Re: meme definition

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Mon 23 Jun 2003 - 15:15:17 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T. Smith: "Re: Cultural Imperialism as Idea & Meme"

    On Monday, June 23, 2003, at 09:16 AM, Chris wrote:

    > Some of those experiments have been done n'est ce pas? I don't think
    > they discriminate between Performance and MITM. Neither do Dennett's
    > suggestions.

    Yup. And yes, they work for both models, being variants on the viral distribution formulas loved by Lynch, A.

    > Ergo: No two memes can ever be the same, and they don't exist outside
    > of
    > minds (although they can create artifacts that pseudo-recreate them
    > through convergent ecological and genetic evolution), and can be
    > created
    > de novo by non-meant objects and occurrences - say Charles Schultz saw
    > what would become Charlie Brown's face in a cloud one day and just drew
    > it down). Additionally culture is just what you get when you go to yet
    > another layer of structuring - the effect of memebots on each other. We
    > are memebots, but I don't see how that should rock anyone's world any
    > more than being any other sort of meat machine (and beyond that you're
    > either on for quantum shamanism or religion). All free will is an
    > illusion, you just can't always (ever?) know your full motivation.

    You see, I can certainly accept your opening sentence. (I demand it, staying pure.) But, sorry, I don't really care, and the long history of Peanuts readers don't really care, and culture itself don't care, about how or when Schultz got his inspiration for Charlie Brown- all we care about is that he actually _did_ it. (Besides, _until_ he actually did it, he didn't know what Charlie Brown would look like either.... The performance itself introduces influences unforeseen by any musculature or idea- he drew to discover what he was going to draw. We won't go into the 'evolution' of Charlie Brown, or of Mickey Mouse, or Bugs Bunny, or Woody Woodpecker, but, check 'em out- they changed radically. My favorite example of this is the Martians in the old Buck Rogers strip.)

    Memes are cultural performances. (In the performance model, which, yes, I see as the only viable model to map cultural evolution. It is _not_ a model of idea generation, and I have continually failed to see and presently cannot see any need for memes in the brain to explain creativity.)

    We are not memebots. We are, however, the results of our experiences and our interactions with the other two-thirds of our culture, and in large degree that means the results of the experiences _allowed_ to us from a set of venues which _can_ be highly structured and institutionalized to develop bot-like behaviors and certainly replications of memes with high fidelity. In many cases, such as religions and armies and EST and cults and tupperware parties, these allowed experiences are highly expecting of certain behaviors, and do their utmost to ensure them. Yes, some cultures have little use for anything other than bots- with all their programmed behaviors. Ants are such a society, programmed by genetics and expected responses to chemical stimuli. We are not so far from such influences, but we are tremendously distanced from them.

    > a scenario where progressively more complex functional units are built
    > up from simpler components.

    Evolution has been described as a mechanism for retaining things, rather than a mechanism for changing things.

    - Wade

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