Basic Assumptions about Immunomemes
My operating assumption is that memetic systems (memeplexes) are conservative(4) in nature, and that immunomemes are the instrument whereby they resist outside insults to their integrity. A couple of points I'm working on is the types of immunomemes. Currently I posit that there are two types: those that work on specific types of interloper memes and those that work generally, i.e., are effective against almost all interlopers. I call these "targeted immunomemes"(5) and omniphagic immunomemes, respectively.
There is another principle about immunomemes which I'm trying to work out whether it's general or not. It occurs to me that a great many of the actions that immunomemes take in the course of their functioning amount to bullying. A simple definition of bullying is "doing socially unacceptable things in a socially acceptable way," or a kind of passive-aggression. This may well prove to be a unifying property of immunomemes.
The Rewards of Bullying
Why would their be a link between bullying and immunomemes? We have the idea of a memetic reward, i.e., the resonance one receives back from the fellow members of a cohort when one successfully deploys a meme. This is the recognition that one has correctly enacted a meme and at an appropriate social junction and can take the form of 1) a "libidinal bribe"(6), e.g., laughter, smiling, anger, other physiological response, 2) enactment of a response meme, or 3) doing nothing (which is a reward if the original enactment might otherwise be socially inappropriate and reap disapproval). A true absence of response is alienation, which is not the same as bullying and is not an immunomemetic response (see elsewhere).
When deciding to enact a meme and which one, the would-be enacter weighs their [sic] chances of getting a memetic reward, and whether it's the sort of reward they want. Of course, negative or "oppressive" responses are also memetic rewards. The victim of racism feels badly, and their attacker is doing a bad thing (and hopefully will be ill-viewed by at least somebody), but it is still a memetic exchange in which they both take part and both understand. An alienated person may or may not be hurt, but they do not understand the exchange, hence their alienation.
So, when somebody enacts a meme that goes against the prevailing ideology, or the dominant megamemeplex, in other words, everyone perceiving this egregiance has an opportunity, in a megamemeplex with a well-developed immune system (or immunomemetic inventory), to deploy any of a number of relevant immunomemes. This is where the reward comes in. The deviant or heretic or person who's otherwise trying to rock the boat has provided an "opportunity", just as if they'd said a "straight line", and given others the chance to make a joke and evince laughter from all present or deploy another meme that leads to this. By the same token the "immunizer" can deploy an immunomeme which can either elicit a response from the deviant (which may be enacting an "oppressed" role), from the surrounding cohort members, or both.
Even though the deviant is being attacked, they still have a great many memes they may deploy in response, such as apologizing, admitting the attacker is right, bursting into tears, making some tangential cultural reference, making a recognizable physical gesture. So even if they are attacked and probably feel badly, they are not alienated. The surrounding cohort may engage by laughing at the deviant or along with the attacker, or deploy resonant memes that are appropriate responses to the immunomene of the attacker. If the deviant does not deploy any response memes while the cohort does, then the deviant is effectively alienated. Hence, the deviant's attempt to deploy (and seek response/resonance for) a novel, alien meme is countered by an immunomeme deployed by another, the effect of which is to produce bad feeling and/or alienation of the deviant by the response of the cohort of the immunizer.
But why attack? Why bully? The answer is that successful deployment of an immunomeme results in memetic rewards from the surrounding cohort for the immunizer (and even from the one they bully). They are going for a reward for themselves, and the bigger and better the inventory of immunomemes, the deployment opportunity afforded by a deviant, and the degree of inurement of the cohort and their concomitant predilection to respond all determine the strength of this reward, and a good immunizer, or indeed, any normal human being, is able to gauge that.
Some Omniphagic Examples
I was thinking about a certain interesting omniphagic immunomeme: "That's your solution to everything". For example, "Brainstorming's your solution to everything", or "Spanking's your solution to everything(1)" or "Memetics is your answer/solution/approach to everything". The point is that it's a general way to dismiss some idea or approach, which ultimately defends whichever prevailing memeplex or ideology is in operation.
Obviously a false statement/premise in operation here. Spanking is not a useful approach to making an omelette(2), for instance. In fact is has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of things that are completely unrelated to memetics(3). But how does this immunomeme function, and can any general principles about omniphagic immunomemes or immunomenes in general be drawn from this?
