Re: virus: How did we get here? (from: Un-natural De-selection)

Brett Lane Robertson (
Fri, 15 Aug 1997 17:56:41 -0500

>What brought you to Church of Virus? to the field of memetics?

Prof. Tim,

Fair question: I first saw the word "meme" in the New York Times Online. I
had just gotten my computer and got HEAVILY involved in a discussion about
evolution and complexity theory (I really wasn't qualified except that I had
been taught to "think" in school instead of memorize and quote others so I
put everything on the line...). Being something of a rebel, I was later
following some links to find the "Anarchist's Cookbook"...Timothy Leary has
an E-zine with liberal writers one of which wrote an article about "The Meme
Meme". Memes and Complexity led me to "virus" (I saw it in a list of email
lists) which was something more than a good name for the meme game to me
implying complexity as well. I have been surprised at how well this
metaphor applied to my own work in "Psycho-Social Consciousness" (which was
well on its way to being a complete "paradigm" or "metaphysic").

I have since surfed through the Dawkins, Brodie, et. al. meme pages online
and picked up much through virus (the least of which is its underlying
"pagan" tone...memetic engineers aplenty ready to willfully take over the
world). I have had better luck with "Cybernetica" (a web site) and
"Artificial Evolution" (a field of study) when trying to place memes into
the evolutionary scheme than the "outdated" Darwinistic theory often tossed
around on this list (survival through conquering?). I have also found some
good metaphors when studying neuro-biology for the way memes act (like
neurons) which seems related to their viral nature as well (but I am still
researching this link).

Like many "metaphysicians" before me, I "claim no alligience to any sect or
denomenation and/or any institution". I enjoy what transpires on this list.
It has attracted a group of people who excell in philosophical thought and
seem well suited to each other. I am still wondering if this "church" thing
is some kind of joke, or something?!?


At 01:25 PM 8/15/97 -0700, you wrote:

>(This not just to directed to you, Brett, but is for the benefit of
>everyone that has joined the list in the last several months. Both the
>vocal members and the silent majority as well.)

>On Fri, 15 Aug 1997, Brett Lane Robertson wrote:

>> I read some paper online which I thought was "Virus of the Mind" (though I
>> thought it was by someone other than yourself).

>It may be useful to us to understand where we're all coming from and what
>each others backgrounds are in regards to memetics and evolutionary (and
>other origin) theories. We've done this in the past, but it's been a
>while and many people have joined CoV since the last time. It might help
>us to get a more complete picture of one another and likewise help fight
>the impulse to attribute a lack of understanding to anothers ignorance or
>stupidity. (The all too easy out.) It may also give us clues as to things
>we may want to look into on our own, to expand our knowledge.

>To that end:

>What brought you to Church of Virus? to the field of memetics?

>And what have you read (briefly) on the subject of memetics so far?
>(No need to be ashamed if it isn't much. This is a (meta-)meme after all.
>Word of mouth is as valid a transmission method as any other!)

>I'll start:
>I first became infected when I saw a listing in _Extropy_ magazine that
>read, "MEMETICS; Ideas as viruses." That was it. There were no articles
>in that issue /about/ memes, but the seed was planted. I went on a quest
>to find out what that meant (I had an inkling and "ideas as viruses" jived
>with what I'd felt was going on with for a while).

>My quest lead me to Richard Dawkins (_The Selfish Gene_), Glenn Grant
>(_Memetic Lexicon_ and others), Daniel Dennett (_Understanding
>Consciousness_), and eventually to CoV.

>I'm currently reading (God forbid I say it and spread the infection to
>others!), yes, _Virus of the Mind_ by that noted BBQ chef, theater critic
>and pool shark, Richard (Plug-My-Book!) Brodie.

>And you? How'ed a nice person like you end up in a place like this?

>-Prof. Tim

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