Why People are so Contrary

From: Jeremy Bradley (jeremyb@nor.com.au)
Date: Tue 10 Dec 2002 - 07:17:18 GMT

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    At 08:25 AM 9/12/02 -0800, you wrote:
    >>Snip:..........Jeremy's rave

    >>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.
    >I can't contest that.
    >Excuse me. The bridge club is having a meeting now. ;-)
    The theory gets better than this Grant. We can establish that the purpose of cultural narratives is to replicate the culture, be it a family, a bridge club, a religion, a nation or a global ideological perspective. They all tell stories for this purpose. If these stories, and their narrative patterns, do enable the continuity and recognisable replication of the culture, then the members of those cultures will have difficulty recognising the validity of any culture which doesn't have reasonable similarity to their culture. IMO this is evident from some of the more heated case-studies on the list. When I wrote my Honours thesis, I mistakenly thought of these memetic strands as memes. I now think that each culture, and indeed each individual, has a full set of memetic filters, (cnemes = culture memes - derived from genome) which are built up from elements which are acquired from the available narrative material. The individual, or the culture can then only judge what is appropriate by running information through these filters. When we have a situation where the narratives available are controlled by vested interest or ideologies, as is the case with most cultures, then we have a powerful force for conditioning. Therefore, it is the case that if one were to produce a narrative, be it art, literature, architecture etc., that doesn't fit with the accepted position, then that narrative is considered invalid. I dragged the old thesis out today and will re-write it for submission to the journal, (give me a few weeks), I hope that it will explain my position. Thanks for the inspiration and feel free to correct my genetic/memetic metaphors. Jeremy

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