virus: Re: sociological change

Ken Pantheists (
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 02:03:36 +0000

Ray Higgins wrote:

Is the ability to empathize nothing more than a lie to you?

I don't recall using the word empathize. We are talking about

Of course I believe in empathy, I'm not a rock. I have a strong belief
in our ability to create texts that move others. It is my life's work.
That's why I am in theatre.

My statement was in response to Alex saying he could communicate the
experiences of the long list of characters as well as a list of
fantastical characters.

My response to him was that he cannot communicate the experience, but
represent it. I used the word lie for effect, in the same way genet
might use it to talk about art. I didn't mean to imply that I have no
respect for it.

You may argue that this is not the same as knowing what its like.

Yes. That is precisely the arguement, as I see it.

True on an
individual level and true we can't know how it feel in it's entirty but
what. The reality is that no one knows exactly what any given individual
going thru: knowledge doesn't work that way. But given a suffient
understanding of any other person's situation, an individual can "feel"
emotions and experience the toughts in someone else situation.

That is precisely the stickiness of the situation. One can gain the
impression of an emotional transformation through a text. But if it's
such a "so what?" statement, why has ownership of representation been
such a hot topic for so long?

Why have we replaced political responsibility with political

Because we really stuggle with conceptualizing those details-- you
yourself consigned them the the so what file.

It *is* important. Because information about you goes into the world
*and* information about you comes into you from the world.

Memetic versions of *your* experience are being taught to you. If you
are black, if you are gay, if you are latino, if you are...white and
live in beverly hills... the list goes on.

There are many sites upon which this cross roads of memes are played
out. If you care to (I don't mean to bombard you with names and
references but, if you feel like it) check out Black Hair/Style
Politics by Kobena Mercer. or The Site of Memory by Toni Morrison, the
pullitzer prize winning author of "Beloved".

I'ts absurd to think that such a hokes could not
be done successfully. Infact, a person could send a letter to a local
support group... <snip>

The arguenment is not whether or not it can be pulled off successfully
to an outside eye. That level of inquiry concerns itself with mere

I quote from Monique Wittigs "The Straight Mind"

"...the world is a great register where the most diverse languages come
to have themselves recorded, such as the language of the Unconcious, the
language of fashion, the language of the exchange of women where human
beings are literally the signs which are used to comminucate. These
languages, or rather these discourses, fit into one another,
interpenetrate one another, support one another, reinforce one another,
auto engender and engender one another. Linguistics engenders semiology
and structural linguistics, structural linguistics engenders
structuralism which engenders the Structural Unconscious.The ensemble of
these discourses produces a confusing static for the oppressed, which
makes them lose sight of the material cause of their oppression and
plunges them into a kind of ahistoric vacuum.
For they produce a scientific reading of the social reality in which
human beings are given as invariants, untouched by history and unworked
by class conflicts with a psyche identical for each one of them because
genetically programmed. This psyche equally untouched by history and
unworked by class conflicts, provides the specialists, from the
beginning of the twentieth century with a whole arsenal of invariants:
the symbolic language which advantageously functions with very few
elements. <snipped a bit> Therefore these symbols are very easy to
impose...<snipping>... We are taught that the unconcious, with perfectly
good taste, structures itself upon metaphors, for example, the-name-of
the- father, The Oedipus complex, castration, the murder or death of the
father, the exchange of women..."

Without going too deeply into the text... do you see how reductionism
can hinder the effectiveness of the memetic model? Because it IS a
language that advantageously functions with very few elements AND gives
a reading of social reality where humans are variable, touched by
history and worked by class conflict?

Our whole arguement started when Alex said that memetics should be
applied to animals.

My arguement with that was that animals do not posess a memetic nature
to which the meme model can be applied without (essentially) inventing
out of nothing the animal's culture beyond what behavoural studies can
give us.

I hinged my arguement on the variability of human texts. To which Alex
said there is no variability because he could effectively communicate
the experiences of any other human being.

Now I read alex's next post and he says:
"The human capacity for self-delusion is rapacious and incomprehensibly
vast. It eats up almost everything we create and everything we
destroy. And rightly it should, because only our ability to
self-delude makes us think we /can/ communicate at all. No man can
truly know another's experience, but we delude ourselves into
believing we can, and so believing, act on that belief. It bedrocks
societies. That power of self-delusion is, like any tool, two-edged."

So why are we having this arguement?

I don't mean to sound antagonistic, but-- if alex can pluck out the
two-edged sword of an animal's existential behaviour and show it to us,
I would gladly concede this arguement to him.

I firmly believe in that as the crux of memetics.

Alex wrote:
but applying the memes of morality to those of war
says nothing about war, only morality, and morality's far too muddy a
river for me to go wading into with you.
I agree. And I don't bathe with strangers.

But may I point out that my arguement has been all along on the memetic
nature of war (as a motivator using strong memes) in answer to your
moral evaluation of war (it is good, although not PC to say so-- which
implies that you are consciously going against a commonly held
morality-- by making a moral judgement). Sorry if that is splitting
hairs-- but that's what you have to do when you find yourself this close
to each other.


Heres something we can yell at each other about.

You said:
If they had not, you'd
not be here as a result of their successes today..

I say:
That is a manipulating meme. It is conservative at the root and calls
upon an invented power to give it authority. You are "bedrocking
society" in your own words. It is almost like saying that it is god's

I prefer to think of myself as here. period. I prefer not to host what
values you think were responsible for making my existence. (even if in
the world of abtract arguements it can be made true.)

How about this-- the only reason you are here is because your ancestors
consistently gave flowers to each other and had lots and lots of sex.

So you'd better be more respectful of the power of flowers and sex.


  Ken Pantheists