The processes of immunomemetic attack and memetic invasion are clearly related. The way in which a memetic system repels an invader is relevant to a memetic invasion succeeding, i.e., a novel, alien meme or memeplex insinuating itself into a virgin memetic fabric(1).
Earlier I put out the idea that the mechanism where by an immunomeme "shuts down" an attack is by making the salient individuals, i.e., the targeted in-group cohort, less receptive to incoming memes. One model I'm working on for this is the concept of a memetic state. A memetic state is a set of the possible memes which may be invoked, that is, which will resonate, within the given cohort at the given moment. Signal memes serve to alter the cohort by signaling a higher level of group intimacy, e.g., we're all a member of some more specific and intimate group so that we may all begin to use an appropriately expanded set of memes such as religious metaphors or references, jargon, epithets, colorful language, sports or hobby references, etc.
An interesting counterexample is the "D&D nerd" who starts going on about their latest "character" or "adventure campaign", blissfully unaware that none of his (or her, but often enough "his") interlocutors are non-players and are less than fully able to appreciate the earth-shattering significance of how a modified die roll led to an "epic hit" and so on. Instances where these signal meme interactions fail to establish the appropriate memetic state or to re-establish a "lower" memetic state when inappropriateness is detected are perhaps telling but also perhaps for another essay. Non-counter-examples include specialists in the same field (scientists, engineers, artists, etc.), religious people, sports fans (of the same sport), beer/wine/coffee/cigar/music aficionados, etc. Out-group members can attest to a feeling of alienation, which points up the increased level of intimacy engendered by these signal memes and the "permission" they give to enter a higher memetic state where a broader range of memes are available to be deployed and resonated with.
I mentioned earlier how the number of in-group and "secret" in-group memes between the genders in America is huge compared to the number of "interface" (2) memes. Some (American) men may have had the experience of being in a group where the number of women and the fraction of women is large enough that they "forget" that there are out-group members (men) present and begin using in-group memes and even "secret" in-group memes (3). Is this the same as sports fans or D&D players going on about their own little hobbies while excluding others who do not share them? The attraction of a higher memetic state is strong. Immunomemes may sometimes be successfully deployed to shame such people back into a state of not deploying memes that others cannot resonate with, i.e., denying other members of the cohort the memetic reward of the memes they are deploying, but these are not always available or effective, or strong enough to overcome the resistance.
But it's not just these trite examples. If a cohort gets enough critical mass, it ceases to have what we would term "shame" and keeps growing bigger and stronger, and if the memeplex if something more annoying than sports or D&D and more like racism or Naziism or sexism, then it's a problem, and I suggest that it's the same sort of mechanism.
I suggest that the driving force behind fanaticism is this urge to reach a higher memetic state, necessarily with a smaller and smaller group of people (but one hopes to enlarge that group, which is another issue), so one can have access to a larger number of memes that all members may user, deploy, and resonate with, i.e., get more and larger and more frequent memetic rewards, or "memetic or-gasms" in a kind of "memetic or-gy". This makes the memeplex into a kind of memetic "black hole" whose members try to attract more members so that this experience may be more intense and more readily available. Also, since invading alien memes will tend to blunt or disrupt it, they will tend to product more and more immunomemes to prevent this, to block the invaders.
But how are these immunomenes produced, and what is the exact mechanism of their function?
I put forward the idea that an immunomeme has the effect of bringing the cohort down into a lower memetic state, rather than a higher one. This could be described as "there is a traitor/heretic in our midst" effect. This discussion seems to be degenerating to the level of deconstructing cocktail party conversation as opposed to that of important political and philosophical discourse, but perhaps we should press on nonetheless. Is just ignoring an alien an omniphagic immunomeme? I have the idea that it's something else altogether. Christians know that they are non-Christians out there. But there existence is not really an invading alien memeplex, as such, unless it actually tries to invade. What does that look like? An invading meme, by definition, shall we say, tries to displace or replace a meme in the targeted memeplex. For example, that one should not have children unless one is married. This has lots of implications. Homosexuality is right out, since a homosexual couple must needs involve a person neither is married to in order to produce a child. Single mothers are anathema. Single fathers are not good, either, but are somehow not so bad. This means that ideas such as public help for single mothers, gay marriage, parental rights for non-marrieds, and so forth, all constitute invading alien memes. The "marriage is sino quod non for sprogs" memeplex is thus threatened, but how does it spin off immunomemes for all of these things? How are they generated, and how do the function to resist these invaders?
The God Memeplex is a kind of omniphagic immunomeme, and an anchor for others, i.e., a sort of MIAO (4), in that it can attack anything by saying, "It's against God" as kind of a catch-all. I suggest elsewhere that the God Memeplex, while useful and powerful and quick-and-dirty to apply to anything, may actually make the Western cultural memeplex as a whole more "brittle" than others, such as the "Eastern" memeplex (Japan, China, et al). So one could posit that the God Memeplex, and later, the Jesus Memeplex were created, rather by accident, say, and then large numbers of followers and memes accreted around that center like the aforementioned black hole. It's kind of a first-takes-all network formation scenario, so to speak. Maybe that's all there is to it, and that would dovetail well with the Darwinian nature of memes and memeplexes, that is, that they appear by random mutational events, but based on copies and variations of earlier instances, they attract adherents, i.e., infect minds, they interact with their environment, and if they do that well, they survive and infect more minds, and new minds as they come along.
So maybe immunomemes just "pop" into existence, like so. But we still need to understand the mechanisms of their functioning. I'm not crazy about the "popping" idea, either. It seems like more could be described there. What are the "amino acids" of immunomenes? What are the building blocks? People just throw together ideas and words and actions, almost always from things they've seen before and are therefore imitating, and they put them out there. They put them out there in the hope that they will catch on. They are out for memetic reward, and the more they deploy memes without getting them, the less successful they are. How does the system "spank" us for that? For not being successful?
Maybe that's why we work (at jobs). It often seems like a fairly stupid activity otherwise, in most cases.
Is there a memetic state where we try to think up or generate memes that are immunomemetic in nature? Is one property of immunomenes that they are novel? How are new memes generated?
Maybe it's not such a big deal. Some people are good at generating new, virulent (successful) memes, and those that survive become part of the memetic system. Immunomemes are simply those that are triggered by alien memes as opposed to memes within the given memetic system. Meme triggering would appear to range from the very general to the very specific, i.e., some memes trigger or can be triggered by almost anything, while others have a very narrow range of use. Hence there appear to be omniphagic immunomemes, i.e., catch-alls. All memes have the potential to alter the memetic state of a cohort (or perhaps always do so to some degree).
Perhaps still more thought required on what immunomemes actually do, and how memes trigger one another generally (if this is even really what's going on).
(1) a collection of the minds of a connected population of people
(2) memes that two groups use to interact with one another. As opposed to "contact" memes which are memes, potentially superficial and incidental to the in-group, which out-group members use to identify another group.
(3) memes which are only deployed around other in-group members, or in higher memetic states which are reached when only "solid" in-group members are present (salient).
(4) Memetic Iconic Anchoring Object