Friday, August 04, 2006

The Book Meme

I've been tagged by ScienceWoman to do the book meme that's been going around and since it's already late in the afternoon on a Friday, I won't be getting anything meaningful done on my dissertation anyway. I was going to write a Pup Progress Report but that can always wait for BOOKS.

1. One book that changed your life?
"This is a hard one to start with." No doubt. Academically, I'd say The Evolution of Desire. It got me to investigate evolutionary psychology. But way before that, the book that *really* changed my life and is responsible for the predicament I am now in: Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language. I believe that I received a tip from Margot, through Maurice, that I would really like this book. They were accurate!

2. One book that you have read more than once?
I don't believe I have ever read an entire book twice, but I know I have read two all of the way through once and then almost 100% of the way a second time and perhaps multiple times in parts. One of those books I mentioned already. The other is The Mating Mind. Miller has a way with words that is rare to find in an academic.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
This is easy: Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Given that I would be on a desert island, this might be the last book I'd ever read. I read it for the first time in French as Terre des Hommes. It was not the first book that I read in French (that was Le Petit Prince by the same author), but Terre des Hommes was the one that made a lasting impression. Even though I know I did not understand it perfectly (because I taught myself French without outside assistance), the imagery St. X created led me to watch The English Patient, a film that as far as anything I've seen may as well have been co-authored by St. X. This also prompted me to travel to Tunisia to see the desert. Deserts move me in a way that few lands do. If I thought I would have only one book left to read, I would read Wind, Sand and Stars, in English. I am positive that 6 years of graduate studies have taken a toll on my comprehension of French.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Le Petit Prince. "Les grand-personnes sont tres bizarre!"

5. One book that made you cry?
Right now just listening to songs on my iPod makes me teary but my eye doc tells me I have a strong tear response. Songs are like love letters and love letters are like books when you have enough of them. I know Gorillas In the Mist made me cry. That was Dian Fossey's love letter to gorillas.

6. One book you wish had been written?
How to gather and germinate jasmine seeds.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
I like ScienceWoman's response to this one: "1000 places to see before you die (and its ilk). I don't object to travel guides, but someplaces are special because they are off the beaten path. And encouraging every Dick, Jane, and Spot to go see them kind of diminishes their beauty in my mind."

8. One book you are currently reading?
Wow! I'm not currently reading any books. That has to be a first. But, two days ago I read a kid's book: Seaman's Journal: On the Trail With Lewis and Clark. I had no idea that L & C tromped around my backyard with a Newfoundland until my sister told me that when she saw The Thundering Herd. When I visited my old backyard with my new baby, my dad had to drive me up to flag hill to see the statue of good ol' Seaman.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Adapting Minds by David Buller. It's a critique of EP from a philosopher that got a lot of talk last year from within the small EP circle. Someone asked me on a job interview if I had read it. I hadn't, and I felt ashamed until that person admitted to not reading it as well. I doubt that it will be as good as Evolution, Gender, and Rape but that's what The City of Books is for. ScienceWoman: Reading Lolita in Tehran held my interest but if it didn't hold yours, don't worry about finishing it. I heard it is being made into a movie starring talented Shohreh Aghdashloo of 24 fame.

10. Tag 5 people to do the meme!
Writer Chica, Nutbuk, Daphne, Lulu, and BitchPhD, whose blog I occasionally get some mileage out of but who doesn't read mine, as far as I know.

That took 55 mins....
I could have been doing mindless spreadsheet hassle in Excel.
I'll go do that now :+)


ScienceWoman said...

While you were meme-ing I sent a very rough draft to my advisor - so it's never to late for a little Friday dissertation panicking. Anyways, I enjoyed your responses - you make me want to read wind, sand, and stars. I devoured the first third of reading lolita-but then I hit "the end of book 1", set it down, and just never picked it up again. This happens far too often. Have a good weekend!

Holly said...

P.S. The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore is another book I'd like to read.

From Publishers Weekly via Amazon:
"Over a decade ago, Richard Dawkins, who contributes a foreword to this book, coined the term "meme" for a unit of culture that is transmitted via imitation and naturally "selected" by popularity or longevity.

Dawkins used memes to show that the theory known as Universal Darwinism, according to which "all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities," applies to more than just genes. Now, building on his ideas, psychologist Blackmore contends that memes can account for many forms of human behavior that do not obviously serve the "selfish gene."

For example, a possible gene-meme co-evolution among early humans could have selected for true altruism among humans: people who help others (whether or not they are related) can influence them and thus spread their memes.

Meme transmission would also explain some thorny problems in sociobiology. From a gene's point of view, celibacy, birth control and adoption are horrible mistakes. From a meme's point of view, they are a gold mine. Few or no children free up the meme-carrier to devote more energy to horizontal transmission to non-relatives (monks and nuns the world over figured that out long ago), something the gene is incapable of. With adoption, memes can even co-opt vertical transmission between generations.

Blackmore posits that, in modern culture, meme replication has almost completely overwhelmed the glacially slow gene replication..."

Holly said...

P.S.S. I did get some dissertation work done this evening ;+) and after this break, more.

Nutbuk Ug Bulpin said...

I'm absolutely one of your avid readers 'cause you got an interesting brain! I am a science woman as well though not as much as accomplished like you & i have yet to enroll into PhD course & learn english well...also, i am still saving for some monies!:-) Anyway, i need to understand what meme-ing is??? before i jot down mine...cheers for the day!

Alasdair said...

So, this isn't Dawkins' definition, but at, I found this:

"an idea, project, statement or even a question that is posted by one blog and responded to by other blogs. ..."

Writer Chica said...

I did it! Took a couple of sessions cause there are always other things to tend to, but it was fun!

Nutbuk Ug Bulpin said...

I did my homework on meme! Thanks holly, it was fun!