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Memetics – and `An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning’ (re: Turner 1999)

Frederick Turner has a brilliant chapter, `An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning‘ in the excellent anthology, Biopoetics (1999) – which Turner also actually edited, with Brett Cooke:

I now want to go through one small excerpt of that (excellent) chapter by Turner, noting where it exactly correlates with, the content of these two posts:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

(In short, it correlates everywhere.)

But first – here is an introductory quote, prior to the exact section I want to analyze, as – this `sets up’ the 7 excellent points Turner makes, that are to follow…

Mona Lisa - Golden Section (Da Vinci)

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) – and the Golden Ratio (Da Vinci)

Turner (rightly) states:

`The whole species must benefit from possessing a sense of beauty.

This could only be the case if beauty is a real characteristic of the universe, one that it would be useful – adaptive – to know.

How might this be?

I want to suggest that the experience of beauty is a recognition of the deepest tendency or theme of the universe as a whole…

Aesthetic perception is not vague and “touchy-feely” relative to ordinary perception; quite the reverse.

This is why, given an infinite number of theories that will logically explain the facts, scientists will sensibly always choose the most beautiful theory. For good reason: this is the way the world works.

Beauty in this view is the highest integrative level of understanding and the most comprehensive capacity for effective action. It enables us to go with, rather than against, the deepest tendency or theme of the universe, to be able to model what will happen and adapt to or change it.’

(Turner in Cooke & Turner, 1999, pp. 124-125)

And now – the part that I would like to look more closely at…Below is the excerpt from Biopoetics, and then (below) I will examine it, point by point.

(I was going to say: “and then I will deconstruct it, point by point”, but – I have no time for postmodern deconstructionism, and – I wholeheartedly agree with every point that Turner makes against it, in the article. The entire article by Turner is brilliant. Along the exact same lines – I also agree with Joe Carroll and Jon Gottschall about: postmodernism/deconstructionism, and in fact all other lit-crit approaches. In my view, biopoetics/ecopoetics/evolutionary psychology/literary Darwinism/bioculturalism/sociobiology is the only approach with consilient merit, as per EO Wilson’s brilliant work, Consilience (1998). And, for more on consilience, see this post.)

The Cats Eye Nebula. This cat might need to lose a few pounds.

The Cat’s Eye Nebula.

Turner states:

`This line of investigation has clearly brought us to a question which it seems audacious to ask in this anti-metaphysical age. Let us ask it anyway:

What is the deepest tendency or theme of the universe?

To begin to answer, let us make another list, a list of descriptions or characteristics of that theme or tendency…

1. Unity in multiplicity: The universe does seem to be one, though it is full of an enormous variety and quantity of things. Our best knowledge about its beginning, if it had one, is that everything in the universe was contracted into a single hot, dense atom.

2. Complexity within simplicity: The universe is very complicated, yet it was generated by very simple physical laws like the laws of thermodynamics.

3. Generativeness and creativity: The universe generates a new moment every moment, and each moment has genuine novelties. Its tendency or theme is that it should not just stop. As it cooled, it produced all the laws of chemistry, all the new species of animals and plants, and finally ourselves and our history.

4. Rhythmicity: The universe can be described as a gigantic, self-nested scale of vibrations, from the highest-frequency particles, which oscillate with an energy of ten million trillion giga-electron volts, to the slowest conceivable frequency (or deepest of all musical notes), which vibrates over a period sufficient for a single wave to cross the entire universe and return. Out of these vibrations, often the most delicate and elaborate mixtures of harmonies of tone, everything is made.

5. Symmetry: Shapes and forms are repeated or mirrored in all physical structures, whether at the subatomic, the atomic, the crystalline, the chemical, the biological, or the anthropological levels of reality. The more complex and delicate the symmetry, the more opportunities it presents for symmetry-breaking, the readjustment of the system toward a new equilibrium, and thus adaptation toward even more comprehensive symmetries.

