virus: other reality/represtentaion

Ken Pantheists (
Sun, 12 May 1996 16:28:29 +0000

O.K. I'm really behind on this, but I have been following it. :)

Marek Jedlinski wrote on detecing belief:

> I think we may not be able to get very far until we precisely define
> the concept of meme itself. Dawkins caused a lot of confusion when he
> said that a brainb and a book and a song are 'equivalent' as meme
> carriers. In fact, we should probably treat the brain ONLY as the
> proper carrier, while 'inanimate' objects merely as exernal represen-
> tations of memes. A meme contained in this message will not replicate
> without a brain to decode it.

This is precisely my bone-to-grind with this whole meme thing.

(incidentally, my bone is getting smaller and smaller)

What marek is talking about is the discourse of the meme. Something Arts
theorists have been kicking around since the days of Rloand Barthes.

An example of one meme with two discourses.

Meme = the American National Anthem,

Discourse one: The anthem is sung at a baseball game, no hitches, it is
the launching point to a great all-american game of baseball.

Discourse two: The antem is sung in a piece of street theatre. The
actors are pretending to be at a baseball game. One of the actors is
pretendiig to be someone who refuses to stand up while the anthem is
sung. The other actors play that they are geting pissed off as they
sing. Eventually they push the sitting guy down and pretend to beat him
senseless as they sing "the la-a-a-and of the FREE. And the home of the

Obviously you can see that the end result are two completely different

It is because a whole series of performance, simulation memes have been
screened on top of the anthem meme.

The reason why I am bringing this up is that I think it is necessary to
recognize the human activity around the meme. We are not passive
carriers of the meme. A book and a song can be read in different ways to
produce different memes in different situations.

Marek is right. The decoding brain is the thing that breathes life into
the meme. To say the memes are mere codes is too general.

And finally- I think there is a dark side to memetics. One that releases
us from responsibility for our memes. We participate in discourses.
Memetics makes it sound like we don't.

This post is a little off topic from the belief thread. But Marek's
point dovetailed so well with my own "beliefs", I had to post it.

Maybe that's a way of detecting belief? :)

You put forth a marker meme that requires a response.

Kind of like the seven people in a life boat with food for six story.


I have my Home Page up and running. Those of you who care to visit will
see a teaser for Virus Theatre. David and I have had some conversations
and we think this is a good idea.

Ultimately, Virus Theatre is an idea for a theatre company that exists
in cyberspace. (performance is a bit of a problem, but that's only the
tip of the creative process.)

Ken Pantheists