|While Darwinizing Culture provided scientific validity for industrial age genocide, I think we are now either headed for the endplay of cultural Darwinism as represented by capitalist scientism (A Short History of the Metameme), or the beginning of an age of transcultural humanism informing the ethical appropriation of scientific understanding.
Reflexive Ethnographic Science (a proposed book)
|"Dan Dennett has argued that Darwin's "dangerous idea" is an abstract algorithm, often called the "replicator dynamic". This dynamic consists of repeated iterations of selection from among randomly mutating replicators according to some criterion. Replicators, in turn, are units of information with the ability to reproduce themselves using resources from some material substrate."|
Robert Aunger, author of the above article, has an abiding interest in testing the memetic model within cultural anthropology. Culture Vultures
|"As a contribution to a scientific cultural anthropology, it constitutes a foil to those in cultural studies and related fields who deride the possibility of verifiable ethnographic representations. Instead, it points the way toward a unique combination of traditional and post-modern objectives -- in effect, a reflexive ethnographic science."|
I wonder if anyone has thought to insert a memetic algorithm into an evolution simulation software package? These freeware ones are offered by EvoNet Flying Circus, and lie within The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Evolutionary Computation.
|"But the groundswell of enthusiasm about memes, including Blackmore's, has largely glossed over a number of problems the idea poses. In my view, those problems are not fatal. But they must be appreciated if the meme hypothesis is to skirt the empty circularity it has been accused of (namely, that whatever gains cultural currency is the product of memes, but the only evidence for the memes is cultural currency)."|
I do not (necessarily) see the necessity of countering a cognitive virus - the proactive act of innoculation, and it's attendant cross-meme immunity being far better. An ounce of prevention: Hang with youngsters, comment and laugh at all attempts to meme-ipulate that come to attention, laugh, laugh, laugh (what is that pungent odor?)....add standard hypocrisy disclaimer when purchasing favorite beverage and/or bypassing person in need on the street. Oh, and prepare yourself and loved ones for ideational combat. Meme Warfare -
A Dispatch from the Forebrain of the Global Culture Jammer
Further to my rather sidetracked research of yesterday, Mark Dery takes us Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs.
|"Every outburst of cognitive dissonance is useful, but to mount a serious challenge against corporate rule, we jammers must build our own meme factory."|
Mark Dery is credited with coining the phrase 'culture jamming', though I think it was a kid eating strawberry yoghurt. In a blatant attempt to hawk his book, he has placed many exerpts and chapter synopses online, hoping that we will attain Escape Velocity.
|"Meanwhile, the question remains: How to box with shadows? In other words, what shape does an
engaged politics assume in an empire of signs?|
The answer lies, perhaps, in the "semiological guerrilla warfare" imagined by Umberto Eco."
|"Chapter One uncovers the roots of contemporary computer culture in '60s counterculture; dissects the libertarian-libertine politics of Mondo 2000, the New Age mutant hacker 'zine with one foot in the Aquarian Age and the other in a Brave New World; deconstructs the voodoo cosmology of William Gibson's cyberpunk novels; and infiltrates the technopagan subculture, whose members use computers in occult rituals."|
Steven Jan aims to apply the memetic paradigm to relationship itself! Replicating Sonorities: Towards a Memetics of Music
Perhaps music is to our meat what webware is to the machine. ...sanctity
and transgression both arise from the fracturing of the
"order of intimacy", the separation of the "human" from
"nature". (Bataille), thus The Utopian Blues.
|"I begin by examining briefly the relationship between memes in music and those in the
verbal-conceptual realm in terms of the linguistic concepts of phonetics, syntax, and semantics."|
In the Application of Memetics, Michael Wilson has put it all together and in fourteen easy steps shows us how to do you. Unless of course you are doing us, in which case I suppose our magician's spells collide in a cacophonic memannihilation.
|"Why is the spirituality of the musician in "High" cultures
so often a low-down spirituality?"|
With a title like The Reasons for the Unexpected Difficulties of Modern Life one might expect stodginess, but is instead greeted with the warmth of a personal letter combined with the precision of a great essay. Nancy Owlglass eyes the memetic prey (We think of ourselves as hybrid genetic/memetic organisms), (How can we avoid a future as slaves to a memetic hive?) and delivers the quiet, deadly end.
