2015-11-30

模倣子 Immunomemetic Cheese-Dicks in the Platoon

In the movie Platoon one of the derogatory names used by the experienced soldiers deployed in the infantry in the Vietnam War for newcomer soldiers to the field was "cheese-dick". This is a fairly obvious reference to smegma. There are all sorts of strange memes associated with this word, this concept. Well, all memes and memetic systems (memeplexes) tend to be strange, but lets have a look.

First off, since smegma, whatever it is, accumulates under the foreskin, and most American men, certainly almost all men at the time of the Vietnam War, are circumcised, they wouldn't have smegma. Again, whatever the hell smegma is, Americans wouldn't know what it is with any level of detail from personal experience.

This is an interesting example of an immunomeme and how immunomemes can function. The idea that one is somehow surrounded by others in the platoon who have cheese on their dicks and that derision is being heaped on them as a result makes the circumcised boy happy that he is circumcised, even though he might otherwise be quite unhappy about it, and thus this immunomeme defends the circumcision memeplex. In other words, a non-existent, effectively imaginary other person is being hated for some property which effectively no one possesses, certainly not visibly.

One can see a similarity to homophobia and also religion here. Homosexuality is invisible and most (American) men would never see it or otherwise encounter it personally, but at some level they know that it is a horrible thing and to avoid it like The Plague. They know that touching other men in certain ways or in certain contexts or talking about certain things or wearing certain clothes will all potentially attract the attacks which are constantly and viciously directed against these "others" who are somehow "real" even though one never sees them. By the same token, religionists preach of "the wicked" and "sinners" or the "children of Satan" who are at least invisible, perhaps walking among us, and in the extreme don't exist at all, and yet "the faithful" live in fear of them and even more so of becoming them and reaping not so much the wrath of G-d almighty as the active and readily-demonstrable hatred of their fellows in the congregation. Other examples, such as drug addicts, abound.

Back to "cheese-dicks" and smegma and the "alogic"1 of immunomemes and memes in general. The whole concept breaks down under the most basic application of logic. "Smegma" is apparently a Yiddish term which simply means "odor". Even American medical documents describe smegma as "cheese-like", and they also state that smegma appears under the foreskin and the clitoral hood. Men with foreskins produce the same odor as women2, which, again, Americans probably also don't generally know. This odor has little to do with washing. Yes, it will go away after a wash, but it comes right back about twenty minutes later. It is perfectly natural. If one goes for days and days without washing, either ears, eyes, teeth, toes, vulvas, or foreskins, one might expect cheesy stuff to develop on any of these places, but that might prompt one to then wash, or to visit a medical professional3. Naturally not only do few if any Americans have any truck with men with cheese-like substances on their penises, they probably have seldom encountered women with cheese on their clitorises, whatever their sexual predilections.

Obviously non-Jews survived for thousands of years without cutting off their foreskins. When I pointed out to a nurse friend that women somehow survived without an equivalent procedure to preserve much-needed hygiene, she replied "you can't just lay us open" effectively saying that because you could cut off half of the skin on a man's penis that somehow made it necessary. Again, memes are alogical, and medical professionals are not immune. Americans somehow miraculously survived prior to 1870 when circumcision was begun, too. Our pre-Stone-Age ancestors were obviously barely hanging on until they invented stone blades and were able to slice off their deadly foreskins, even though the procedure would've been fatal in easily 50% of cases. All of this is clearly sheer nonsense, yet comfortably resides alongside other American cultural mainstays such as stopping the car at stop signs, brushing one's teeth, answering the telephone when it rings, and flushing the toilet.

The point is that it seems to be possible to heap perfectly illogical and inconsistent hatred and derision on some group of invisible others which on the most cursory reflection can be shown to not even exist, certainly not in the form suggested. Further, the "abuse" of this imaginary other serves to preserve and defend the status quo by causing the individual to cherish and even actively cultivate their difference from this imagined "hated other". At the risk of anthropomorphizing the memetic system (memeplex), the shape and form of the imaginary "hated other", which is more easily manipulated since it is not real, can be used to shape and control the desired behavior of individuals in the memetic cohort4. This is very relevant to memetic engineering5, however. Churches, as mentioned6, many (if not most) governments, Harry J. Anslinger, the Father of the American Drug War7, and even Edward Bernays, the Father of Public Relations, are interesting examples of organizations and individuals who have used this principle to great effect.



1Memes are neither logical nor illogical. They are one or the other when it serves them, and a logical meme may pair up with an illogical one in the same memeplex without it being a problem. "Inconsistency" is an alien concept to memeplexes.
2caused by the compound squalene, found in tomatoes and sharks, which apparently explains the fishy odor, again, present in both women and (uncircumcised) men.
3In America this could be problematic, however, since while cheese between the toes would prompt a prescription for an ointment and a recommendation for a better washing régime, the same or lesser condition with the foreskin would lead directly to amputation. Go figga.
4The collection of people, minds, who share the same memetic system in question.
5The activity of designing and implementing an artificial memeplex, or deliberately altering an existing one.
6Creating ideas such as "the sinner", "Satan", their own conception of "G-d" (which varies from church to church and which they fight over endlessly), "witches", etc.
7Anslinger spend vast resources to create an artificial image of the "marihuana [sic] smoker" (see Reefer Madness, et al), and the "drug addict", to justify his activities and policies.

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