Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 03:41:19 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception"

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
    Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 19:41:19 -0800
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    >On Tuesday, January 15, 2002, at 02:03 , Grant Callaghan wrote:
    >>It doesn't seem possible to me that a meme could just appear
    >>and be communicated without having been thought of first.
    >Why not?
    >Haven't you done something, even from some intention, that turns
    >out very different from what you were thinking? And why, pray
    >tell, does what you are thinking of making have to do with the
    >actual communication of it?
    >Is everything you express exactly expressed the way you were
    >thinking of expressing it?
    >The mechanisms of communication are very, very, open to
    >alteration even during their process.
    >Ask any jazz musician.
    >- Wade
    Nothing gets transmitted exactly as I thought it. The thought is a model of
    something I want to do or say but the means of communication are so limited
    they cannot carry the idea completely or exactly.

    When I tell you I'm going to build a white house, the house I see in my mind
    will be different from the house you see in your mind simply because my
    experience with houses is different from yours. The model for the house I
    envision will come from my experience and the picture or idea you decode
    from my transmission will reflect your experience. No two people share the
    same identical experience. Only a limited amount of the concept I was
    trying to transmit will be received. Therefore, all transmissions of memes
    are distorted and contain the seeds of error.

    To say a jazz musician lacks an idea of what he is trying to do before he
    attmepts to do it is to misunderstand the nature of what he is doing. He is
    trying to achieve an ideal that he and his fingers are reaching for. What
    comes out of this effort may not be exactly what he was trying to achieve,
    but there was something in his mind before he tried.

    The reason why a writer has to write and rewrite and write it again is
    because we are seldom able get it right the first time. And usually, even
    at the end, the writer is still unsatisfied with what he sends to the
    printer and will start marking up the copy that comes back even as it goes
    to press. We know what we want to say, but what comes out seldom does the
    job to our expectations. So what gets transmitted is not the concept or
    idea but only an approximation of it.

    If we could see a thing done and understand it just from watching, there
    would be no need for instant replay in football. The call of the referee
    would not need to be overturned by a second look. Police would not get five
    different stories from five different witnesses to a traffic accident.
    There would be no need for an investigation to find out what really

    So show and tell are no better at passing the full content of a thought than
    words are. Too much depends on faulty transmission, reception and
    perception. But which is the meme here? Is it the idea we tried to send or
    the faulty picture we received? Or is it merely the act of trying by
    itself? You seem to be saying the act of the jazz player by itself is the
    meme. I say it's the idea he was striving to express. What I get from
    listening is a corrupt approximation of that idea. Like the writer, the
    musician is usually dissatisfied with his performance to some degree and at
    the next performance tries to do it better.


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