Re: virus: Does a dog have meme-nature?

Ken Pantheists (
Fri, 07 Jun 1996 00:28:46 +0000

I wrote:

> I think memes are performative ideas.

KMO wrote:

> Could you say a bit more about 'performative ideas'. That's new vocabulary
> for me. Thanks. -KMO

Damn. You called me out on that! I found an new word and was giving it a
test drive--

No, seriously. I came across the term in William C Booth's "A Rhetoric
of Irony". Performative ideas, or more faithfully, Performative texts,
require that the reader do something with them in order to benefit fully
from them. Irony and sarcasm are things that are performative because
you need to finally perform an irony or a sarcasm to "get it".

eg. someone walks in to a room and he or she is soaking wet. This person
says "do you think it will rain today?

The reader of that text has to perform a couple of possible readings;

a) the person is stupid and doesn't know it is raining even though they
are soaking wet.

b) The person didn't get wet from the rain, but from something else.

c) It is really raining outside and the person is finding an interesting
way of pointing out the obvious.

Memes are performative because we perform them. We allow them to
influence the way we interpret information. We allow them to influence
our concept of self. We even think of memes as being truth. Memetics is
the language we use to criticize memes. We, are able to discuss our
memes and what happens when they meet other memes. We can't discuss
things like that with dogs.

A dog performs fetch, but we have no way of finding out what the dog
thinks of himself as a fetcher or how fetching impacts on its world
view. It would be an interesting project to try and figure that out- as
a science art piece or something. What would a church of Fetch be like?
Is there a fetch and non fetch lifestyle? Is there a fetch income
bracket? Are there adult children of fetchers?

Ken Pantheists            
Virus Theatre