„But where does contagion end and art begin?“

Okay. Hier mal, etwas eher eigenartiges. Die Vorklasse BOS liest mit mir derzeit ein Buch. Okay, nein die Schülerinnen und Schüler lesen das Buch und ich stelle neumalkluge Fragen dazu. Um sie darauf vorzubereiten, haben wir die Kurzgeschichte „How to Talk to Girls at Parties“ von Neil Gaiman gelesen.

Und in dieser kommt das Zitat aus der Überschrift vor. Es wird von Triolet, einem lebenden Gedicht gesagt und weil ich manchmal ein absolut herausfordernder sadistischer Sack sein kann, mussten die Schülerinnen und Schüler dazu einen freien Aufsatz schreiben. Allerdings wurde von mir verlangt, dass ich auch einen schreibe, allein schon um zu zeigen, dass es geht. Und weil ich es lustig finde, bekommt ihr das jetzt auch zu lesen. 

„But where does contagion end and art begin?“

Have you ever thought that you cannot get a song out of your head? It is even possible to have you mentally listen to a song by just writing down the words ‘Dschingis Khan’, ‘Atemlos durch die Nacht’ or ‘The Final Countdown’. Art and culture are, in the best sense, contagious diseases that we as people share and pass down.to our descendants.

In his book The Selfish Gene the famed biologist Richard Dawkins created the idea of the meme being a piece of cultural knowledge that passes from one individual to another. The way these pieces of cultural knowledge are transmitted are plentiful, but most of the ways have one common denominator: art. Art is the virus that plants the new memetic information in our brains and even the act of implanting that information can itself be art. Thus every piece of art can be seen as a mental and cultural virus that infects the brains coming into contact with it and it can even mutate into new pieces of art based on the cultural memetic makeup of its new recipient. This leads to new forms of art which then can be spread through cultural spaces again.

This process as magnificent it sounds is also deeply troubling to certain people. They, as the advocates of genetic purity, claim that new cultural ideas, especially from foreign cultures are quite literally endangering the memetic purity of the culture and pose a grave threat to the culture itself by changing or mutating it into something that is sick and unhealthy, or so the logic goes.

But as with evolution which shows that adaptation through change is the only way to survive in an everchanging world, cultural change may be the only way how humanity as a cultural body can survive. By getting infected with different and new cultural knowledge there is the opportunity of cultural adaptation and in this lies the hope for the survival of humanity.

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