The bugaboos of race conditions, jinx event resolution, and deployment decisions yet cry out for some kind of effective model. We observe that there is a (small) set of memes which are available to, in the memetic inventory of, a cohort, which we get from memetic analysis of same. Messages and actions are easily observed (1) and inventoried. We can also identify memetic states which define subsets of the inventory allowed to be deployed at any given moment and to which state the cohort transitions as a result of any given deployment (2). However, the principles governing when these memes are deployed and by whom remain unclear.
There may be something to do with individual status and power (3), which brings up the idea of memetic nexuses. There is also what I like to call the Main Character Effect (4).
Memetic Nexuses and Status
The basic concept of a memetic nexus is that of a star network where an individual, who is often associated with a MIAOplex (5) and to which some sub-cohort of individuals are "subscribed" (6), generates "messages" (memes) which the subscribers receive in only one or two "jumps." This contrasts with the regular propagation/infection of a meme, where it propagates from one individual to the next at random as individuals and takes time to penetrate the cohort and the propagation depends upon the virulence (20) of the meme. In the case of memetic nexuses, the meme propagates simultaneously and instantaneously to the entire subscribed cohort, and thus may be considered to have very high virulence vis-à-vis said sub-cohort.
Ideomemeplexes and Morality
Obviously, different people interact with a given memeplex in different ways. Some people are aware of the memeplex and yet try to defeat it and get around it (avoid taxes, get doughnuts for free, etc.) for anti-social benefits, those who make seemingly self-harming decisions, and those who are oblivious to the existence of the system but use its iconography and memes freely (and wrongly) for their own purposes or just because they don't know any better or don't care (8). There are also proselytizers who mention and explain the system to others. Obviously religions tend to have these sorts of people, but they may even spring up in a simple engineered system such as Blue Shirt Tuesday.
One possible theory is that each individual participating (9) in a memeplex has an internal system of transition matrices and so on that render a decision to deploy certain memes at certain times.
Ideomemeplexes in Blue Shirt Tuesday
First off, let's imagine a cast of characters who participate in the Blue Shirt Tuesday memeplex with different "strategies" (10) in mind.
|Sanjay||Oblivious manager who acts as if doughnuts are for everybody.|
|Amy||Oblivious low-level staffer who does not pay attention to the rules (including when she is praised for following them) and eats doughnuts at will, regardless of shirt color.|
|Priscilla "Pris"||Tells others about the BST system, tends to announce when she's going to get a doughnut, praises those who participate, shames cheaters.|
|Roger||Seeks negative attention from coworkers (when positive attention unavailable) by taking doughnuts when not wearing a blue shirt in view of others.|
|Steve||participant and doughnut eater, doesn't shame cheaters.|
|Tony||A "rebel" who avoids participation by making a point of not wearing a blue shirt on Tuesdays.|
|Adrian||Appreciates the memeplex, makes a point of not wearing a blue shirt on Tuesdays to avoid the temptation of having a doughnut..|
|Meghan||Knows the rules, but sneaks doughnuts when others aren't looking when she's not wearing a blue shirt (which is often).|
|Beth||Wears the shirt, eats the doughnuts, praises participants, shames (low-status) cheaters.|
Again, let's elaborate the exomemetic inventory (12) of the system. We'll add a few things from the previous explanation of the system, e.g., an explain! meme, an announce! meme, a recuse! meme (where one forgot to wear a blue shirt), a confess! meme (where one admits to having eaten a doughnut blue-shirtlessly, to thus avoid shaming), and a pardon! meme (when one admits to blue-shirtless consumption). These are all signal memes that help inject and promulgate the system, by the way, and which were absent in my earlier, simplified, elaboration. I'm considering also adding a wear-blue-shirt! meme, and obviously a
One issue we need to deal with, and this may be one of our first applications of the ideomemetic model feature, is how the individual decides what color of shirt to wear in the morning. Here are the states, the MIAOplexes linked to them and the memes available to each, along with the memetic pathways. By the way, though I didn't necessarily use this convention before, when a meme is not followed by a new state, the system (13) stays in the same state.
Morning [ ] wear-blue!Blue,
Blue [ BLUE, DONUT ] eat!BlueAte, announce!, explain!
BlueAte [ BLUE, DONUT ] praise!,
Pariah [ PARIAH,
So the state diagram (19) for this memeplex should look like this:
Sanjay is high-status (15), which means that he's indifferent to which state, Blue or NoBlue, he goes into from Morning -- he wears what he likes. He then decides to eat! a doughnut or two, which puts him into either the BlueAte or the NoBlueAte state. Again, since he is high-status, none of the "negative" memes (14) affect him, i.e., none of the low-level schlubs are going to tell him that he's breaking the rules, at least not those who know he is the boss. He is an exploiter. Somebody may or may not be able to explain! the system. He might be interested in praise! but really the only meme that may be enacted is
The Case of Amy
Amy is like Sanjay, except that other cohort members have the full repertory of bullying immunomemes to deploy against her. She has some kind of internal economy which does not "update" or "compensate" for the negative feedback. Rather like Meghan and Roger (see below), her ideomemeplex fails to "mesh" with the "moral" blueprint of the memeplex and the pathways that don't lead to bullying. The difference with Amy is that her internal economy doesn't exhibit learning, and I still need a model for how bullying leads to learning, i.e., how the ideomemeplex updates itself.
