Re: the hook

From: William Benzon (
Date: Thu Nov 29 2001 - 17:12:12 GMT

  • Next message: Wade Smith: "Re: the hook"

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    Subject: Re: the hook
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    on 11/28/01 9:52 PM, Wade T.Smith at wrote:

    > I think my time is up, debate-wise, here from the
    > only-artefacts-are-memes stance. Time to sit down and soak up much more
    > from the audience. I didn't have a predilection for either side, nor any
    > emotional attachment, nor any belief one way or the other. I am a
    > skeptic, and look for balance from all sides. I wasn't seeing much of a
    > balance for the Gatherer position, so I jumped up on that side of the
    > seesaw. I liked the view. (But, I liked the view from the memes in the
    > mind side, too, and, from the fulcrum in the middle, where things quantum
    > tunnel from one side to the other.)
    > Besides, in any debate, there's supposed to be a team.
    > All the world's a stage.

    I've given up on debating this particular issue in this arena. However, in
    my current book on music -- Beethoven's Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture --
    I adopt an external meme position (and also advance an account of cultural
    phenotypes) as well as offering a nontrivial (though only partial) account
    of music's neural substrate. That is to say, unlike "orthodox" mentalist
    memeticists, I don't treat the brain as a black box containing whatever
    entities my thinking requires it to contain. Of course, my approach may be
    fundamentally mistaken, but at least I've bothered to give neuroscience
    serious consideration.

    Blurbs from the book cover:

    ³A provocative and persuasive treatise. Unlike most who write about this
    greatest of all mental mysteries, William Benzon is equally comfortable with
    the science and the art of music.²

    Howard Gardner

    ³Beethoven's Anvil presents the compelling and entertaining thesis that we
    humans above all are musical creatures. From neural circuits to social
    circles, from elementary consciousness to concerts and rituals, Benzon
    explains how music and dance provide the social technologies that link minds
    into communities. This is original work of the highest importance.²

    Walter Freeman, author of How Brains Make Up Their Minds

    ³I admire Benzonıs mastery of so many diverse idea-worlds and congratulate
    him as a virtuoso both of thought and of performance. Beethoven's Anvil is
    a rare combination; learned, proficient, and profoundly provocative.
    Reading it was a great experience for me.²

    William H. McNeill, author of Plagues and Peoples and Keeping Together in

    ³The cutting edge rarely cuts deep. For decades we have been tantalizingly
    exposed to scraps of research on the brain and the origins of language and
    culture. But there was no synthesis. Then suddenly this suitably ambitious
    project appears. Beethoven's Anvil is surely destined to orchestrate an
    exciting debate for everyone interested in the evolution of mind.²

    Mary Douglas, author of Natural Symbols

    ³In this truly remarkable book, Bill Benzon shows how the timed and
    synchronized flow of music creates pleasure in our brains, and how music can
    and does and did contribute to our survival as a species. Everyone who
    enjoys music will find this new understanding of the basics both eye- and

    Norman N. Holland, editor, PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychology of
    the Arts

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