RE: virus: The One or the Many? (was: META)

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Mon, 27 Oct 1997 15:04:07 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 26 Oct 1997, Robin Faichney wrote:

> > From: David McFadzean[]
> >
> > At 02:01 PM 10/25/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
> >
> > >If all of these people think information must either be in a mind,
> > >or in an external representation, then I guess maybe I do have
> > >something to contribute to memetics, after all. What do you
> > >think, David? (Don't feel you have to respond if you don't see
> > >what I'm getting at.)
> >
> > Are you suggesting that memes, as information patterns, can
> > have an existence independent of minds and external representations?
> >
> Yes! I think Dawkins' first conception of memes was as
> patterns of behaviour. Assuming Richard is right to say
> he, like these other Big Memeticians, now sees them as
> "in the mind", I think that switch must be due to an
> insight into the ultimate inseperability of what goes on
> "in here" from what we do "out there". But if we recall
> that "meme" is just a word, that can be used in any
> way we want, *and* accept the reality of information
> and of patterns, we can eliminate the subjectivity of
> considerations of what's "in the mind", and the dualism
> of saying memes must be either in it or out in the
> world, by seeing that it's all patterns, both of actual
> behaviour in the world at large *and* of potential
> behaviour within the brain (not the mind), and we
> can use "memes" for either behaviour or potential
> behaviour or both -- that's just a matter of convention
> (though it would be convenient to agree on it).
> Hey, remember I said it first! Anyone else who
> claims this one for themselves gets sued! (And
> David can confirm I'm already well into establishing
> a good theoretical basis for this stuff -- though I
> wouldn't expect to get my book published for a year
> or two yet.)
> Hey, David, how secure is the archive?
> Robin the paranoid designer of fine memes
> who has a living to make

Um, Robin, you're not the only one (or the first one) who's said that the
word "meme" *could be* be applied either to ideas or external phenomena,
as a matter of convention or terminological preference; I just said so
about one post earlier in this thread, as a matter of fact, but I said it
was more useful to apply it to the ideas. You're also not the only one
who's said that it works to apply it to both; I'm not one of these. I
agree that the essence of *memetics* is that there is a form of
informational continuity (or "pattern") between the two, but I disagree
with you that the term "meme" is therefore usefully applicable both
internally and externally. Your particular combination of memes is
unique, and you are welcome to take all due credit for it, but please
don't try to claim sole credit for every sub-aspect of it. It's the
recipe, not the list of ingredients, that is truly your own.

for external application only! Keep out of eyes! Dilute! Dilute! OK!