There is some kind of strawman/question-begging process happening here, and it's almost like some kind of meme or something is being "injected" by another, almost like a bacteria might carry a virus into an environment that the virus could not get into by itself, and then releasing it there. Is this what is happening, and how does this immunomeme do it? There appears to be a MIAO of some type, e.g., spanking, memetics, "that"(15), brainstorming, etc., and that in itself gives the immunomeme an enormous amount of flexibility. The thing is that any person listening so as to possibly resonate with the immunomeme may have a different conception of what the given MIAO means, or in other words, which memes are anchored to it. For example, psychiatric or psychological terms such as alcoholism, autism, perversion, narcolepsy, exhibitionism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoia, etc., almost certainly have a different or additional loading to the layman, especially if they've had personal experience (directly or by proxy) or seen or read anything about these conditions/terms. All of these memes are brought into play by the invocation of the MIAO.
So now there are two "signal" memes that act on the MIAO, possibly being anchored to the MIAO by the enacter of the immunomeme. That may be the strength of this technique, i.e., a familiar MIAO is anchored to some unreasonable premise, which automatically invokes a plethora of memes, many of which may be negative, but perhaps not necessarily, which also necessarily invokes the idea that there are many things that are not susceptible to application of the given MIAO, e.g., spanking in order to successfully make an omelette. Maybe that's how it functions.
But what about the case of "that" as the operative? It's not a MIAO, is it? It refers to whatever the targeted person is doing, but what is that? It's left up to the resonator to decide. The implicit action is to somehow say that "what you said is NOT a solution [to whatever we're talking about]", but how does it do that? Breaking eggs is a solution to making omelettes, but not to everything. One strength of any megamemeplex is that logically incompatible memes are paired, or at least allowed to function in the same milieu, and this is somehow acceptable, which makes the memeplex, such as a religion or a political viewpoint, invulnerable to logical attack. This may be an example of such a pairing and therefor may be a general principle of how immunomemes function.
If I say "Splungerific deflation is your solution to everything", it might not work, since "splungerific deflation" is a nonsense term, therefor not a MIAO, therefor has no memes attached to it (at least not for an uninitiated cohort) and therefor may not resonate. What meme can the cohort deploy in response?
There is the obvious kind of "double-bind" question such as the classic "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" This is simply a beggared question, and this may be a general principle of at least a sub-class of immunomeme.
I'm still searching for a criterion to distinguish omniphagic immunomemes from "targeted" ones, and it may have to do with "parametarization". The omniphagic immunomeme might take no parameters, e.g., it may be anchored on a "that" which has no specific referant, or a referant which may be implicitly changed without updating the meme itself. A parametarized meme, by contrast, takes one or more "parameters", i.e., input values that are plugged into the meme when it is deployed. This is where false comparisons and metaphors, anchoring of a given place or person to some idea (such as "Obamacare"(10) ), and wrong facts (again, "Obamacare"(10) ).
This may be the distinction between omniphagic and "targeted" immunomemes, and if so, we might do better to refer to "targeted" immunomemes as "parametric immunomemes". This depends upon whether a practical method of analysis emerges.
The Soap that Washes Clean
A soap functions through an ionically-bonded compound joined with a hydrocarbon. An acid, salt, or base dissolves in water since it splits into positive and negative ions which are then surrounded by water molecules which orient their oppositely charged poles, pulling the ions into the "solution". Hydrocarbon chains, by contrast, have no such concentrated charge, so water cannot surround them in this manner, and they tend to group together via Van der Waals bonds and float in large "slicks" to the surface or clump together towards the bottom. A soap is the union of the two, a strongly charged ion on one end and a long hydrocarbon tail on the other. The tail allows the soap molecule to tangle up with other greasy hydrocarbons, and the ionic charge, once it goes into solution, causes water molecules to surround the whole thing, ion, hydrocarbon tail, and captured grease molecule, so that they may all go into solution together and finally be washed away.
Immunomemes may function in a similar manner. That is, they may be some kind of pairing of an established meme, e.g., the wholesomeness of the German Volksgemeinshaft, or "the Goodness and Mercy of Jesus Christ", the ostensible "good intentions" of any proposed law or political movement or its promulgators, the "truth" of the Book of Mormon, the notion that "we've got to do something", and so on, joined with some other meme, either a signal meme or action meme(7). It may prove, if there is merit or generalizability to this idea, that it may apply to all memes, or at least, to all signal memes (of which immunomemes are a subtype).
