Re: Kate's book/ memetic recombination

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 24 Mar 2005 - 16:03:41 GMT

  • Next message: Price, Ilfryn: "Re: New Memes Book"

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > >Kate:
    > >
    > >The part of your book where you touch upon memetic
    > >recombination has me remembering an essay Jung had
    > >written about cryptomnesia (the phenomenon of
    > "hidden
    > >memories"). The basic idea of Jung's essay is that
    > >so-called novelty results from a sort of
    > >recombination. He said: "...only the combinations
    > are
    > >new, not the material, which hardly alters at all,
    > or
    > >only very slowly and almost imperceptibily." He
    > >focuses on how fragments of memory could arise in
    > new
    > >contexts and points to a passage in Nietzsche's
    > >_Zarathustra_ that is strikingly similar to a
    > passage
    > >in a book, by Justinus Kerner, Nietzsche may have
    > read
    > >when he was younger. If so, this memory fragment of
    > >Nietzsche's recombined with other material as he
    > >formed his masterpiece.
    > >
    > >So if we look at Nietzsche's work as a
    > representation
    > >or "cultural DNA" could we say that Jung's literary
    > >forensics work was a sort of "cultural DNA
    > >fingerprinting" which supports the case for Kerner
    > as
    > >the intellectual father of this particular
    > fragment?
    > >Jung, while conducting a paternity test, compared
    > >passages from Nietzsche's _Zarathustra_ and
    > Justinus
    > >Kerner's _Blatter aus Prevorst_. Is this textual
    > >analysis akin to DNA fingerprinting? If so please
    > kick
    > >me for the suggestion of such an analogy :-)
    > >
    > >
    > >Ref:
    > >
    > >Carl Jung. "Cryptomnesia" from _Psychiatric
    > Studies_.
    > >1957. Bollingen Foundation, New York
    > >
    > >Jung's work is summarized by Daniel Schacter in his
    > >_The Seven Sins of Memory_.
    > >
    > >
    > Scott - I don't know about DNA fingerprinting but I
    > really like this
    > example.
    I used to have more of a grasp of DNA fingerprinting. This notion sort of bubbled up from my unconcious depths I guess. I'm not sure I'd agree with the analogy. It sort of collided with the ideas in your book so to speak.

    In _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_ Dennett raises the issue of distinguishing plagiarism from convergence. Cryptomnesia (sensu Jung) is more of an unintentional plagiarism, at least for Nietzsche's case. The similarities between the passages were too striking perhaps to assume convergence, but Nietzsche probably didn't look at Kerner's book while writing Zarathustra and intentionally copy the ideas without attribution. It may have been a long forgotten chunk of memory that arose for some reason when writing Zarathustra.

    I remember one of my professors admonishing classmates for the similarity between their preliminary project work and stuff she found on the internet. Google is a good tool for this I suppose. That would be more deliberate a case than with Nietzsche's putative cryptomnesia.

    Then we have the case of Darwin and Wallace, which wasn't plagiarism in either direction from what I gather. I'm not sure I'd call it full-fledged convergence either. It's probably more of a parallelism where both Darwin and Wallace were captured in a somewhat identical zeitgeist and based on similar source materials (familiarity with Malthus???) and other similar factors stumbled upon similar ideas wrt evolution. Likely not a case of Jungian synchronicity as argued by Jung's disciple von Franz in _Man and His Symbols_ anyway.

    __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Get it on your mobile phone.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu 24 Mar 2005 - 16:21:55 GMT