Re: virus: The Naked Meme

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 01:51:06 -0800 (PST)

Now that I've gone and 'sent' my last message, I've realized on further
reflection that there are other ways out of the difficulty. Received CoV
wisdom has it that memes are 1.) transmitted between minds and 2.) active
within minds, on the model of viri or of genes. This model is imperfect
in that it utilizes the conduit metaphor of communication. In real life,
that which is transmitted (code) is not the same thing as that which is
active within the mind (ideas). One way out is the one I stated in my
last post, which was that memes are ideas in individual minds and cannot
be transmitted directly. Another, which I had not formulated clearly
until now, is that memes are in fact what is transmitted, the encoded
instructions, whatever they may be, and that ideas within the mind are not
the equivalent of viruses, but more akin to the diseases engendered by
viruses, which may produce different symptoms in different hosts and
circumstances. :) Alternatively, we can acknowledge memes as a metaphor
linked dependently to the conduit metaphor, and not as a truth of the
universe, or even a universally useful myth. There, three possible outs
for the meme meme; discussion?