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random mutations of offbeat activities

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

from John Pfeiffer’s The Creative Explosion:

Think of the hundreds of thousands of useless things that are going on in the world somewhere right now. There seems to be no limit to what people will do, provided it is sufficiently off-beat and has never been done before. All the new games and experiments and assorted forms of dare-devilry, everything from double somersault ski-jumps, walking tightropes between skyscrapers, and setting the record for the most parachute jumps in a 24-hour period, to wrapping cliffs in cellophane, swallowing new drugs and combinations of drugs, playing Dungeons and Dragons, attempts at levitation, and on and on and on. Such activities represent the cutting edge of evolution, human-style. They are analogous to the random genetic mutations of organic evolution. The vast majority of mutations are harmful or useless, and so are the vast majority of offbeat activities. But someday as society changes at a mounting rate, one in a billion may payoff, and it’s impossible to predict which one.

Categories: memes

memes as metaphor engines

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

From Mike Godwin’s Meme, Counter-meme

When a meme catches on, it may crystallize whole schools of thought. Take the “black hole” meme, for instance. As physicist Brandon Carter has commented in Stephen Hawkings’s A Brief History of Time: A Reader’s Companion: “Things changed dramatically when John Wheeler invented the term [black hole]…Everybody adopted it, and from then on, people around the world, in Moscow, in America, in England, and elsewhere, could know they were speaking about the same thing.” Once the “black hole” meme became commonplace, it became a handy source of metaphors for everything from illiteracy to the deficit.

Categories: memes, metaphor

Egregore

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

from “Egregore Definition Compilation”

This following is from Gaetan Delaforgem from a Gnosis article, “The Templar Tradition: yesterday and today”:

…”An egregore is a kind of group mind which is created when people consciously come together for a common purpose. Whenever people gather together to do something and egregore is formed, but unless an attempt is made to maintain it deliberately it will dissipate rather quickly. However if the people wish to maintain it and know the techniques of how to do so, the egregore will continue to grow in strength and can last for centuries.
An egregore has the characteristic of having an effectiveness greater than the mere sum of its individual members. It continuously interacts with its members, influencing them and being influenced by them. The interaction works positively by stimulating and assisting its members but only as long as they behave and act in line with its original aim. It will stimulate both individually and collectively all those faculties in the group which will permit the realization of the objectives of its original program. If this process is continued a long time the egregore will take on a kind of life of its own, and can become so strong that even if all its members should die, it would continue to exist on the inner dimensions and can be contacted even centuries later by a group of people prepared to live the lives of the original founders, particularly if they are willing to provide the initial input of energy to get it going again.

from The Art of Memetics

One of the sigilization techniques which has arisen online in recent years is the Hyperstition, a virtual or abstract form that realizes itself though the actions of those who hold that idea-set and who leverage discourse about that idea-set.

brainwave: compare/contrast collective intelligence vs egregore vs hyperstition

four significant traits of the trickster

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

from “Why So Serious?” by F. Daniel Harbecke

There are four significant traits of the trickster:
1. They are “go-betweens.” Tricksters are able to move with relative ease among contrasting regions or levels of being. They have the power to escape order, crossing the threshold into another version of it. Hermes was the only god able to enter the underworld regularly and without difficulty.
2. They embody inconsistency. Rather than enforcing one view of reality, tricksters support the paradox of multiple views. They follow the guiding principle of improvisational theater: you never deny another person’s reality, you only build upon it. Sun Wukong, the Chinese monkey god, could change each hair on his body into a double of himself.
3. They have “smart luck.” Tricksters are always prepared for the unprepared because they hold their ideas lightly. There really are no accidents in the liminal perspective, only opportunities for discovery and insight: you simply play through. When Loki bet his head in a wager – and lost – he agreed to let the winners take his head as long as they don’t harm his neck.
4. They have no home. The trickster is closely associated with the road or constant motion. Hermes is the god of roads and escort of travelers. The Nigerian trickster god Edshu walked down the road in a hat colored blue on one side, red on the other. Half the farmers would say, “Did you see that god with the blue hat?” while the others argued it was red. Edshu would further complicate matters by walking the other way with his hat on backwards!

Categories: trickster

Signifyin’

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

from Wikipedia “The trickster’s literary role”

Modern African American literary criticism has turned the trickster figure into one example of how it is possible to overcome a system of oppression from within. For years, African American literature was discounted by the greater community of American literary criticism while its authors were still obligated to use the language and the rhetoric of the very system that relegated African Americans and other minorities to the ostracized position of the cultural “other.” The central question became one of how to overcome this system when the only words available were created and defined by the oppressors. As Audre Lorde explained, the problem was that “the master’s tools [would] never dismantle the master’s house.”

In his writings of the late 1980s, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the concept of Signifyin(g). Wound up in this theory is the idea that the “master’s house” can be “dismantled” using his “tools” if the tools are used in a new or unconventional way. To demonstrate this process, Gates cites the interactions found in African American narrative poetry between the trickster, the Signifying Monkey, and his oppressor, the Lion. {…} the Monkey is able to outwit the Lion continually in these narratives through his usage of figurative language. According to Gates, “[T]he Signifying Monkey is able to signify upon the Lion because the Lion does not understand the Monkey’s discourse…The monkey speaks figuratively, in a symbolic code; the lion interprets or reads literally and suffers the consequences of his folly…” In this way, the Monkey uses the same language as the Lion, but he uses it on a level that the Lion cannot comprehend.

{…} Brer Rabbit is the hero with a “fragile body but a deceptively strong mind” that allows him to “create [his] own symbols in defiance of the perverted logic of the oppressor.” By twisting language to create these symbols, Brer Rabbit not only was the “personification of the ethic of self-preservation” for the slave community, but also “an alternative response to their oppressor’s false doctrine of anthropology.”

from “Signifyin'”

Signifyin(g) (vernacular) is a practice in African American culture, involving a verbal strategy of indirection that exploits the gap between the denotative and figurative meanings of words.

Categories: metaphor, trickster

from Magic & Images

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

From Magic & Images (David Levi-Strauss)

Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss advanced the most complete modern sociological theory of magic, and they concluded that, in order to be magical, an act or belief must be common to the whole of a society. Magic is essentially traditional and social-if most people in the society don’t believe it, it won’t work. “We held,” wrote Mauss in his General Theory of Magic, “that sacred things, involved in sacrifice, did not constitute a system of propagated illusions, but were social, consequently real.” This lays the groundwork for thinking about the relation of magic to technology and media today.

The book I’m writing now, Images & Belief, is an inquiry into how and why we believe photographic images, technical images, the way we do, and how this credulity allows us to be manipulated by images. Seeing is believing, but something changed with the invention of technical images to make us more subject to this equation. And I believe something changed again with September 11th-the most “imaged” event in history-to solidify and deepen these effects.

All events are nowadays aimed at the television screen, the cinema screen, the photograph, in order to be translated into a state of things. In this way, however, every action simultaneously loses its historical character and turns into a magic ritual and an endlessly repeatable movement.

Categories: magic

cs lewis on alternate realities

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

If I find in myself a desire which nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

C.S. Lewis

Categories: multiple universes