virus: Memes and Modes

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 00:56:21 -0500 (EST)

Hi Guys!

After reading "Viruses of the Mind" and "Getting Past OK" few weeks ago
I was struck with that nagging sense of literary De-ja-vu. After a moment
I realized something in my collection (I think of my books as reserve
memory) was very similar...

After a non-linear search through my collection of roleplaying literature
I came across this, which I though y'all might find interesting:

GURPS, War Against the Chtorr
by C.J. Carella based on David Gerrold's novels of alien invasion
1993, Steve Jackson Games
from the side bar, p11:

"Right now you are unconscious of most of your operating states.
So they run you. If you were conscious of them, you could transcend them.
And you could be more responsible for the results you produce in the
"The Training is about your relationship with you life...This is
about your natural ability to make great leaps."
-A Rage for

Mode training is partly a cult, partly a self-help seminar, and mostly
something unlike either of these things. Unlike most cults, mode training
does not attempt to provide subjects with easy answers. Unlike most
self-help seminars, the training is rarely supportive or flattering. Most
trainees do not like most of what they experience during Mode training--
but many still consider it a valuable experience. Graduates from a Mode
training seminar are called "Modies"; more often than not, that term is
used as an insult by non-Modies.

The training teaches its subjects to understand and analyze their 'operating
modes,' the processes through which decisions are made, actions are taken
and most other sapient activities take place. After studying and
understanding these modes, the trainee learns to go beyond them and to
be able to switch from one to another at will.

The most important mode studied is the 'survival process,' whose goal
is the preservation of one's life at any cost. During the training, the
subjects come to realize that the process is doomed to failure--we are all
going to die, sooner or later. This paradox paralyzes or angers most
people and makes them less useful to themselves and others. The training
does not try to tear people out of the survival process (that is considered
impossible or at least counterproductive, since one needs to be alive to
achieve anything), but to make them see that they are operating in that
mode. In theory, this realization will allow trainees to disregard impulses
coming from the survival process when they get in the way of a desireable

Another facet of Mode training is the sense of responsibility it instills on
its subjects. Modies see themselves as 'hosts,' not guests; if they see that
something needs to be done, they don't wait for someone else to do it, or
even expect that--they do it themselves, or lead efforts to do it. This
assumption of responsibility often offends other people, even if they were
unwilling to take charge themselves.

The training uses meditation and TL8 [this is a GURPS reference]
psycological techniquesto relax, be patient, and understand oneself and
others. A Modie will usually take control of most conversations and
situations--if he considers them important enough to bother. Otherwise
his participation in them will be minimal. Modies usually avoid getting
angry over trivial matters that would infuriate normal people; this
sometimes annoys non-Modies. On the other hand, if something that a
Modie considers important is affected adversely, he will get mad, in the
most intimidating, effective manner possible--if getting mad will help
get the job done.

These are the ideals for Mode training, and reality often falls short of
them. Many people view the training with suspicion. The fact that many
people in the highest military and government circles of the post-plague
[a reference to Gerrold's fictonal world] world have undergone Mode
training, and that the chief sponsor of this philosophy is an important
advisor of the President, has led many to claim that there is a conspiracy
to subvert world leaders.

Sound familiar?

I haven't read any of Gerrold's books--has anyone here?

Things I find interesting:
1) Modes and "Viruses of the Mind" sound very similar
2) text hints at a level-system or something similar
3) Gerrold predicted that such training would:
a) be attractive to and produce leaders
b) evoke suspicion, even conspiracy theories
c) look similar to a cult and a self-help seminar

Re-integrating my off-line memory (ie: my books) like this just makes me
giddy with pleasure. In celebration I propose a definition:

MODE: A self-consistent method or program of perceiving, thinking, and
acting. A meme-complex which comprehesively (if not completely) attempts
to conciously map reality for the purpose of explaination, prediction, and
manipulation of phenomena both material and cognitive. More generally:
a 'point-of-view' or 'ideology'. Modes need not be self-exclusive; more
than one (or a hybrid) may be in operation simultaneously.

Thus one can be in:

I think concept is a shade different from Richard B's "Virus": which is
(I think) a self propogating meme-complex. Although a "Virus" may
incorporate a Mode and/or take advantage of our natural tendency to rely
on Mode-thinking.


Reed Konsler