Date: Mon, 20 Apr 98 10:20:05 -0500
Subject: Re: List of meme definitions
Tim Rhodes wrote:
>>>>>>I think is important to distinguish between the meme as it
exists internally, in the "host" mind, and the rough and often
inaccurate form it is encoded into for transmission (be these words or
drawings or gestures). A vital link in the process of transmission is
the memes ability to trigger that encoding process in the host. I
simply think it would be valuable to define some terms we can all
agree on for the encoded offspring of the meme, in order to speak
about this part of the process more clearly.
With curiosity about what a "meme" really is-
One of the features that I find so intriguing about this issue of
'memes' is its apparent 'slipperiness', our (at least, certainly,
_my_) inability to get a firm verbal, and thereby conceptual, 'grip'
on what a meme *is*. And perhaps I'm biased toward my own limited
understanding of general-semantics, or just ignorant of another viable
system in terms of which to analyze the issue, but I suspect that the
difficulty can be found in the logic of our language itself, and the
thinking patterns in which it trains us. Rather than trying to put a
'handle' on a meme as 'a concrete neuro-synaptic structure', or 'a
pattern of ink stains on paper', etc. -- i.e. as 'this' _or_ 'that'
'object' separate and distinct from all other 'objects' -- we need to
somehow recognize and specify a meme as a 'thought pattern', including
all of the 'physiological', 'neurological', 'environmentally
interactive', etc., structural configurations which such a thought
pattern involves. It is artificial to 'distinguish' the living
nervous system from its environmentally interactive activities. And
it is artificial to 'distinguish' a meme from same. The meme 'and'
the living human nervous system interacting with its environment all
comprise a single, self-configuring, cybernetic system. (And the way
in which our nervous systems 'describe', or 'map', that system
determines how our nervous systems will 'behave', or 'interact', with
that overall system.) Perhaps there may be some way of describing the
human-nervous- system-in-its-environment as, in turn, the meme's
'environment', of which it is a 'configuration', and isolated from
which it cannot 'survive' (i.e. does not exist).
I think this issue of memes gets at the very crux of the 'mind' *or*
'matter' issue, and the inaccuracies of our utilitarian linguistic (i.
e. 'artificial') 'separation' of the 'two', and the cumulative effect
that this inaccuracy has in our further sensory abstraction
This is why I am strongly inclined toward a definition of the human
being as a cybernetic 'neuro-computer', and of the meme as a
'subroutine' (so to speak) of its 'programming', which programming
directs this neuro-computer's activities ('behavior', 'reactions',
'responses to stimuli'), one of which might well be to propagate and
install a given subroutine in other human neuro-computers by whatever
mode of transmission (e.g. fax, phone, or voice mail) that 'works'.
[And this would make our society a kind of gigantic 'neuro-computer
network' wouldn't it? Cool! ;) ]
Now that's getting toward a meme worth spreading, IMO.
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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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