Re: Words and memes

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Mon Feb 04 2002 - 01:47:45 GMT

  • Next message: Ray Recchia: "Re: Words and memes"

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    Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2002 20:47:45 -0500
    From: Ray Recchia <>
    Subject: Re: Words and memes
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    At 10:46 AM 2/3/2002 -0800, you wrote:

    >From: John Croft
    > > Thus Ted wrote
    > > > >In order for this to occur, the words must involve
    > > > >some kind of interpretation ("bacon is evil") and
    > > > >not a mere statement of fact ("bacon is in the
    > > > >fridge"). If it's merely factual, the repetition
    > > > >of the statement can be accounted for according to
    > > > >normal, intentional use of language.
    > >
    > > and Keith replied
    > > > Good way to put it. You can't call everything a
    > > > meme or it becomes a useless word.
    > >
    > > Again I would disagree with you both here. Everything
    > > that is culturally duplicated and diseminated is a
    > > meme. (Not just statements with interpretation - for
    > > instance - a sung melody is a meme, a gesture (eg
    > > shaking hands in greeting) is a meme, washing potatoes
    > > in the sea before eating them is a meme. It is the
    > > fact of duplication that makes it mimetic. If not
    > > duplicated, but learned individually with every
    > > generation, or if "instinctual" and passed genetically
    > > then it is not a meme. "Fridges", "bacon" and putting
    > > "bacon" into "fridges" are all mimentic, specific to
    > > one culture, and all "seek" replication.
    >Culture can be divided into intentional and memetic. While the "atoms of
    >culture" are always taking on a life of their own-- far beyond the
    >intentions of their creators-- we are continually regenerating culture from
    >the foundation. Even if a particular tune is known to be "catchy," if I
    >consciously decide to hum it, it's a function of intentional culture. Only
    >when it starts playing on its own-- and continues replaying long after it's
    >begun to annoy me-- does it become a function of memetic culture.
    >I agree that it's important to distinguish between what is memetic and what
    >is genetic. But it's also important to distinguish between what is memetic
    >and what is intentional. In order for the term to be meaningful, "meme"
    >must be delineated on both sides, from biology and from reflexive
    >The key issue is whether the unit of culture is self-replicated or
    >intentionally replicated by a conscious agent. Memes are active. Ideas are

    I would be curious to see an example of a 'meme' and an example of an
    'idea' that will display the distinction you are trying to make.

    Ray Recchia

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