6. Hierarchical organization: Big pieces of the universe contain, control, and depend on smaller pieces, and smaller pieces on smaller pieces still, and so on.

7. Self-similarity: Related to the hierarchical property is a marvellous property now being investigated by chaos theorists and fractal mathematicians – the smaller parts of the universe often resemble in shape and structure the larger parts of which they are components, and those larger parts in turn resemble the still larger systems that contain them.’

(Turner in Cooke & Turner, 1999, pp. 126-127)

So – that is the excellent excerpt from the article.

Here is a 20-min TED Talk (2010) by Benoit Mandelbrot on Fractals (i.e.: self-similarity).

And now, with specific regard to these 2 papers below:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

Let’s examine each of these remarkable points that Turner (1999) makes, in more detail:

1. Unity in multiplicity: The universe does seem to be one, though it is full of an enormous variety and quantity of things.

Agreed-! Compare that concept – with this holarchy below, within Memetic Culturology:

A Holarchy

A Holarchy of holon-partons (all: governed by the laws of holarchies)

And see also:

Earth's location in the Universe (Image: Andrew Z. Colvin)

Earth’s location in the Universe (Image: Andrew Z. Colvin)

Next point, from Turner (1999), above:

2. Complexity within simplicity: The universe is very complicated, yet it was generated by very simple physical laws like the laws of thermodynamics.

Exactly. And, importantly, for Culture – and for memes (the units of culture) see also: the 3 Laws of Holarchies.

Physical matter is governed by the laws of holarchies (see above diagram); so too, Culture is governed by the laws of holarchies.

i.e. – The 3 Laws of Holarchies – The following is an (amended / adapted) extract from Funch’s online essay “Holarchies” (Funch 1995), which paraphrases Koestler (1964, 1967, 1978) on holons and holarchies. Below, I have used the compound (or hyphenated) term I have created – namely, `holon-parton’ – (by combining Koestler’s term `holon’ (1967, 1978) and Feynman’s term `parton’, from 1972 & 1975). I believe that both Koester and Feynman were talking about the same thing (i.e. namely that `holons’ = `partons’).

  • “A holon-parton is a node in a holarchy.
  • [1] A holon-parton looks up for what it needs to integrate with.
  • [2] It looks sideways for what it needs to compete and/or co-operate with.
  • [3] It looks down for what it wants to command and control.
  • Each holon-parton cannot be fully explained by or predicted by a study of its parts. It is something more. A holon-parton is also part of something bigger that it is being affected by. But at the same time it has a high degree of autonomy, it has a life of its own.” (adapted from Funch 1995 by JT Velikovsky)

See also:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

For why – these laws of holarchies govern culture (e.g. novels, films, songs, poems, scientific theories, etc.).

(Please note – these divisions of `levels’ of holon-partons below are not arbitrary, they are: governed by the three laws of holarchies.)

Holarchy of Science

Holarchy of Science

Holarchy of Religion:

(Please note – these divisions of `levels’ of holon-partons below are not arbitrary, they are: governed by the laws of holarchies)

Holarchy of Religion

Holarchy of Religion

Next point, from Turner (1999):

3. Generativeness and creativity: The universe generates a new moment every moment, and each moment has genuine novelties. Its tendency or theme is that it should not just stop. As it cooled, it produced all the laws of chemistry, all the new species of animals and plants, and finally ourselves and our history.

Indeed. This is actually: Universal Creativity, which can also be called `Universal Darwinism’. It is how and why new cultural artefacts (films, novels, poems, songs, scientific theories, etc) are created.

The evolutionary algorithm is: selection, variation (e.g. combination – such as when 2 DNA strands combine – each contributing 50% of their genes to form a new DNA strand and a new individual organism) and transmission-with heredity.

