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>>In one sense this depends on whether one views texts as memes (or
>>memeplexes) themselves or reflective of memes in culture- some
would say the
>>former, some the latter, others both, and some neither! Cultural
>>inscription is reasonable IMHO.
<I don't know that I have a position on that: other than the obvious
> that, whatever the relationship between text-as-meme and
> text-as-reflection-of-meme-in-culture, these processes, if they happen, do
> so in that order. This is another D Adams idea (incipit to Mostly
> I think) but it goes back further. My theory is that the relationship
> between time (consequent event) and text is that one mirrors (sometimes
> ludic play on chronology) the beginning-to-end structure of the other.
> Beginning-to-end, that is, as we seem to perceive event; it seems as if we
> order lived time like a story to put some kind of sense on it: we have the
> illusion that we understand our past better once it is gone, and that what
> we are doing in the present makes sense in terms of future benefit,
> (survival, fufilment, or other perceived objective); paradoxically, since
> the one clear fact about the past is that it is not present, and that the
> future is theoretical.>
Well there's lots of stuff in different fields to go along with that
basic idea, from time's arrow stuff, to cog. psychology on memory (e.g
sharpening and levelling of events in memory, such that over time complex
historical events can end up us simplistic, but concretised mythology).
Narrative is central to our perception of events. I don't think it is an
illusion that we are capable of understanding our actions once they're in
the past, though. The extent to which we actually do learn from the past
may be less than we often believe.
<My point is that if we stigmatise our present in favour of a past
> somehow perceive as being more easily grasped when it is gone, and
> it to a future which may or may not happen, this may be because we like
> stories, which also order themselves in a post hoc, propter hoc
Do we do that though- stigmatise the present, I mean?
<They attempt to explain the present in terms of the past and
> present as causing the future. ( I think this was Adams' point, and the
> reason Dent was such a waverer: Proust's Recherche is rather similar in
> respect). Or, of course, vice versa; our cultural inscription is heavily
> narrative because we like to assimilate order = direction and order =
> organisation, meaningful structure. Either way, I think the text / society
> relation (text as meme, text as meme reflected...) is
I don't think I quite buy this last bit. I don't know though. I'm
reminded of another book, again that may be tangential to your study, David
Seed's 'American Science Fiction and the Cold War' (1999), Here Seed talks
about how science fiction of the period articulated, perhaps most clearly of
all genres of the time, the anxieties of the US (e.g. fears of invasion,
nuclear destruction etc.) in a way that it was difficult, or even impossible
for mainstream debates to even acknowledge, let alone discuss. Hence he
argues sci-fi to be one of the best sites for appraising an era's fears.
Of course one of the problems in fiction is fixing notions of
hero/heroine, i.e. are there points in the texts which confirm beyond doubt
the status of particular characters, or is there room for reader flexibility
in interpretation. I was at a conference the other day where someone was
giving a paper in which they talked about the multiple, and oppositional
interpretations of vampires in fiction (e.g. pro/anti feminist, pro/anti
homosexuality etc. etc.). Somebody commented that this kind of thing
reflected the idea of the seimotic machine (I don't know who originated this
term, but I like it), that sometimes fictional characters have such a
multiplicity of interpretations that there's a kind of overload of
This could, to a lesser extent perhaps, extend to more conventional
fictional representations, e.g. is Ally McBeal a heroine or a villain?
Perhaps the more verisimilitude there is in the characterisation (bit of a
difference between Ally McBeal and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example) the
more problematic it is to simply desiginate characters as heroines (or
heroes similarly). [BTW can you spot my media studies location in my
examples? I'm trying to think of literary figures, but all I can come up
with from my film & lit. undergrad days is Maya Angelou, who's real so that
sort of doesn't count... I did modern french lit. as an undergrad, in
translation, but I only really remember Sartre and Camus, although we did
study some female authors, Duras I think, and someone else, who's name I
just can't recall despite my quite liking their work, Colette, perhaps...
This stems from me being very bad at reading novels as a student- I bought
them all, but wasn't disciplined enough to read many of them, so many are
still sitting on shelves waiting to be discovered- or half read, I read
about 150 pages of Proust before discovering we weren't studying him that
year, and promptly gave up].
Anyway, I'm blathering so I'll stop.
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