The Meme Machine

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 8 Apr 1999 12:09:07 -0400

Message-Id: <v02140b04b33280ab9491@[]>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 12:09:07 -0400
From: (Reed Konsler)
Subject: The Meme Machine

>From: Chris Lees <>
>Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999 21:00:54 +0100
>Subject: Re: The Meme Machine
>I also think of the self as a construct. My feeling is, that a large complex
>mobile multicellular organism would require some kind of executive
>neural faculty, for want of a better term, to be able to function effectively,
>and such a coordinating executive centre thus evolved, and we experience
>it in people as something approximating to the self or agency.
>I imagine also, that this executive faculty, like other bodily systems, could
>be damaged or malfunction, in some instances, hence disassociative disorders
>and so forth, which may well throw some light upon the matter.

That's clearly put. An analogy: The only way a polity can organize
itself productively requires some kind of executive, for instance the
President of the United States. The President, and his aides and
assistants declare the intentions of the United States.

But, our understanding of political history would be quite shallow if
we focused exclusively on presidents and believed what they said
about themselves and the polity naievely. How much power over
the actions of the United States does the Bill Clinton have? More than
the average citizen, perhaps...but more than every citizen? More
the Steven Spielberg? Bill Gates? Alan Greenspan? There are other
locuses of force in the culture.

Furthermore, can the president oppose the collective will of the people?
Far from it...most modern politicans caper to public opinion polls.
So, who is "really" in charge? The "silent majority"? Wall Street?
The L.A. entertainment machine? Where is the control of culture

A "real" center of narrative gravity would take all these things
into would be some person or idea or object which
was, by happenstance, exactly in the middle of all these locuses
of cultural force. And yet, we have one declarer of
our collective intention who is, even so, not the "real" center
of American intentionallity.

In other words, the President is a *fictional* center of American
Intentionallity. The role of President makes whomever attains
this position a powerful figure but it doesn't make them the
"real" center of power in America.

In the same way, the self is a *fictional* center. This doesn't
mean that the self isn't real or that it doesn't have significant
influence. It does mean that the "self" is not the decision maker
so much as the policy maker...and that the policy of the self
must agree, to a great extent, with the polity.


Reed Konsler

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