virus: Re: sociological change

Ken Pantheists (
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 04:59:32 +0000

Alex Williams wrote:
Exactly; you'll note that this was exactly the position I brought up
and defended. Eva brought literary references to previous thinkers of
the same position to the discussion, much to my relief.
Oops. I came in on that discussion late.

Unfortunately, you contradict yourself in the very course of this
argument. If the dolphin is `infected' my our meme-structures, and
since the very definition of memes makes them the building blocks of
culture, and since memes have to have already extant meme-complexi in
place to /interpret/ the `conduit,' then dolphins, by logical
demonstration, /must possess culture/, albeit alien and inaccessible,
for the most part, to us.
I see where I contradicted myself. Is it too late for me to say that the
dolphin was "trained" instead of using the memeish word "infect"?

I am almost ready to accept your point that animals have degrees of
culture. But, again, animals cannot abstract their culture into memetic
packages, we can't really see it as memetic.

I know this sounds incredibly narrow-minded, I can't help it. I am
struggling to come up with an example of something (a monkey cave
painting, a miniature doll made out of grass, some consistant chain of
signs or sounds that is originated by a species in order to convey ideas
*to us*. (Because, frankly I think it would be neat if there were some)

And I think it is important that the memes of animals would have to
originate from the animal culture, or from some attempt on their part to
communicate with us on their own motivation, using the technologies at
their disposal. Because, if you accept that animals have cultures, then
in order to properly observe them and learn from them you would want to
avoid tainting it. Autumn? You're an anthropologist right? Can you halp
me out? I'm confusing myself:)

Further, to state, `[the painting] will have little power to infect
us' denies the human tendency to `mematize' almost every pattern that
falls our way; how much more meaning will we interpret from that
creation of a dolphin?
I totally agree with you here-- except that the interpretation is *our*
memes not the dolphins. The painting is an unstable text.

Whether or not the meaning was /intended/,
we'll never know, until we find a conduit that translates more clearly
between their meme-complexi and ours, or one of the two begins to
learn the others' culture, and can simply ask.
Yes. I agree again. And until the last stage- the moment where we ask
the dolphin "what did you mean by that?" and it responds-- the painting
is not a dolphin meme. It is a human meme.


Again, I think its counter-productive to see `culture' as a binary
proposition; like intelligence if you approach it from the perspective
that grants there are degrees of culture you have a much more
`revealatory' view of the subject.
I see your point, but I don't know if there is any way of allowing
memetics to "colonize" that gray area.

if it were two human cultures, and we couldn't speak a common language
but felt we could interpret each other's paintings-- it would become a
cultural appropriation issue. Frankly neither culture would be able to
sufficiently decode the abstractions without a cultural informant. And
even when a cultural informant is present-- the issues get so crossed
and misinterpreted because they also get filtered through religious and
political biases-- of which we are only recently making ourselves aware.
Just look at how anthropology has changed in only the last twenty years.

Do you know the painting (I am always bringing up paintings aren't I? I
have no idea why I am suddenly doing this...) That painting, by the
french surrealist, of a pipe and the words "this is not a pipe" written

At some gut level, I feel it has something to do with this debate, but I
have to take some time and put it together....

  Ken Pantheists 

"The opposite of a trivial truth is false; the opposite of a great truth is also true."

-Niels Bohr +--------------------------------------------------------+