Memetic (as opposed to genetic) hybrid vigour

In Culture, with memes, this combination (or: bisociation) can result in memetic (as opposed to genetic) hybrid vigour, and the new meme (e.g. a film, novel or song) can go viral in culture

And – as with Biological creativity – Cultural creativity also works via the exact same algorithm: selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity…

Combinatorial Creativity (or bisociation)

Combinatorial Creativity (or Koestler’s `bisociation’)

For more details, see:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

Next point by Turner:

4. Rhythmicity: The universe can be described as a gigantic, self-nested scale of vibrations, from the highest-frequency particles, which oscillate with an energy of ten million trillion giga-electron volts, to the slowest conceivable frequency (or deepest of all musical notes), which vibrates over a period sufficient for a single wave to cross the entire universe and return. Out of these vibrations, often the most delicate and elaborate mixtures of harmonies of tone, everything is made.

Holarchies (as per the diagram above – from `strings’, right up to the `multiverse’) are self-nested. This is also known as `the Infinite Hierarchical Nesting of Matter’ theory.

It is also the same principle in Culture, with memes as holon-partons, and memeplexes as holarchies.

Holarchy of the Film Field and Domain (Velikovsky 2013)

Holarchy of the Film Field and Domain (Velikovsky 2013). Note that memes (ideas, processes, products) are at both the top – and bottom – of this recursive, iterative system / holarchy (i.e.: Culture). i.e. Screenwriters absorb memes (ideas) from the meme pool (all culture), such – as reading the news, and seeing other films (from there they select ideas), and then they: select, vary and transmit-with-heredity those memes (ideas) back into their own screenplay and film. Rinse and repeat, forever.

Here is another:

Creative Practice Theory - Holarchy of the Game Field and Domain (Velikovsky 2013)

Creative Practice Theory – Holarchy of the Game Field and Domain (Velikovsky 2013)

For more details, see:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

Notably also – apparently, (cosmic/subatomic) strings also vibrate at different frequencies, and this is what determines what exact form of matter/energy (particles or waves) they manifest as (e.g. What exact type of quark they make, etc).

And, as a side note – so, ironically – maybe Plato and Pythagoras were vaguely on to something, with their musica universalis / `music of the celestial spheres’ theory. i.e.: It’s all just: vibrations. Maybe this is also why music sounds so good, (but I note: not all music.)

Also – Culture is a nested Domain (containing both the Arts, and Science, which are each also nested domains).

Here is an (example)  nested Domain in Film: (these are all holarchies)

The Film Domain: mise en abyme (Domains within Domains)

The Film Domain: mise en abyme (Domains within Domains)

And here is another nested domain:

Memetic Culturology

Memetic Culturology

And another one:

The Film Holarchy: The `Pond Ripple' Model - (Velikovsky 2012)

The Film Holarchy: The `Pond Ripple’ Model – (Velikovsky 2012) – A feature film begins when a writer finds a producer for their film script (the story of which, is a meme) and – the meme can then spread out through these nested Domains: the Group (film cast & crew); the Film Field (the industry `gatekeepers’ – such as Film Distributors); into the Domain of Film; out into Culture; out into Society (when people see it in cinemas); out to a Nation; and beyond nations to: the World. (Note that: not all feature films manage to do this! i.e. 7 in 10 films lose money, and 98% of screenplays go unmade!)

Also – speaking of `regular frequencies’ and culture, (and “modelling what will happen”, i.e. making scientific predictions) my doctoral research (aka StoryAlity Theory) finds that – a new top 20 RoI (return on investment) Film emerges from the international film system, every 2.05 years on average. The last one was January 2012, so the next one is predicted for / due in, January 2014.

The `Market Correction'

Top 20 RoI (return on investment) Films emerge every 2.05 years on average. Note the 10 year gap (1983-93) and the system `market correction’ (4 films emerge at once, in 2004) then the system returns to normal (with a new film emerging every 2.05 years, on average)

And again speaking of “modelling what will happen” – I also made an agent-based model (that you can experiment with) that shows how films are created in the system:

It (the algorithms in the agent-based-model of the feature film system) is underpinned by this theory: Creative Practice Theory – which uses the systems model of creativity.

