Re: Memetic Parasitism

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 20 Jul 2005 - 01:45:55 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Memetic Parasitism"

    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > 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
    > them behave.
    > 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.
    I'm old enough to remember that Dungeons and Dragons was a bit controversial in its day. I think some of the occult themes of the Potter series may be what has some fundies perturbed. Anything overtly non-Christian and specifically having to do with wizardry gets 'em riled up. But I'd assume many if not most Christian parents are OK with the Potter books and movies, especially if it gets their kids into reading books and upping their literacy levels.

    Some Christians have a bee in their bonnet for anything remotely "pagan". My "ignorant heathen" (as a book on Norse mythology I've read referred to them I think) ancestors in the Odin loving lands of Scandanavia had some problems with a parasite that they were never able to shake, though it took a while before they were fully infected relative to the rest of Europe. Alas the Asgard parasite they already carried was able to hybridize a little with the new belief system from the Levant (as the Yule apparently has roots in Thor worship). Burn a log during X-mas for the guy wielding the thunderous hammer against those nasty frost giants. And dare not forget what Thursday's all about. It's the day after Woden's day.

    Fundies despising the Potter seres harkens back to their forebears squashing pagan beliefs like a bug as Christianity spread through Europe. They don't like the competition.

    Anyway, the fundie parents have a book series for their kids too, based on the _Left Behind_ series for adults by LaHaye and Jenkins. I think it's (the adult
    _Left Behind_ series anyway) about the Christian version of Ragnarok and definitely without Fenris busting his chains and killing Odin or Thor doing battle with the Midgard serpent. Some boring Antichrist dude named Nicolae instead. Nicolae ain't got nothing on Loki or his demon spawn. Loki would eat him for breakfast or maybe con him into hurling mistletoe at Baldur at least.

    There's also some _Left Behind_ movies starring Kirk Cameron, but they haven't quite set the world on fire like the Potter movies. Yet they are much easier to digest than Wagner's Nibelungen Ring cycle nightmare.

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