Re: memetics-digest V1 #1300

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Tue 04 Mar 2003 - 16:19:02 GMT

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    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.

    - Wade

    If you're going to discount the information available in an artifact from the past just because you can't pull up an entire culture from examining it, I think you expect too much from too little. Even today, we are losing the culture around us as anyone can see by watching Antiques Road Show on PBS. Things that were made in my lifetime are unintilligible to the people who own them because that phase of our culture has already passed us by. That doesn't, however, mean they don't contain any memetic information. You just have to look harder to find it and expect to get less from it. Or perhaps the problem is just that you don't define memetic information the way that I do. Just because a culture is dead doesn't mean all of the information it contained is lost to us. And just because we are not creating new information along the same lines to do the same thing doesn't mean that either. Memetic information is created and passed along in bits and pieces and many of those bits and pieces are still around. They won't become a part of our cultural meme pool except as curiosities, but that doesn't mean we are helpless to understand them and much of the information they contain.
      Anthropology is also a part of our present-day meme pool.


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