|Propaganda and Memetics
"How do these two concepts differ? Propaganda creates a mindset that will accept or be neutral towards actions undertaken by the generating source. Memetics creates an active mindset that encourages participation (action, reaction, proselytizing) and perpetuation of the intent of the generating source. It depends on whether you want people to be sedate or pro-active."|
Mario Vaneechoutte clarifies whether the replicator meme should be replicated. The replicator: a misnomer. Conceptual
implications for genetics and memetics
|"I'd like to think the Buddhists were on to
something with their denial of the reality or
importance of the ego/soul and their skepticism
towards words and symbols. On the other
hand, there's no meme-hive quite so stunningly
illustrative as, say, a Zen monastery."|
All meme, all the time, you are tuned to ViralMedia.con; 101.10 on your neuro-dial. Meme-Based Models of Mind and the Possibility for Consciousness in
genes are not (self-)replicators and, as I will argue below, in contradiction to the current paradigm of the RNA-replicator world hypothesis, they have never been."|
As well as interesting, read in an historical context Memetics; The Nascent Science of Ideas and their Transmission by J. Peter Vajk is also a precise, polished place-setting for the ideational repast that presently weighs our cognitive alter.
|"Memes have worked from the beginning to improve the interface with this
electronic medium so they may move more easily between the technological
and the biological realms."|
In order to transcend the control of PanoptiCorp's memetic engineers we must understand their modus operandi. Measuring the Flow Experience Among Web Users is a comprehensive manual for those who would (ab)use us.
some variation of capitalism, and significant personal liberty are the
traditional values attributed to the West, but one other piece of the complex
is especially important in this discussion, namely, the meme of tolerance."|
Do not expect the Theory of Options to help your investment strategy, but it does give a credible account of how we evolved into moral, "free" creatures.
|"Flow..., defined as an intrinsically enjoyable experience, is similar to both peak
experience and peak performance, as it shares the enjoyment of valuing of peak
experience and the behavior of peak performance. Flow per se does not
imply optimal joy or performance but may include either or both."|
Meme Storage in DNA, superbly elucidated by Douglas C. Klimesh, seeks to bridge the dichotomies inherant between culture and nature. Combine this view with the Theory of Options above and ...?
|"The Theory of Options provides an elegant solution to the dualism issue, based not on rationalistic argument but the neurology of the brain. Dualism maximizes the options of acquiring knowledge, and evolved during human emergence."|
My esteemed colleague over at evacuate & flush lent me a lead which lead to How to Catch Insanity from Your Kids (Among Others); or, Histoire naturelle de l'infame. This is a concise and well voiced review of
Explaining Culture, A Naturalistic Approach by Dan Sperber, who points to the opportunity ...to recover a Darwinian-Jamesian-Dawkinsian theory, complete with memes, by treating as equivalent all representations within the same basin of attraction....The Cerebral Code -- Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind by William H. Calvin goes behind the scenes to postulate the cortical-level equivalent of a gene or meme; and in the process adds a harmony to my perceptual melody.
also supports the idea of multiple copies of a gene in the
genome where the exon is the same, but the introns are
different. So there would be different instructions
expressed from a particular gene at different times."|
Ad creep, brought to you by the creeps who make ads. Mental Engineering is working on a shoestring budget to unmask the memetic engineers.
|"Unlike selectionist theories of mind, Calvin's mosaics can fully implement all six essential ingredients of Darwin's evolutionary algorithm, repeatedly turning the quality crank as we figure out what to say next."|
Now, we could be in real trouble if the above denigrated peradverts discovered research like Towards the Neuronal Substrate of Visual Consciousness by Christof Koch. All of the ideas discussed here were jointly developed with Dr. Francis Crick
|"The show, on which four panelists and
the high-energy host John Forde watch and critique TV
commercials, aims to "irreverently discuss the ways in which TV
commercials engineer our perceptions, attitudes, and
behavior—how commercials attempt to engineer us mentally." "|
Culture jamming is the responsibility of us all, as that is the only check able to provide balance to the otherwise overwhelming force of mass media and advertising. Steven Downs aims to crack the memetic egg in Hacking Memes. A simple and expedient example: "A popular tactic reacts to the increasing commercialization of the Web. A
number of sites are creating and spreading spoof Web ads. Such ads are meme
hacking at its best - they lay generally ignored, silently spreading subversion."
|"These well-known facts suggest that we are not vividly aware of much
of what goes on... "|
Oh, if only all decent and communication loving discussion lists could have someone like Geert Lovink to compile a summation of ideas...; Memesis, *deep isomorphism*, talk among yourselves....
