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Why Some Things Are Popular

Mona Dali

Mona Dali (Velikovsky 2014)

For thousands of years, the definition of `culture’ has been an unsolved problem in many domains…

Memes, holon-partons, holarchies, a Normal Curve.

Memes, holon-partons, holarchies, a Normal Curve.

That is, in Sociology, in Psychology, Anthropology, in Memetics, in Literature (novels, poems, plays), in Media Studies (Movies, Television, Painting, Photography), Linguistics (words, sentences, jokes), and – even: Cultural Studies)…

However – the chapter below aims to suggest a single solution to that problem.

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.

And this book is an extension of that concept:


 

A Brief Background to the Problem

Epistemology - How do we know what we know?

What is `culture’..?

…What is `Culture’?

In 1952, in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, Kroeber and Kluckhohn located and published over 150 (varying) meanings and definitions of `culture’ (see; Kroeber & Kluckhohn 1952). However while there is much overlap, there is also considerable variation in (and disagreement among) these definitions; also they use words (rather than diagrams) to identify: the definition of culture. (Notably, Sir Karl Popper [1999] repeatedly emphasized that definitions are not important, but, rather that solving problems is: the key aim of science.)

Around 40 years after Kroeber and Kluckhohn, in 2006, in Redefining Culture: Perspectives Across the Disciplines, Baldwin collated over 300 different definitions of culture (see: Baldwin 2006).

In 2007, in Muses and Measures: Empirical Research Methods for the Humanities, Van Peer et al, rightly concluded

`As far as can be seen, there is no consensus on the notion of culture anywhere to be found.’

(Van Peer, Hakemulder & Zyngier 2007, p. 30)

The definition of `culture’ has therefore been a hard problem for many decades – and in fact, for many millennia, as a consensus was not able to be reached among disciplines.


 

…What is `the unit of Culture’?

If we can identify the unit of culture, we can identify (and empirically analyze): culture.

I suggest the unit of culture – the meme (ideas, processes, products) – is the holon-parton.

Holon-parton structure of the meme V2

I presented a peer-reviewed academic paper on this, here, in 2014. i.e. This paper.

In Systems Theory, holon-partons are a whole and a part at the same time. (A whole unto themselves – and a part of a bigger whole unit.) Koestler (1979) presents the following diagram.

Schematic representation of the organismic hierarchy (Koestler 1979)

Schematic representation of the organismic hierarchy (Koestler 1979)

For example, we can examine the following painting – and its analysis, as a holarchy of holon-partons.

The Mona Lisa (Da Vinci) - a unit of culture - and a holon-parton

The Mona Lisa (by Da Vinci) – a unit of culture – a meme – a holon-parton

An analysis of The Mona Lisa as a holarchy of holon-partons:

The Mona Lisa as a holarchy of holon-partons (Velikovsky 2014)

The Mona Lisa as a holarchy of holon-partons (Velikovsky 2014)

The Mona Lisa - as a meme - a holarchy of memes (holon-partons)

The Mona Lisa – as a meme – a holarchy of memes (holon-partons) – (Velikovsky 2014)

The whole – the unit of culture – the meme – that is The Mona Lisa:

The Mona Lisa (Da Vinci) - a unit of culture - and a holon-parton

The Mona Lisa (Da Vinci) – a unit of culture – and a holon-parton

All of culture can be analyzed, as a holon-parton – as a meme – as a unit of culture


In light of all this, I’ve just published an ebook called ‘Why Some Things Are Popular: or, The Meme – The Unit of Culture’ (Velikovsky 2014).

It’s a longer (70 page) and easier-to-read version of, this post:

StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the Unit of Culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

There is another version of the concept online, here, at Practical Memetics (2014).

And, for a limited time, you can download the PDF of the ebook (for free), Why Some Things Are Popular (2014) from here:

Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)

Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)


 

Here’s the Table of Contents:

WHY SOME THINGS ARE POPULAR – Or: The Meme, The Unit of Culture

Mona Dali - not by Da Vinci


CONTENTS

Acknowledgements ………1
Foreword ………2
Contents ………4
List Of Figures ………6

Introduction ………7

PART 1 – THEORY ………8
Why Are Some Things Popular? ………9
What is Culture? ………11
What is Biology? ………13
What are holons, and, holon-partons? ………15
Holarchies – and `The 3 Laws of holarchies’ ………16
A holarchy in Biology ………17
Why Does Evolution Happen? ………19
The Meme – the Unit of Culture ………21
Biology, Bioculture, and Culture ………24
So, Why Are Some Things More Popular? ………26
The Creativity Continuum ………33

PART 2 – ANALYSIS OF VARIOUS MEMES IN CULTURE, AS HOLON-PARTONS ………35
Why Is This Important? (Does It Even Matter?) ………36
Jokes (as memes – and holon-partons) ………37
Poems (as memes – and holon-partons) ………38
Plays (as memes – and holon-partons) ………39
Novels (as memes – and holon-partons) ………40
Paintings (as memes – and holon-partons) ………41
Photographs (as memes – and holon-partons) ………42
Movies (as memes – and holon-partons) ………43
Television series (as memes – and holon-partons) ………44
Videogames (as memes – and holon-partons) ………45
Transmedia (as memes – and holon-partons) ………46
Music (as memes – and holon-partons) ………47
Languages (as memes – and holon-partons) ………48
Religions (as memes – and holon-partons) ………49
Science (as memes – and holon-partons) ………50
Evolution and Creativity: Selection, Variation, Transmission-with-heredity ………51
Why Does Cultural Evolution Happen? ………53
A holarchy of Novels ………54
The holon-parton structure of the meme, the unit of culture ………60
Analysis of a Painting as a meme, a unit of culture, a holon-parton: The Mona Lisa ………61
Conclusion and Recapitulation ………64

References ………66
Afterword ………73


Here are some diagrams from the book:

Cultural evolution – (or the Systems model of Creativity – or Evolutionary Epistemology) explains why some memes go viral – as they are better adapted to their environment in human bioculture.

Systems Model - selection

Selection – and De-Selection – of memes in Csikszentmihalyi’s Systems Model of Creativity (1988-2014) – Velikovsky 2014

A holarchy in biology is shown below. There are 3 laws of holon-partons, they are laws of evolution, and laws of physics.

A Biological Holarchy-Partarchy (Velikovsky 2014)

A Biological Holarchy-Partarchy (Velikovsky 2014)

We can analyze Paintings (as memes) – as holon-partons.

Paintings - a holarchy-partarchy

Paintings – a holarchy-partarchy

Here is another diagram from the book:

Memes, holon-partons, holarchies, a Normal Curve.

Memes, holon-partons, holarchies, and a Normal Curve.

And – here is a children’s painting, inspired by the above diagram:

An Artist's Impression

An Artist’s Impression of the above diagram

You can download a PDF of the book here. (Or, click the cover-image, below.)

Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)

Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)

And, more detail is at:

StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the Unit of Culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014).

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

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.

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