Re: story-telling

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Sun 17 Apr 2005 - 08:09:45 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: perception vs reality"

    Price, Ilfryn wrote:
    > Dear Bill
    >>>Making a better story suggests an increase in memetic fitness. Also, it
    > seems not to be uncommon. How many times are tales and accounts enhanced
    > in the retelling to make a better story? (Whether consciously or
    > unconsciously.) How does that happen? What does it imply for memetics?
    > Best regards,
    > Bill>>>
    > It implies, or is at least consistent with the argument that the story is a meme (or a small memeplex). Enhancement increase
    > replication. This assumes you take, or consider for the sake of argument, the view that memes are replicating stories or
    > discourses. They exist in language.
    > If

    It also ties into the question about how active human minds are in meme replication, mutation, selection, etc. As Bill says, stories can be enhanced for increased memetic fitness (i.e. better able to gain and/or retain human attention) either consciously or unconsciously - and this implies that the mind is something separate from the memes that it manipulates and responds to. We have an interesting experience, but when we represent it in anecdote form (language, as you say, If) we also reshape it into the best form to grab others' attention.

    This gives me a couple of extra thoughts. The first is to wonder whether this reshaping is itself a form of metarepresentation: we represent the story to ourselves and then think about how it could better be represented.

    The second is that one thing I like about Blackmore's approach is her emphasis on the "memes' eye view" - the possibility of seeing the world from different perspectives, including the memetic pov. It makes me think there may be a two-level thing going on when we reshape our experiences into catchy anecdotes. From a genetic perspective (I mean in terms of gaining social advantages of the sort that enhance power or sexual attractiveness) it may be that we have an innate understanding of the sorts of reshaping that will get more attention/kudos for *us* as a result of the stories we tell. Or at least an innate ability to acquire this information along with the other social knowledge we gain as we grow.

    But then from a memetic persepctive this innate understanding can be hijacked by individual memes (stories) in order to increase their memetic fitness. And of course we do know that good story-tellers, and the socially advantaged, get more attention for their memes than others, less articulate or powerful, do.

    Is this an admission that for these memes their fitness is dependent on any genetic advantages that they confer on their "owners"? I don't think so - just that from their pov here is a mechanism (which may happen to be partly genetic in origin) that they can exploit. Often their success may coincide with genetic (social) advantage - but often it won't, I guess: I can tell a story that gets your attention by apalling you or horrifying you, at no advantage to myself.

    Sorry - rather a ramble.


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