Re: virus: Re: Rationality (meme make-up)

Martz (
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 21:31:03 +0000

On Fri, 14 Mar 1997, wrote:
>First: What is Hardwired?

Hardwired means those connections which cannot be changed. What these
are I'll leave to the biologists to explain.

>Second: You say a single muscle contraction is the "atomic" meme, but
>surely there are many processes involved in this muscle contraction. The
>neuron has to fire, the signal has to be transmitted,
>the muslce cells
>(and there are a fair few of them) all have to do their stuff, working
>as a team. Surely, therefore, the neuron firing is the exercise of
>one meme, the transmission is the exercise of another, and the actual
>muscle contraction itself is a complex web of memes that allow the muscle
>to know what it should do when the stimulus arrives.

A muscle as memetic entity? Surely not. I think you're trying to carry
the memetic model a bit too far here.

>I'm sure that in each of these processes, there are smaller memes than that,
>also. What do you think?

There are smaller things but they are not memes. Not by any definition
I've come across anyway.

>Third: How far are you willing to take the term "meme"? Can we really
>take it to such a microscopic level?

I doubt we can take it down to the level of a single neuron. I would
guess that the smallest unit would be the smallest number of neurons
whose co-ordinated firing can be said to have 'meaning' to us on a
macroscopic scale. That's a shit definition and needs some tidying but
my head's not up to it right now so I'll just toss it in for discussion.

>Fourth: This is where it gets confusing :) /If/ a fundamental meme can be
>identified, can it transmitted /by itself/?

If it can be identified, it can be transmitted. I don't know if we can
identify it though. I'm also beginning to see why Alex objects to
transmission too. In this context it needs to be stressed that the meme
itself, whether it's a big meme-complex or a small memelet, can't be
transmitted with guaranteed integrity. I get the impression that you're
talking about an exact copy from one place to another but you must bear
in mind that the meme only has meaning in relation to the structure
which interprets it, and in that respect we are each a minority of one.

>Can it "die" when propogating?

If you mean can an attempt to copy a meme fail so miserably that
'nothing' gets through then of course. If you write a note to me which
never arrives; one dead meme (the original still exists in your mind but
the copy has failed).

>What use is a meme that is so small?

What use is a gene that is so small? I'm not trying to be trite here but
I wouldn't know where to begin answering you. Some small things have
huge effects.

>OK, now, leading on from this, /if/
>it is possible to transmit fundamental memes on their own, or in very small
>groups, is it possible to take a meme (read meme-complex) and propogate
>it as smaller parts, and have it rebuilt inside the new host? That would
>be the ultimate way to infect without detection.

I would say yes (given the usual disclaimer re: copying errors). I would
also say that we're all being subjected to those very attempts every
single day.


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