Re: definition of meme

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Sun 15 Jun 2003 - 04:13:29 GMT

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    -----Original Message----- From: "Wade T. Smith" <> To: Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 14:33:23 -0400 Subject: Re: definition of meme

    > On Friday, June 13, 2003, at 02:07 PM, Ray wrote:
    > > Can you explain the increase in creativity as anything other than a
    > > cultural phenomenon?
    > Creativity is a function of the human brain, and has been such a
    > function for, as we now know, at least a few hundred thousand years, if
    > not several.
    > And, _prove_ there has been an 'increase in creativity'- as this is
    > indeed a hand-waving claim used, in many cases, to explain why aliens
    > _had_ to have been there to help poor early slack-jawed
    > homo-not-quite-sapiens build the pyramids.
    I have no idea what you are saying here.

    > The innate capacity for creativity in homo sapiens is not a cultural
    > phenomenon, although culture takes advantage of it.

    Culture emphasizes, focuses and refines it. Suppose I'm an writer and my a producer gives me the task of writing a romantic screen play. First, the fact that my boss is giving me this task is a cultural phenomenon. I may not have engaged in this task if not for the economic incentive. Second, culture gives me the base from which to develop my screenplay. I can draw on past romantic screen plays as a starting point. If I have an open culture with many such screen plays, it provides a richer history on which to draw. Culture also directs my variation. I know that certain variation will either not be appropriate. I can't take the Love Story from Titanic, and just change it by making everyone have blue hair.

    Tomorrow I have to prepare a motion for court which will involve all of the processes I have described above. I have to describe to the court why an opponent government agency has to hire outside council to prosecute its case. I wouldn't be doing the motion if there weren't an economic incentive. In other cultures there might not be any incentive. Not every culture would give the same value to confidentiality and the rule of law. In preparing my motion I will look at other motions that have been prepared under similar circumstances. My particular motion will require a very creative process to show that the rule applied in other cases is also applicable to my situation. I know that this creativity must be exercised within cultural bounds and that sending my brief in with rainbow colors for the lettering may be pretty and creative, but will not increase the chances of my brief being accepted.

    > Any increase in creativity would be the direct result of the increase
    > in humanity. Cultures have to deal with such numbers, or they will
    > perish.

    I think you could have recognized the counter to this argument if you worked at it a bit.

    If the increase in creativity were directly proportional to numbers this would mean that China and India would be the cultures adding more to the arts and sciences than any other nations. Is that really correct? I don't think so.

    > - Wade

    Ray Recchia

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