Re: virus: Memetics: our obligations

Eric Boyd (
Fri, 27 Jun 1997 17:23:45 -0500

Brett Lane Robertson wrote:

> Concerning your statement "...[you're] thinking long the lines of a generic
> variation-selection process, where the important thing is variation or the
> conscious preservation of variability.", I see the important thing as the
> conscious preservation of perfection, or INVARIABILITY. It would seem that
> survival of the fittest and mutation take care of variability as do chance
> and growth. Within the norm, the masses represent the greatest variability
> possible.
> It is not the mean (common, vulgar, gross, peasant, pagent, or
> "pagan") but the ideal toward which I aspire.
> What is the chance that a
> variation will continue? What is the chance that that which is invariable
> will continue? Seems genes take care of the first instance and is the
> responsibility of the breeding stock.
> "Meme" me up Scottie there are no intelligent lifeforms here.

Yikes. I think you'll find what I have to say here somewhat compatable
with what you said, and decidely different.

The ideal man is a intellectual horror. The real glory in humans is
their /imperfections/. To me, a state of completly prefection is
*totally* undesirable. What would I do? What would be the purpose of
life, if I was already prefect? It is the things that I *cannot* do,
the tasks at which I *know* I suck, that provide meaning for me: they
are the ones where I will spend my effort, in an attempt to improve.
The goal could be said to be perfection, but I hope I never reach it...
because at that point I would /end/ my life.

Enshrining the "ideal" man above the commoner also seems to be to be a
great way to *cheapen* life in general. Just becuase you are not
perfect does not mean you somehow "lack". Rather, it means you are
human! It is the jorney towards perfection rather than the perfection
itself that matters.

Since my words rarly match up to the memetic obligations of clarity and
style, I like to use others' words as well:

"Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life
endurable." -- Sakini

-- My cry to action: "Pain is *good*" The easiest way to make yourself
stronger and happier is to face your evils and pains and thus make them

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable
uncertainty; not knowing what comes next. -- Ursula K. LeGuin

...we must celebrate the Promethean power of humans
to create - and recreate - themselves. It is
precisely our refusal to accept our biological
destiny which makes us more than insects.
Unlike our fellow species, we can transform
ourselves through thought and action.

However mean your life, meet it and live it, do not shun it and call it
names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are
The fault-finder will find faults in the paradise. Love your life, poor
as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious
even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of
almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts
before its
door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as
contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.
-- Henry David Thoreau, _Walden: or, Life in the Woods_

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work
hard at work worth doing." -- Theodore Roosevelt

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more
than a life spent doing nothing."
-- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Man has yet another advantage over algorithms in that he possesses
which he can perfect and exercise by means of contemplation; he has the
power to understand, decide upon the proper direction of his progress,
and move towards perfection.

The Ultimate Wisdom
Philosophers must ultimately find their true perfection
in knowing all the follies of mankind by introspection.
Piet Hein

As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will
become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.
Ernst Fischer (1899-1972), Austrian
editor, poet, critic. The Necessity of Art,
ch. 5 (1959; tr. 1963)

Anyway, that's enough...

The converse side, of course is this:

I live with my impotence of ability because I must.

A sobering thought: what if, at this very moment, I am living up to my
full potential? -- Jane Wagner

-- looking at your life and admitting failure. Doing nothing.
a very depressing world view!