthropology and historical consciousness) Pangaea of Wildness that defined the Pleistocene becomes accessible once more. The language of wildness—that is, language that conforms to the quantum potential—breaks the “will to power” (Nietzsche) of civilization, where good and evil “lurch, wrestle and twist in their purposeless war” (Bringhurst), giving us access to the universe we knew as children, the world of Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill” and the Open Rilke invokes in the Eighth Elegy.

Book Specifications

Dimensions:  Unknown at present

Weight:  Unknown at present

ISBN:  978-0-9841827-4-9

Publication Date:  2023

Table of Contents

Preface:  The Oldest Language of All

Chapter 1:  Confessions of a Fugitive

Chapter 2:  This Autumn Night I Shall Die

Chapter 3:  The Great Forgetting

Chapter 4:  The Tragedy of the Garden

Chapter 5:  Pisuk•a•ciaq: The Little Walker

Chapter 6:  The Implicate Order

Chapter 7:  The Island of Language

Chapter 8Dine-tah and the Folding Chair Inequality

Chapter 9:  Equus and the Gift

Read Sample Pages

Click here. Bear in mind that the book is in press; hence the pages are in PDF.

About the Author

Calvin Luther Martin, Ph.D. (History with Anthropology subfield, from the University of California at Santa Barbara)

For 20 years (one can bear New Jersey only for so long), Martin was a professor of history at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ), specializing in Native American Philosophy and the Philosophy of History.

He has lived with Navajos (better part of a summer) and Yup’ik Eskimos (2 years).

Author of The Way of the Human Being (Yale), In the Spirit of the Earth (Johns Hopkins), Keepers of the Game (California), The Great Forgetting (K-Selected), Eve’s Breast (K-Selected), Successful College Teaching Begins with Throwing Away Your Lecture Notes (K-Selected), Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears (K-Selected, in press), editor of The American Indian and the Problem of History (Oxford).  Winner of the American Historical Association’s Albert J Beveridge Award (1979) for the “best book of the year in American history.”  Winner of the Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award (Westchester County Library).  Guggenheim fellowship, Senior National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies fellowship, Newberry Library fellowship, Henry E Huntington Library fellowship, Canadian Embassy fellowship. Visiting professor at Dartmouth College, Queen’s University (Canada), and elsewhere.

What Readers Are Saying

Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears: Language as Physics is a field theory of possibility, an encounter with that luminous gift of wholeness and implicate order antedating metaphor, where observer and observed are non-separable. Where nature participates in nature.
Christopher Vecsey, Henry Emerson Fosdick Prof. of the Humanities & Native American Studies & Religion, Colgate University, New York

Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears takes us into long ignored caves of insight walled off by the concreteness of academic and colonizing cultures. The book is a wonderful experience.
Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology Emerita, University of Notre Dame

Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears introduces us to “the conversation mankind has had with wildness since time immemorial”; it restores us to “not ourselves,” to the whole from which western rationalism has ripped us. Martin’s great accomplishment is that this “not ourselves” is precisely what the most brilliant philosophical minds, advanced science, and art of the West have always forced us to acknowledge.

Written out of a fury of self-awareness, Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears is a poem of stunning and lasting power, a gift to all who read it.
Jonathan Brent, Executive Director/CEO, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (NYC); Editorial Director at Yale Univ. Press, 1991-2009