Of course, it's worth reïterating that immunomemes are just like any other (signal) meme, and that we make the categorization for the sake of a clearer analysis. As I examine below in at attempt to apply graph theory to the principle of memetic pathways, the deployment of an immunomeme is, in principle, motivated by the same factors that provoke the deployment of any other meme, i.e., the assessment of the individual, based on their [sic] available memetic inventory, the current context (state of the sub-cohort), and the perceived likelihood of garnering a memetic reward from deployment. This comes down to the memetic prowess of the individual, i.e., bigger inventory, skill of meme enactment, skill at assessing social contexts. Except for inventory, these are all shorthands, subjective, only assessable in terms of results, and perhaps impossible to quantify a priori. Again, perhaps like a ball sports game player's statistics -- they may predict future performance, and thus we quantify the measurement, not so much the underlying mechanisms that cause them. We may be able to get into great detail and granularity here, however, to extend the metaphor, by measuring things like top running speed, speed of hurling a baseball, maximum distance able to complete a pass, and so on.
One meme triggering another meme seems to have bearing on memetic states. For instance, one could imagine that one meme triggers a new state, e.g., "I say, did you realize that all of us are Mormons/Methodists/workers for company X/Republicans/Americans/French/English speakers?" What "memetic state" means in a practical sense and, more importantly, how all members of a cohort transition to that state is interesting, and perhaps a topic for another discussion. In broad strokes, a state is closely tied to a memetic inventory and to the idea of a cohort. A cohort being some collection of individuals inured of a common memeplex. The smaller the inventory of the memeplex, i.e., the smaller number of memes required to be a member, the larger the cohort tends to be, or contrariwise, the larger the number of memes defining the cohort, the smaller and more specific it becomes in terms of membership, e.g., English speakers, British English speakers, British English speakers who attended Cambridge, etc. Humans are motivated to increase the inventory of memes they are able to deploy at any given time, their "memetic arsenal", if you will, and the recognition that one can increase such by transitioning to a different state is attractive. It's also a motivation to pretend that one knows what's going on at a cocktail party. Being at an orgy, memetic or otherwise, can still be fun, even if one does not actively participate. By contrast, it may be very uncomfortable and one may want to leave or stick to the sidelines. Gatherings of like-minded people serve this purpose, and otherwise memetic state transition may be an emergent phenomenon, without a specific meme to trigger it, and this seems more likely since it is simpler and more general. Otherwise one could manufacture memes to trigger a memetic state change, e.g., at a political address or such, but there is probably something more subtle going on there, such as enacting memes that the target cohort are going to respond to, and so forth, and gradually building, but a single misstep may wreck the whole effort.
Back to the idea of immunomemes, paired memes, and memetic states. If a cohort member is initially in a "neutral" state, i.e., in a state of a larger cohort, i.e., with a "small" memetic inventory, or at least one that does not contain memes "useful" to the memetic engineer/manipulator, there may nonetheless a memetic state that could be triggered by a meme in the current inventory, and that memetic state would contain more memes which are useful to the manipulator.
Partial Memeplexes, Memeplexes that Cross Memetic States
This is pretty obvious when you think about it. Religions, as always, are a clear example. Even language sheds light. Religion and language provide cultural cohesion in a broad sense. Even Americans and Brits may speak to one another (in many cases, anyway), but for many that connection quickly begins to break down when one impinges on details of religion, culture, which side of the road one drives on, foods, specific vocab, etc.
Some cultures seem to be more welcoming, and others less so. Some seem so, and turn out not to be, others are the opposite. The Japanese, the British, the French, nerd culture, religions, native people's culture, corporate culture, and so on, can be characterized by whether their contact memes are close to a set of memes that connect to major memetic pathways of the cultural megamemeplex. Some cultures seem to have an entire relatively sophisticated megamemeplex that is quite isolated from the real megamemeplex that actual members of the society work in to interact with one another. It's hard to truly characterize this, but Japanese culture might be an example. The British seem to have something like this as well. One fact about both of these countries is that their geographical, political, and cultural integrity have survived attacks and remained intact for many centuries. As the song goes,
And in spite of all temptations
to belong to other nations
He remains an Englishman
The same could apparently be said of Thailand, but I don't have a great deal of personal knowledge about that country.
