Re: virus: Angelica de Meme

Tim Rhodes (
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 10:34:54 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 2 Apr 1997, Tony Hindle wrote:

> Im still not satisfied that I understand this though
> >But since the encryption
> >itself, the myth as it were, is working within the same dynamic ("spirit
> >world" for them, "meme ecology" for us) it will adapt to suit the
> >qualities of that system. That is to say, a myth about angels and demons
> >(that mirror memes) will adapt to become a more accurate representation of
> >the way the memes that they mirror interact in the culture. This might be
> >a strange form of rational feedback on the encoding (myth making)
> >process.
> Are you saying this. Suppose I was the wise man of the
> village attempting to explain to my friends why we feel happy or
> sad.
> I might have concocted this tale:
> We are all aware of angels and Demons that enter us (our
> consciousness). The angels make us feel good and the demons make us
> feel bad. Both (make us?) spread these spirits to others. This is
> the idea of happy memes and unhappy memes. From here on, the fight
> between good and evil becomes the fight of the "good" attempting to
> spread ideas that they believe will make people happy (which the
> people go on calling angels) against the natural drift to dominance
> of ideas that are good at spreading including cultural pap and
> demons. From this start all the details were "evolved in."

Yes, that's pretty much what I said. Although now I have my doubts. At
first I thought that as the myth evoled it would tend to move toward
a more accurate analogy with memes. That it's usefullness as a metaphor
would increase as it came closer to the true functioning of the
meme-interplay it was copying and, as such, it would evolve closer and
closer to a blueprint of that meme-interplay.

But I can now see that there is another pressure working on the evolution
of the myth as well. The pressures of the myth to function /as/ a meme.
To be a good story that gets told again and again, passed down from
generation to generation. This pressure has little, if anything, to do
with how well the myth functions as a metaphoric store of knowledge. And
these pressures are probably as strong as the need for the myth to mirror
the culture.

Maybe that's how a religon dies. Maybe when the "meme" pressures outweigh
the "metaphor" pressures, the story evolves away from its usefullness to
the culture and moves from being a "truth" into a "myth". Hmmm...

-Prof. Tim