From: Kate Distin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue 19 Jul 2005 - 18:58:32 GMT
Alan Patrick wrote:
> On another board we were talking about why Harry Potter has raised the
> ire of religous fundamentalists, whereas Philip Pullman's kids series,
> which is far more anti religion etc, has not. View was that perhaps the
> anti Potter thing is a memetic parasite, the Potter mindspace being
> larger and thus better to colonise. (Of course, as Pullman is for older
> kids it just may be that the moralists find it harder to understand.....)
> Any views on the lifestyles of Memetic parasites....for eg are there
> differences between species, say between fad parasites and those leeched
> to longer term memes?
I'm not convinced that it's a matter of being parasitic - well only in
the sense that you can't have an objecting-to-Harry-Potter meme-set
without having Harry Potter in the first place.
I think it's just standard memetic evolution, with three factors at play
here. First, there's all the hype that's surrounded the books: even if
you've never read them you will know that Harry Potter is a boy wizard,
because there's been so much publicity. The "Harry Potter is a wizard"
meme is enormously fertile.
Secondly, wizardry/witchcraft/magic are topics that provoke a reflex
objection amongst certain Christians (in the same way that evolutionary
theory does). The subject-matter of the Harry Potter books are thus
very obviously incompatible with their existing meme-set.
Thirdly, their existing meme-set includes ideas about evangelism, saving
people's souls, particular responsibility to protect children, etc. So
one of the effects of acquiring the "Harry Potter is a wizard" meme will
be to do all they can to prevent children from reading the books, to
condemn them publically, etc. This is how their existing meme-set makes
I suspect that the key difference between these books and the Pullmans
lies in the amount of hype each has had in the US, where the particular
Christian meme-set that objects so violently to Harry Potter seems to be
the most prevalent and vocal. But this is just a suspicion.
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