Re: transmission

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Wed 14 May 2003 - 19:26:08 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: transmission"

    On Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at 02:02 PM, Richard wrote:

    > The fact of memes does not exclude the fact of performances or of
    > events,
    > agents, objectives, participants, media, and processes.

    But, it does, if you define 'meme' as 'memeinthemind'.

    It makes all of your list tools in its propagation and continuance. And I cannot see any logical necessity to give it such power.

    (Of course, 'the fact of memes' is only present in the performance and artifact models. And I see an artifact as a subclass of performance at any rate. There is no 'fact of memes' in the memeinthemind model, just supposition and surmise. And the viral model is just that, not a memeinthemind model, but a propagational model of interactive, but disruptive, entities- but remember, viruses are agents of disease, not health, regardless of conjugate systems of propagation. It is my concerted effort with the performance model, as I believe it is the concerted effort of memetics, to address the processes of 'healthy' cultural transmission, while not denying the agencies and effects of viral entities in the mix, just as scientific medicine addresses both. Any environment contains parasites, but no culture comes from them. Instead, cultures need to contend with them, as any body does.)

    On the other hand, if the performance model is to be utilized, then all these agents and processes are not tools of some weird, replicating mental entity, but, tools of the culture of a society of humans
    (perchance animals, I haven't accepted the arguments for memetic activity in non-humans as of yet, but I'm listening), and cultural evolution, as a process, is the result of performances (with performer and audience, without which no evolution is possible, as human genetic evolution is not possible without sex), which, as quantum units of such evolution, the performance model calls a meme, because, at its root definition, a meme is the quantum unit (the smallest quantity of some property that a system can possess) of cultural evolution.

    So, okay, I'll admit to beating the performance model's drum with continual fury. (But, only because I can see no real objection to it or real evidence for anything else. Remember, as someone mentioned, as you yourself know, I'm a skeptic.) Nothing else elucidates the meme for me. Nothing else dares to explore artistic and creative endeavor as progressional agents in culture. Nothing else includes a needed perceiving, but separatable, audience. Nothing else, at final call, gives culture its due. And nothing else gets down to being as fundamentally darwinian a process- granting that culture, itself, is something apart from genetics (as I believe it is, and thus reject all and any theories or criticisms that would claim the performance model is reductionist or biological or genetic or that culture is somehow merely what we do because we were born that way), and requires, as Dawkins, in his seminal insight, an agent somehow 'outside' of human biology, such that it is part of our social and viable environment.

    And, sorry, but the memeinthemind model either rejects culture outright, or tries to diminish it.

    So, I've rejected the memeinthemind model of cultural evolution, because, it's a poor blueprint, when I can get into a working model of cultural evolution and ride.

    Memetics should not be wondering about what color the wheel should be, but, putting an axle between two of them and starting to roll.

    The memeinthemind model is an populist academic exercise-bike, at best, and a useless tool in an haplessly unoccupied gymnasium at worst. Problem is, it's got a comfortable seat, and the room is airy....

    - Wade

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