Re: Standard definition

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 30 Oct 2002 - 22:31:06 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Standard definition"

    > >
    > > On Wednesday, October 30, 2002, at 12:41 , Bill Spight wrote:
    > >
    > > > If you have a theory based
    > > > on performance, then you need to explain the principal phenomena of
    > > > the field in terms of performance.
    > >
    > > Of course- any theory of performance needs to explain principal
    > > phemomena of performance, but no performance itself depends in any way
    > > upon a theory about it nor upon any description of any sort about it.
    > >
    > > There are many theories of _how_ to perform- physical, behavioral,
    > > sociological, artistic, cognitive, even memetic (!), but, the
    > > performance came before any theory of it, just like all of nature.
    > >
    > > Culture is part of human nature. Human nature is not a 'how'.
    > >
    > > Or, perhaps, culture _is_ only a theory. I'm betting it is part of
    > > human nature, and the performance-only hypothesis of cultural
    > > transmission allows all the other theories of performance their due.
    > > _Why_ a person performs meme A, or even _how_, is not important to the
    > > behavior-only hypothesis.
    > >
    > > But the behavior-only stance is the _only one_ that allows for
    > > non-identical performed and observed entities (momentary memes) as
    > > groundworks, and, yes, all things in nature are not identical, at
    > > least in the macro world in which culture must dwell.
    > >
    > > Every other hypothesis demands a meme that is somehow intact and
    > > lasting, like some impossible germ.
    > >
    >But an intact and lasting meme is exactly what is necessary to explain
    >multiple token performances of a behavior type; and the locus in which
    >such an entity may reside is one's meme-ory. The thought is parent to
    >the action, and logically and empirically prior to it.
    > >
    > > - Wade
    > >
    A meme only lasts as long as someone keeps using it and the people who use it pass it around. Like words and language in general, if you don't use it, you lose it. The memes of Indian cultures in America have all but disappeared. Only bits and pieces remain, kept alive mainly in ceremonies for funerals and to impress tourists. But the culture as a whole has ceased to exist because the reasons for them no longer exist. They no longer hunt buffalo, live in teepees, nor depend on herbal medicines. They neither hunt nor gather in a culture built on that foundation.

    The marriage ceremony now includes white gowns and cars dragging shoes and tin cans behind as they set off on their honeymoons. Laws, politics and all the other social functions have been replaced by Anglo/American culture. The reservations here in San Diego all have casinos and the tribal police wear guns and badges and enforce the same laws as the San Diego police.

    The only place I know where tribal customs and language continue to flourish are in Arizona where the tribes have radio stations that broadcast in Indian languages. But each year fewer people are around to listen to it because opportunity is greater off the reservation than on it and the young people all head for the big city the first chance they get.

    That's the best illustration I know of that a culture that is not growing is dying. You can't keep it around just by admiring it and talking about it. Language and culture are built on tools for living and the skills at using those tools required in order to survive. Nostalgia is not a strong enough incentive to keep a culture alive.

    The world is losing a million or more memes a year just through globalization and assimilation. World culture is rapidly replacing local culture and at some point we will all speak in one tongue with local variations. A worldwide culture will create a worldwide language because the jobs people do and the TV and movies they attend will require it. We only have room in our lives for so many memes and as society changes, so will the memes we keep and the ones we drop.



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