Re: performance

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Thu 22 May 2003 - 00:29:53 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: DS syndrome"

    On Wednesday, May 21, 2003, at 06:42 PM, memetics-digest wrote:

    > Comprehension is a requisite of cooperation. How can I cooperate with
    > you
    > if I can't understand your instructions?

    When Atta flew that plane, was he comprehending bin Laden? _I_ comprehend bin Laden as wanting to stay alive....

    Is cooperation only 'understanding instructions'?

    Well, I suppose it's semantically and definitionally hazardous, but, my point in all this was that comprehension is not requisite for
    _expected_ behavior. One does not need any comprehension of allegiance to pledge allegiance to the flag, nor any semblance or knowledge of piety to recite the Lord's Prayer, and yet in the first one is cooperating with the structure of civil authority and in the second with the Church. And by this stead, one can say the memeinthemind for allegiance is not requisite for pledging allegiance, if one is wont to use the memeinthemind model, even though the information of allegiance would seem to be part of that meme, since all that is required is a rote behavior, and the fact that the memeinthemind model cannot differentiate between rote behavior and supplied information would seem to me to be its falsification.

    And no-one needs to comprehend how flour rises or fuel burns to bake bread and thus cooperate with the baker. The instructions are merely that, with no belief or mindset required. See later about parameters.

    > agreement is not requisite for cooperation.

    That too....

    > what is the mechanism by which the pattern continues?
    > You can't just say that one event is correlated with the next or that
    > "the
    > pattern continues"...that doesn't explain anything. To make a causal
    > argument you have to at least give a hypothesis about the mechanism
    > that
    > allows one event to cause the next.

    The parameters of the cultural venue are the mechanism by which an expected performance happens. The pattern of Macbeth, to use your example, needs certain things, and when they are supplied, Macbeth happens. It is not the same Macbeth every time, of course, but, it is within parameters enough so that, even in the case of Throne of Blood, the Kurosawa/Mifune movie, we see Macbeth. The causal mechanism is the cultural venue. It is as defining an agent as the performer and the observer, and the memeinthemind model pays it no attention whatsoever.

    > If someone *did* know how memory worked

    That would be wonderful. I'm betting that when they do, they don't mention memes at all. The memeinthemind adherents are betting they will. Time will tell. Right now, all bets are still on the table- I just think I'm the house.

    > I don't think you need a script.

    You do, at one point, to do Macbeth, or to do anything but pure improvisation, and pure improvisation is impossible. (That is an axiom of culture, if not evolution in general, but I truly enjoy philosophers like John Cage who at least shred it into little pieces.) The script is a requisite for the cultural venue that is Macbeth. If you memorize your lines, you are merely a memory of the script, not without it.

    > "The fact that each human will be required to take up several roles."
    > Patrick Stewart does a nice solo performance of A Christmas Carol.

    Interesting choice of one-actor show. However, he does not, in any sense of the word, exist alone on the stage, (as say, Hal Holbrook does in his one-man about Mark Twain), and 'role' does not translate as
    'body'. The cultural venue of A Christmas Carol also requires three spirits, Bob Cratchett and family, (no way you can leave out Tiny Tim), a nephew and his wife, and a few other minor players, including Belle, the girl left behind, and Fezziwig, and I'm sure there are others my memory stalls in front of right here and now. Whether or not it requires the physical prop of a turkey or a doorknocker or a gravestone is a matter of stagecraft, not a matter of venue. After all, does a mime really _not_ use props?

    > "And the rules of baseball come from the cultural venue."
    > Which is reduceable to a single brain.

    No, sorry. One brain may indeed have these rules in memory, as in the teacher on the island scenario, but those rules did not come from the ether and they won't get out to another player without performance. They came from a cultural venue that was experienced, via performance, by that brain, but that one brain cannot play baseball with itself so that anyone else who knows the rules of baseball understands that baseball is being played. Accepted, one might view Kasparov sitting at a bench deep in thought, and be ready to assume that he was playing chess with himself, but, even if I saw Roger Clemens sitting deep in thought I would not think he's doing mental baseball on the bench.... The games are quite different. The rules and the venues are quite different. Your computer game baseball example is just as immaterial an argument. The venue of chess is rather encapsuled in the mind, while the venue of baseball is not. And yet I played a wonderful card-based baseball game with a friend of mine in college, spending many a wasted to academia night keeping score. Did we know the rules of baseball? You betcha. We had to. I learned more about baseball playing that card game than I've forgotten since. Would someone stopping by know we were playing baseball? I don't think so, unless they knew what a scoresheet looked like, because there was no representation of the diamond, or sounds of bats slapping balls, no pictures of baseball accessories, and none of the cards looked like baseball cards, but had a full list of the player's stats and averages. Yeah, they would start to clue in after hearing us at play, or if they were deaf perhaps by recognizing a player's name (the game was one where we could pick players from any part of baseball history, and thus I often had Honus Wagner and Mickey Mantle on the same team), but, nothing immediately in view would alert the casual glance. So, were we playing baseball, or not? How much of a venue is needed? (This is a much larger question about all performance, and one I truly think needs to be addressed in cultural evolution and not only aesthetic and poetic theory, and again one, IMHO, that is ignored by the memeithemind model.)

    > "And each cultural venue is doing the same thing, maintaining a set of
    > parameters and expecting a set of performances"
    > It sounds like you are claiming that the venue has some agency. Is
    > that
    > true?

    Yes, of course I am. That was a late-arriving eureka. How many times do I have to write that there are a _minimum_ of three players in cultural evolution, the performer, the observer, and the venue? And they are equal players. The venue sets the parameters, and these are not only parameters directing the expected performance, but parameters of the expected observation and perception, even of the expected interpretation, as well. The venue is a decided agent of cultural evolution, just as temperature and climate and food sources are of biological evolution.

    Even in a modern, improvised, ensemble, workshop theatre based upon Macbeth, themes and characters from the venue of Macbeth would have to be there. Banquo might be Donald Duck, but, he's still there.

    - 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 : Thu 22 May 2003 - 00:36:15 GMT