Re: virus: a tangent

Dan Plante (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 20:36:38 -0800

At 01:45 PM 3/22/97 -0800, Prof. Tim wrote:
>You originally said:
>> Seen as a co-dependant system (at this particular level of analysis),
>the mind betrays an obvious vector to "infection". Disturb the limbic
>system enough, and the "meme-sphere" will also be disturbed, resulting in
>confusion. An undisturbed mind can be viewed as a set of ideas or memes
>whose "inter- relatedness" or "sets of associations" is at its most
>complex, and is largely static, or "settled" from a more fluid to a more
>solid state.
>(And this is where I jumped the gun. I had the impression you were making
>a value judgement about what you are referring to here as "disturbed" vs.
>"undisturbed" limbic systems.

The system as a whole; limbic, cortical, any and all physiology upon which
the phenonmenon of "mind" depends.

>I also have problems with the part about
>"An undisturbed mind can be viewed as a set of ideas or memes whose
>'interrelatedness'... is at its most complex." I realize that this is
>your definition (and I can agree with the second part easily), but I was
>thrown off by the "at its most complex" clause.

It is critical, in analyzing systems, to make distinctions between chaos
and complexity. The best way I have found to underscore this distinction
is to point out that "complexity emerges from chaos". Complex systems are
ordered and structured (mind-bogglingly so), chaotic systems are not.

>Let me finish with your quote and then explain.)
>Dan goes on to say:
>> Limbic disruption, characterized by highly emotional states such as
>fear, joy, hate and passion, or interruption, as with depression and
>exhaustion, subverts this synergy to some extent. This causes the
>meme-sphere to diverge from a tightly coupled, closed-loop link with its
>motivator, which results in a certain degree of confusion or "flux", where
>complex and intricate associations between memes are more difficult to
>form or maintain.
>Okay, I do agree with this. My question was, "is the static state good?"
>(or at least that's what I meant to say) If, as you say the static,
>undisturbed state is "at its most complex" then, is it necessary to
>abandon that state in order to achieve higher levels of complexity?

Not necessarily. You can build on the existing system, increase the
interconnectivity of the component parts, to increase complexity.
Again, this is an observation of function and structure, not a value
judgement, either of morality or simple aesthetics. Sherlock Holmes
and Moriarity could both be seen to have highly complex or "highly
evolved" minds (or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even more so).

>Is it
>important to welcome times of "limbic disruption", of "highly emotional
>states" in order to grow beyond the limits of your current "synergy"?

While this process /can/ have the effect of "growing beyond the limits of
your current synergy", the terms "important" and "welcome" imply associating
that process with the attainment of a personal goal to fullfil personal
desires. Sounds kind of hit-and-miss to me. It all depends on what "gels"
when you "come down off the mountain", after your head stops spinning.
Most people who experience this process do so serendipitously, after an
unanticipated event causes an epiphany of sorts, ending in a new mental
paradigm. The point is that this happens in /context/, with ideas, thoughts
and external influences in their lives at the time, contributing to the
nature of the new mind set. Deliberately trying to induce this process out
of context is akin to flipping TV channels in Portugal. There /is/ a more
direct approach that creates its own context and emotional crisis, but
it's very hard to communicate (lacking a common frame of reference).
If executed properly (unlikely), it results in a more profound awareness
of self, of /self-awareness/. It has to do with self-examination, but not in
the sense that most people think. It's not "asking yourself tough questions"
since this implies a conversation with yourself, your "ego", and your ego
lies to your "rational mind". Neither is it performing "critical
self-analysis", since your ego is still there, subtly coloring the conclusions
of your observations. Trix are for kids.

It requires /killing/ your ego, your "self"; a ruthless attack where you slice
here, cut there, but mostly just tear apart, to see where it tears most
easily. If you gear up to do this, and you don't have a panic attack, you don't
have a visceral understanding of what's required. When it's over, you dissect
the pieces, methodically, dispassionately (if it's not dispassionate, it's not
dead yet; you, you're ego, in a desperate bid for survival, has tricked "you"
into believing you had the nerve to do it properly), spread the bits out and
examine all the pieces, then look at them all at once.

You'll see your innards. You'll see the-primary-motivations-that-lead-to-the

"/Now/ I see why I hate my boss so much - I was unsatissfied because my work
didn't stimulate me enough, but was afraid to change, but the fear wasn't
based on any reasonable evaluation of what it would take to change, just on
years of enjoying relative comfort, that for years kept reinforcing the kernel
of an irrational fear of losing it forever, but I couldn't blame myself, so I
blamed my job, spilling over onto my boss."
"Hmmmm... I see I never question news broadcasts, but a buddy of mine is a
reporter, and /he's/ a complete /twit/....why is he my buddy? Oh. I see."
"That explains my views on abortion."
"So /that's/ why I say things that way."
"So /that's/ why I hate men/women."
"/Now/ I see why I spend so much on lottery tickets."
"So /that's/ why I act that way in a meeting."
"Hmmmm, why did I think that was bad, and this good, they seem the same thing?"
"What makes something good or bad, anyway? Just my emotional reaction to it?"
"What about right and wrong? These judgements I've made in the past don't seem
to be supported by what I know, and some opinions contradict others...."

This is where you start building your "self" back up. Without the influence of
your ego, you're better able to reconstruct a non-contradictory philosophy upon
which to base your opinions of right and wrong, and ultimately, your value
system and sense of aesthetics, and from now on, to know /why/ you think that
way. You're better able assess your needs, wants and desires, and from now on
to know /why/ you want what you do, so that you salivate at the sight of food,
not the ring of a bell. Your "self" or "ego" re-emerges, but you now know it
(you know yourself) too well to let it fool you (fool yourself) easily, or
for very long.

Obviously, this isn't for everybody, nor does everyone have the intrinsic
mental faculties to successfully carry it out. I wouldn't suggest this to
a six year old, or a hair-brained and self-absorbed thirty year old.

Also, implicit in the description of the process is an apparent contradiction;
you obviously have to /want/ to do this, but your /wants/ are determined by
that which you set out to kill: your "self" or "ego". There's no contradiction,
if you think about it. Your desire for the anticipated results "only" has to be
strong enough to overide the sum total of all the other wants and desires that
comprise your ego/id/self/core.

>I think you may be implying that and I just missed it the first time (or I
>may be completely off the mark). This is where I need you to clarify.
>As for the Jesus quote, well, so many people here (and elsewhere) are so
>busy pointing out the idiocy of Christians that they forget that there are
>some real insights attributed to that Jesus character (and I use the word
>"attributed" for a reason). "Lest you become as little children" has to
>do with opening your mind up and seeing things as if it were the first
>time. "The kingdom of heaven" to my thinking, is living a good,
>enlightened (if you will) life. Having been raised in America, knee deep
>in the Judeo-Christian tradition, I like to use its imagery once in a
>while. I would suggest reading *just* the gospels, if you never have, BUT
>DON'T BECOME A CHRISTIAN!!! (and if you do, don't come runnin' to me for

I agree. But don't worry about me becoming a Christian, I gave it up for Lent.

initial conditions = data (conception)
control of data = information (conception to puberty)
control of information = knowledge (puberty to marriage)
control of knowledge = wisdom (marriage to divorce)