A friend gave me a $25 gift card for Borders. Perfect gift for me. I was going to meet Wrightbooks there for coffee and to catch up. She is a very dear friend, one whom I’ve not given enough attention to as of late. Preoccupation with other matters is not reason enough for falling out of touch. She suffers from migraines something horrible. I keep calm on the claims of people much of the time, yet whenever I hear someone complain about a migraine and wanting to quit (leave work or shrug off responsibility) I am filled with a sudden desire to grab them by their throat and show them my friend who many times cannot move due to the ferocity of the attacks.
I talked to her Wednesday and she sounded bad. We made plans to meet at Borders on Thursday. However when I arrived at Borders she called me and I knew she wasn’t coming. Bless her heart, if there were any strength in her she would have come. I didn’t want her to come… but instead to stay home and rest. Our catch-up time would come after her return from Houston.
Inside Borders I used the gift card and bought a couple things. I bought a new large, lineless, brown paged (very plain, a brown color throughout including covers) journal that lies flat on the table, a mocha, a pen, and an R.A. Salvatore book.
I have grown tired of lengthy writings into my small travel journal, so I have purchased this larger one that lies flat upon the table.
While browsing the books I saw an intensely beautiful woman in a black pant suit looking through a travel guide of Texas. I wanted to use my history in Texas as a subject to broach a conversation with her. Yet I was taken aback by her beatufy. She was lithe in form, at ease and graceful in her movements. She seemed to float three inches above the carpet. Her eyes were pools of black night. Her skin like the delicatly hued shade of cream. Her hair was shoulder length and filled with curls. She came near an old woman browsing books near me. I watched the two and took the old woman with silver-grey hair to be her mother. A woman of strong will and razor sharp intelligence shone through her yes. I tried to gues their ethnic heritage. Not that I care in the means of snobbery, but instead for coloring the beauty before me with more depth of detail. She could have been Israeli, Greek, Chilean, Turkish… any number of ethicities. The look was more prominent in her mother but of no clue. She was stunning and it seemed that I only breathed with half my lungs, afraid to make a sudden move lest this dream disappear into the air.
Arm in arm the two strode out of the bookstore. I was left standing where I was, gaze following them to the parking lot, and fingers aching for a pen to write of her beauty. Some latter day reader might read this and have no clear image whatsoever of the fair beauty that I loved for a brief moment. Yet she is now a memory tucked away into the chambers of my heart along with so many others. How well I echo the sentiment of Walt Whitman when he writes of briefly falling in love withe stranger across the room.
Before stepping inside Borders I walked through the outside commons area of the finished Oakway Center. There were many people having dinner at a Mexican restaurant as well as enjoying the sweets of a creamery. The design of the center is beautiful. It is open and ecological in form, blending art with purpose. Would that we could do the same with our lives? Part of the Oakway Center is vibrant with business, the other portion is closed and yet to recieve the drastic re-modeling/construction moving it from the sheer ugly and unimspired design of the past to the refreshing one of the present.
Ugly designs of the past. Quick thought… while walking to the bus station en route to Borders I passed two old women out for their evening constitutional. We were across the street from the new Eugene Public Library. I love its design. I remember a past conversation with Christine on the design of the building. Her father is an architect and she has greater knowledge than I matters of such. We were at odds on our opinion of the new library. I loved it with its large windows, many angles, and long curving exterior. She did not like it, citing that is is more expensive to build a curved wall than a straight one. I countered that beauty is worth the price and that more buildings should be built with beauty in their design as well as function. The human mind does not bode well in a box, whether a cubicle or a building. I recalled this past discussion with Christine while I passed the two old ladies and heard one of them say to the other “I don’t like it, it is a monstrosity”.
Now I sit in a cafe and I’ve been reading “Synaptic Self” by Joseph LoDoux. I hve also had recent readings into memes as well as classical philosophy on the nature of the mind, self, ontology and such. This brings me to wonder. I set my book down upon the table and look around me. People in conversation. The spaces of the bookstore around me. The design that went into the interior. The design going into the speech of the conversation. Teh lives of the people around me. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things is to realize that the stranger across the room has a life of habits, thoughts, dreams and fears as very real to him/her as my own life to me. It is indeed fascinating when one thinks about it. Perhaps this is one of the engines that drives the sales of books (and perhaps LiveJournal).
