Re: coins in the fountain

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri 18 Oct 2002 - 02:46:20 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Stewart tes"

    >>No two persons ever read the same book. -Edmund Wilson, critic (1895-1972)
    >Excellent quote Wade. The differences in cumulative life experiences will
    >be brought to bear when two people read a book and thus they will read that
    >book in different lights. Perhaps the book itself as it is typed upon the
    >pages is the same, but the interpretation and encoding of the book in each
    >person's nogginally distinct memory space will likely differ a tad, as bits
    >and pieces will be stiched into disparately differentiated quilts or
    >tapestries. Would the splotchy and ephemeral memory traces corresponding to
    >reading said book have any great degree of similarity across individuals?
    >Even if the understandings of said book do happen to converge, how similar
    >would the encodings or neural states be across individuals? How could we
    >know this either way?

    I would say that a person doesn't even read the same book twice. The process of reading involves not only the information encoded in the letters on the page, it also involves the way we interpret that information and how we apply what we have learned about the world to the words of the writer. If I read a book today that I read as a young man, I will get more (or at least a different viewpoint) out of it than I did the first time because I am in many ways a different person than I was then.

    If the book is a love story, for example, what I think of the story at this point in life will based on an entirely different viewpoint concerning women and the way men and women interact. Several books I read when young and got excited about at the time now seem silly and contrived. The two experiences of reading are not the same. Even if I only read it a week later, my experience will be different. I will see things I missed the first time and what surprised me then will not surprise me now.

    We can't even have the "same" experience twice. Our map of the universe is constantly being altered by experience and there is something called the law of diminishing returns that applies to all experience. My first sexual experience, for example, was overwhelming emotionally. My last one was much less so. I remember a friend of mine who once remarked, "Remember when we used to get stoned when we smoked a joint instead of just high?" The first time we experience something can never be repeated. That's what makes the idea of having sex with a virgin so exciting. It's an imprinting experience that will never be forgotten and will influence our attitude toward the entire idea of sex from then on.

    This is bound to have an influence on the acquisition and use of memes.



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