Re: virus: Do memes exist?

Wade T.Smith (
Fri, 19 Sep 97 19:17:41 -0400

>Even so, understanding the movement
>of memes on the Internet seems like a worthy enough goal on its own right.

Hmmmm. Yes, drosophila are used because mutations can be seen swiftly.
The grand argument is still that those using fruit flies know what
they're looking at....

The question on the other list was- 'Is there an analog to the use of
drosophila for memetics?' - and I kinda changed that to 'Is there some
way we could actually _find_ a meme, and what avenue of search would that
be?" I was looking for some sort of cultural lowest common denominator,
so that in a comparison with behaviors without culture (animal behavior,
for lack of a better term) and behaviors with culture (memetic behavior,
for lack of a better term...), there would be a gaping example of what
one set had and the other did not- namely memes. I thought toilet
training could serve. The acquisition and use of clothing sounds
interesting as well. The problem with the Internet is that it is in
existence in a verdant memescape already, and there is no animal
equivalence. (And is the prevalent memescape about the Vonnegut thing the
context of it, or the fact it weren't his in the first place....?) We
need something where we can say with some certainty there are no memes,
and something which is a cultural variation of those behaviors, so that
we can see what the memes did. As such, there is a vast and everchanging
species of memes within toilet training, as each tribe/culture/family
uses adaptive techniques.

I am also, (after an extensive alpha wave session one night), toying with
the idea of day/dream comparison, but I am relying on an unproven
assertion that dreams do not engage memes at all. (If someone else has
come up with this conclusion, please let me know. I see memes as quantum
units of culture, and also see that some action is required- the meme is
the straw of the action's back, as it were.) I think there is some
agreement around this crowd for this view. I am not an adherent of using
the term meme to apply to physical artifacts of culture, as are some who
would popularize the word, and indeed, as it may be applied according to
Dawkin's original supposition.... Oh well, heresy is good for you....

So, without an actual working mechanism, there is really no drosophila
yet. But- fruit flies are used just as much to _find_ genes as to explore
them, ain't they? (Although there may be no difference between such

And, yes, ultimately I don't feel memes are a necessary and sufficient
part of mind until they are found. But- I want them to be found. There is
a comfort level to seeing such a mechanism, isn't there? Is this a form
of faith? Perhaps....

Points to the amount of threads covered/contained/or began herein... I'm
swimming against enough currents already.

Wade T. Smith | "There ain't nothin' you | shouldn't do to a god." |
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