Re: virus: A Memetic Analysis of the Lord's Prayer

Eric Boyd (
Fri, 21 Jun 1996 18:59:41 -0500

Reed Konsler wrote:

> Alright people, fair warning: this is out there.

On the contrary, this looks like the first example I have ever seen of a
"true" memetic analysis. Looks like we've finally got the tools to make
some kind of sense of a meme-complex!

This is a great message. There are a few things I didn't understand,

> hallowed be <thy> name.
> Sound's like the commandment, no? A distinction
> meme <"God"> acting in concert with <God>?

This took me a while, but I think I see it now. The statement basically
says <"God"> commands you to propagate <God>, right?

> Also a memetic defense against indirect attack
> through ironic usage.

huh? Defence? Irony? I can't make anything out of this.

> You may ask why I decided to do this now:
> This whole "government" thread scared
> me a little. Other than Tim, I read a lot of
> <justice> and <efficiency> but not much
> <forgiveness>.
> Christ, people, let's see a little <forgiveness>!

I like how you (intentionally?) imbedded "Christ!" in there. Mutually
supporting memes, eh?

I also realize that this message was primarily directed at me. I guess
I have been a little cruel. Mabye I'll go read the Bible for a bit...

> A memeticist would argue that one should lead
> <God>, and not the converse.

Level 3!

> So lets wrap up:
> The Lord's Prayer:
> <God>
> <"God"> This part is a memetic
> <propogate God> parasite.
> <propogate God>

Not a "parasite". This is the part of the meme-complex that insures it
will be communicated again and again. In your analogy to computer
programs, this is step #2:

> 1 print "Reed is Great"
> 2 transmit 1,2,and 3 to another
> computer and tell it to "run"
> 3 goto 1

Allow me to break the prayer down even farther.

<God> Serves to identify the meme-complex and associate
<"God"> it with all the other related meme-complex's.

<Propagate God> The "relpicate this meme" step
<Propagate God> Important to ensure the wide dispersion and
thus effectiveness of the meme-complex

<hunger> Button pushing. "The 'food' is comming"

<forgiveness> The message.

<danger> Button pushing. "Remember or else"

> <hunger> Viral shell
> <forgiveness> Information string
> <danger> Viral shell
> Which reduces, memetically, to:
> <forgiveness>
> ------------------------------------------------------
> "What is your point, Reed?"
> Propogate <forgiveness>

This strikes me as a pretty good summary of all of Jesus's teachings.
And it would also make a sweet T-shirt. It's so _straight_to_the_point_
and memetically simple that I think it would raise questions. Properly
explained, I think we could sell it to Christians.

> See, memetics is so much more efficient.

I thought efficiency was what you were just critizing me for! :)

Anyway, I'd like to congradulate you on finding an example of your
virus-shell + replicator idea. Very good! I can hardly beleive that it
works so well!

Looking back, I'd say that in theory we could almost always find the
"viral shell" part of a meme-complex. The hard part for your average
urban legend is identifying the "replicate me" portion. I think that's
becuase urban legends don't actually need this part. We humans
replicate them well enough that they never even bothered to develp that
part. Simply not necessary.

Kinda makes you wonder, eh? Ye gods, if our minds are so fertile a
territory that some meme's don't even have to tell us to replicate them,
what does the world need memetic engineers for?