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> > If you think a cry of pain is not a meme of communication, consider this
> > in America we say "ouch" or "ow" when we feel pain. In Japan, they say
> > "itai!" or "itai-o!" In China, they say "ai-o" and in the Philippines
> > say "apo!" or "apo-da!" In other words, in each culture they found a
> > different way to express pain. You'd think an instinctual response
> > elicit a more uniform way of expressing itself.
>Could the different words also transmit what attitude these cultures
>have towards pain? For example that feelings of pain should be
>repressed or not taken too seriously? But i guess this lies more in
>the way the word is spoken by the individual because there surely
>are a hundred different ways to say "ouch" and to express how one
>felt about the pain.
Exactly so. We have a hundred different ways to express just about anything
and choosing what we think is the best one for the situation we're in and
what we're trying to do is the mechanism that spreads memes or puts them
into a state of decay. That's why I say the meme doesn't choose us. We
choose the meme. And whether we continue to choose it or not depends on how
we perceive the success or failure of our objective.
Whether we pick it up from someone else alse depends on our perception of
their use of the meme. If we're impressed or if we think others were
impressed by it, chances are we're going to add it to our own supply of
To take an example from literature, when Cyrano de Bergerac was trying to
teach Christian how to woo the lady they both loved, he told him, "There are
a hundred different ways to say 'I love you'" He then proceeded to
demonstrate about a dozen of them. All of them sounded good jcoming from
Cyrano, but when Christian said the words, they still sounded flat. They
would not have impressed the lady. The result was Christian's reluctance to
say the words to her. There are other memes at work besides the words
themselves. Included in the mix are attitude, style and the projection of
confidence. Any professional actor will testify that they can be learned
and passed on. That's how an acting teacher makes his living.
This may only be a story, but it illustrates a truth that was understood by
Edmond Rostand when he wrote it and put it on the stage. When the actors
say the lines you feel at once the truth of what they are saying. Rostand
was a great observer of human nature.
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