virus: memes and spirits

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 10:58:17 -0500 (EST)

>From: Ken Pantheists <>
>Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 11:19:18 -0700

>Reed wrote:
>Cataloge of the differences between Spirits and Memes:
>(not to be confused with "Why a cucumber is better than a man")
>1) Spirits have "intentionality".
>2) Memes can evolve via some kind of selection.
>3) People can create, edit, and destroy memes.
>4) Everyone can be possessed by the same meme at the same time.
>I could (just to be cheeky) post a reply where I retype your list and
>entitle it "cataloge of the similarities between Spirits and Memes:
>I totally understand why we can't and shouldn't think of memes as
>spirits. It is like going back to a flat earth. But we can't deny the
>similarities. Memetics is another way of dealing with the ideas of an
>epoch. Pallus Athena-- was she a goddess, a spirit that posessed every
>titled citizen of ancient Athens or was she a meme? And how is Liberty
>(I mean the bronze woman that hangs out off the coast of Manhattan) any
>- --

Totally, dude, totally.

I agree the similarities are striking. And why shouldn't they be? I'm not
saying that the concept "meme" is TRUE and the concept "spirit" is
FALSE...I saying one is more accurate and, as a characteristic dependent
on this, more useful. But the older, less accurate, concept is not
compeletly false.

Now, if I were to get cheeky I might point out that the word "spirit" is
vague enough that it can mean almost anything to anybody...a lot like
"god" or "heaven". Thus perhaps the critical difference is that a "meme"
is more specific and delimited. Not lots more, given it's recent birth...
but potentially so.

Time will tell.


Reed Konsler