virus: Memohazard Symbol

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 19:26:51 -0500 (EST)

On Fri, 21 Mar 1997, Alexander Williams wrote:

> Actually, given our propensity for obscure literary references, I might
> suggest the 'Yellow Sign,' or Mark of Hastur as described in Lovecraft's
> Mythos. A twisted, bile-yellow sigil with the trefoil rotational
> symmetry, but curiously withered and asymetrical at the same time.
> The sidreal references to insanity and death as spread through `Reading
> the Wrong Tomes' seems to fit well.

I second the nomination for two reasons:
1) The Yellow Sign, or a derivative, looks a lot like biohazard/radiation
hazard symbols in that it is pseudo-symmetric and fits neatly into a
2) Lovecraft rocks. If you haven't read any of his fiction you've missed
out on some real insanity. In essence his fiction describes a universe so
incomprehensible that learning the truth of existence drives one insane.
There are wierd dimensions, ghosts and stranger manifestations, obscure
magics, and ancient races, omnipresent (if not quite omnipotent) insane
god-like creatures, vast histories beyond the "accepted" version of time
and space. Lovecraft expresses the existential horror: that everything
you concieve is meaniningless and insignificant, that all of human
accomplishment and knowledge wouldn't even receive a footnote in the
textbook of the True History of the universe.

Actually, Memetics has a lot of antecedents in early-modern science fiction:

The Lensman Series by E.E. "Doc" Smith: The lensmen were a group of
psionic super-heros engaged in the defense of "Civilization" from the evil
Boskone Empire (more like a vast organized crime network). There were
"grades" of mental devolpment (this included morality in Smith's universe)
and only the highest (Grade 3) were able to even concieve of the ultimate
mission of the Lensmen (which is actually not revelead, to my knowledge, in
the series) beyond the final war.

As an aside, I seem to remember, back in my English Lit. days an essay on
Western numerology which argued that we are extremely fond of the number 3,
of hierarchies consisting of three levels or things consisting of three
parts. Heaven, Earth, and Hell; the "Holy Trinity"; Liquid, Gas, and Solid
phases of matter; the Electron, Neutron, and Proton; Past, Present, and
Future...etc. Lots of things seem to come in "3"

Which, as an aside to the aside, reminds me of the School House Rock
cortoon "3 is a Magic Number"

Invasion of the Body Snachers: Orignially concieved as an allegory to
Communism, the concept of a covert alien invasion strikes me as analagous
to memetics, specifically "Mind Viruses".

I'll have to go through my library to come up with a few more.


Reed Konsler