RE: virus: Existence and Ego

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Sat, 13 Sep 1997 14:37:13 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 12 Sep 1997, Brett Lane Robertson wrote:

> Prof Tim,
> Are you saying that memes are both influenced by the person and that they
> influence different people differently--that they are variable in their
> *application*? While this would suggest that the exact "cost of relegating
> yet another mental process to the realm of the meme" cannot be determined
> (a) independently of the person, or (b) independently of the environment
> (manifestation)...can they be determined by the meme itself (a flu bug has
> different effects but is still a flu bug); or can we say in general that
> memes do "this or that": Is there some way to determine in a general way if
> we should encourage meme-infestation or discourage it?
> For example: Do memes limit conscious choice? Do memes favor more complex
> organisms at the detriment of average or below average survival? Do memes
> create states of mystification and trance? Are memes energy hogs? (and I
> say that all of these apply). If our psychological health can be improve
> through the avoidance and/or proper utilization of a meme (through ego
> choice?), what would that influence look like--I have proposed that meme
> development be discouraged (though now I am not so sure).

I think you're misunderstanding what memes are, possibly confusing them
with mind viruses, which are a specific type of meme structure. Memes have
all kinds of natures and contents; some are helpful to their hosts, some
unhelpful, and some helpful in certain contexts. It's not possible to
avoid hosting memes in general, except by ceasing thinking entirely. It
is possible to select the memes one hosts to some extent.

Each person is the sum of genetic and memetic factors interacting.
Neither genes nor memes can be eliminated from the equation, though both
can of course be affected in various ways.

newly infected with the Tamagotchi mind virus, to her ambivalence