If a culture immediately falls back on racism as a way of preserving its memetic integrity, i.e., invasion by outside memes and influences, then it's megaimmunomemetic layer may not be very sophisticated, making the culture either very pliable, very vulnerable, or both. The idea that there should be entire sub-memeplexes that protect a megamemeplex is an interesting one, that is, that rather than immunomemes just sort of "floating around" like white blood cells, devouring the bad guys when they run across them, or being paired with specific memes or small sets of memes, there should be entire large memeplexes whose soul purpose is to protect the larger system. What could this look like and how could it grow and develop? Another interesting idea is that if such a specialized immunomemeplex or plexes existed, by the principles of the Darwinian evolution of memetic systems, the degree to which such a subsystem were "independent", i.e., lightly connected to the "main" megamemeplex of a culture or religion, say, then it could "go its own way" and cease to effectively protect in a way that is best for the rest of the memeplex, and simply start protecting against whatever it was driven by selective pressures to protect against. It could even cease to be an immunomemeplex, per se, or break away from the main megamemeplex, or simply pack the memespace with useless memes that serve to protect against a threat which no longer exists, or which has to keep being invented to keep the memes in it firing, and so on.
This could be how things like militarism and religion take on lives of their own and cease to serve the societies that originally "created" them. Organizations may actually be consciously created at the very beginning (this may not turn out to be a particularly useful statement, however), but then quickly accrete memes which evolve and attach more memes to make the "organization" take off on its own. Again, religions and the military may be good examples of this.
The culture of a people that seems to be able to defend its integrity in the face of foreign incursion and dilution may have some interesting properties, for instance, like systems of targeted immunomemes directed specifically towards those very cultures that might invade them. Or perhaps a system of memes that simply "recognize foreignness" can exist and trigger a second layer of memes that then leap to the defense. This could be an explanation for why peoples and cultures that are very similar-looking (from the outside at least) seem to always be the ones who hate one another with the greatest intensity, and over details which seem almost invisible to outsiders. The Japanese and Koreans, the North and South Welsh, North Irish and the rest of Ireland, etc., may be examples. Clearly, two cultures who are different, but which have little in the way of elements of measurable difference to grab on to, e..g, their people look similarly, they dress similarly, their food is similar, their architecture as well, and their languages are mutually intelligible, must have an enormous numbers of very specific memes attached to those few MIAOs where differences may be detected, e.g., subtleties of accent/dialect, tiny nuances of habit, ways of eating and preparing food, etc., and these details are all strong triggers of this dislike, perhaps because they are so specific. To break it down more, a westerner in Japan is so different that hundreds of memes would immediately be triggered among the Japanese such that there would be no doubt of foreignness, in other words, yes, his eyes are blue, he has freckles, etc., etc., but there is no need for any of those memes to trigger a huge number of reaction memes since there will be hundreds of other trigger memes along with the others, so the final reaction is guaranteed to be strong. However, if the only hint is that of an upward lilt at the end of certain sentences, way of pronouncing the number "eight", way of cooking a certain type of seaweed, etc., then that one trait alone must trigger an enormous reaction by itself, and so it must be wired to an enormous number of immunomemes very strongly all by itself.
This may have numerous implications for the memetic analysis of racism, intolerance, and other phenomena.
No Meme is an Island
I tried to put forward the idea of a Reaction Meme as a special type of signal meme which causes an individual (or cohort) to transition to another memetic state. I concluded that it was not necessary, and probably did not really exist structurally, i.e., that there probably are no such memes and that that transition mechanism probably doesn't exist.
It now occurs to me that there are no "islands" in the graph of memetic pathways for any individual (or cohort), unless we're talking about the subconscious or multiple personality disorder(8) or other such mental condition. In other words, every meme that is able to be enacted must be connected to other memes. Or, perhaps a better way to put it is that memes tend to form connections between each other. Rather like the quantum physics of quarks, there may be no "isolated memes". This is an interesting theoretical point. It could lead to some research and also some definitions. Again turning to quarks, there may be such a thing as "meme separation". Memetic hacking may provide access to esoteric meme states analogous to Bose-Einstein Condensates, quark-gluon plasma, or such, where the relationships between memes is preserved but the nature of said relationship is revealed in a novel and perhaps instructive way.
