Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id FAA15410 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Tue, 22 Jan 2002 05:01:59 GMT X-Originating-IP: [184.108.40.206] From: "Scott Chase" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 23:57:35 -0500 Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed Message-ID: <F268gFE5xrZBc2rT1PJ0001e903@hotmail.com> X-OriginalArrivalTime: 22 Jan 2002 04:57:35.0397 (UTC) FILETIME=[4EB69D50:01C1A301] Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
>From: "Wade T. Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception
>Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 22:17:18 -0500
>On Sunday, January 20, 2002, at 09:40 , Joe Dees wrote:
>>It is entirely inappropriate to equate ant pheromones with human
>>language; in fact, this may be the poster child for the term 'bad
>I wasn't enraptured with it. Incomplete, at best.
>I was more attaching culture to it, though.
>>And unless a meme
>>is out there, it is nowhere.
>>Then there can be no new ideas, because they would have to be conceived
>>before thay could be transmitted.
>Well, maybe I'm being mystical, but I would not say there are no new
>ideas, just no new ideas _only in the head_. One has to express it. And
>in the expression, the new idea happens.
In one of his more intriguing works "Cryptomnesia" published originally in
1905 Carl Jung touches on the novelty of ideas. In one part he says (a
little out of context admittedly): "...originality lies only in the
combination of psychic elements and not in the material, as everything in
nature eloquently testifies." This is in the midst of Jung's discussion of
direct versus indirect memory-images. Later in the essay Jung says: "I said
earlier that only the combinations are new, not the material, which hardly
alters at all, or only very slowly and almost imperceptibly. Have we not
seen all Bocklin's hues already in the old masters? And were not the
fingers, arms, legs, noses and throats of Michelangelo's statues all somehow
prefigured in antiquity? The smallest parts of a master work are certainly
always old, even the next largest, the combined units, are mostly taken over
from somewhere else; and in the last resort a master will not scorn to
incorporate whole chunks of the past in a new work. Our psyche is not so
fabulously rich that it can build from scratch each time. Neither does
Jung goes on to discuss the concept of "cryptomnesia" citing Theodore
Flournoy and offering a possible case study, a striking similarity between a
passage in Friedrich Nietzsche's _Thus Spake Zarathustra_ and another in
Justinus Kerner's _Blatter aus Prevorst_ hinging on people going ashore on
an island "to shoot rabbits". I suggest reading Jung's essay in its
entirety, though Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter relates Jung's
treatment of Nietzsche's putative cryptomnesia in his very recent book _The
Seven Sins of Memory_.
So is there truly nothing new under the sun, just a hodgepodge of old stuff
strung together in novel ways? Maybe I should ruminate on Jung's take
regarding material versus combination. Probably one of Jung's more cogent
Jung CG. "Cryptomnesia" as found in _Psychiatric Studies_ (CW 1). 1957.
trans. by Hull. Bollingen Foundation, New York
Schacter DL. 2001. The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and
Remembers. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston
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