Re: The pace of change

From: Wade T.Smith (
Date: Wed 20 Nov 2002 - 13:57:46 GMT

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    On 11/19/02 23:40, said this-

    >The central problem is that most people have not yet figured how to
    >decouple their belief from their imagination.

    Boy, is that ever right. I was asked, just the other night, how I could like science-fiction so much when I was an atheist- as if my belief system (regardless of its basis in rational and critical thinking) was part of and dependent upon my imagination, and once I could imagine a god, I had to believe in it.

    Of course I like fantasy and speculation, I answered- fantasy and speculation are, after all, all that any god ever was- it's just that I prefer the more modern authors and, yes, truth to tell, find most religious texts tedious and overblown. Just imagine, I went on, if the bible were to be published today, with no memory in the human species of it- how far would it get in the best-seller lists? Would it even make it past the first printing? Would any publisher actually print it?

    But the real problem with the pace of change, or rather our inability to truly affect it programmatically in any real decisive and intentional way, is simply that change has always been with us. What we always attempt to do, through societies and laws and arts and memes, is to keep an observed part of it static. Can't happen, won't happen, impossible, but, perceptually possible for a limited time, time to be determined, but usually long enough so that our children's children know something else.

    Thus, we do not know the horse in the way our grandparents did. Nor they the skateboard.

    And we do not know what the small venus maquettes were for, or the cave paintings, or Stonehenge.

    Change happened. Whatever and whoever attempted to maintain the memetic continuity of the venus maquettes, failed, or got moved aside and forgotten, or just did not change fast enough, and if they did change fast enough, then what the venus was, was no more. And, indeed, one of its mutations might just be Vogue magazine. Or, 900 number sex chats. Or, Annie Leibowitz photos of Demi Moore. We can't trace the genome of memetic artifacts like we can the animals who made them to ligate this change.

    - Wade

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