Turning to graph theory, if we define a memetic state as a position in the graph of memetic pathways where a certain memetic inventory is "readily available" and another inventory "less so", we begin to see, not islands, but weakly interconnected continents where once an individual or cohort has transitioned from one region of the graph to another, a large portion of the memes in the other continent or continents become effectively inaccessible (unable to be evinced). "Unable to be evinced" in fact never happens, but in practice the individual perceives that the sub-cohort has transitioned to a new state and that the memes of other states (continents) are unlikely to produce a memetic reward, or a positive versus a negative response, assuming the individual has a sufficiently large and varied memetic inventory available to make a selection between these two.
One interesting idea, when we start to talk about continents of memetic interconnection pathways, is whether there can be "one-way" transitions, i.e., once the cohort enters a given continent there is no way back, or no way out at all. This could have a great deal of relevance to modeling phenomena like demagoguery and fanaticism, and could lead to a way to dismantle them without bloodshed(9). Can one imagine a megamemeplex that, once a cohort enters it, there is no path back out into another fundamentally different one, and what does that all even mean?
We must not forget that a memetic inventory includes the memes that other cohort members are likely to enact in response to the enactment of memes by a given individual. This presents another theoretical problem to be elaborated, i.e., how to represent memetic state and a memetic pathway graph in terms of the inventory of a given individual, the "reward potential" of each available meme, how cognizant the individual is of this set of memes and their potentials, the "race condition" between all sub-cohort members to deploy a meme next, and the subsequent instantaneous memetic state the sub-cohort goes into as a result of any of these possible memes and individuals who might deploy one of them. Of course, another problem is how to quantify this, e.g., the likelihood of meme deployment, and so on. We can perhaps make simplifying assumptions in some cases that the deployer is a memetic nexus or the sub-cohort is colocated such that all members receive the enacted meme at the same time, thus eliminating one vector of vectors or making one or more transition matrices all ones, or suchlike, but that would be a big simplification, but perhaps a useful one for an initial thought experiment. All sorts of fun things could come into play such as number of jumps from one individual to the next, whether the meme achieves enough energy to "jump" onto public media, and of course the Internet Web allows memes to achieve a kind of "critical energy" in yet another way. This is all very complicated, and may be a fundamental departure from the kinds of graphs represented by vectors of memes and their potentials. We may even be able to posit, as a simplifying assumption, that the meme-individual combination with the highest overall potential will be the meme to be deployed in that instantaneous state. We can imagine a matrix with individuals as one dimension, available memetic inventory on the other, and each member of the matrix as the probability, or disposition, of said individual to deploy said meme at the given instantaneous state.
Again, the above matrix represents the "instantaneous state" of a cohort connected by a single jump. A memetic nexus could simply be one of the rows, so it should look the same in the case where we assume a single jump. Each row is a list of probabilities, so they would sum to one in each. For example:
So by this model, at this moment in time, i.e., this instantaneous state of the section of the memetic fabric of this sub-cohort, Mary is the most likely to deploy a meme, and it's meme one. However, this model looks odd, since the probability of meme one being deployed by anybody in the sub-cohort is greater than one, and this might be a problem. Perhaps it looks like a game of sudoku, where all the boxes need to add up to one in all directions -- unclear at this juncture. This is where we need to understand how things actually work and then try to quantify. It seems perfectly reasonable to say that Mary has a 90% change of deploying meme one and a 10% chance of meme five in a given moment, given what state the sub-cohort has been pushed into. How do we get these numbers, however? And what decides that it's Mary to deploy and not somebody else? Presumably Mary assesses that she has a good chance of a memetic reward based on what she knows, but so does everybody else.
Perhaps "instantaneous states" is not such a useful concept, from a practical sense. However, I think the above matrices characterize the instantaneous state of a cohort at the time of the deployment of a given meme. As such, the matrix would change at each deployment, perhaps radically, i.e., the vector of possible memes and the probability of each of their deployments changes, i.e., the memetic state of the cohort is in continual flux. If we accept this, then "memetic state" becomes a sort of shorthand for the transitions between regions of a higher-dimensional graph and the relative (memetic) densities of probabilities of the deployment of any given memes in those "regions", which may look like islands. Indeed, the island-like topography of this graph of matrixes may be what characterizes distinct memetic states, i.e., once the sub-cohort transitions into a given "island", their tendency is to stay there, because the circuited memetic pathways are rich in transitions which lead back, and poor in those that exit the region. This characterizes the environment that could lead to a memetic orgy, and the graph-theoretical characterization of this topology may be a productive analytical approach.
