RE: Why Europe is so Contrary

From: Jeremy Bradley (
Date: Mon 09 Dec 2002 - 11:10:20 GMT

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    Snip:..........Jeremy's rave
    >>All I'm saying is that some societies placed themselves as a part of nature
    >>and some societies thought of themselves as above nature; this is evident
    >>from their mythscapes. The societies which lived in harmony with nature
    >>evolved into sustainable societies and those that didn't didn't. It is only
    >>my memeset which holds sustainability to be evidence of a culture's
    >>evolutionary success.
    >>I hope this explanation has assuaged your confusion Grant.

    Grant's reply:
    >It does, partially. There is still a structure within us that guides how we
    >create our map of the world and it also influences how we structure our
    >sentences and narratives. What we do with it is influenced by culture. But
    >symbols are still totally arbitrary and anything can stand for anything
    >else. Why does each culture always seem to come up with the same narrative
    >structure as every other. One light in the bell tower can mean that the
    >British are coming by land and two of them can mean that they are coming by
    >sea. The Chinese and Japanese hold up the thumb to represent "one" when
    >counting, while we hold up the index finger. These, however, are just
    >individual symbols and not a part of the symbolic system we call narrative.
    >The words we utter are laid out in a pattern that involves only a few of the
    >sounds of which we are capable and those sounds are strung together in much
    >the same way in every language. Every new way we find to communicate
    >mirrors this underlying structure, from the whistling language of the
    >jungles of South America to the dots and dashes of the Morse code. They are
    >all a way of encoding spoken language into a different form but retain the
    >same basic format. I can't believe that every culture reinvents the same
    >wheel. I suspect that structure comes from before culture.
    As you know Grant, there are probably as much difference between our genetic makeup (yours and mine) as there is between either of us and a Kalahari Bushman yet the Bushman's culture 'evolved' differently to ours. What I am saying is that cultures evolved out of their environments. I also suggest that the place of narrative is to guide and constrain culture in its replication. The codes that I speak of, and not the cultures themselves, are the arbiters of propriety. If you tell your children the story, told to you by your parents, of how your pioneer ancestors survived sixty days in the wilderness, what are you telling them, and why? IMO you are passing on the memes of Callaghanism, ie what it is to be a Callighan, what we do when confronted by hardship, how tough and resourceful we are, how we stick together, etc. You are programming Callighan 'culture' into them in such a way as to constrain them into preserving and replicating Callighanism. IMO all cultures, right down to the Grand United Chicken-farmers Bridge Club have stories which constrain their culture so that it has a reasonable chance to replicate in a recognisable way.

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