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Friday, October 28, 2011

Roadside Attractions: Project Nim: Intellectual Torture - Terrace Pimped the Chimp


People know what they do.

They frequently know why they do what they do.

But what they don't know is what they do

Michel Foucault


From the Academy Award winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, a chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. What was learned about his true nature -- and indeed our own -- is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling. (Roadside Attractions)  

The Young Bob Ingersoll and Nim - the only two in the film who are fully realized human beings - link to NPR article
1974 Lectures - Abnormal  - College de France
These lectures were written to be read to an international audience during 1974. They read as if you are listening to them. Foucault is never an easy read, but the oral lectures are his most accessible works. This is mesmerizing and had the idiot scientists understood his work Nim would never have had to suffer at their hands at the same time these lectures were being given. 
Madness and Civilization - A Genealogy of The Great European Confinement and the First Incarceration of People Considered Abnormal

Foster Mother
Nim with Cat - he loved cats
I am avoiding a psychological interpretation of the people in this film. I can only say they are sub-human specimens of humanity, and stupid in addition, even the supposedly well intentioned ones.
Roger Fouts taught Washoe ASL and then had to fight for her to save her life after science was finished with her.
She had someone who loved her from the beginning who pulled it off. Lucky Washoe, unlucky Nim.

“Project Nim” Reveals a Scientific Scandal

Everything Bolles says is correct. Only all of it is a floating sign that conceals the

Here is Nim in happier times. His foster family was non authoritarian with him but no one signed during his crucial and early years. As if a baby grew up in a home where no one talked.

Here is smug Herbert Terrace driving him in the car. I don't think this was the day he abruptly took him from his family.
Here he is with his first sign language teacher, a grad student assisting Terrace. They were very very close and now you see that he has grown, no longer the age and size of being carried around, bigger than in the car photo.
Now see her with Terrace and Nim. In the film you see how lovely she is, and how close she is with Terrace. Very close. Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart watchers will notice all the nuances.

Then a new sign language teacher comes on the scene. Another young enthusiastic pretty blond one. She and Terrace are very close and she is very close with Nim.

An uncomfortableness arises between the two young women. Terrace gives the new one a title for the project that will look good on her future resume.
2nd teacher I think - lovely eh

His first teacher packs up and leaves abruptly. Nim clutches her. It takes six people to pull him off her as he clings to her. Again Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson watchers will see what is really going on here.

Bob Ingersoll Who Stayed to the End with Nim

Sundance Premiere Photos

You have a chimp growing up, moving into puberty, probably smelling sex on the people around him, people who have not neutered him but do not intend to breed him, and then who wonder why he bites his caretakers, until he so viciously bites the 2nd teacher in the face that the project is discontinued and Nim is sent to a medical facility, locked in a cage, where they do HIV, Hepatitis, etc research. A few caretakers learn some signing there. And then years of abuse follow after a happy childhood.   Basic principles of psychology and learning are ignored or not even known. Only Bob Ingersoll is aware while he plays with Nim.

This film is an indictment of highly educated human beings who cannot seem to connect the simplest dots in this puzzle of Nim nor go to anyone who knows for advice.  Terrace got to live in a beautiful estate with extensive grounds, donated for the project, with two adoring young very pretty grad assistants. 
The Dirty Little Secret

Student fucker: 


When he first arrived in New York, Nim was put into the custody of Stephanie LaFarge, a hippie mom who was a former Terrace student (and lover). She breast-fed the chimp, which was accepted as a “brother” by LaFarge’s seven children. She and the people who subsequently cared for Nim were not well trained in ASL, and they didn’t use it exclusively.

my bold.

Well, fuck me crooked, looks like he fucked them all. I must be psychic.