Re: definition of meme

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 09 Jun 2003 - 16:18:43 GMT

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    >From: "Wade T. Smith" <>
    >Subject: Re: definition of meme
    >Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 07:33:52 -0400
    >On Sunday, June 8, 2003, at 11:03 PM, Lawrence wrote:
    >>One thing cannot be copied by the second man is the originality of the
    >>done by the first. That is, the act of creation is itself quite different
    >>from the act of imitation. The two acts may look the same to an observer,
    >>but the experience of the act, and what led to it cognitively, will be
    >>different for the two men. Yes?
    >This was one of the real situations that the memeinthemind model simply
    >ignored, which led me to reject it, as this is a prime factor in cultural
    >evolution, creativity.
    >And memes have nothing to do with creativity. But the mind does.
    Yet creativity is probably not, in many instances, a saltational event, arising *ex nihilo*. Remember *natura non facit saltum* (or some such).

    What appears to be a creation event may indeed have mnemic antecedents fermenting somewhere deep in the psyche until it bubbles forth and is tapped from the keg of the unconscious like a nice domestic beer.

    The phenomenon of cryptomnesia may need consideration here. Mnemic fragments from different sources may be dormant, yet upon reflection upon a problem may hybridize and form a novel combination. The so-called creator may have lng forgotten the sources of their memory to the two seemingly incongruous mnemic fragments, but nonetheless the combination works and looks like a miraculous spark of imagination.

    There would, thus, be antecedent influences upon the invention or innovation and memory would play a role. This need not imply that replicative "memes" reside in the brain (or anywhere else for that matter), but memory and culture are still intertwined.

    Remember that Jung noticed a similarity between part of Nietzsche's
    _Zarathustra_ and a part of an author named Kerner whom Nietzsche may have read as a youngster. If Jung's cryptomnesic assumption here is correct, this points out that such hidden memories may have some impact upon culrural evolution. The reader of Nietzsche's _Zarathustra_ may be indirectly impacted by the author Nietzsche may have read which may have influenced the creative process he underwent when writing this piece of German literature which can still be found on bookshelves today.

    See Daniel Schacter's recent book _The Seven Sins of Memory_ for more on Jung's discovery of similarity between Nietzsche's and Kerner's works.

    Yet, to reassess the points made by Lawry and you, one would need to consider that the process by which Nietzsche came up with that passage in
    _Zarathustra_ is not the same as the process by which the passage influences the reader of _Zarathustra_. The mnemic fragment rested dormantly in Nietzsche's febrile psyche for a long time and probavly piccked up some associations and modifications along the way of Nietzche's life. How isomorphic would this fragment in Nietzsche's brain be to a fragment in mine which stemmed from reading _Zarathustra_ and having this particular passage pointed out by Jung and Schacter via my reading of books by these two psychologists? And given that Wade winds up reading he passage, how close would his mnemic fragment be to mine, Nietzche's, Schacter's, Jung's, or anyone else reading this posts and finding out for the first time or remembering from elsewhere that cryptomnesia might be an issue?

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