Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meme and mutation.

"Are we as persons not capable of transcending the social structures in which we find ourselves." 

via @GardnerCampbell and @FrancesBell

The child picked up the object, turned it around in his hands and tossed it into his basket.

It had caught his curiosity. It was enough for him to reach out his hand.

Quite what this object was was a mystery to him.

It looked like it might be a source of conversation in the tribe.

If only he could think up a good story.

He was sure that the object would attract the others' interest and he would, for a moment be the centre of attention.

If only he could think up a good story.

I was fed up with monuments, in the space of four months, I had been stunned by Venice, exhausted by not finding the front door of the Vatican (even the smallest state in the world is tiring circumnavigated on foot), wowed by the Colisseum, bored by Geneva, stuck in a lift in a Budapest tower block,  whirled around Vienna by Ramses....

I was fed up with monuments.

I decided to introduce randomness into my travelling.

The Grand Tour was all very well but it wasn't all that adventurous.

I took out my map and found a pin, (stretched out paper clip).

I closed my eyes and whirled my hand expansively around the map.

With a determined movement of my finger and thumb I thrust the pin into a place on the map.

PISO. in Southern Italy.

Where on earth, what on earth was Piso?

I promised myself that no matter the place on which the pin would land, I would go there, that day.

PISO or bust. 

When I got off the train, it was late, it was dark, I was alone.  I trudged up a long slope to what appeared to be a village.  On arriving there appeared to be a group of people sitting around a light in  a square.  I didn't have a clue what would happen next.

I didn't speak Italian, they didn't speak English.

Our inability to communicate brought us closer. 

Somehow we managed to understand that I wanted to find somewhere to sleep for the night.

They had a sort of hotel even if there was no 'hotel sign'.

They found someone to open it up for me at five past midnight.

The following evening, I met the locals, we managed to recognise a common interest in football. We shared a number of names of footballers and they translated them into players for AC Milan, Roma, Sampdoria.

The small connections were greeted on both sides with laughter and joy.

We were starting to become friends.

A few hours later, the village girls came over to promenade, they could not believe that anyone English would choose to come to their village, therefore they decided it was a joke set up to trick them.

I was officially Italian. I was an annoying Italian pretending to be English.

They didn't have the means to check out their hypothesis.

It didn't matter, the joke added to the feeling of becoming a part of a story.

What do you do? 

I am a teacher.

Immediately there are associations which are made with others who understand this word. I work in a classroom. There is a blackboard, there is a whiteboard.

Where are you from?

I am from England.

Immediately there are associations which are made with others who understand this word. I live in a country with a Queen, with people who drink tea and don't know how to cook.

Little mutations of the memes

  • Grand Tour
  • Teacher
  • Classroom
  • England

can arouse peoples' curiosity, can change the stories that they will tell.

# What is that? 

It is a hashtag.

Immediately there are, or there are not (most likely) associations which are made with a tag.

A hashtag is what we make of it.

It is an empty basket into which we can toss our differences.
It is an empty basket into which we can toss our stories.
If we are curious, if we develop our imaginations, we can perhaps avoid recreating our own monologues.

A hashtag is like a child, it is what we enable it to become.

A child is more than a basket.

It has the potential to change our world with its stories.

 If only we would stop to listen.


  1. Lovely story. I am thinking about random travelling on Twitter. It can be lived, experienced if we seek out different people randomly but it may be more like looking at a monument if we just observe them.

    1. Yes Frances, you are much more than a monument ;-)

    2. Interesting that you should cast yourself as the observer and me as the monument. I was thinking about my own seeking out different people on Twitter and whether I would just observe them or engage with them.

    3. A lot of people are monuments/avatars/objects before we decide to engage

  2. A difficulty would be like a monument? I've recently created a difficulty for myself by either being misunderstood or saying the wrong thing myself and it feels like being outside my house without keys. I made this structure but accidentally populated it with with someone else's version and now can't get back in. Now a monument of misunderstanding, it might be an opportunity to move on?

    What cost do you pay if someone doesn't know you properly? What if their version is more interesting than mine?

    Thanks for this Simon, I screwed up an interview the other day and the fallout had me worried. Something in your story triggered the notion of how interesting it would be to let go of control and see where the "mistake" leads.

    1. Maybe u didn't mess up - they did when they didn't recognise your qualities.

      Letting go of a story may enable us to live anew.

      I think I might be able to write on that now...somehow.

  3. Would u believe me if i told u this post fits perfectly into my upcoming post topic, even tho the ideas i had were almost fully formed before reading yours? But mow i realize what they were missing. And now if is 1am and i don't think i can write the post... Will sleep on it and come back :)

    1. I think that a lot of work needs to be done around this theme.
      Why connect?
      With who?
      For whose benefit?

  4. This reminds me so much of having some German friends of my husbands, who I had never met, arriving to stay with us in England for two nights while my husband was away. I only knew them as "The Railway Boys of Berlin". They had hardly any English, I had one or two german phrases. I was even admittedly a bit scared when they arrived really late at night, and I peered into the porch light to see 4 huge guys wearing death metal tshirts and carrying lots of beer. I had softtware on my pc and we each had dictionaries, which was so pathetic it was funny. We gave up with that, and I said "Do you like football?" to huge cheers and we sat up late watching football, looking at photographs, sharing cd's and drinking beer. It was like a universal language - football, beer, music. You are so right when you observe that the inability to communicate can bring you closer - I remember them so very fondly, they were brilliant, and it was not about conversation but shared experience and connection and overcoming a human barrier.