virus: ZIP of the Mind

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 18 Jun 1997 09:49:28 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 00:33:30 -0500
From: Eric Boyd <>

> So now you have a viral "vehicle". All you have to
> do to make it a "Virus of the Mind" is insert a little
> detail:
> A: Activate B and C
> B: Activate A and say "REED IS GREAT!"
> C: Generate 1 unit of energy
> D: Create A,B, and C for X units of energy

Would it not make sense also to say:

A: Activate B and C
B: Activate A
C: "Eric is Great!"
D: Create A, B, C for x repetitions of the meme C

Why produce energy? Not that this really matters...

In fact, it would. Although your final "card": D
contains the most implicit assumptions about the
underlying structure of the game. That's just
and observation, not a criticism. I understand and
agree with your point


Wow. I'm interested in the origin of "Pygmalion's dilemma"
>From a book? Mythology? wherewherewhere?


Oh, I made up the term <shrug, grin>. I have this penchant
for dilemmas. I could have also called it "Pygmalion's irony"
or "Pygmalion's pyrric victory" the meaning is only shades

The story of Pygmalion (a sculptor) and Galatea (his
creation from clay...the "perfect" woman that came to
life) is originates in Greek mythology.

The story is retold in a more modern and somewhat
less fantastic version in George Bernard Shaw's play

The story is retold again in the play and the
somewhat more famous musical upon which it
is based: "My Fair Lady"

If you haven't read Pygmalion or seen "My Fair
Lady" I highly recommend them. In addition to
dillemas I have a kind of penchant for musicals
(OK, I admit, I'm a little strange). But if you have
never seen Rex Harrison play Professor Henry
Higgins, Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle and
Stan Holloway as her erstwhile philosophical
working class father...well, you haven't really
lived. The songs are also full of lots of rich
memes, as you would expect from any parable
passing throght the hand of the holy Shaw (all
hail his ascerbic wit!)


> You program the computer to print what
> it is that the people "need" to see. From the
> computer's perspective what is betwenn the
> lines is a string of characters it must
> make visible in order to get to the next line.

hmmm. I'm not sure exactly how well this actually carries over in the
world of memes. It looks good, but I'm having trouble discerning the
"split" in the meme-virus that you have created above. Which part of
your average urban legend is the "computer instructions"? What I'm
saying here is that while you have set up a great metaphor, I'm not to
sure that we can work it backwards into memetics again.

(hmmm. Later on in this post I disagree with the what I just said and
agree again with you. Need some work here, I guess. )


You know, I'm not quite sure what I meant there, either.
I though it had some "ring of truth" but was more or less
just a side observation that I didn't want to take the time to develop.
I bet I could make something interesting of it, but I agree
with your impression that as of yet, I haven't.


I think you are at least partially right here. By doing away with the
virus components and just using the actual data of the meme's, ones
brain functions /much/ better. No more endless loops of repeating
useless memes just becuase of their virus shells. No more infection
unless you /choose/ so. And freedom. Freedom to do and use whichever
meme's you want, not becuase they have infected you and you are carrying
out their orders to infect others but becuase you seriously believe that
some particular meme is useful or valid. Level 3


One of the points I'd like to emphasise is that this idea of memetics
as a compression tool pushes the "central meaner" that has to do
the evaluating deeper into the system and makes such evaluation
less imperative (since there is all this new "free space"). Philosopher's
of the caliber of Dennett are in the practice of trying to kill such
hobgoblins of the mind through a direct attack, but I'm currently
content to beat them a little further into the recesses.

Every chess games needs it's pawns, too. And like Alice, I see the
promise of transubstantiation on the far side of the board.


> You know, I just noticed that I neglected to include
> Christianity in the reorganized mind above.
> Interesting.



Not to point a finger too closely at the Zen-like ambiguity
I intended in this statement. But it is important not to read
a moral message (one way or another) into the self-observation.


> Memetics is the practice of forgetting yourself
> in order to free up enough attention to keep
> track of all the things you need to.

No. Memetics is the practice of /awakening/ yourself enough to see that
meme's don't have to be infective. Free yourself (your mind) from the
burden of the virus shells of meme's, and you will not only have
_simplified_ your memecology, you will have gained more control over it.


If you always do your thinking while you are writing then your thinking
will resemble your writing. However, if you do all your writing while
you are thinking then your writing will resemble your thinking.

So sayeth the holy McLuhan.


> "The spoken word was the first technology by
> which man was able to let go of his environment
> in order to grasp it in a new way."
> Marshall McLuhan
> Understanding Media, p. 57

And Zen/Buddism was the first religion that preached the removal of
language and "grasping" in an attempt to bring back the old way...


You are misleading in your description of the process as pendular
or cyclical in a closed way. The pattern is recursive, but in the
extropian sense.


Reed Konsler