Re: i-memes and m-memes

Chris Lofting (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 23:35:46 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 23:35:46 +1000

-----Original Message-----
From: James McComb <>
To: Memetics Discussion List <>
Date: Sunday, 29 August 1999 3:00
Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes

>Here are the reasons why I believe it necessary to view memes as having two
>forms, i-memes (neural patterns) and m-memes (behaviours and artefacts). It
>is my spin on recent contributions to the list.

which is an abstraction of the genotype (i-memes) phenotype (m-memes)
dichotomy. Your emphasis on two forms is what I would call level 1 thinking
in that it is a 'new' idea and so not yet refined. It is better if you go
for four and then eight forms to get a more refined perspective and then use
these primary forms as feedback to create more complex forms. Since we have
an idea about the structure behind these forms it is pretty simple to map
them out. Try this:

im/mm (A/~A) level 1
im+im : im+mm : mm+im : mm+mm level 2

the middle two are 'emergent' from applying the level 1 dichotomy
recursively. What do they mean though? im+im manifest a pure concept as does
mm+mm; they capture the concept of 'what'. im+mm and mm+im manifest
relationships and so distinctions of 'this' from 'that' and so we see the
influence of 'where'.

Underneath these distinctions, for each element in the dichotomy, is a
pattern of basic meaning such that im+im are seen as 'things' and thus
objects and whole ones -- they are 'pure'.

im+mm manifest the entanglement of A and ~A, manifests object in a
relationship, aka 'part' where the word projects this entanglement (the word
is an example of a superposition in that the waveform for whole is combined
with the waveform for relationship. In the mm+im the context is mm whereas
in mm+im the context is mm. These contexts create biases in expression.)

>I believe that there are two fundamentally different forms of replication
>memetics. One is the hermeneutic processes of encoding and decoding between
>i-memes and m-memes. The other is the purely mechanical copying of m-memes
>without hermeneutic encoding/decoding.

The hermeneutic form implies consideration of feedback and so context
sensitivity. This is transformational. The mechanistic form implies context
insensitivity, self-replication that retains purity but in doing so lacks
diversity. This is transactional. ( this generates fractals when applied
recursively -- all the same regardless of scale)

>Here are three replication events:
>i->m: Memetic information residing in a brain is encoded into a behaviour
>artefact. For example, an author tries to translate her thoughts into
>written words. In so far as she is trying to interpret what her thoughts
>are, this is a hermeneutical process.

ok..context sensitive in that the structure of the thoughts, their
expression, needs to 'fit' the context set by book/story etc

>m->m: Memetic information is mechanically copied from one artefact to
>another. For example, a printing press makes hundreds of copies of the
>author's book. This process is purely mechanical, and does not involve
>hermeneutic interpretation. (Do behaviours spread among humans without
>interpretations, like contagious yawning, also count as m->m processes?)

the emphasis is on maintaining of the 'pure' form; I think cloning falls
into this; closer to meitosis than meiosis.
The fundamental dichotomy for genes is that of pyramidines/purines. Applied
recursively and you get the genetic code. Then comes the method of
replication -- meitosis lacks the diversity of meiosis and favours 'pure'
copying as in skin cells etc etc where we dont want mutations. With meiosis
we almost guarantee variations through the cross-over process such that we
increase survival chances in differing contexts by increasing diversity;
meitosis is transactional, meiosis is transformational.

>m->i: Memetic information is decoded from an artefact of behaviour, and
>stored in a brain. For example, someone reads the book and internalises its
>messages. This is the quintessential act of hermeneutic interpretation.

This is the resonance factor; the m pattern sets off a resonance in the
emotions from which we get a sense of meaning. The messages are sequences of
object/relationship symbolisms that are encoded into patterns of emotion ---
sound familiar?

There IS a code at the macro level that is 'like' the code at the micro
level, just as DNA stores relationships and tRNA gathers these to form a
gene that is then read by the ribosomes that form the protein chains that
are the expression, so our information processing system plays with objects
and relationships that are then gathered into words, phrases, sentences etc
to become 'genes' that elicit emotional patterns that give us meaning.

>These events can be represented in phylogenetic lineages such as i->m->i,
>i->m->m->i, and so forth.
>The particular information encoded in an m-meme is not a static,
>independently existing entity, but is dependent on the system of
>encoding/decoding used. This situation is no different than in genetics,
>where a piece of uninterpreted DNA by itself has no 'meaning'.

In humans DNA is the storage medium and it stores relational snippets that
we can then link together to become something potentially meaningful. We do
the same thing when we label things in that a set of relationships is given
a label and becomes a 'thing' that elicits some sort of meaning; like
i-memes and m-memes.



This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)