Ben Cullen was an investigator of great promise. Just before his premature death he was preparing Parasite Ecology and the Evolution of Religion for publication. "Anatomically, the corpse flower and cultural life forms have much more in common than one might expect."
|"The essence of the meme idea is that evolution no longer takes place
on the level of the genes, but on the level of culture. The fact that
memes evolve according to principles of variation and selection very
similar to the principles governing Darwinian evoltion of genes does
not in any way lead to Social Darwinism in its old sense."|
Cosma Shalizi thoroughly reviews
The Extended Phenotype, The Long Reach of the Gene, by Richard Dawkins. His finding, that "Ultimately, Dawkins presents a vision of the organic world and its appurtenances as overlapping fields of power exerted by replicators over each other and over the vehicles which they construct to carry themselves into future generations.", conjures reductionist heaven, I'd say.
|"Most of the world's established religions are transmitted vertically, from parents to children, and are therefore expected to be benign towards their hosts. Yet, certain horizontally transmitted cults, such as the Aum Shinrikyo, seem to effectively exploit their hosts in a way similar to an infectious disease."|
The Science of Information Viruses, by Keith Henson is a primer for those not yet festering beyond repair.
|"This is a technical and controversial work addressed to Dawkins's fellow biologists; it is also enviably, relentlessly clear, both in its prose and its logic. This is writing like a spear: a hard, sharp point, everything needed to drive the point home, and nothing else."|
Meme = music, quantum memes. I think these words may be highly prescient.
|"If this article has succeed in infecting you with the meme-about-memes, perhaps it
will help you be more responsible about the memes you spread and less likely to be
infected with a meme that will harm you or those around you."|
With fully distributed publishing anyone, even someone as GUInept as I, may place anything into the memepool. This dis-concentration gives us for the first time the opportunity to really investigate each other's nature in all it's glorious diversity and commonality. Can we move beyond
Media: The Lean, Mean, Meme Machine?
|"If we ever want to make an intelligent machine, its operating
system should be music."|
John Harms and Douglas Kellner, whose hypothesis comes to the rather counter-intuitive conclusion that agency control of the media is required to ensure freedom of expression and diversity of opinion, move Toward A Critical Theory of Advertising.
|"Information gathering on the Web is a radical
improvement in meme transference over contemporary media in
that the brain is highly receptive to every meme along the
trajectory. The more novel the information we place on the
Web, the larger our collective understanding will become."|
W. David Kubiak has been there, lived in the trenches of corporatism, and survived. We are indeed fortunate as he has brought us Big Medicine 2000, A Broad Spectrum Antidote
to Corporate Pathology.
|"The current self-policing of the media in a "free market" arena has harmful consequences for democracy and for the interests of consumers and the public."|
Also from the quill of Sri Kubiak is an essay that is of such grand scale, and yet so exudes the essence of simplicity, that I promptly set cursor to screen and wrote him. As generous in humorility as he is in etymological wisdom, I strongly recommend So You Want To Be An Orthodoctor? Three Big Body Revelations and A Little Heresy To Go.
|"The key political issue is simply, "Why should vast,
aggressively anti-democratic hierarchic bodies be allowed
any political role whatever in a democratic society, let
alone predominant power?" "|
Martin Gardner writes an articulate, fierce rebuttal of memetics in general and Susan Blackmore's take on it in particular. Kilroy Was Here sides with Gould's assesment that memes are "meaningless metaphors".
William S. Burroughs penned The Electronic Revolution in 1970, and could not have known that digitization would make his prescient vision even more easily realized. You say you want a revolution? Tape at 11.
|"Is memetics a misguided
attempt on the part of behavioral scientists to imitate
genetics with its gene units and physics with its elementary
particles? In a few years we may know."|
William S. was talking the language of memes, though I don't think Dawkins coined the phrase until some years later. Time burrowing to the present, Stephen Downes offers us the opportunity to innoculate ourselves by Hacking Memes. Thanks to Traumwind for this link.
|"Consider the human body and
nervous system as unscrambling
devices. Remember that when the
human nervous system unscrambles
a scrambled message this will seem
to the subject like his very own
ideas which just occurred to him."|
In a telling refutation of transparency, and an urgent call to redouble vigilance, here is Time in the Shadows of Anonymity:
Fighting Against Surveillance Cameras, Transparency,
and Global Capitalism. Brought to you by the good folks of the Surveillance Camera Players. Oh, no butter on mine, thanks.
Memetics and Social Contagion: Two Sides of the Same Coin? is the question posed by Paul Marsden. The answer, my friend, is blowing in your ear; the answer is in your ear.
|"To advance a theory of transparency, one must, unfortunately, first clear the air of the stench of the
widely and well-reviewed piece of shit entitled The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force
Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? (New York: Addison-Wesley 1998), which was
written by David Brin, a science-fiction novelist and staunch defender of capitalism and the State."|
David Brin tells a tale of intrigue that draws you in deep, and then explodes A New Meme.
|"This opens up an exciting
research programme for memetics, as contagion is no longer understood as a metaphor
but an evolutionary process. Social contagion research, from the memetic stance could
focus on the particular characteristics that render behaviours and emotions infectious."|
Aaron Lynch responds to criticisms of his Memetic Theories about
Masturbation with hard evidence, but finds himself in a slippery situation.
