From: Wade T. Smith (email@example.com)
Date: Thu 15 May 2003 - 14:38:11 GMT
On Thursday, May 15, 2003, at 09:42 AM, Reed wrote:
> Until then, I'll stick with what is intuitive.
Always a mistake....
> Can you give me an example of something within the realm of
> memetics that performance explains but mind memes don't.
I always want to say 'art' when asked this. But I've come more to see
that cultural evolution itself is not explainable by memesinthemind.
But, at core, if you accept that cultural evolution happens at all, and
isn't just a perception of some sociobiologic cultural behavioralism,
then we need to explain how _all_ the mutations happen, and, quite
simply, the memeinthemind model does not begin to explain how accident
or aleatory can manage to be so important in cultural evolution.
When I use the example of the pratfall, the elucidation of the
performance model is my main reason- the first fall is not intended in
any way by the person who falls. There is no memeinhismind about
falling, or even an idea by any other name about falling, and yet, he
Upon the observation of this, there is a following performance possible
which might develop into a cultural performance, with several and
varied meanings. A comedian might create a pratfall. A stunt man might
adopt a new trick. A risk management consultant might devise a new
But, again, nothing was needed, as a memeinthemind, to start this all
out. What is always needed in any cultural development is a performer,
an observer, and a venue.
Inside the minds of all the participants, there need only be memory,
cognition, and the ability to create a performance that can be observed
in some wise, either contemporaneously, or, through artifact, in
another time or space. No additional element of the working of mind is
required, as it is in the memeinthemind model.
So, because I can explain cultural evolution through the mechanisms of
the performance model, and explain more things, and explain them
better, and because I don't need to invent entities in the already
nebulous myriad arena of cognitive functioning, I reject the
memeinthemind model, and champion the performance model.
It is not, perhaps, intuitive, but then, neither is darwinian evolution.
My other example, of the spider's web, I have failed to explain with
enough vigor to be understood. But the spider's web can be seen as an
analog of all performance, in that the spider, regardless of how
hard-wired its web-making is, has still to adapt it to the unique
parameters it finds, every time, in the environment. (A different
branch, a higher wind, a wet rock.) And, likewise, every performance is
unique, regardless of how hard-wired the performance-making is (and in
a habitual response, the 'hard-wiring' is pretty hard), because it
still has to adapt to the unique parameters of the venue, which is also
under the 'weather' of the culture. There is no memeinthemind for a
missed note, or a broken lighting instrument, or a flat tire, ad
infinitum, and yet these very chaos driven and aleatory happenstances
can alter the cultural evolution of any idea just as surely as any
predilection or habit or intention might.
And the memeinthemind model simply cannot address the aleatory.
And the _only_ place _all_ the factors of the quantum unit of cultural
evolution _can_ combine- the performer, the observer, and the venue- is
in the performance itself. Yes, there are all sorts of factors within
each participant that help to predetermine the outcome, but the outcome
itself, the performance, is an event also controlled by chance.
And the memeinthemind model does not take chances. And just as well,
there is no memetic sex in the memeinthemind model, and, I'm sorry, but
sex is not to be denied.
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