RE: What/Who selects memes?

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Oct 02 2001 - 16:25:47 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: What/Who selects memes?
    Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 16:25:47 +0100 
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    Hi Salice,

    There are features, such as proportionality and symmetry that are highly
    generalised aesthetic preferences in humans. I agree the exact why of
    particular things is interesting, but strikes me as one of those 'why'
    questions that can't be answered, as opposed to the how particular tastes
    came about, which might. Besides, surely of more interest are those
    occasions when large numbers of people seem to find something aesthetically
    pleasing, whether that be the millions seeing 'Titanic' or buying 'Pink
    Floyd' albums (neither of which I can personally understand...:-)).

    There is, for example, a particular way of framing images colloquially
    called the 'golden shot', that is used continually in film. In involves the
    placing of the main subject, say a human face, not at the centre of the
    frame, horizontally, but to one side. This is continually used in film, and
    is particularly noticeable in widescreen films. Perhaps this relates to our
    field of vision, and how we focus, hence we find it easier to follow, and
    thus more preferable? A bit like the sexual selection proponents who point
    to symmetry as a good indicator of reproductive success (greater symmetry is
    taken to represent greater fitness). Notice also, the convention for
    'landscape' and 'portrait' layouts- are these pragmatic or aesthetic

    The cultural layer one might add to this has also been seen by some to be
    highly deterministic, in the sense of cultural environments shaping
    individual tastes. I've probably mentioned him on the list before, but
    Bourdieu, for example, talks about this (I believe he called it 'habitus')-
    and suggested that by knowing a person's geographical origin, class, gender
    and educational background, one could make very educated guesses at people's
    tastes in music, art etc.

    As to your 'brains select memes' line, the "memes as virus" school of
    thought would argue it's the other way around, at least some of the time.


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