From: Reed Konsler (
Date: Wed 21 May 2003 - 19:14:54 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Bonus Points, poetic memes"

    > The physical props do not
    > command or expect anything. Does a broom expect to sweep? Does it get
    > frustrated if it doesn't of confused if it is danced with instead?

    Wade: Ah, but, yes, a broom on a stage is _absolutely_ expected to be used by the performer and seen by the observer. Don't confuse the simple physical fact of an artifact or object with its position in a cultural venue.

    I'm pretty sure that I understand what you're saying. You keep side stepping my point, though. The broom is not requisite. No specific physical artifact, or set of them, is required for a performance. Those that exist will, I'll grant, tend to select for certian kinds of performances over others. But, in that sense, the physical artifacts do not
    'expect' the performance any more than the savanna 'expects' a zebra. The savanna favors the zebra over the elk, for instance. If you want you could even say that the environment 'acts on' the zebra. But the zebra does not require a specific savanna, and the genes in the zebra, given time to evolve, can perpetuate into any physical environment.

    Similarly, the memes in the mind of a cultural participant must express themsleves in a physical environment. That environment does act on the performance and, yes, it does tend to select for some over others. If you want you can say that it 'acts on' the performances. But, I still hold that the performance does not require a specific environment and, given time to evolve, the memes within the mind of the participant can perpetuate into any physical environment.

    But, just as genes cannot exist without a living orgnism to act as their vehicle, so to are memes dependent on their vehicle, which is also a living organism.

    "what is necessary for _another_ performance, one similar enough to be called similar, to wrap a phrase, is a performer, an observer, and a cultural venue also similar enough to be called similar."

    It's the 'similar enough' that is the center of the conversation. A single person, without recourse to anything but memory, could recreate the entire venue and then repeat the performance within it. In this way it seems obvious that it is the person, and not the venue, that is required. People can build venues, but the reverse cannot happen. The people are the agents, the venue is a product.

    Sure, a house is a venue with certian expectations. For instance, you could say that the walls expect you not to walk through them.

    I mean, can use the word 'expect' that way. But it just seems obvious...and maybe I'm making a huge philosophical boo-boo completely obvious that when I say "I, Reed, expect you to enter my house through the door." that means something different and I would go so far as to say something much more significant than the statement "the door expects you to enter the house through it."

    The door doesn't expect anything. Hell if it were a good, stoutly locked door it might be easier to get in through the wall.

    > Everything else is just a prop.

    "Everything else is much more than 'just a prop' in a cultural venue, although everything in say, a theatrical supply warehouse is just a prop, and the memory and thoughts and functions of the brain can be seen as a theatrical supply warehouse in the performance model, where the ones that are needed to perform in a specific cultural venue are the ones gathered."

    The ones gathered by whom? By the participants! Who gets the crap out of the closets...because all that stuff doesn't move itself. I absolutely agree with you, elements of a cultural venue must be gathered together to support a peformance. Memes in the mind of the participant cause the hosts to gather these objects together in order to use them. The gathering, assembly, and performance are all part of the expression of the memes. The objects don't, themselves, have any agency.

    We can argue about genes or species or organisms as the agents in evolution. But no one argues that oxygen and sunlight are agents. They're just props. Given time, life can evolve to do without them. But life cannot evolve to do without the organism.

    Well, I suppose one could argue that replication is just a sort of vibration in spacetime that doesn't specifically require anything. You don't need DNA to be just happens to be that all living things we've seen do. I suppose a living thing doesn't even need to made of could just be a complex replicating interference of light particles. In that sense genes and memes are just a subset of what you could call a performance. Even in that case, though, most of the work of replication is done inside the boundaries of the organism.

    "After all, a cigar is often just a cigar, but, just as often, it ain't."

    I can't understand the significance of that in context.

    "Yes, the cultural venue is the element of the memetic process that
    _attempts_ to determine meaning."




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