Re: Performances

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat 17 May 2003 - 16:13:02 GMT

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    At 04:56 AM 16/05/03 -0400, you wrote:

    >Keith said:
    >"The information for a piano recital would reside in the memory of the
    >individual about to play, such as what key sequences to play during each song."

    That was Scott Chase, not me.

    >I would interpret that as saying the memes are in the mind of the
    >individual about to play.
    >"It may also reside on a score sheet as a mnemonic device.
    >I would interpret that as saying the memes are on the score sheet.

    I would say the music-meme (information) "directing" the performance could be either or both places. In the player's brain if he was playing from memory, on the score sheet if he was reading the music. Over time and many performances the information would be copied into the brain of the player. You could demonstrate the copy-in-the-brain by giving a player blank score sheets and comparing what he wrote down note by note to the original score.

    >"To the audience, the performance itself is the efficacious aspect of the
    >A member of the audience replicates the memes in his mind through the
    >medium of the performance.

    Agreed to a limited extent. If the person can be found humming the theme the next day, some of the information transferred. But it is a rare person who can listen to a performance of any significant length once and be able to reproduce it. ("Small World" excepted. :-) )

    >"They do not witness the firing patterns of synapses or unless they have
    >rally good vision they are not looking at the score, if the person at
    >recital is playing with the aid of a score."
    >And, in this example, not via another medium.
    >"[the audience is] not listening to or watching your neural processes
    >But, they are also not witnessing to the performance 'directly'. The
    >experience of any performance is mediated by something. There is always
    >intervening time and space.

     From the standpoint of looking at the spread of memes, the least complicate way to look at them is just information, regardless of the media they are in. (This is not to say that the spreading process is not of interest, it is of *great* interest. Some memes spread through the attraction of novelty. Others from utility. Some memes spread due to deeper and more socially disruptive psychological mechanisms that we really need to understand.)

    The same "media independence" is true of genes. A gene is the information in a length of DNA, but it doesn't have to be in DNA to be a "gene." If you look at a paper listing of base pairs for some gene like hemoglobin, the listing doesn't say it is just a listing of the gene, it simply says
    "hemoglobin gene." And it *is* the gene. You can test it by typing the base pair listing into a gene synthesizer, making a length of DNA, insert it in a cell without this gene and see if the cell makes hemoglobin.

    A while back someone did this with the entire polio virus listing and made infectious viruses.

    Keith Henson

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