Perhaps real-time memetic pathway and state transition analysis is more like commentary on a football game. We see the disposition of players, where the ball is, what the score is, and such, and so we can have an idea about what each player might do next, even to the point of assigning a loose probability, and then track what happens as it happens. From this we might even start to be able to predict the future with some reliability. If the ball and team members are near the goal, then they defense and offense players are in a certain state, i.e., try to set up to get the ball into the goal, or try to defend against this. Deploy some players around the goal so they can receive and kick the ball in, or get the goalie into a good place and support them [sic] to prevent this. If the ball and the line of play is far from the goal, then the state and motivation of all of the players is different.
Defending the System
First off, immunomenes are a shorthand for a subclass of signal memes that defend the system. What exactly this means may be the topic for a future essay. A working definition for now may be that they somehow prevent the insinuation of new memes into an existing matrix. What would a new meme entering the system look like? A new meme would be able to be deployed by at least one member of the cohort, and would be able to trigger at least one other meme. In other words, at least one other cohort member would be receptive to the new meme and know to trigger one or more other (existing) memes in response to it. The new meme might pass parameters, which could then be passed by other memes that fire on down the pathway. These parameters must therefor be "compatible" with these existing memes.
At some point an insinuated new meme would take up resources in the memetic fabric at the expense of existing memes(11). What does this look like? If we look at our hypothetical instantaneous state matrix above, the new meme would look like another column in the matrix, and thus would take away "probability score" from at least one other meme. This might turn into a model for memetic culling, or memetic replacement, since once a meme gets eroded enough, it effectively never gets invoked, and "dies" practically by definition.
Hence, if a new meme can effectively "masquerade" as an existing meme, i.e, stimulate existing pathways in the system, especially if it is "easier" to enact, i.e., is more efficient than the existing meme(s) it supplants, it may be able to insinuate itself. It may supplant an old meme in only a subset of that meme's pathways, or still be "weaker" than the old meme in some pathways, i.e., the two memes might somehow "share" said pathways (how this might look in a transfer matrix is as yet unclear). Think of words in a language. A new word might emerge and become usable in contexts that an old word dominated, so either might serve. The new word might have other uses, too, making it more attractive, and eventually supplants the old word, and indeed, it might later shed some of its own original meanings. The use of "awesome" and "sucks" in contemporary (Western) American English might be examples. "To awe" still retains its meaning of "overwhelmingly impressive", while "awesome" no longer does, often simply meaning "good". To say something "sucks" was deeply obscene in a sexual way as recently as the early 1980s, but now simply means "annoying". The French "baiser" as a verb and as a noun may have undergone a similar transformation, since the former is an obscene reference to the sex act while the latter simply means "a kiss" (with the verb "to kiss" now being "embrasser"). In Japanese "kisama" 貴様 is insulting, provocative, while "sama" 様 by itself is a term of high respect. Likewise, "anata" 貴方 has the same first character as "kisama", but is also a respectful and also endearing term.
Immunomemes work to prevent this sort of thing, but they also react to the incursive new meme. How does this work? Usually reacting to a meme, i.e., deploying a meme in response to it, strengthens the incoming meme. Again, this is the difference between alienation and oppression. An alienation reaction to an attacking meme would seem to be quite an unusual response, one that only happens across cultures and such, and perhaps then not deliberately. Maybe this is because humans like to enact memes, whenever possible, except when the incoming meme (which may be an action meme) represents an actual (mortal) threat, or rather, when responding with another meme would not help the situation. This may be the connection between memetic destitution and violence. In a physical attack, there are no memes to deploy in response, or that inventory may begin to fall toward zero, as in when two countries or individuals become less and less able to communicate and negotiate and it leads to war. The fact the memetic exchange has stopped may be a sign that violence has begun, or is about to.
