Re: birthdays

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Sun 15 Jun 2003 - 15:47:59 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: definition of meme"

    On Sunday, June 15, 2003, at 12:11 AM, Joe wrote:

    > But if you mean that cultural venue encompasses the between but not
    > the within

    The cultural venue is a term I started to use more in place of the also and previously used 'cultural ecology', but, of course, I did not want to use that phrase, as it smacked of newagism, and 'venue' was more apt to the performance aspect of the model I was intrigued with. So much for my etymology.

    The cultural venue _is_ the 'outside' (the between and the around)- it is the realm within which performance happens, and the performers are, on this planet, humans, who have brains. (If a self-conscious creature could be so without a brain, then, so be it- culture _could_ happen without two _brains_, but not without two self-conscious creatures. We just don't know about any other way to accomplish self-consciousness.) And the observers are self-conscious humans. But the technologies of communication and observation are part of the venue. (There are no televisions or prosceniums or orchestra seats inside a brain.) The specific language used is part of the venue. (Each specific language is from the society outside the brain.) Every tool or media utilized is part of the venue. (There are no artifacts or newspapers inside brains.)

    > Of course I can't

    > So my counter-challenge is to explain how one can remember one's own
    > birthday in the absence of a brain.

    This is not a true counter-challenge to my challenge of discovering one's birthday solely from nature, since a brain is part of nature, but, I'll continue nonetheless, as your challenge provides incentive, albeit off-vector, and you've completely acknowledged that meeting my challenge is impossible. I try not to bet on unsure things....

    The cultural venue 'remembers' birthdays quite well without brains, because it uses artifacts- after all, it created both the need for birthdays and the particulars of their specifics. I have my birth certificate in my possession. I could be a robot and bring it out to show you. _My_ brain was not necessary to supply either this record, or the conditions of its manufacture, or its distribution to your perception. (I know people who have birth certificates for pedigreed animals, who do not remember such things, and also could be trained to fetch and display them....) As you say, other brains, _all_ of them acting within the specific cultural venue within which I was born, were required. But the venue itself was, and always is, a requirement of cultural information and distribution, and in the case of birthdays, there _is no other way to arrive at one_. Nature, and any science of it, are not sufficient, to supply a date of birth. One cannot discover one's name in likewise extra-culturally dependent fashion. (I suppose this is the time for a fascinating sidestep upon some cultures', notably some amerindian and aboriginal, inclusion of a magickal or spiritual name which one can discover in shamanistic passages through an external/internal supernature, but, not now....) Nature is that which is not dependent upon culture, from a socio-centric viewpoint.
    (We may be changing that, here upon this planet, for better or worse, in an ironic technologically magickal retrogression, but time will tell.)

    Every artifact is a venue-specific demonstration of a performance, and a cultural venue needs to be maintained to supply the meaning to this artifact. (There is, and I have, empirical proof of this assertion- it is more than axiomatic to cultural evolution.)

    But remembering is not the same, even the selfsame, as creating. And, yes, in order to create, we do need a brain. In order to remember a cultural specific, we need a brain, and a venue, and an observer. Without all, as you say, the external and the internal, culture is not possible.

    The performance model truly _accepts_ this triad of condition, and calls the necessary and sufficient agent of this cultural continuation and evolution the 'meme'. (Which, AFAIK, was the original proposed use of this word- the unit of cultural evolution.) As a performer, a venue, and an observer are all necessary and sufficient to continue or to mutate a cultural specific, and the blanket condition wherein all these agents are active _is_ a performance, I adopted the performance model of cultural evolution for its sheer parsimony. For me, nothing else is sufficient to explain cultural evolution, and putting the meme in the brain only does one third of the job. Last I knew, one third is a good two-thirds short.

    For one to remember one's birthday, all three agents need to be active. As I've shown and you've agreed. Remove one of them, and there _is_ no birthday, regardless of the fact there most certainly was a birth. But even that has no need itself to be remembered.

    - Wade

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