Date: Sat, 6 Mar 1999 14:05:37 EST
Subject: Derek's mission
In a message dated 3/3/99 10:41:27 AM Central Standard Time,
A sure sign you are losing the argument. Especially since you
have raised so many points which lead me to believe you have effectively
abandoned the position you take in your 1998 paper.>>
I am a little new to this list, though not new to thinking about memetics. I
particularly like William Benzon's treatment of memes which you cite in your
paper. I hope to familiarize myself some more with things in the Journal.
But about your interaction here with Aaron, I think the above quote belies a
desire to turn this into a zero-sum game. Perhaps a little greedy on your
part? I think you have held your own very nicely. Heat-of-the-battle public
capitulations are unseemly. It can appear to say that you did not value your
position in the first place, which might say more about the person than the
position. Expecting them is likewise unseemly. While the death of a position
is less traumatic than the death of human, we all tend to wait for privacy to
bury the dead. And of course to make sure that they are indeed dead - while I
may share your belief that "thought contagion" thinking is deeply flawed, I am
not yet convinced that there is no life left in that position.
I think your paper in the journal very nicely articulates some of my own
problems with memetics in ways that I couldn't have articulated myself.
Because of these concerns, I have actually switched my strategies in book
buying. I used to reject books on these topics solely on the basis of them
not having the word "meme" in the index. Now I have recently switched
strategies completely and now specifically look for books that DO NOT have the
word "meme" in the index, but that seem to have something important to say
about cultural evolution.
Indeed this strategy seems to be more fruitful for me for now, although I DO
think that "memes" are here to stay. One of the best books that I have run
into with this strategy is Cultural Selection by Gary Taylor - He is a
Shakespearean scholar who also wrote Reinventing Shakespeare. He has a very
informed participant's perspective on "culture wars" issues as well as being
professionally versed in things cultural both eastern and western. He also
seems to have a very good understanding of evolution, having read a lot of
Dawkin's books, but lacking a lot of this "thought contagion" immersion that
seems to pervade the thinking community of memetics at the present.
Here is a direct link to the Amazon page where I reviewed Taylor's book.
">Cultural Selection; Why Some Achievements Survive the Test of Time - and
I look forward to reading more of your stuff, Derek. I think you are making
some valuable points. Keep up the good fight, but don't lose your head. Just
because this isn't a religious war, doesn't mean that you can't have that kind
of zeal, but combined with civilized refinement that religious Jihad will
I wish that I had found this mailing list long ago. I don't know how I missed
Thank you ALL so much.
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