Re: electric meme bombs

From: Wade T.Smith (
Date: Sun 03 Nov 2002 - 04:44:48 GMT

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    On Saturday, November 2, 2002, at 02:56 , Van oost Kenneth wrote:

    > where does a [completely] new behavior come from [in the pemetic model]

    The peme itself is new, every time, as I've said, and it _is_ the behavior, and, since even the best performer is not aware of the
    _actual_ final performance, since his own skill level is a variable at all times, and the environment is not under his absolute control, his performance _is_ new behavior, by simple point of circumstance.

    (This novelty is a prime axiom of the pemetic model, as I've constantly reiterated, only to be misunderstood or ridiculed, mostly both at the same time. It is not a novelty that needs a new name, any more than one performance of Dvorak's Eighth needs a different name from another, but, these two are not the same performance, now, are they? And it is not a novelty that needs to be reborn every time, since there are no moments of amnesia involved.)

    But, I don't think that answers your question, and the pemetic moment is not the _completely_ creative moment you're looking for some comment about. The eureka moment, the moment when a new thing becomes known to an individual, is a moment of synthesis that, IMHO, neither memesinthemind, nor any other memetic conjecture has any answer for. Joe would say (I put words in his mouth) that this mutation in the mind is some process of mind mixing with meme-ory, and that's a good conjecture, but no-one has any real clue to the eureka moment cognitively, and his whole 'meme-ory' concept looks a lot like memory to begin with, talking like it, and walking like it. Lots of people say lots of things about creativity, none of them mentioning memes, and indeed, if memes are units of culture, it doesn't matter to _any_ memetic theory _where_ they came from, just what is done with them once they are there.

    One of the reasons I read the things I do, and watch the things I watch, and listen to the things I listen to, is because I do want to know why someone does something for the first time. I'm especially interested in why the first person went into a cave and made the drawings that we've found there. Talk about cultural artifacts we have only conjectural ideas about....

    And, well, just where, in any theory, _does_ a truly new thing come from?

    Humans do new things. That would _seem_ to be self-evident. And the rest of the animals about don't. Lots of people would say that, too.

    But, well, evolution does new things all the time. How does it do that?

    Trial and error. Mutation. Sex.

    Humans are products of evolution, not evolution itself, so, hmm, is it really true that they do new things?

    In one respect, every spider web is a new thing (in essence, of course, it is), since it is different, in minute and subtle ways, each time. Is
    'different' enough of a requisite for 'new'. Well, in some definitions of 'new', yes.

    So, when a human does something that is considered new, let's say, composes a new melody, what has happened?

    Shall I just say that is a matter for about three hundred libraries full of analysis? Sure, I'll say it, and I doubt too many people would disagree with me. But, I do see it as something analogous to a spider's web- the new melody is a musical way of spanning the new space between two twigs where there was a twig and a wall before.

    But alas, we don't have the answer to how creativity happens. But, it does seem to be related to experience, to hard and concentrated work, and to some serendipitous moment or stimulus from outside the immediate focus of the inventor.

    We've discussed the eureka moment here, I think. No real answer, but, I have seen no evidence that memes are needed.

    New things come the same way they always have. Trial and error. Mutation. Sex.

    And, yes, the last thing, 'sex', is missing in memetic theory, mostly because cultural evolution doesn't have the sort of analog for sex that it does for trial and error (practically the same thing, try it and see, and, 'oops', that one was a mistake, but, hmmm, it looks like it works), and mutation (related to whimsy and to change, as how pulp sci-fi and cowboy serials become Star Wars, and Bugs Bunny and Kurosawa become anime.).

    So, do we have an analog for the missing sex in memetics? I know I've asked that question before here, too. Got a few interesting comments.

    So, does it come as no surprise that I see the peme as the analog for sex in memetic theory? Of course it doesn't....

    The performance of a peme is the memetically sexual act. This is where the two sexes, performer and observer (cum cultural environment), meet and relate and the new thing happens. The fact that it's most often a group sex experience is perhaps a bit put-offing to some, but, well, there it is.

    So, long ramble made brief, I don't know, but I'm intensely interested, and, I don't think any memetic theory needs to know.

    - Wade

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