virus: Re: level 3

Ken Pantheists (
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 01:40:10 +0000

David McFadzean wrote:

Level-3 can refer to an attitude actually instantiated in humans.
Contrast it with a fictional "level-17" that allows the practitioner
to levitate (essentially breaking the laws of physics). I can believe
that level-3 may be real while simultaneously doubting the existence
of level-17.

I agree with you there.

But, as I see myself walking into an old conversation I had with nearly
everyone nailing me as a "cultural relativist", level seventeen is only
unbelievable because there are enough levitation antibodies out in our
culture to imperil its survival.

I'm not disputing that point. e.g. I don't think the subject matter
of the X-Files is real, though I do find it very useful for
If I encounter someone who thinks the X-File is (or could be real),
I have legitimate reasons for disagreeing with them. (I'm not saying
I actually would confront them, it depends on what is to be gained.)

But the X-files is real. It is a culturally shared experience. It
informs our world view. It is an expression of our culture.

(here I go again)

Culture is nothing more than layers and layers of stories.

I'm probably misunderstanding your point, but are you claiming the
world wasn't round until Columbus set foot in America? People had
the concepts and put them together long before Columbus.

I am saying that the meme had no reference to anything in reality until
Columbus actually set his foot on the soil of the Americas.
(Lucky for him that the world actually *was* round, good guess, eh?)

The flat world meme was rendered useless at that specific point.

Give up! :) You can't be a Truth Believer Dave! :) You only live in a
flat world because you were born, coincidentally, after the extinction
of the meme.

Do you remember in the old days when the first victims of AIDS actually
died of Gay Cancer?

the following is a rendition of the voyage of columbus that has been
informed almost totally by popular "columbus" memes. I make no apology
for using them, i will explain later.

Imagine playing the part of Columbus in a movie: The questions the actor
is going to ask in order to play the part of Columbus truthfully have to
do with the fact that the odds were against him. The dominant meme is
that the world is flat. Or at least, not navigatable in the direction he
wanted to go. His was a voyage of discovery, not a voyage of
confirmation. The actor would do the story an injustice if he (or she)
collapsed the conflict.

So the actor would play it if s/he were sailing across a flat earth--
having faith that it's actually round.

Granted, romanticism and the cult of the hero have thrown all of this
into high contrast. There are others who knew the earth was probably

Now, the reason I mention this is because I think it is very easy to,
after discovering or proving that the earth is indeed round to say, oh,
well it is always round, weren't we stupid then? -- and forget that the
world, as it exists in the mind of mankind (and I honestly believe it
can't *really* exist anywhere else) as a flat world.

I, just had a bit of an epiphany while writing this.

I suppose the purpose of theatre and acting in general, of the primal
human instinct for storytelling and mimesis, is the uncollapsing of
conflict. To show how conflicting memes operate in an environment. To
remind people of "unobjective truths" (our memes) and how they control,
cause conflict in our lives. In the Arisotelean plot structure, one of
the pinions of the colmbus story would have to be the crisis-- Columbus
actually doubting himself-- brooding over whether he has chased a
pointless fantasy.

(Of course speilburg would have this scene interrupted by the arrival of
a dove or some such thing)

History dramas show how the conflicts of the past relate to present
conflicts. They are also an indirect way of inserting countermemes into
a culture. Look at Les Liasons Dangereus and how it relates to the
eighties. Another generalization. I am prepared to elaborate on this
observation, but in the interest of brevity.... (Brevity-- ha>)

Back to the topic at hand

When I argue against the existence of god I'm not arguing against
the existence of the god meme. Everyone accepts that the god meme
Allow me to introduce a new notation for the god meme: "god" (and
more generally "X" is the meme about X). I accept that "god" exists,
as does "Santa Claus", "dragons", "souls", and "odd multiples of 2".
But I doubt any of the referents of these memes exist in objective
reality. If I feel compelled to argue against the existence of X,
it is because I see "X" (or the effect of people hosting "X") as
a threat to me or the way I see the world.

I see your point.

But, in my point of view, technology and science are culturally
informed. Therefore our view of objective reality is culturally

I am restraining myself from citing all kinds of situations where
objective truth is used in damaging and inherently false ways.

I don't know, I don't hang out with a lot of scientists (except on this
list) I suppose that if you have a career counting electrons it's hard
to see how that is culturally informed. The link is ephemereal. But what
about medicine? Psychology? Sports equipment designers and engineers of
buildings? People who invent weapons? People who study how brains think?

We create our lines of inquiry from cultural needs. Culture informs
technology, technology informs culture.

So, long story short-- the X files is as real as our anxiety over the
close of the millenium, our resurging interest in occult and outre
forces... Even our interest in memetics-- a culturally informed idea--
impossible to imagine taking form outside of our media saturated

I even pose this--- this is not researched---- were there not popular
fears at the turn of the last millennium of invisible gases or miasma
that inflicted evil and strange behaviour in people? I believe there
were groups of flagellants and apocalypse cults springing up everywhere.

I see a paralell (perhaps because I choose to) in these, the last years
of the second millennium.

I had a conversation (I always seem to be relating my conversations to
you, don't I) with my collegue at Cap College. She observed that we are
assuming a medeival world view in our popular media.(culture in general,
I suppose)

(not so far a step back as you may think-- since Hollywood cannot seem
to divorce itself from the nineteenth century modes of drama)

Ken Pantheists
Virus Theatre
TooBa Physical Theatre Centre