Re: memetics-digest V1 #1394

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Mon 16 Jun 2003 - 20:15:59 GMT

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    On Monday, June 16, 2003, at 01:51 PM, memetics-digest wrote:

    > I still have no idea what you mean by "performance model."

    You have proven to be inordinately dense about it, but, you're not alone. Then again, you aren't living dangerously, either. I suppose I could say I'd like you to supply what you mean by _your_ model, which, hmm, does it have a name? I've been calling it the memeinthemind model, but, maybe that is not clear enough. I thought 'performance model of cultural evolution' was damn clear- this is a model that demands performance in order for culture to evolve. Pretty concise, but, what do I know? Names are important, culturally.... ;-)

    How does a memeinthemind manage to make culture evolve? What proof do you have that any meme in any mind is the same meme in another's mind? How is this eradication of physical laws explained? I still have no idea what you mean by 'memeinthemind model'.

    The performance model is a model of cultural evolution that posits cultural evolution can only happen with three players-

    1. A performer

    2. An observer

    3. A place wherein 1 and 2 are together

    - and can only happen during the performance that is the product of the interaction of all three. The 'meme' of the performance model is that one particular performance itself, and its lifespan is the duration of the performance, and no further.

    (The lifespan of a member of a species, after all, is not the lifespan of the species itself. A meme is not the species, it is a member of the species. In the case of cultural evolution, each venue may contain the required environment for several species- baseball, football, soccer, e.g.- but each game is a different, unique member of its species, with little or no cross-fertilization, and each game has a limited duration, but they are all over when they are over. It is illogical in the performance model to posit a meme of unlimited duration, or even one continuing from place to place.)

    Both the observer and the performer are self-conscious, social beings with communicative and imitative skills, in our case, homo sapiens sapiens.

    The place wherein they communicate is called the 'venue' in this model. Examples of venues are schools, focus groups, baseball fields, offices, town squares, traffic intersections- in short, anything constructed by homo sapiens sapiens in the course of its civilization wherein a performer may be observed. This includes the specific language that each isolated or separate culture develops, and all the processes of communication which are shared and understood. Each performer and observer within a venue is expected to interact with its processes, but, this is not required of the model. There may be strangers in any venue, and they could be part of the performance as well.

    The performance itself is constrained by the parameters in place within the venue- language, location, acoustics, sightlines, skill level, observer interest- this list is boundless, but it is determined by the performance environment. The performance is also constrained and/or effected by aleatory and natural forces- wind, rain, mud, fog, ambient noise, sickness- and this list is also boundless. Any and all influences upon the performer may lead the resulting performance to differ, and any one or all of the influences upon the observer- headache, hunger, pain, apathy, interest, economic gain- may also lead the resulting observation to differ- and when and if the observer in turn performs, and thus continues the expectation of the venue, all these influences come into play again. High skill levels of all participants will result in high levels of meaning transference, but these conditions are not easy to implement and not required, although they are desired, especially within a stable venue. It is the duty of the venue to ensure at least a level of meaning transference that will result in a performance at time1 to be similar enough at time2 to be called by the same cultural marker. (Thus, I see As You Like It at the Publick Theatre in the park, and then see As You Like It at the Huntington downtown, and I feel Shakespeare had a hand in both of them.) Each similar meme is a product of a venue designed and maintained to produce similar memes and it is venues that continue, not memes, in this model. This is a striking difference between the two models we are discussing, and I don't see why you can't grasp this difference.

    Just as each species in genetic evolution is a venue designed and maintained to produce similar members of the species. Genetic change is a process of sexual performance, but, there are also influences from the environment- temperature, food,

    (I believe that the mental model does _not_ demand all three participants for cultural evolution. I could be wrong. I also don't think it really posits the effects upon culture or the changes due to aleatory or incidental effects upon the performance itself, (and thus the presentation of the ideational component of the behavior), but, perhaps it does. I just haven't ever seen such things mentioned, and, nowhere in any discussion of the mental model have I ever seen any discussion of performance theory, all of which leads me to think the mental model is denying the effects of the venue for some cryptic quality of communication which happens outside the realm of physical transmission, where memes locate using warp drive from brain to brain, and everyone understands with remarkable clarity what everyone else is saying and doing, with no possibility of miscommunication, because, after all, it is the selfsame meme that is being transmitted. This whole model approaches ridiculousness once the real world intrudes, so, I've attempted to include at least a brief input from the real world, the world wherein performances are sloppy, ill-timed, irrelevant, misunderstood, misbegotten, late and early, stumbling, and uncertain, as well as being intuitive, intelligent, meaningful, careful, skilled, and cogent. The performance model is also ready and willing to tackle artistic performance, and, again, I've seen little or no discussion of art in the memeinthemind model's descriptions and examples, and, indeed, I still haven't seen any unequivocal examples of a memeinthemind. Even you, one of the inventors of the popular version of memetics, dance around meanings and descriptions and explanations about what it is, where it is, what one can do with it, and what it actually does. The performance model makes no such equivocations- its meme is quantifiable and immediate.)

    - Wade

    25 words or less- The performance model of cultural evolution- venue, performer, observer. Perform, observe, repeat. But perform first. Sex. No chicken without the egg.

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