virus: More demons

Ken Pantheists (
Thu, 18 Apr 1996 01:50:50 +0000

Orphelia wrote:

> Stephen, however much I want to find an agreement between us, these "deadly
> sins" do not need to be derived from some "holy" scripture; they can
> easily be dismissed with a little rational thought. IF people were less
> apathetic and ignorant, everything as a whole would be much better.

I would like to explain my platform so I don't come off sounding like I'm flaming
rational thought. Rationalism is probably the best, most humanizing influence in the
history of our species. However, I have a strong reaction to phrases that dismiss
entire bodies of thought as an "infancy mindset". (I'm pretty sure that was your term)

I have strong faith in our ability to tell stories about ourselves. Is that not what
culture is? Layers and layers of stories? I think (call me pollyanna) that even after a
story is proven to be false (if it was ever intended to be taken as true) that there is
still some value in the telling of it. Does it not have value as a meme? or a dead
meme? Or maybe it will become a different meme in the retelling.

One of the things that attracted me to this board was the whole concept of memes. I had
never heard of them before scoping David's page. When I read it I thought- "wow, this
is a system that could be beneficial to the study and criticism of the arts." Because,
like Marxist crit., it helps illuminate the *purpose* of an idea.

When you said that the "deadly sins" need not be derived from a "holy" scripture, that
they can easily be dismissed with a little rational thought, I will assume that your
beef is with the organization that controls the meme (pick your favorite Christian or
Jewish denomination and place it here), but not the meme itself. Would you have the
same reaction if I quoted the steps to enlightenment from Zen Buddhist scripture which
entail the divestment of the same vices? Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter. My point is
wholesale dismissal of any meme complex is not productive.

There is a lot of poetry in that stuff.

I will give two examples to illustrate my point.

This last Easter there was a special on CBC about Jesus Christ: The MAN. it discussed
what is known about that radical jewish muckraker from a purely historical (scientific)
point of view. They discussed his anti-establishment behavior and the hippy band of
whores and slaves that followed him around. And there was a very interesting Christian
theologian discussing the scripture. The reporter asked him about the resurrection of
Lazarus. I mean come on!! Really. How can someone believe that a guy brought another
guy back to Life!! The Theologian said that it is quite likely that it never happened.
The story of Lazarus happens just prior to the story of the betrayal by Judas. The
Lazarus story is meant to show, metaphorically, in the style of epic poetry, the threat
Jesus presented to the establishment. He was a threat to Herodotus because he brought
life into people. He gave the underdogs a sense of self worth and told them they were
worthy individuals. This was quite a radical thing to say. Many centuries later that
meme has developed into a concept of possesive individualism. But that doesn't mean the
first version of the meme is worthless. If anything it's kind of affirming to know
where it all comes from. It doesn't make Jesus wrong- how can you be against a guy who
told everyone "hey, fuck the emperor!" It's like knowing the Hercules mystery cycle-
because that epic poem was retold as the life of Jesus.

Incidentally- the theologian's final response to the reporter was this. "If it really
happened, it wouldn't be a miracle." Subtle, huh? Totally mutates the miracle meme in
one sentence.

My second example doesn't sound as bible-thumpy.

Here in Vancouver, the First Nations have a war canoe race. It is a great spectacle. It
springs from, and has totally to do with ancient beliefs- with a few mutations to the
original meme complex. The haida and nisgaa and everyone else never raced in their war
canoes, they warred in them. Now, if the object of the race was to win, they would be
smarter to put a powerful outboard motor on a fiberglass boat and gun it rather than
rowing the huge cedar barks. So it is also not a race by modern technological
standards. Why do they cling to those old, slow war canoes? Are they stuck in an infant
mind set?

>we've purchased Science '96 and can no longer seek for the
> gods to protect our crops or save our sister.
> Cecille

No. Because science '96 is a completely seperate meme complex. (tipping my hat to Pat)
They race the canoes because it defines them as individuals and as a cultural
community. It reminds them of their social contract to each other and their contract
with Mother Earth. The next day they are back to being lawyers, accountants, janitors,
teachers and work well within science '96. The old meme is not dead. It still has
meaning because it has mutated- if anything- distilled down to it's real essence.

The short version of all of this: It's the easiest thing in the world to be dismissive.
My preference is to plod through it asking why? The Church of Virus says that a
religion should be able to adapt, acccept and tolerate in order to remain useful as a
meme complex. I am in agreement with that because I can see examples of it happening
all over the place. ('cept for the Pope maybe in Rome) *sung to the tune of Joan
Osbourne's song.

Feel free to flame. I love a hot kitchen.