Re: Cultural Evolution & History

John Konopak (
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 13:09:10 -0500

Message-Id: <>
From: John Konopak <>
Subject: Re: Cultural Evolution & History
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 13:09:10 -0500

At 03:06 PM 6/11/97 -0400, you wrote:
>Bill B asks
>>Why Europe? From the 15th century CE on, Europe went into a period of
>extraordinary cultural growth and creativity. Why?
>I can't help but think that part of the answer to this question has to do
>with meme flow though and around the eastern Mediterranean. I can almost
>imagine that we had a greater variety of memes flowing though that area
>over a longer period of time than any other area of comparable size.
>What kind of work has to be done to determine whether or not this is so?
>How does one estimate meme variety & meme flow for times & places past?>
>Good question Bill. Wearing my ex-geologist hat I have always seen it as
>one of those events when meme's learnt to tap a whole host of new resources
>[fish, Northern European Forests, and Latin American gold seem to be the
>big three. This is the equivalent of, say, plants learning to colonize land
>in the late Devonian.
>I also can't help wondering how much contingency there was about the event.
>There follows - excuse me and delete now if you want to - a tongue-in-cheek
>effort to make the point. I hope the disguised memeticist is visible:

The explosion of memesis that fostered the necessary climate that inspired
and perfused the "Age of Discovery" (also the age of "reconnaissance")
probably was instigated and abetted by the introduction of the easy
reproduction of texts: first the Bible; then bang!--books, maps, journals;
anybody who had anything to say about anything was writing and publishing
everything. Gutenberg (moveable type): ca1456? Henry the Navigator died in
1460, about the same time Columbus, deGama, et al are born. Born into a much
richer, much more diverse and diffuse memetic environment. Think of it!
Latin in serious decline, and the frantic expansion of "dialects" particular
to local experiences but immersed in a stew (ah, the alimentary philosophy
again) of memetic fecundity.
And with the hearty boost of the memesis group, the very ether is nearly
saturated. So does the richness of the memetic climate predict or merely

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But what they don't know is what what they do does." -- M. Foucault
| [Standard Disclaimer: Irremediable intertextuality, |
| and/or consequent and/or collateral intersubjectivity |
| notwithstanding,opinions here are as much "my own" |
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