more how

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Mon 16 Jun 2003 - 14:51:08 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: more how"

    Hi Richard-

    I suppose a more simple and decidedly shorter example would be, keeping with the baseball example, the introduction of a new bat. (This is, in Lawry's memetic engineering jargon, 'introducing' a meme. Such introduction is, of course, a performance. Such performance, is, of course, not the idea of the introduction, or a thought or set of thoughts about the introduction, but an actual physical motion within physical expectations before a carefully organized set of observers. Such 'engineering' is a highly controlled set of parametric behaviors, not the idea itself. The idea itself (motivating the performance and then inferred by the observer) is only one of a near infinite set of possible meanings of the performance, but the more constrained the parameters of performance and observation, the more possible the expected meaning will be inferred, and then utilized with attempted communicative expectation of understanding in following performances.)

    Presently we have several baseball venues operating different sub-species of the game. There is professional baseball, the National and the American Leagues, and their farm teams. There is college baseball. Olympic baseball. Little League. Sand lot. Island.... Here in Boston we have the Park League, a semi-professional organization that I've spent many a wonderful summer night watching. (Note to remind myself to start going to Park League games again.)

    But each venue has a separate set of rules, although not so different that anyone observing the games would not call all of them baseball.

    But, the infield fly rule, the designated hitter, where the umpire stands, the foul lines, the base path length, the pitcher's mound, the distances of the outfields- all these things effect the game, and all these things are part of the venue.

    The parks are different. The foul lines are different. Various and sundry aspects of the venue are different, and effect play to varying degrees, but one game of baseball cannot be played twice, even with the same players, the same park, and the same ball and the same audience. This is not a function of culture, but a function of nature. Two identical things do not happen in space over time. The cultural venue is what supplies the continuity and expectation of such continuity of performance.

    And, some things are more controlled parametrically in 'orthodox' venues. While Little League and college and Olympic baseball all are allowed to use aluminum bats, professional baseball forbids it. This is the function of rules in general, prohibiting unique agents in the venue, and maintaining constancy. As we know, there are specific rules for the manufacture of bats used in professional baseball. All rules are parameters, and changing the rules is one way to effect a change in performance.

    And, changing the rules, either through committee decision or through reaction to individual idiosyncracy, regardless of motivating agencies active in the individual agent (a stumble on the base paths might lead to a change in the rule about base height, or a disputed call might lead to an amendment) requires some performance in the first place to effect play within the venue or even the venue itself.

    (I suppose spoonerisms would be an obvious example from the english language venue, although I'm sure such things exist in other languages, but I am not privy to other language venues. Not only does someone have to mistakenly stumble with their tongue to perform one, but someone has to hear it, and then repeat it, or another person had to do a similar thing while being observed, to continue it. Get enough of 'em gathered in one spot, and some comic will be using constructed ones in his act. What started the whole thing was a performance of a mistake, and someone named Spooner was known to make such mistakes. To stay with baseball, one only needs Yogi Berra, from whence 'yogi-isms' have sprung.)

    No one interested in altering the baseball venue by the introduction of a new bat, regardless of how long or carefully or studiously they arrived at their design or their decision, can have any effect upon the venue of baseball unless and until they actually manufacture such a bat and let the game proceed while using it. The actual activity of using the bat is a requirement of cultural evolution in this single, adamantly necessary, example.

    No one interested in altering the cultural venue by the introduction of a new meme, regardless of how long or carefully or studiously they arrived at their design or their decision, can have any effect upon the venue of culture unless and until they actually perform and let the venue proceed while using it. The actual activity of performing is a requirement of cultural evolution in this single, adamantly necessary, explanation.

    There is _no_ example of cultural evolution without performance. (Is not culture itself a series of performances?) And yet there are countless examples of brains, all supposedly with memes in them by the memeinthemind model, without any effect upon culture, as Ray so markedly demanded. The performance model can only find ineffectual agents of cultural evolution lying, with perfect empiricism, in museums.

    And, likewise, there are no birthdays to be celebrated without the long history of cultural performances related to measurement of the year, proclamation of individual status, and calendar convention, not to mention the systems of counting and language specific within the large cultural venue that demands birthdays.

    Want to change someone's birthday? You have to change the calendar. The actual time of birth never changes, but the markers of it are culturally arbitrary. It is only through performance that culture changes.

    - Wade

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