Re: memetics-digest V1 #1339

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Sun 11 May 2003 - 23:29:35 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1339"

    On Sunday, May 11, 2003, at 03:48 PM, Keith wrote:

    > Memes (same as ideas) are just information. If that information
    > replicates, spreads out to more than the first person who has it, that
    > makes it a meme. (All ideas, even those that never spread, are
    > *potential*
    > memes.)

    > Near as I understand it, the entire point to using the word meme is to
    > emphasize that information passed from human mind to human mind is
    > subject
    > to evolutionary selection.

    Unless you can show that telepathy is a fact, there is no 'information passed from human mind to human mind'.

    The main reason I've adopted the performance model is because of this simple physical fact of the universe- there is no telepathy. Nothing is
    'passed' from mind to mind. The meme is the performance.

    Regardless of what prompts or supports any performance- madness, well-rehearsed scripts, ideas, forums, social groupings, chance encounters, violent interaction- the information (what meaning there can ever be) can only be inferred and/or interpreted by a participating observer. Culture is what demands who performs what where and who observes, and it does its best to ensure that each performance meets certain expectations and gets interpreted as identically as possible. Strong memetic success is the result of such design and continuity. Culture creates both the performance space and the social minds of the participants- what gets performed, however, is not solely subject to cultural rules- it can be mutated by accident, mistake, or blunder, as well as by intentional misdirection or chicanery on the part of either or both performer or audience. Such mutation, when observed and continued, becomes another player on the cultural stage, and the forces of individual and social interpretation will, or will not, yield to it, so that it may continue, in replicated form through additional performances.

    And Kenneth shot a similar air-directed bolt:

    > And that info is not transmitted in the ways we think it does, I
    > agree, but does get across anyway as a kind of ' intention ' speaker/
    > performer/ cultural way and is ' recognized' by the listener/
    > observer/ believer.

    Despite our semantic quibbling about 'intention' and 'recognition', (I see two separate things, and many memeticists see one thing, somehow traipsing along between two minds like some paranormal ectoplasm), that is one massive and tremendous gulf lying between intention and recognition. Culture makes a best attempt to reduce this distance,
    (although no solid bridge will ever exist), and succeeds in repeatably stable ways. But, until and unless someone performs (with intent or not, as mechanisms can just as well perform for culture- that is what artifacts are), and until and unless someone observes (with some sort of recognition, although there is no guarantee that what is intended, if there is any intention, is what gets recognized- ask that brasilian over there why he just punched you when you gave him the OK sign with your thumb and forefinger), there can be no cultural activity, and memetics demands activity, just as sex demands partners.

    - Wade

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun 11 May 2003 - 23:36:40 GMT