RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri Mar 08 2002 - 12:34:11 GMT

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 12:34:11 -0000 
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            <I would like to get away from our personal opinions on issues and
    look at
    > the formation of those ideas/memes. As I said before we, as a culture,
    > have
    > developed the notion that text is stable. Why?>
            I didn't say that either, but it is_more_stable than oral

            <It can be clearly demonstrated that language, use and meanings
    change over remarkably short periods of time. Also history is written,
    usually by the victors, some time after the events and often hides as many
    truths as it portrays.
    > The thing that we text-based societies miss in deriding the accuracy of
    > oral society's historical accounts is that is that remembering exactly is
    > important, it is a cultural feature.>
            The problem of oral history is simply one of fidelity of
    transmission across many individuals over long periods of time. Of course
    meaning and interpretation change over time in relation to a written text,
    but the text retains fidelity for a lot longer than does oral communication.
    To give an example, Homer's work reflects oral traditions of ancient greece,
    but already by the time the odyssey and iliad were written down, elements of
    the events they supposedly recounted (the war against Troy and the return
    journey of Odysseus) had probably been embellished over time (given the
    centuries gap between events, tale, and writing of it). Whilst
    interpretations of those stories may have changed countless times since
    then, the text has remained largely unchanged (allowing for the not
    insignificant changes in translation).

            <In the groups that I have associated with, the old people tell the
    > and then check the retelling for errors. Only a group member who can
    > retell
    > a story faithfully gets to be the 'custodian' of that story. It's not that
    > simple of course Vincent, but don't get the idea that orality is like a
    > trans-millennial Chinese whisper.>
            But that's exactly what it is.

    >> You don't think accounts passed down from person to person
    >>oral communication are subjective?

            <I think that the stories were subjective in the first place>


            <I should have said that there was a belief common to ALL
    > nations and language-groups that the country 'owned' the people rather
    > than
    > the other way around. Therefore, even if some conflict did occur, it was
    > not over territory as, even if did 'win', the country wouldn't 'know' you.
    > I can't describe this facet much better than this without going into a
    > long
    > treatment of the subject and it may well be so foreign to your
    > understandings as to be misunderstood anyway.
    > My main point is still the question of whether territoriality and
    > possessiveness is natural/genetic or nurture/memetic.>>
            I think you're conflating territoriality as a social concept (e.g.
    nationalism), with territoriality as a reality of natural selection (i.e the
    competition for, and defending of resources). Think about it this way-
    you're sitting in a restaurant about to tuck into your favourite food when
    someone walks in, comes right up to you and picks up your plate and walks
    off with it. That initial feeling- 'hey, that's my food!'- that's the
    territoriality I'm on about.

            In some societies this kind of response is extrapolated out to
    levels of families, villages, nations etc., in others it isn't, but whatever
    kind of society one's in, it's an inherent trait in individuals.

            Another example might be conceptions of personal space (instead of
    stealing your food, the stranger comes and sits right next to you, despite
    there being plenty of empty tables in the restaurant- what's your initial

            Socio-cultural factors may enhance, surpress or distort such things
    but, IMHO they don't create them.


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