2015-09-24

模倣子 The Urge to Kibbitz

kibbitzophilia: n. The urge to make suggestions and criticisms, usually without thinking (at all), of another's creative work, ideas, life choices, etc.  See also "kibbitzomania" (in extreme cases).

This strikes me as an example of a more-or-less generalized ("omniphageous") immunomeme. Examples are feedback I've gotten from my recent books.  One knee-jerk to "Between Laughing and Crying" was (with serious tone) "...why don't you call it 'Between Laughter and Tears'?" with no justification. (*).  Others were "what?  these people are French/Japanese?"  "you keep using all these name ending, -san, -chan, -kun -- why not pick one and stick with it?" (**)

An example of a useful one (one of the magnificently very few) was "you should indent your paragraphs -- it's hard to read" (and it turns out pretty much all books do this).

In other words, about half of the so-called "critiques" I got were really just non-falsifiable knee-jerk tautological statements about the book.  Yes, there were Japanese and French people in the book (as in thousands of other books) and there were syfy-like neologisms, just like in every other syfy book, and so on.  These are alogical pseudo-criticisms, and it seems they serve an immunomemetic function.

The point is that this is a handy, but kind of subtle immunomene.  I'm becoming convinced that immunomemes are all conservative in nature (that's kind of a no-brainer, i.e., they are, almost by definition) and all involve some form of "bullying". The trick is that the infected person (the one who carries the immunomeme) is not so much a mean or unkind person as a brain that perceives the opportunity to "fire" a meme and evince a reaction from the target person or, usually, those others around them and thereby enjoy the resultant libidinal memetic reaction, or "memetic orgasm" (probably not an apt term, but maybe).

Questions are: how does the infected person perceive the opportunity to employ (deploy?) the given immunomene? I expect it's something like a sexual response. For instance, the exposure to a new or unfamiliar idea could create a kind of arousal, exciting the infected individual to rifle through their bag of courtship-like tricks, i.e., their immunomeme complement, pick one, and deploy it, much as one might ask the time of day, try to bum off of or light the cigarette of, offer to buy a drink for, and so forth.  Similarly, one makes a trivial observation, a vague suggestion, say "I've never heard of it", or ask a leadingly depracatory question about some trivial feature, e.g., "what an odd color" "why did you pick this color?" "it's rather big, isn't it?" "it would never fit in my living room" and so on.

Interestingly, reading Norman Vincent Peal's How to Win Friends and Influence People one sees how doing the opposite can get one what one wants, including sexual favors. Agreeing with someone, asking questions that make the other person feel they are transmitting their ideas as opposed to defending them (both through tone and phrasing) basically gives the other person the memetic orgasms.

Oh, I had a thought this morning about the alacrity with which individuals (and societies) resort to immunomemes.  It seems that some individuals do it right away, and they seem unreceptive to new ideas, new relationships, etc.  I haven't worked it out yet, but it could be that self-confident individuals resort less quickly to immunomemetic responses (or perhaps rely on others to do it for them, and they may be the inventors of same). I thought of the contrast between the French and the Japanese response to the "invasion" of foreign words into their lexicon.  The French response is immediate, frantic, zealous, and panicky, while the Japanese appears to be non-existant.  Both countries have very rigid controls (governmental, institutional) over which words (and characters) are allowed to be in the language, and even which words and names are allowed to be used to name children, notwithstanding.

I want to conclude that the French feel their culture to be more at risk, less stable, more vulnerable, to foreign influence.  But is that it? If so, why?  How to characterize and quantify this?


(*) of course the answer is that one is a nominalized verb while the other is a noun and I don't like the asymmetry, and further it's a rough translation from "naki-warai jidai" (the laughing-crying time) from Japanese, where both are (truncated) gerunds.  In short, yes, I gave it a lot of thought, and this was blithely bypassed.  And that's typical.

(**) uh...this is how Japanese works.  That's like saying "why not pick from Mr. Ms. and Mrs. Milord, M'Lady, Your Majesty, 'sonny boy', 'my friend' 'buddy' and stick with it?" Of course, most people don't know this stuff, so tossing out an immunomeme like this can still catch a lot of people and elicit a memetic resonant response with gets the deployer their memetic orgasm again.  "Hey, yeah, I don't know the first thing about it, but it sounds reasonable to me..."

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