One mechanism that might explain immunomemtic function is that the immunomeme garners a memetic reward, obviously, but from a different source. Perhaps the enacter of the new meme garners no reward, while the enacter of the immunomeme somehow gets a reward, or an increased reward. Clearly this doesn't work. Somebody enacting a meme in response to another meme is by definition a memetic reward, i.e., the motivation for deploying the meme in the first place. Nothing says that an immunomene be enacted by only one individual in response to the invading meme, so the reward may in fact be substantial. We must have some kind of idea of "social reward"(12), i.e., something which is somehow "negative" even though the memetic reward is positive. We see this all the time. Naughty children who constantly annoy their parents or teachers or others to "get attention" or garner material rewards, or oppressed social groups or minorities who, probably because they have no choice, engage with the oppressor majority, and yet continue to fail to get the resources they need, or are subjected to abuse. This is distinct from "alienated" groups, e.g., immigrants, the mentally ill, or even other disabled people, who have no way to interact with their host culture for practical reasons. Though they may be alienated, they are not necessarily "oppressed", e.g., the foreign businessman in Japan, or disabled people in societies that treat them kindly. They are not subjected to abuse, but they are also unable to engage in full memetic congress with the larger society. In other words, they are not able to enact the memes to garner the "attention" they desire, even though their material needs may be met.
Status and Power
Could it be true that triggering immunomenes is an obstacle to rising toward status and power, i.e., towards creating and occupying a memetic nexus? Do immunomemes somehow "protect" existing memetic nexuses? I'm trying to find an explanation for how "attention" translates to something of a previously understood memetic nature, a memetic idea or conceptualization. Is it possible, for instance, to occupy a memetic nexus when one is plugged into a star-networked cohort where all of the memetic pathways are via immunomemes? (Right-wing) radio pundits and talk show hosts may represent precisely that, as do many so-called "news shows" in the United States. They are constantly pumping out immunomemetic (negative) messages, rather than "ideas" or indeed, actual news. Maybe this is fundamental to the concept of memetic nexuses. Do such media nexuses serve the purpose of immunizing the system? If so, how does that work? It may well be that they strengthen existing immunomemes in their target cohort by exercising them and thereby reëforcing them. In other words, they may not have a direct immunomenetic function, and any they do may just be through the normal action of the immunomemetic pathways they maintain, which would be consistent with observations (13).
Back to the Matrix
An insinuating new meme must garner a column in the memetic pathway matrix. An immunomeme, simply put, must prevent this. A row on the matrix (with a high deployment probability value) represents the individual's assessment of the possibility of reward for deploying the (new) meme. How to keep this from happening? This may be related to memetic "dead ends", i.e,. pathways that eventually lead to a meme that fails to trigger other memes (which may not even exist as a concept, since such memes might theoretically die out since there is no reward motivation for deploying them). Unless a response is ultimately a physiological one, or possibly even an action meme. We have not really delved into this so far, but a comedian getting laughter is a memetic transaction. But it dead ends, effectively. Likewise with a romantic response, or any of other examples. One enact memes (jokes, telling sad story or movie, pitching of woo, etc.), the audience laughs, cries, or responds sexually, which is its own reward to the responder and in turn gives a memetic reward to the comedian, filmmaker, or lover. This is effectively a dead end, since nobody else deploys further memes when these physiological events happen. They are natural, so they may not be imitated. One may laugh in response to others laughing, one may become sexually aroused in response to seeing others engaged in sexual activity (such as in pornographic media), but these are not examples of imitation, hence they are not memes.
Laughing at someone in ridicule may be one such response. In Reëvaluation Counseling theory, crying, of course, even anger, but also boredom are physiological responses, and these, along with others, may all represent a memetic dead end. One may imitate a comedian's jokes, or a pick-up artist's technique, which are memes, but one does not imitate the response, nor is the responder imitating the laughing or sexual response of the original enacter's cohort members.
This may be the ultimate function of immunomemes, i.e., to somehow channel the memetic energy of an incoming alien meme to dead ends. To do this, it must first be the only meme that responds to the invader -- if other non-immunomemes are triggered, the invasion succeeds. Next, it must immediately trigger dead end physiological responses itself, or trigger other memes or meme pathways that lead to dead ends. It may do this by "reparameterizing", i.e., changing the parameters of the invader or putting in special parameters to the memes in existing pathways when it triggers them such that they lead to dead ends (when they otherwise would not).
In order for immunomemes to function, and in accordance with the theory as I've developed it thus far, they must have certain functions. Obviously, they must prevent other memes in the system from being directly triggered by an invading alien meme. According to the model of memetic pathways, the effects of the invading meme must all lead to dead ends. Any regular meme must trigger other memes, even if this lead to closed circuits (even convoluted ones), otherwise that meme will fail to cause a memetic reward and therefore will quickly wither (be culled). Hence, it seems that all effects of foreign memes that are mollified by immunomemes must terminate with physiological responses, since these may be triggered by memes but are not memes themselves (they may not be "imitated" per se). Laughter (either in the form of ridicule or responding to a joke) is an example.