|"Let me suggest that until recently, five major memes have battled over the future of this planet. These
combatting zeitgeists had little to do with those superficial, pompous slogan mills people have gotten
all lathered about during this century -- communism, capitalism, Christianity, Islam. They are deeper,
older themes which continue to set the tone for entire civilizations even today."|
I do it, I am ashamed to say. The temptation is great to use the word "capitalism" as a catch all derogation. If I could write an evil glow in html I would entag it so, and add blink for bad measure. Peter Cadogan brings capitalism into the light of understanding, perchance to turn to leisure.
|"My memetic discussion of masturbation is
likewise unifying, in that it proposes mechanisms that also explain a broad
range of other old sex taboos."|
It seems inevitable when a bevvy of specialists from diverse disciplines get together to discuss a topic that agreement will be scarce. Posing the question "Do Memes
Account For Culture?", the participants had some common ground.
|"There is also nothing to compare with the power of
custom. Its chains are between our ears. We are
accustomed to the market and money. We accept supply
and demand, managed or otherwise, as our price
regulator. We know that it all depends upon scarcity and
we accept scarcity. But what happens if we run out of
scarcity? What if we have to make new unheard-of rules
to cope with surplus?"|
Perhaps all specialists could take the graduate course in Conversational Terrorism to help boost their cause. A word salad, or sesquipedalianism, can easily create enough cognitive dissonance to ensure compliance. Don't you agree?
|"The box of concepts available from Darwinism doesn't impress this
group. It seems a very small toolkit when so many theoretical alternatives are already available and
there is so much complexity to explain. In fact, theory abounds in the social sciences. What is lacking
is insight into real social processes."|
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but my dogs have little need of it; they already know they're perfect. Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Lalandpose a question that I can certainly answer in the affirmative: Do Animals Have Memes?
|"In view of the federal budget deficit, civil unrest, and international politics, we need to
consider that, notwithstanding the mitigating circumstances, this country has got to get
back on its feet. Don't you agree?"|
A well writen review draws me in, serves an hors d'oeuvre of the offered entree, and leaves me temporarily sated; wishing for more. Gavin McNett's summary of The Biography of a Dangerous Idea is one to be relished before trundling to the neighborhood bookseller.
|"Non-human animals may be poor imitators, but many are
excellent social learners. We argue that the meme concept can, and should, be applied
to animal cultural transmission."|
Being an antimeme activist, one feels impelled to engage in culture jamming. The Culture Jamming Encyclopedia to the rescue with ideas. Exposing the Great God Hoax is a prime example.
The revolution begins, and ends, with me. In A Fantasy for the Future we can experience a post-memetic fable which draws a crystal picture of repercepted reality.
"...unless we're all part of the same dream. Only I do hope it's my dream, and not the Red
King's! I don't like belonging to another person's dream..." Alice, Lewis Carroll In Application of Memetics we are given a guided tour of memetic engineering; how to design friends and influence them.
|"Slowly, an awareness emerged that it was not
"what" that had changed, but "who". It was people
who were affected. The world remained the same,
but the observers were perceiving differently."|
Thoughts as Tools: the Meme in Daniel Dennet's Work profiles whether this is truly a reductionist view. Kelby Mason does not believe so, and points out that we must not confuse reductionism and materialism.
boils down to acting like the Wizard of Oz--acting powerful, mysterious, all-knowing, beyond
judgment or reproach, when all you really are is a small, ordinary man hiding behind a threadbare
Crash Contagion uses memetic theory to examine the behavior of a large population; and gives us this quote from Daniel Dennett: ""A scholar is just a library's way of making another library".
|"Far from crippling us with a sense of our own impotence, then, memetics should
empower us. For it is not just as a science of thought that Dennett is interested in it, but
also as a technology of thought. This conception of thoughts is one that encourages us
to take control of them, and use them to their full advantage: if we can now get a science
(in the form of memetics) of the ideas that rule us then, according to Dennett, we will
have that much more power over ourselves and our environment."|
Perhaps the virulogical view of language is also reversably applicable; viruses as the memetic transmission of DNA "ideas". Steven Shaviro leads us from Burrough's tapeworm to a transmemetic vision; in 2,861 well chosen words.
|"Using a memetic interpretation of the events following the death of Diana, this paper
introduces memetics, by way of example, to social scientists and social researchers.
the paper argues that much human behaviour may be a product of non-rational imitation
and suggests that such an interpretation may help explain the mass hysteria following the
death of Diana, Princess of Wales."|
In concluding Perpetuity and Compatibility, the author proposes that we each make a commitment to pass on a beneficial meme to one person a year, and get a commitment from them to do the same. The pyramidal result is ten billion infections in thirty-four years - everyone.
|"Which came first, the intestine or the tapeworm?" In this epigram, Burroughs suggests that
parasitism--corruption, plagiarism, surplus appropriation--is in fact conterminous with life itself.|