Re: virus: Definition of meme (from alt.memetics)

Dave Pape (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 13:35:41 GMT

On Fri, 3 Jan 1997, Lior Golgher wrote:

> Wade T.Smith wrote:
> I actually woke up this morning with a kernel of a scintilla of an idea
> about what a meme may actually be, all to do with the actual
> electro-chemical formation of memory, a new and recently augmented
> neurobiochemical study, and fascinating.
> I am a long way from even finding a nail to hit a head, but I think that
> lodging memes specifically within a brain, and more specifically within
> the memory process of a brain, and more specifically within the
> conscious
> memory functions, is the way to go.
> ----
> You're talking about the physical imprint of memes - is that where
> you're heading?
> We ususally use memetics to analyze social processes of
> thought-evolution <urgh, shitty phrasing>. The focus is on the ways a
> meme influence on our thought.
> Therefore any definition of meme should focus on its deeds and effects
> rather than its unclear electro-chemical formation in the brain. That's
> two points for the current VirLex definition, and none for your
> suggestion.

Does anyone know the physical substrate for a GENE yet? I thought THAT was
fairly fuzzy...

>From what I learnt in my psychology degree (years ago now...) I don't think
anyone's watched /a memory/ being laid down. In fact, the more I thought
about memory storage in the brain, the more I realised that it had to be
massively distributed, and the spatial distribution of electrochemical
activity involved in "a memory" would be pretty arbitrary. And the next
question I thought was, "well, what IS a memory anyway?" My memory of last
night is an arrangement of memories about people I know, my house, my room,
my mate Rich, a Fish and Chip shop, doing some writing... and each of THOSE
memories is an arrangement of other traces. If it's anything at all, my
memory of last night is a weighted linkage of all the sub-memories that make
it up... and I suspect that, at a very low level, memories become linkages
between active cell assemblages in my perceptual and motor neural systems.

I think I agree with Lior on this one- I'd rather look at memes in their own
terms, and wait until I understand neurology, psychology and neuroanatomy
better before I start worrying about the memespace-brain interface.

Dave Pape
The memetic equivalent of a G3 bullpup-design assault rifle blowing a full
clip at my opponent. (Alex Williams 1996)

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