From: Wade T. Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue 04 Mar 2003 - 13:15:15 GMT
> The first person that creates the internally coherent, accessible and
> NECESSARY description of memetics will get to use whatever words he or
> she wants, and everyone else will follow.
What about the first person to establish the externally coherent,
accessible, and necessary description?
> The most important part of that is, NECESSARY.
> I think memetics is interesting, but I haven't yet heard of an idea
> within it that I couldn't use ideas from psychology, sociology, or
> marketing to describe.
I also agree, almost to the apex, but I don't think psychology,
sociology, or marketing really look at the environment in the way an
external memetic analysis could- as the wind-blown and growing branches
upon which we spin our webs, or the atmosphere-absorbing fields in
which we raise our voices, or even the nitrogen oxide infused roadways
upon which we drive our vehicles.
> we would need to figure out how to make memetics a powerful virus
Get it out of the brain.
> Perhaps it would be better to say "currently inaccessible" than "gone".
Once the cultural context is gone, it's gone. But, yes, perhaps there
is another word to use, and that word is 'extinct'. Hieroglyphs, as
symbols, managed to retain _some_, non-intrinsically cultural,
information in the world, but, many other languages did not. But, and
it's a big, big, but, the culture that created those hieroglyphs is
extinct, and there will no more hieroglyphs, although there will be
other pictogram-based means of communication and record-keeping, and
even replicated hieroglyphs in pendants and trinkets.
I do tend to see 'extinct' and 'gone' as very similar to the point of
full agreement. I suppose some DNA scientist might quibble, but we'll
see if any mammoths are walking around in a few years....
> Doesn't it also make sense to say that different messages will have
> different meanings to you and me?
Yes, it does, and I never said it didn't. But, this 'different meaning'
situation is a real problem, as I see it, with the memeinthemind model,
because it presupposes that the same meaning, the same semantic
content, is present (and somehow transmitted between) two or more
individual brains. As Joe says- "Meme-ories are the subclass of
memories that are communicated between minds (although for the
recipient, they are not memories so much as learned knowledge)." He's
already calling them two different things in the same sentence. Whereas
there would seem to me to be no reason whatsoever to claim the same
meaning is held by anyone, about anything. Perhaps the memeinthemind
model is, as Joe also says, more a matter of gestalt, where we have
collections of things, and we need only memories, and some of us have
similar collections, and thus perform similar behaviors. I just don't
see any need, as you've said, to introduce anything uniquely 'memetic'
into this process, (because then we have to introduce shared meanings,
and, while possible, this is not necessary), as we have descriptions of
this process from other analyses and they are adequate to the task, as
Scott and others have pointed out. Where I think there is a lack of
analysis and a need for investigation is the interaction of this human
animal using these usual behavioral actions with the environment he
creates and moves in- the performance space that is the survival
environment. Problem is, humans alter their survival environment in
many more ways then most other creatures do. And that is what I would
call memetics- the alteration of the performance space. We can see
humans as agents within this space without needing any individually
unique item of skill within their bodies- they are just acting like
humans. It is the environment they are acting within that is the
memetic transferal agent- what we are is what we perform, and
performance is linked to the time/space it occurs within.
> There are anthropologists today who study the art of working stone to
> produce the same artifacts they find in the earth in order to
> understand the culture that produced them. I guess you would say they
> are wasting their time and aren't likely to learn anything about that
I would not say that, at all. In fact, this is one of the things for
which I would become an anthropologist in the first place. How I
admired those who could make the tools in the same place with the same
materials! Yes, this is one way to _understand_ a culture, down to
understanding the processes of their life, the time they spent and the
place they were, and, while this sort of understanding is exemplary and
satisfying, it does not place one inside and a part of the culture
itself. For that, one has to start life within it. The time/space of
this anthropological performance (for that is all that it is) is
missing the correct 'time' parameter, and, it always will, in any study
of any culture.
Artifacts are memes with an extended time/space, and how one defines
their interaction with their time is a point of contention. I would
claim they can become dislocated from their originating time/space to
the degree that they become useless for their original intent, and I've
seen clear evidence of this. The changing of culture is a given. There
are no trilobites anymore, and there are no rune-readers, and that
Tlingit artifact had no meaning to the tribe that created it. Perhaps I
did not relate the sadness upon their faces, which was deep and soft,
but, they had no idea. They may have retained as much of their culture
as they could, but, they were also in the process of seeing pieces of
it wander off and be lost.
Memes are things that firstly are available to the senses.
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