virus: Angelica de Meme

Reed Konsler (
Sun, 13 Apr 1997 19:36:16 -0400 (EDT)

>From: Dan Plante <>
>Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 22:45:48 -0700
>At 12:07 PM 4/7/97 +0100, Reed Konsler wrote:
>>>From: Tim Rhodes <>
>>>Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 13:00:16 -0700 (PDT)
>>>Have you looked lately at the percent of posts on this list that directly
>>>explore the nature and/or qualities of memes? I'm not asking for 100%,
>>>but can we at least raise the number into the double digits, please?
>>Um, Tim, this is the Church of Virus, not alt.memetics. Meme theory
>>informs, but doesn't circumscribe, our dialectic. This is a "free-market"
>>of ideas...each person posts what they wish when it strikes their fancy.
>>Given that memetics is such a powerful tool, I'm sure we will return to it...
>>but sometimes the mind, or a discussion group, needs a sabatical.
>>Remember, everything of significance happened by chance.
>Here I go putting words in other peoples' mouths again....
>I think Tim's statement was drawn from the perspective that, while this list
>may not necessarily exist for the sole purpose of plumbing the depths of the
>meme, it nevertheless has, as its raison d'etre, an acknowledgement of memetics
>as a percieved phenomenon. Further, and based on this point, I believe he was
>trying to draw attention to the fact that a large number of postings to this
>list use the terms 'meme' or 'memetics' as the subject of argument, with little
>or no consensus on what these terms specify.

A good point. The problem as I see it is that it is often difficult to define
things without a common frame of reference. Language is a slippery thing
and in drawing any group of people together in is necessary to "define" the
more basic elements of communication. Who's books have you read, what
is your life like, how did you come here, talk a little...and let me see if
I can
speak in your voice some? Often that requires a broader range of discussion
to start. In my experience you can't gather a group of people towards any
task (even shooting the shit on e-mail) by defining a goal and setting out to
do it. That's the myth of efficiency. Computers process...people, as my
fiancee says, "nest" on/in ideas. Sometimes it takes a very long time to roll
them around in our heads...and sometimes we have to gather what might seem
like mind-trash or perhaps a little irrelevant in order to establish some
esoteric point.

I'm wary of trying to directly define words like "meme". Look at VoM:
Richard spends a few pages just telling you what Dawkinks, Plotikin, and
Dennett said before he proposes his own. The meme "meme" is in a high
state of flux right now...and who can tell what the most "useful" definition
of it is?

Simply as an alternative, perhaps we could simply use it as we each understand
it (however vague) and allow the syntax/meaning processors we all are
equipped with help us to find that closure. We could provisionally tolerate
multiple meme-definitions and see which turns out to be more useful.

As Richard B. might say: "And perhaps, in the end, we will discover that many
definitions are, in some sense, true...depending on your application."

Or not. I'm of two minds on this one...I'm simply speaking for the one I didn't
read in your post above.


Reed Konsler