Immunomemes may be "parametric" or not, and this may represent the distinction between the concept of omniphagic and "targeted" immunomemes which I have been seeking to elaborate. This does not necessarily distinguish immunomemes from other memes, i.e., non-immunomemes may be non-parametric, or presumably, they may be, without having an immunomemetic function in the system. Immunomemes are distinguished, in principle, only by their function within the system rather than by any structural differences. They may have a "soaplike" structure, i.e., a "logical/ethical" component bound to an illogical one, but this may not be universally true and is almost certainly not a distinguishing characteristic. This is a topic for future investigation.
Bullying and oppression seem to be examples of a "successful" memetic interaction, i.e., they provide memetic rewards for all participants, but may perhaps be distinguished by a decrease in status vis-à-vis a memetic nexus as opposed to an increase. They are bad for the deployer (and probably the reactors), but they give memetic rewards nontheless. Alienation by contrast is the phenomenon of failing to trigger any memes, immuno or otherwise. More investigation is needed here, i.e., what is the distinction between a memetic reward due to an immunomeme as opposed to a regular meme?
Immunomemes may cause a change in memetic state, but this is true of any meme. A memetic state, from the standpoint of a matrix model, may simply be a collection of nodes with a rich set of connection between the nodes that comprise it, but a poor set of connections into it or out of it, or both. This explains the potentially heightened chance for "memetic orgies" in states with richer memetic inventories and pathway connections, and also reveals the morphology of memetic states and provides a possible definition for same, one that may be more "fluid" than presupposed.
Immunomemetic systems may be defeated, theoretically, by invaders which are able to, at least partially, to trigger memes within the system, without immunomemes being able to divert their effect into the memetic pathway "dead ends" of physical reactions such as laughter, anger, crying, boredom, etc. If the new memes are seen as opportunities for memetic rewards within the system, they will tend to supplant, take away part of the probability of triggering, of existing memes, even to the point of their withering and being culled, and this effect may even impact immunomenes themselves. This suggests a method for designing invader memes with which to transform existing memetic systems. Just insinuating new memes, even without any useful or "engineered" effect, could be an experimental project and a strong beginning. Further theoretical development and experimentation along these lines seems to be the next logical step.
(1) c.f., Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
(2) though it apparently always has something to do with breaking eggs
(3) though if human beings are involved in any way, it tends to quickly come into the picture.
(4) they preserve (or conserve) their own existence and stability, i.e., they actively resist efforts to change them.
(5) I am on the look-out for a more appealing term for this.
(6) c.f., Slavoj Zizek, A Pervert's Guide to Ideology.
(7) A signal meme's soul function is to trigger other memes, including action memes, whereas an action meme (or mechanomeme or functional meme) is the enactment (performance) of some physical activity, e.g, actually circumcising a baby. Since "words are deeds", this distinction is somewhat arbitrary, e.g, painting a sign, writing something for publication, etc., but is useful for the purpose of analysis.
(8) MPD is an extreme example of dissociative identity disorder (DID).
(9) As mentioned before, disenurment without bloodshed is one of the highest goals of macromemetic engineering, or rather, one of the highest goals of macromemetic theory which I am pursuing is to determine whether this is even theoretically possible.
(10) A large percentage of US citizens say they reject "Obamacare", but when they are given a list of characteristics of a hypothetical healthcare system which has all of the properties of the one put through by President Barack Obama, they strongly favor it. So ideas like "with Obamacare you can't pick your own doctor", "...it costs too much", "...copays/out-of-pocket is still unaffordable for the poor", "...wait times for transplants are untenable", etc., are directly linked with the parameter "Obamacare", and they could just as easily be linked to the system of any other country or hypothetical system, and not to others.
(11) Even if we are "packing the meme space" and there are "free resources" in the cohort in a given memetic state. In such a case the new meme is still taking up resources (memetic fabric) that would otherwise be available to other memes, existing or new. Hence, we start to see a working description of how packing the memespace is not without cost, c.f., K. Robinson.
(12) which socialogists and/or psychologists may already have a word for.
(13) Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent
(14) those that will "eat" anything, rather like a macrophage, or white blood cell
(15) a generic, unspecified MIAO to which almost anything may be implicitly associated.