Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id DAA23361 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Wed, 16 Jan 2002 03:45:45 GMT X-Originating-IP: [188.8.131.52] From: "Grant Callaghan" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 19:41:19 -0800 Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed Message-ID: <LAW2-F44UZxn6oZcohv00007b8b@hotmail.com> X-OriginalArrivalTime: 16 Jan 2002 03:41:20.0460 (UTC) FILETIME=[A95C20C0:01C19E3F] Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
>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.
>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.
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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