RE: memetics of the heroine

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 22:17:09 BST

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: memetics of the heroine"

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    Subject: RE: memetics of the heroine
    Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 17:17:09 -0400
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    >From: Vincent Campbell <>
    >To: "''" <>
    >Subject: RE: memetics of the heroine
    >Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 14:21:18 +0100
    > >>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,
    > > so in that order. This is another D Adams idea (incipit to Mostly
    > > Harmless,
    > > I think) but it goes back further. My theory is that the relationship
    > > between time (consequent event) and text is that one mirrors (sometimes
    > > with
    > > 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
    > > order lived time like a story to put some kind of sense on it: we have
    > > illusion that we understand our past better once it is gone, and that
    > > we are doing in the present makes sense in terms of future benefit,
    > > (survival, fufilment, or other perceived objective); paradoxically,
    > > the one clear fact about the past is that it is not present, and that
    > > 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
    >which we
    > > somehow perceive as being more easily grasped when it is gone, and
    > > sacrifice
    > > 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
    > > structure.>
    > >
    > Do we do that though- stigmatise the present, I mean?
    > <They attempt to explain the present in terms of the past and
    >describe the
    > > 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
    > > this
    > > respect). Or, of course, vice versa; our cultural inscription is
    > > narrative because we like to assimilate order = direction and order =
    > > organisation, meaningful structure. Either way, I think the text /
    > > relation (text as meme, text as meme reflected...) is
    > > structural-counterstructural.>
    > >
    > 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
    >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
    >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
    >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
    >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)
    >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.
    I too suffer from chronic unread book syndrome. I saw a coffee mug recently
    which said something like "so many books, so little time". I'm planning on
    building a machine which stops time, so that I can catch up on my reading
    and then be smart. One of these days I want to compare Marlowe and Goethe
    wrt the Faust theme. It ain't getting done anytime soon. I've been on a
    recent Teilhard kick though. Wasn't he connected to Piltdown man? Or was it
    Charlton Heston's "Omega Man" ? ;-)

    As for memetics of the heroine, I notice a connection between the character
    of Zena Warrior Princess and the wrestler Chyna on WWF. Maybe it's nothing.
    BTW, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, and Hilde Mangold are some
    scientific heroines. Maybe Susan Blackmore too, one of these days...

    The other wrestling organization WCW had a character Sting who appeared to
    have derive his recent persona via hybridization of Brandon Lee's "The Crow"
    and Jim Carrey's "The Mask" (Loki the Trickster himself?). Sting's earlier
    incarnation was more like mid 80's football star Brian ("the Boz") Bosworth,
    if one of my friends is correct.

    I can out-babble almost anyone.

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