RE: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 00:22:58 GMT

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    Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 19:22:58 -0500
    From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    Subject: RE: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
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    >I think in a post analysis the real competition will be seen as
    >between "western" culture and everything else. "Western" in this
    >sense includes Japan and the advanced countries of south Asia as
    >well as the more traditional countries. Japan, for example,
    >contributes significant cultural elements to the rest of "Western"
    >culture. "Popular" is another name for it. Religion is not a major
    >It's hard to describe all the major elements, but music, fashion,
    >movies and TV shows are parts of it. High tech gadgets are part of
    >it, and to a lesser extent, the free market environment it takes to
    >make them. (No way you can do a 5 year plan to produce things
    >nobody has invented yet!)
    >Near as I can tell nobody in power cares if western/popular culture
    >pushes into Islamic culture and displaces it or not. Because it is
    >not static, the older leaders of the western countries usually
    >express disdain for their own popular culture. Can't blame them,
    >piercings give me fantods. (Meme of the day, nipple rings and chain
    >mail is a bad combination.)

    I think you are so right here. I have come to think that one of the
    defining characteristics of Western Culture is the way in which it
    overwhelms most (all?) of the indigenous cultures with which it has
    come into contact. I first heard of memes shortly before I left for
    Africa where I lived for three years. Living in a country where the
    old culture (memes) were coming into contact with Western culture, it
    was interesting to watch which memes were robust enough to survive
    the onslaught of Western culture and which were not. And which
    Western cultural memes (and technologies) were embraced and which
    were not. This process occurs in any situation where two cultures
    collide - be it in an African country, or in a marriage where two
    family cultures collide. I heard echoes of the village elder's
    complaining about the loss of their culture in some of Bin Laden's
    statements (but without his virulence or hatred.)

    I have not read all of the books which many of you on the list refer
    to. I must admit I am mostly interested at looking at the qualities
    of a meme which make it more robust and more likely to survive in the
    types of situations which I described. Can anyone point me in the
    direction of some good literature on this subject? I have been
    fascinated by memes ever since I first read an excerpt of Dawkins in
    "The Mind's I", and didn't realize that such following has sprung up
    around the concept until I found this list. I am a therapist and a
    mother of two small children, so I haven't had the time to stay
    current that I would have liked to. What do you all recommend to
    bring me up to speed.

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