Re: virus: language

Bill Godby (
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 12:40:30 -0400

At 10:34 PM 6/18/96 -0500, chef dane wrote:
>How would someone explain a meme to those who are deaf, dumb and
>blind? Without language do memes mean anything?

Regarding the first part of this question and it's relationship to the
second question, I believe there is a problem. Even a so called "deaf, dumb,
blind" individual will be socialized to some limited extent. They must
minimally satisfy survival necessities and in doing so will communicate
these needs to others in whatever way necessary. The senses of touch and
smell will play a huge role in their communication process. Consider sound,
it becomes translated through vibration, and visual stimulus through touch.
It certainly would be possible to translate to such a person a rhythmic
meme, would it not? Also it would be possible to develop an aesthetic
sensibility regarding shape and contour. I think to rule out language one
must rule out the upper level functions of the brain itself (consciousness),
not just sensory capabilities. The inclusion of the phrase "dumb" with
blind and deaf was and is an insult to people inflicted with such
disabilities. It's serious consideration in any discussion, I would argue,
is perpetuating a fallicy, its quite obvious that language exists in many
realms besides the obvious. I believe that any capability to manipulate
signs and symbols constitutes language and would therefore allow for the
possibility of memetic propagation.

The bigger issue here seems to be whether memes are necessarily defined in a
way that is contigent upon language, or perhaps how broadly we define
language, and also how we define memes themselves. A great deal of recent
discussions seem to be around this defintion, until that becomes more clear
and concise and upon a larger level, I believe there are going to be
problems discussing it's relationship to other aspects of human behavior,
such as language.
Bill Godby