Next point by Turner:

5. Symmetry: Shapes and forms are repeated or mirrored in all physical structures, whether at the subatomic, the atomic, the crystalline, the chemical, the biological, or the anthropological levels of reality. The more complex and delicate the symmetry, the more opportunities it presents for symmetry-breaking, the readjustment of the system toward a new equilibrium, and thus adaptation toward even more comprehensive symmetries.

This again is all reflected here in the holonic-partonic structure of the meme, the unit of culture (see the 3 links below), and in particular, with regard to cultural evolution, and cultural creativity (e.g. How new films, novels, songs, poems, scientific theories, etc – are created):

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology
  3. Practical MemeticsA hierarchy of memes (Velikovsky 2014)
The holon-parton structure of the meme - the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

The holon-parton structure of the meme – the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

Next point by Turner:

6. Hierarchical organization: Big pieces of the universe contain, control, and depend on smaller pieces, and smaller pieces on smaller pieces still, and so on.

Again, this is the law of holarchies. See the above holarchy diagrams, and see:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology
  3. Practical MemeticsA hierarchy of memes (Velikovsky 2014)

It is also the same with the structure of a cultural artefact, such as a film:

(Please note – these divisions of `levels of holon-partons’ below are not arbitrary, they are: governed by the laws of holarchies)

Holarchy of Film Structure Shots Scenes Seq etc

A Holarchy of Film Structure

A holarchy of film story: (please note – these divisions of `levels of holon-partons’ below are not arbitrary, they are: governed by the laws of holarchies)

Another holarchy of film

Another holarchy of film

Or – a novel: (please note – these divisions of `levels’ of holon-partons below are not arbitrary, they are: governed by the laws of holarchies)

Holarchy of Novels

Holarchy of Novels

7. Self-similarity: Related to the hierarchical property is a marvellous property now being investigated by chaos theorists and fractal mathematicians – the smaller parts of the universe often resemble in shape and structure the larger parts of which they are components, and those larger parts in turn resemble the still larger systems that contain them.’

As above – see: holarchies. (Memeplexes are holarchies.)

i.e. – A galaxy is a similar structure to a star system, a star system is similar structure to an atom, etc. (A black hole is just plain weird, but – it’s also sort of like a star, with gravity turned up to 11. Also they are often found at the centre of galaxies, such as the Milky Way galaxy. Just in case you were looking for one.)

And – note that the structure of the meme, the unit of culture, is fractal: (every idea [meme] is made up of 2 smaller ideas, and: repeat, forever.)

The holon-parton structure of the meme - the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

The holon-parton structure of the meme – the unit of culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

So – at any rate – Turner’s chapter `An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning‘ in Biopoetics (1999) is excellent – and I can highly recommend the book.

Biopoetics: Evolutionary Explorations in the Arts (Eds: Cooke & Turner, 1999)

In it, Turner talks about ecopoetics. – With ecosystems in mind (as – all of Culture – both Science and the Arts – is an ecosystem, given: the Domain, Field, Individual interaction systems model of Creativity).

Here is another holarchy worth considering:

Holarchy of Biology

Holarchy of Biology

See also this post on:

The Golden Ratio / The Fibonacci Spiral

Nautilus Shell Golden Spiral

A Nautilus Shell – the Golden Spiral

Also – here is a 1-hour lecture on Chaos (ie Complexity) Theory – if you like that sort of thing. (I certainly do.)

And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)

And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:

StoryAlity #71On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication

Comments, always welcome.

——————————————–

JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/

————————————

REFERENCES

Turner in Cooke, B., & Turner, F. (eds, 1999) Biopoetics: Evolutionary Explorations in the Arts. Lexington, Ky: ICUS.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.

5 thoughts on “StoryAlity #108 – Memetics – and `An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning’ (re: Turner 1999)

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