virus: real world?

Ken Pantheists (
Sat, 28 Dec 1996 15:29:11 +0000

I am posting my reply to anon's question.

> Stephen, just wondering what the "Virus" party line is with regard to the
> following:

I have forwarded your message sans name and address.

> Is the world real?

I can't speak for the entire list, But my opoinion on it is that it
shouldn't matter, memetically speaking.

> Theoretical physicists have developed a parallel universe hypothesis to
> account for the various ghostlike, unexplainable effects resulting from
> Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This hypothesis stems from the need to
> give Heisenberg's quantum mechanics a physical expression.

I am not familiar with Heisenberg and have been exposed to only the most
popular, pablum-ized version of quantum mechanics. I am an artist and a
writer. I hang out on the list because I am a science "fan".

That apologia aside--

I see memetics as being a similar hypothesis. It is designed to account
for unexplainable or overcomplex issues of representation and
"ownership" of thoughts.

Our ideas about things are informed by experiences, but modern media
have rendered the barriers between (for example) my experience and your
experience somewhat permeable. (they have an illusiory permeability--
mine and your experiences are still in seperate ontological packages,
but video, sound, the primacy of the camera-eye in modern culture blurs
that distinction.)

Hence, a system
> of parallel worlds. These worlds would be alternative dimensions
> superimposed upon our own in which every single potential condition
> contained in quantum mechanics actually existed. This model of reality, if
> confirmed, might help us form an image of Heisenberg's mathematically
> abstract atom.

That is similar to the idea that there is a memesphere that contains all
possible memes, but they compete for limited belief-space. (These terms
are meme-talk, what I mean is that you can only have a certain number of
beliefs and be an effective human being.) It is possible to host
conflicting memes-- giving rise to a "human condition"-- the site of
dramatic conflict in all good literature and theatre. We have all
encountered a situation where something is right for us in one
circumstance and wrong in another. "all is fair in Love and War". Love
and War being the most fertile themes for writing and art making. (meme

> According to the parallel universe hypothesis, there is only one universe at
> the beginning of time, but each atomic event causes it to split off into two
> or more parallel dimensions, so that we soon have a continuous branching
> pattern like in a hierarchical communications network or a tree.
> What it all boils down to is that according to physical evidence, reality
> depends on the observer; we can only consciously inhabit one of these
> parallel worlds at a time. This may have consequences for memetics,
> particularly if we consider that observations effect experimental results
> and that consciousness plays a role in reality.
> According to quantum mechanics, "Cogito ergo sum" may have a physical basis.
> At a certain point the question is this universe real becomes irrelevant:
> like an atomic particle it can be rendered real or imaginary precisely at
> the moment the question is posed.

Well *I* totally agree with you. And so much of Post Modern theory is
hinged on that very sentiment. I think memetics follows suit.

There are memebers of the list who will disagree with that on the
grounds that there are real, physical truths that you cannot change just
by thinking about them differently.

1+1=2 and "fire is hot" are often quoted in defence of this point of

But in the world of ideas there *are* truths that you change by thinking
about them differently.

Perceptions formed out of dogma, political rhetoric and prejudices all
change with a shift in thinking.

There is a writer on the list, Richard Brodie, who has written a book
caled "Virus of the Mind". His particular take on memetics is that you
can use the memetics model to analyse your own ideas and decide if they
are, indeed, right for you-- if they work for your life. We often
incorporate beliefs into our minds that hinder our lives rather than
help them-- and we do this unconciously because we feel we do not
control them.

The most recent area of conflict on the list comes from those who say
that this is an inherently unscientific point of view.

If you dare to-- you can read the arguements in the archives. The last
week has been the most active. My personal opinion is that the arguement
is too focussed on the idea that memetics claims to be "hard science".

IMHO- the community has never made that claim, only that it is a
science-like model.

Thanks for your note.

  Ken Pantheists