Re: virus: Re: sociological change

Alex Williams (
Mon, 30 Dec 1996 09:46:49 -0500 (EST)

> 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'll note that I rebutted that /no one/ can communicate experience,
only represent it, in both their and others case.

> Why have we replaced political responsibility with political
> "correctness"?

Eh, because we're breeding intelligence and responsibility out of the
population as evolutionarily negative? :)

> 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.

Actually, memetic versions of your experience are spawned
automagically in your mind, your memesphere, as a direct result of
having those experiences. You couldn't think about your experiences
without having the memes in place to make reference to.

[I wonder if its worth playing with the idea that memes can /only/
refer to other memes since, in a real sense, we can `know' nothing
else. Intriguing.]

> 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
> surfaces.

Who else can judge it, though? Unless you've the Eye of God, you
can't peer into a man's memesphere and judge his soul, ass you can do
is study the spoor of his passing memes and try to judge what he's

> 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?

An argument can be made that memetics is inherently reductionist,
discussing the interaction of memes with, inherently, no human behind
them. That's rather the point, really, since the field was suggested
to some of the original thinkers by Dawkins' THE SELFISH GENE which
discusses genes in terms of other genes with nary an organism in the
actor sense to be seen.

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

Not should, could. There is a difference. The experiment probably
/should/ be made, but the first statement's one of possibility, not

> 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.

Is this like `the spiritual nature' this `memetic nature'? Did humans
possess the `memetic nature' before memetics existed?

I argue that the memetic organization of human thought is just as
artificial and arbitrary as any other soft science quantization,
without a priori manifestation. As such, why shouldn't we use the
same abstraction on other complex systems involving the passage of
conflicting information, including animals and possibly, eventually,

> 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.

I never said there was /no/ variability, I said there was variability
in /all/ texts, human or not, due to the fact that they must be
interpreted by the viewer and encode nothing. I can effectively
/communicate/ the experiences of any human being; they may be
convincing to more or less of the population of listeners but to reach
that point they must have been communicated.

> two-edged sword of an animal's existential behaviour and show it to us,
> I would gladly concede this arguement to him.

My cat rubs against my legs in order to attract my attention. He then
runs to the door and meows repeatedly until I get up and let him out.
He is self-deluded into believing that he can communicate with me and
as long as I let him out, he's satisfied in that delusion. For my
part, all I have done is seen a symbol here (his rubbing) and a symbol
there (the meowing) and because of past experience and a shared text
that he and I've developed through sharing company, inferred he
possesses the meme `I want to go out.' So I open the door. He goes

Each of us could be completely wrong as to the other one's model; as
long as we both feel satisfied the models in place will only be

I would have given you an example with two cats as participants, but I
couldn't have reported on the internal memesphere of one of the
participants at all.

> 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
> will.

There's no invented power behind it. Go to any vetran's memorial in
any state at any time and oberse the list of names. Go to the library
and read over the rolls of the enlisted and the dead in the Civil War
or in the Revolutionary War or in any conflict you care to name.

There is no appeal to an outside power in saying `you are here only
because all these events occured just as they did.' That'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.)

You are perfectly free to host whatever valuation memes you so desire,
I'm simply pointing out that the values involved in killing, raping
and surviving are very materially responsible for you being here and
I'm suggesting that if there isn't at least a portion of any society
you're a member of who continue to host those memes, there isn't a lot
of hope for, if not your, your children or grandchildren's continued

You can disagree with the values but you also need to see the point of
their presence.

> 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.

Actually, /my/ ancestors didn't give too much stock in the value of
flowers before sex; at least as far as can be determined my immediate
progenitors didn't even know one another before the act, but that
aside ... I have the utmost respect for the power of sex. Flowers, on
the other hand ...