RE: virus: Do memes exist?

Brett Lane Robertson (
Wed, 24 Sep 1997 15:26:06 -0500

"...many forms of communication are what carries a meme from point A to
point B." (Marxidad)


I'm starting to be of the opinion that this explanation will not do at all.
Assume that a well written speech is a meme. How long does the speech stay
active in our mind? How many such speeches do we hear in a year? Or
advertising: brandX influences us one moment and brandY the next. How
stable is the meme for brandX? Will it cause us to go out and replicate
"Bill Gates"? Is there enough stability in a meme defined this way to
isolate it and study it?

Of course, to some degree the illustration of memes as jingles and slogans
are useful to suggest the processes of memes. But, if there is not some
more stable form of a meme than what this suggests, the idea of meme looses
it's usefulness. We are bombarded by so many of these forms of memes that
they become synonomous with the terms "information", or "data". We process
this stuff like water. It's effect on us is temporary at best.

I thought of the illustration of a pet as a meme (a familiar, a voodo
fetish). Say one owner trains a dog to fetch the newspaper every morning
because the owner likes to read the paper over breakfast. Say this owner
gives the dog to a second owner who doesn't read the paper. But, the dog
continues to fetch the paper every morning. The new owner starts receiving
the paper every morning so starts to read the paper in the a.m. The new
owner has taken on the characteristics of the old owner because the meme of
reading the paper was passed on by dog.

At least in the case of the dog, the meme had found a more stable form of
transmission than a slogan or jingle. But, the dog is not a meme by
definition--she is a dog! What I'm getting at is that there must be a place
where the information contained in a meme is recorded in a form which
maintains its integrity long enough to be passed on to the next host. I
have suggested that genes are this recording device.

If we are to find a form which is stable enough to influence our behavior,
it must be--basically--imune to our manipulations. Jingles and slogans are,
for the most part, too unstable to play this role.


Rabble Sonnet Retort
Why did the Lord give us so much quickness of movement
unless it was to avoid responsibility with?