Monday, June 4, 2007

Why do we talk so much?

I've just heard that it's coming soon in the USA, on 29 June 2007: Apple's revolutionary iPhone! [Click here or on the image to visit their excellent website.] Up until now, I've been a total phone philistine, maybe because I don't live in an urban environment where lots of friends are calling me continually to invite me around for a drink or dinner, or to talk about going out somewhere. Gamone has never been that kind of world. Even my dog Sophia rarely gets phone calls. Like me, I assume she prefers the Internet. Well, on the iPhone, we'll have both. So, I have a feeling that my phone world might change radically for me—and lots of other folk—when this little Apple gadget is released. Between now and then, I'll have to look into the idea of maybe extending my list of people who might be prepared to talk to me. [Poor lonely soul!]

I've always been amused by the words of an unnamed critic, back in the days of the Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who took out a patent on the telephone in 1876. "That gadget won't last for long. People will soon run out of things to say to one another."

It's a bit the same with blogs. This will be my 257th post. Now, six months ago, if somebody had asked me whether I would be capable of publishing an article a day, to ramble on about anything and everything, I would have replied: "No way. I'm simply not that talkative." It's true that I prefer to write about a precise theme, in a well-specified context. Here, that's not at all the case. From one day to the next, I have no idea whatsoever of what I'm going to write about. And above all, apart from a handful of personal contacts, I don't even know who's reading my stuff. So, I guess I have to admit that I might even be a naturally talkative fellow. Add that to the fact that I speak in such a loud voice (I've always been slightly hard of hearing) that I'm capable of waking up the neighbors of my aunt and uncle in Sydney, and you'll gather that I'm definitely not the kind of guy to invite home... which is probably why nobody phones me on my portable.

I've observed the frenetic way in which today's adolescents use and abuse the portable telephone. In Sydney's suburban trains and buses, the situation was even worse still. "Hi. It's me. I'm on the way home. See you soon. Bye."

Why do people do so much talking on phones, on blogs, etc? It's time for another plug concerning the fabulous book by Susan Blackmore, The Meme Machine. [Click here to see my article of 4 March 2007 on this subject, entitled Imitation.] Let me just repeat the gist of the subject. Darwinian evolution transformed us into big-brained naked apes, of whom one of the earliest and dearest specimens was our Mitochondrial Eve, celebrated in yesterday's article. But this style of progress is henceforth—as they say in French—a little has-been. We need something bigger, better, faster and more modern in a human sense than old-fashioned genetic evolution. The new stuff is called memetics. And, if you read Susan Blackmore's book, you'll see that we humans talk a lot (well, at least those of the talkative kind do) for the simple reason that we're constantly transmitting and receiving memes.

I hope I've talked you into reading this great ground-breaking book.


  1. When I read your article, the following ideas came to my mind:

    - You can do much more with an iPhone...

    - I know very little about dogs. All I can say: my cats don’t answer phone calls either, they prefer Internet: they are great in finding out keyboard shortcuts - unfortunately they won’t tell me what they did... Bastards!

    - My boyfriend once quoted someone (I forgot the name of the person), talking about TV. This person also thought that: "This gadget won't last for long". At least, it didn't last for long with me – I don’t have a TV any more!

    - As for the blogs: it seems that people write blog because it makes them feel important, even if they have nothing to tell. Don’t forget: "Moi, lorsque je n’ai rien à dire, je veux qu’on le sache." [Raymond Devos]

    But please continue your’s. I like the choice of your subjects and it is so beautifully written (although English is not my mother tongue, I do appreciate your style).

  2. Thanks for your amusing remarks and your kind words about my writing. Thanks too for including Antipodes as a link in Jour après jour, which I now read regularly. I would be delighted to insert a link to your blog, but I made the mistake of choosing to develop Antipodes in a Free webspace (instead of the usual blogspot space offered by Google) and this seems to mean that I'm unable to incorporate ordinary sidebar stuff in my blog... which explains why it has that austere look (which doesn't bother me greatly). Incidentally, I like your nicely-colored virtual pet Vampirella, who appears to spend most of her time sleeping. Since I see that you speak Romanian, I suspect that you might be a Dracula enthusiast. It's funny that the vampire tales concerning the Romanian count were in fact penned by an Irishman, Bram Stoker! Here at Gamone, there are harmless bats in my attic, and I love to watch them darting around in the evening twilight.

  3. I agree, it is a nice design. You can wake her up by clicking on the animal – she will follow the movements of your mouse. You can also feed her with flies by clicking on "more" (bottom right). You should switch your loudspeakers on...

    It’s a stupid game, but as French say: "Parfaitement inutile, donc indispensable!". I choose this pet because:
    a) I like bats,
    b) it is an animal which represents me the best: I was born in Romania and I’m insomniac!

    When I speak to a friend of mine who lives in Canada, I always end the phone call by saying: "Sun is rising, time for me to go to bed!".

  4. There's an English saying: Let sleeping dogs lie. [Ne pas reveiller des chiens qui dorment.] I won't therefore touch your lovely Vampirella, while expressing my delight at conversing for the first time in my life with a genuine Romanian. And an insomniac. I've always imagined Romanians, in a folkloric fashion, as mysterious hidden French-speaking observers of all that was happening in the visible western world. Intelligent moles, waiting for the right moment to display your information about all things, including vampires and Black Magic. I can't imagine the idea of inviting a Romanian back home to have dinner with my parents. But, since my parents are no longer alive, and their home no longer exists, I'll have to rethink my relationship wih Romanians. On the surface, you sound like the sort of person whom I might even bring home to meet Mum... but not necessarily Dad. But Mum and Dad are no longer there, so what the hell. Why am I intent upon reducing Romania to a domestic level?