virus: What makes memes compete?

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 11 Apr 1997 16:48:18 -0400

==So here's another question: How many copies of a kind of meme do you host?
==EG, I have memes like:
=="Don't like dogs"
=="Look at that crappy dog"
=="Dogs piss me off"
=="Dogs shit all over the fcken pavement"
==Presumably these all weigh in to some internal arguments en masse? Do they?
==But are in competition for direct expression when it comes to me actually
==SAYING something negative about dogs? Uh? Could I be any more freeform,
==This is an example of me in post-William-Calvin mode.
==Dave Pape

Yes, Dave! More freefoem, I love it!

I always thought of things in terms of neural nets. Perhaps there aren't
really discrete "memes" but webs of interconnections. A certian pattern
corresponds to your concept of "dog" bleeding into your concept of "animal" and
"shit" and even making connections deep into your hate filled lizard brain.

So when you recieve input like "dog" or the image which you see as a dog or a
pile of doo on the pavement it engages that network and the neurons test each
other in a chaotic pattern which settles upon:

"Fucking dogs! Shit all over the pavement; I can't understand what people see
in know, Brodie is right about this pets as infectious memes thing."

If that web seems to correspond with reality (for instance the person
next to you says "Oh, let me tell you a story! ...etc.") then your mind makes a
mental note to reinforce those connections. Maybe next time you hate dogs a
little more...which is OK, I guess, if you don't end up hurting the dogs.

But what if you're talking about people? I think we've all experienced
conversations where we felt uncomfortable becuase we strongly disgreed with
what someone else was saying. And we realized that silence was taken to be
tacit assent.


Becuase, to a certian extent and at the vicseral level, we still can't tell the
difference between someone else speaking and ourselves speaking. Our mouth
emits the words and our ears hear them in a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

It is only very recently that people could learned to read to themselves.
Imagine the compartmentallized and disconnected reading mind: The eye reads
the page engaging a set of translators which cause the mouth and other speech
organs to move in a certian pattern which causes the emmision of speech...more
or less like a tape being played...then the ear listens to the sounds


and interprets the message. OK, so today most people can read without moving
their lips...but have you ever had the experience of reaching closure only by
spekaing or writing? Have you ever read something you wrote and wondered who
said it...I've often (and here I TOOT my horn! ;-) ) been remembered for
particularly engaging stories or appropriate aphorisms.

But often I don't remember them. My best friend for a long time often repeats
to me things I've said and I respond:

"I said that? Wow, that was pretty good. I must have read it somewhere.
I've got to remember that."

[click, caching, buzzz of connections being reinforced]

other times people bring to my attention (as Tad did, that wiley devil)
things I've said which were, perhaps, not so noble or productive. And
then I say

"I said that? Wow, that was pretty bad. I must have read it somewhere.
I don't know what I was thinking."

[zap, ca chung, blitzt of connections being deemphasized]

Does that make any sense?