Re: virus: TT and Absolute Truth
Fri, 15 Nov 1996 10:41:16 -0500 (EST)

Niwinski" at Nov 15, 96 01:20:08 am
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> Good point. The definition of a meme sucks. Richard Dawkins talks about
> "cultural" information only, Richard Brodie in the "Virus of the Mind"
> brings also other definitions. What are "dormant" memes David McF recently
> talked about?

I'd say that the definition of what a meme is is pretty good, its all
the arbitrary extensions to the structures every subsequent writer has
added that `suck.' The reason, I find, goes back to the distinction
of `data' from `information.' Memes are dynamic carriers of
information in cognizant minds. The field of Objective Reality, if
that'll be let past in the interests of having a discussion instead of
comparing the size of our consciousnesses, provides us with data.
Data can inspire memes, and memes can be generated by observing data,
but data shouldn't be thought of as a `spore form' of memes any more
than the primordial soup can be thought of as the spore form of genes;
certain mixes of data produce/evoke different meme-complexes in people
which, in turn, generate memes and /more/ meme-complexes.

Under this interpretation, the dormant memes McF refers to are
`artifacts,' objects built by meme-structures which, when observed by
another set of meme-structures, evoke, spontaneously, a new set of
memes. When looked at this way, the written word doesn't /carry/
memes, per se, it carries the potential to encourage certain
meme-complexes to `reproduce,' as it were. After all, if you don't
know Spanish, listening to talk-radio out of Mexico won't cause too
many meme-complexes to fire /even though/ there is plenty of data. On
the other side, staring at a work of Goethe doesn't require a
different meme-complex than `visual asthetics,' and the memes so
generated can be moving or indifferent, depending on the memes the
viewer already carries. This accounts for the ability of two
observers to get widely variant things from the same data,

> Can memes exist without hosts? The analogy with genes does not work here.
> A gene does not exist without a host, but a blueprint for a gene of a
> dinosaur, for example, may exist as information and some scientist may use
> the blueprint to build it's DNA (and have a popular movie...). The
> information part of the gene may exist -- in that sense -- without a
host. But
> memes *are* information. This information may be stored somewhere in our
> neurons or in a book, etc. The question is still open. If a meme does not
> have any host carrying it, does it exist?

In my view, memes are /completely/ dependent on hosts; without a host
there is no means of memetic operation, just as without physical
space, what we view as life cannot occur. In my mind, the fossilized
imprint of dino DNA is /data/. It can be interpreted multiple ways.
It carries no memes of its own just as it carries no /life/ of its
own, its only after its interpreted (and, interestingly enough,
/variantly/) that it comes to `life.'

> Take the pi meme for example (the one with a very long tail :-)). As far
> as I understand Richard, he claims the pi-meme does not exist outside of
> human culture. I cannot wait till David McF comes back to ask him what
> he means by "dormant" memes.

Again, we have to differentiate between the /construct/ 3.14159... and
the /data/ that describes the ratio of a circle to its diameter. The
numbers and decimal in the pi string are data which, when observed,
evoke a specific (very specific) set of memes from our very deeply
ingrained (through early training) meme-complexes surrounding reading
numeric images, mathematical understanding and `what circles are' to
bring up `Oh, yeah, pi, ratio of diameter to circumferance.' The
meme-complexes that seeing the image "3.14159..." activate may not
even be present within elements of our own culture; a street kid with
no formal training in math will look at it and say `yeah, buncha'
numbers, so what?' The numbers/data-image itself/themselves do not
carry `dormant memes,' then, but rather act as artifacts which other
meme-complexes react to and spawn new memes.

Of course, I've just given myself away as a supporter of Objective
Reality, but I've barked my shin into too much damn furniture in the
dark to be otherwise.

Alexander Williams { ||Member: Evil Geniuses} ||For a Better Tomorrow
============================================// => Charter Member <=

"Perhaps we should lower our mental trousers and compare the size of
our consciousnesses?"
-- Jan Sands to Marvin Minsky