Re: virus: Memetic sex

Dave Pape (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 23:55:42 GMT

On Sat, 22 Feb 1997, Eva-Lise Carlstrom <> wrote:

>Speaking of which, if transfer and interaction of memes is the memetic
>equivalent of sex (in the biological sense, providing a source of change
>via remixing the materials), are there forms of conversation or other
>apparent communication that are infertile?

I wanted to say, "conversations with people you don't like," but that would
be crap, because I've had loads of ideas on the back of conversations with
people I don't get on with. Often quite tangential, like freezing my piss
into ice-cube shapes and catapulting the piss-cubes through their
letterboxes so they collect and melt way deep inside the person's house...
but fertile ideas nonetheless.

Then I wanted to say "conversations where you're retreading old ground again
and again," but then I realised that the memetic ecologies we call people
are so crazy-dope complex, that a conversational mantra repeated over time
can lead to fresh (to the chanters) ideas about a topic... all that's needed
is novel input to the neural processors that are the conversers' brains.

No hard and fast rules, I think.

>One odd thing about memetic 'sex' as contrasted with the
>standard genetic version is that rather than creating a new entity with a
>new combination of the old materials, it changes the existing ones. Hmm.
>Maybe it's more like the way bacteria trade genetic material, than like
>sexual reproduction.

Cool! I also got a buzz off your description of mitochondria starting as
prokaryotic cells that embedded in other prokaryots to produce a new
cell-type with both thingies as components. Endosymbiosis. Every cell in our
body has more than one type of DNA, because mitochondrial DNA's different to
nuclear DNA. I agree that memetic sex seems more like this genetic mixing...
only I'm guessing it's less haphazard, because when you have memetic sex
with another person, you're usually talking about a common topic.

And if anyone thinks the lack of lairy innuendo at the end of this message
is because I couldn't think of any, they can think again.


Dave Pape
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-(Southport & Formby Round Table Association slogan, 1994-1995)

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