Re: Performance

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Wed 21 May 2003 - 11:14:31 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: wards"

    On Wednesday, May 21, 2003, at 01:13 AM, Reed wrote:

    > For instance, there are two kinds of
    > musical performance-memes: playing and writing. From my perspective,
    > they
    > are not the same performance-meme. Playing a piece of music is
    > different
    > than writing it...part of a different venue. Yet, it also seems like
    > they
    > ought to be the same, or at least very closely related.

    You come close to understanding, but you haven't taken the last step back.

    Yes, from _all_ perspectives, not just from yours, they are not the same performance, they are not the same meme. Yes. _All_ memes are unique. (All of them are, after all, the result of a three-part matrix any part or all of which is also influenced by aleatory forces.) But, these two memes you mention have relational characteristics enough so that a musical observer, or even someone simply not tone-deaf, would consider them very similar.

    They _ought_ to be the same, yes. They _are_ very closely related, yes. And, because they are so related, they form a continuing pattern, which can be recognized, as long as it continues, as, say, Alan's First Concerto.

    > Now, I see what you're saying...why talk about the mind at all? After
    > all,
    > it is the expressions (or performances) that are obviously being
    > selected by
    > cultural evolution. The mind-memes can only be inferred, while the
    > performance-memes can be seen. So, why not throw out the extra,
    > abstract,
    > mind-meme? Occam's Razor, right?


    > My natural assumption would be to say that the most important part
    > of the "cultural venue" is in the brains of the humans making up the
    > culture. For instance, all you need to have a performance of Macbeth
    > is two
    > people and a space. Theaters, props, full cast and stage hands,
    > audiences
    > and handbills, box offices and web sites...all that stuff is part of
    > the
    > "cultural venue" but without the human brains none of it can actually
    > maintain a pre-performance-meme. On the other hand, a single human
    > brain is
    > a sufficient cultural venue to maintain the pre-performance-meme, even
    > if
    > the meme can't actually...I can't think of a good word
    > here...materialize?
    > potentate?...until there is at least one other person to provide the
    > audience.

    Your mind-meme is Razor'd in the performance model to memory alone. As Keith has said, memetics does not need to know how memory works. And, to me, the memeinthemind model is attempting just that, trying to explain how memory works. When a person communicates something, the memeinthemind model assumes some activity of some subclass of memory is prompting them to do so, but, sorry, there are many actions that are prompted solely by autonomic or habitual response, and no memeinthemind is necessary for those, and the cognitive mechanisms of the brain are sufficiently explained without memesinthemind, and cultural evolution uses both intentional and non-intentional behaviors, as do people. It's a recent buzz phrase, but, 'comprehension is not requisite for cooperation.'

    Let's look at your sentence 'all you need to have a performance of Macbeth is two people and a space', which you, IMHO, totally threw away. What do we _really_ need to have a performance of Macbeth? First, yes, the performance model is quite strict about the minimum for a meme- we need two people and a venue. You explained that well- "all that stuff is part of the 'cultural venue' [and] the human brains". Yes, all three players, and no reduction.

    But, what is this cultural venue, you ask? You cannot dismiss it as
    'space'. And you've dismissed something else in your description of the minimum for Macbeth- the script. And all the conventions of a play. The fact that each human will be required to take up several roles. And speak clearly. And understand the speech. And, yes, get a certain set of props. What the performance _needs_, besides the two humans, _is_ the cultural venue. And a single human brain is not enough to provide the cultural venue, but a single human brain, in this case Willy the Shake, _is_ enough to provide the _description_ of the cultural venue. And, as long as an audience is maintained for the appreciation of Shakespearian plays, there will be performances of them, maintained by the continuing performances, matched in relation to the description, within cultural venues, for understanding audiences.

    The cultural venue is the nutritive parametric environment for the performance.

    It can be simple, or complex. Of course, even when it's simple, it's mind-bogglingly complex. When it gets really (relatively) simple,
    (although how simple can nature ever be?) the line between cultural and socio-biologic venue is blurred, and I won't attempt to define them, except to say that the venues of biology have to be used within the cultural venues, or controlled to some effect.

    Any sports venue is a good example, keeping things semi-simple. After all, the venue demanded by Shakespeare is not to be occupied by mere athletes.... So, the baseball venue. We're on about baseball here lately.

    What is needed to perform a baseball game?

    For the performance model, we need at least two players and a venue. In Keith's island scenario, we had several players, only one of whom could read, and a script describing the venue. The one player reads the script, communicates the parameters of the venue, and the rest of the day is spent arguing about that tag at second base....

    But, another scenario- same island, same players. None of them with any knowledge of baseball. Only this time, even though we air-drop a complete collection of bats and balls and bases and gloves, no book.

    Will a game be created? Possibly, if survival is not tantamount. Will it be identifiable as baseball? Impossible to know, but, because the props are the same, it might be. This would be a better experiment, wouldn't it? Remind you of cargo cults? Yeah.

    > I would have a tendency to call that pre-performance-meme that is being
    > maintained in the portion of the cultural venue composed of human
    > brains
    > (probably the most significant part) a mind-meme.

    Why all these classifications and sub-classifications of memes? Isn't one multiplied entity enough for youse memeintheminders?

    When and if we work out how memory works, perhaps we'll find a specific memory-part that is distinctly required for cultural development, but, honestly, I don't think we will, regardless of the battery of scientific instrumentation.

    When one designs a road, one creates the parameters of the performances on it- you drive your car upon it and not the grass. A line is drawn down the middle and, you drive this way on this side, and that way on that side. When one road crosses another, you put up stop signs. The venue is maintaining parameters of performance, and deviations from the expected performances are prosecuted. Each cultural venue is so created and maintained.

    > why does
    > it appear that there are performances that mirror each other?

    Because each performance is constrained to a set of parameters. A baseball game is only a baseball game when the rules of baseball are applied to a group of players with bats and balls and gloves. And the rules of baseball come from the cultural venue. But, thankfully, each player has a different set of skills and abilities, and the venue thus has enough random content to produce a similar, but unique game, to the delight of the audience.

    And each cultural venue is doing the same thing, maintaining a set of parameters and expecting a set of performances, all the while subject to the random influences of both aleatory nature and accident, and the complex matrix of human skills and knowledge.

    But at base, it is yes, only my opinion that the performance model is closer to the actual mechanism of cultural evolution, and that is why I continue to explain it, because with each explanation, I am also learning.

    As someone once said, "I write to discover what I know." That kind of flies in the face of the memeinthemind model, now, don't it? And yet, I'm sure you agree with it, in that niggling little, hmmm, 'that could be' sort of way.

    What is 'practice' for the memeinthemind model? What, ultimately, actually evolves?

    If you can make the memeinthemind model as clearly explanatory, without the equivocation that has so far been the only argument I've seen for it here, please, do so. I'm not here putting money on anything, and I'm not working on some agenda, nor do I have any vested interest in any model of memetics. If you want to know why I'm here, I'm looking for a few rational answers to my question of why ancient man drew things in caves.

    - 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 : Wed 21 May 2003 - 11:20:23 GMT