Note to self, remember Roedick’s “implicit and explicit” memory studies. Keep this in mind in regards to concepts of “implicit and explicit self”.
End Paper Journal Entry
The thoughts that come to my mind are often wide, disparate, unrelated, and not thought out (odd way of putting it -grin). In the past when dealing with an immense puzzle I would digest as much as possible and after a period of “cooking” I’d turn out a complex viewpoint. Some key factors. One, I do not make use of empirical data as much as I would like (I would like to take a much harsher empirical look at Jung’s beginnings and leave the mostly predominant touchy feeling bunny rabbit counselors outside for a while) and; two, I will use the strangest things as part of an argument and; three, if put to a question on something that I’ve given little thought to I am capable to churning out an opinion and backing it up with lots of rhetoric, while the truthfulness of such rhetoric is unknown to me. Of these three observances, number two is of helpful use to me and one and three are possible problems to overcome in my studies.
Culture is derived from collective behavior. Collective behavior is individual behavior with regards percieved norms. Individual behavior has more social influence than we admit to, and less conscious decision making than we admit as well. It seems that so much is derived from so little.
On the nature of memes I have a serious line of thought to investigate. A meme is something that is copied, a thought, a line, an expression, musical taste… the use of slang words might be construed as memes (how did “da bomb” come to be regarded as “good”?). And that is meaning. Again… meaning enters my thoughts and I wonder now if perhaps I shouldn’t have bought the introductory book by Victor Frankl on the concepts of Logotherapy (psychology of meaning). Of course I understand that my thoughts are pure speculation and aren’t testable (at least not yet in their present form) but a thought enters my mind now.
If memes are purely replicators in the mind then I am left wondering as to aspects of the wiccan religion. While the concept of memes, as I understand it, explains quite fully the wildfire like spreading of various ideas of wicca through the population, it doesn’t satisfy all of it. My understanding of the concept of the meme is new and not fully worked out. And yet I think that the other side of the meme argument might hold a Jungian twist to it. Meaning. Behind every symbol is an archetype and within each archetype is a meaning. Is meaning, a search for it, or the holding of certain types of meaning the filter through which some memes survive and others do not?
I am no longer a wiccan. I no longer hold any of the beliefs or assumptions. I’ve since departed what I found to be an extremely dogmatic population of believers. And yet in that population there was a mixture of meme as pure replicator and meaning… with no obvious connection between the two. To get into any truly in depth conversation on many of the topics of the religion would usually show a frustrated person at a loss. The odd thing to notice is that the person holds to a group of meanings (implicit), to which I am very sympathetic toward, and also to a group of symbols and expressed beliefs (explicit) and the expicit and implicit do not always match up. This dissonance is covered up, generally with hostility toward christians or “other” fundamentalist, closed minded dogmat believers (projections of their own psyche).
This is not a brief attack on wiccans or wicca. I have not my seasonal return to the so-called “old religion” (funny… it is very contemporary) but instead I am trying to nail down an important aspect of the transmission of ideas as pondered about while in Borders a couple nights ago and why beauty is as important to me as utility. It seems to me that at some basic level if memes were all that was required in passing ideas from one to another (and the longevity of such) then logic would be a highly useful strategy to adopt and that the bible-thumpers of the South would be easily swayed into the reality of evolution as opposed to creationism. Memes are replicators competing for survival and as such it might be the same to think of the brain as the jungle and having two types of great cats compete for the same niche. The most efficient one should win, say the tiger over the lion, or evolution over creationism. Yet something keeps the lion from dying out, perhaps influence from the human park rangers, tossing out meat to keep the lion from starving, as well as shooting the odd tiger. So too is something sorting out and promoting some memes over others. This is the murky area… articulating the thoughts in my head. While it was said by Blackmore that adding the phrase “or burn in hell eternall” to the short meme “go to church” makes it much more powerful, and the very thought did cross my mind when I first began my readings in paganism after having cut myself off from the christian religion… it was a different drive that drove me to paganism to begin with… a fulfillment of a meaning that I was not getting from christianity? I can’t believe that this was all of it. The Latter Day Saints still have a siren call for me whenever I see the elders riding their bikes or I pass a L.D.S. store.
More reading, more coffee, and more thinking on this is in order. Perhaps today shall be a Jungian sort of day. Or perhap more reading in neurology.