The Case of Meghan
Meghan is a cheater, which makes her interesting, since she runs the rules in ways others do not. As with Sanjay, we can posit some kind of "random shirt color generator" which sometimes leaves her wearing blue, but usually not. On the rare case she does, her ideomemeplex is perhaps not so important. She has the exomemes in front of her and she can deploy them and enjoy her doughnut.
However, when she fails to wear blue, she still has eat! in front of her, along with recuse! and explain!, which she will not deploy. This is where her ideomemetic system becomes paramount. Since she is a "member" of the memeplex, she seeks to garner memetic rewards, and perhaps also libidinal ones. The lure of the free doughnut is perhaps stronger with her than with others who, when they forget their blue shirt, recuse! themselves and don't eat!.
When Meghan enacts eat! blue-shirtlessly, is she really enacting a meme, or, since it's unobserved (presumably) is she more like Sanjay...or Amy? This is where her ideomemetic configuration may come into play. An anti-social person is somehow able to eschew (external) memetic rewards and yet somehow function, and in many ways exactly like a pro-social person. This is where the theory of ideomemetic systems come in, i.e., they may be able to explain how an anti-social person circumvents the rules, fails to garner memetic rewards from their [sic] fellows, and yet remains a part of a memeplex and be subject to macromemetic forces.
A "moral" person gets to enact all sorts of memes before, during, and after they eat a doughnut with their blue shirt on. They get to eat!, as well as announce! what they're doing, and explain! it to others. These are all positive, pro-social memes which they may enact freely. On top of that, they may garner praise! or even just be able to enjoy free food without having to endure
For Meghan the cheater, however, she hopes that others will not deploy any of the memes that they are able to deploy. She hopes to close her own memetic loops. She's kind of a thrill-seeker, which brings us to Roger, who may be another kind of thrill-seeker.
The Case of Roger
Roger wants to get into trouble. And the thing is, he knows perfectly well how to do it. If he forgets to wear his blue shirt, then, unlike Meghan, who wants to eat doughnuts without following the rules, Roger seems to view it (11) as a chance to get a more intense reaction from the cohort. Roger is a kind of masochist. He knows that if he takes a doughnut sans blue shirt, he will get a shame! meme, especially from certain coworkers. He and Meghan are really both following the rules, just that he wants to get caught, and he can easily play things that way, i.e., he can force other cohort members to react in the way he wants, by presenting them bullying opportunities which offer them such rewards that they cannot refuse. We can see how this behavior allows Roger to avoid alienation (21).
The Case of Steve
Steve seems like a "good citizen," but he doesn't deploy immunomemes (shaming, explaining, etc.), and thus erodes these immunomemes, or causes them to atrophy. He doesn't seek to garner memetic rewards by deploying them, and thus the cohort are denied chances to resonate by letting him do it, or by deploying their own immunomemes and counting on rewards from him. Thus we see that, like the cheaters and sociopaths, Steve undermines the system by cherry-picking which immunomemes he will deploy, eschewing the grabbing of certain memetic rewards. The use of memes makes them stronger, since they are seen as a source of memetic rewards. Underenacted memes wither in favor of other, more virulent memes, and the functioning of the system changes accordingly.
The Case of Tony
In contrast to Steve, Tony, the rebel, who never eats the doughnuts, is actually a "better" cohort member. This is the principle of memetic fabric polarization. Tony does not eat the doughnuts not because he is unaware of them or is trying to "opt out" of the system, so he is not deploying a null! meme, or even trying to, but is really deploying a kind of
The Case of Adrian
Like Tony, Adrian is effectively deploying an
The Cases of Pris and Beth
These two are the classic "good citizens" in that they wear their blue shirts (the desired behavior) and eat their doughnuts as a reward. They are the ones the system was "designed for," so to speak. Insofar as they deploy memes like explain! and announce!, they are re-enforcing all pathways of the system, and strengthening it, which is, by the way, the same thing that Tony and Adrian are doing, except that they are not wearing blue shirts, which is the desired output of the system. All four of them demonstrate to potential cohort members how it is possible to reliably garner memetic rewards from the memeplex.
An Ideomemetic Perspective on Anti-Social Behavior
We can begin to see how Sanjay effectively ignores the existence of any of the states or memes of the BST memeplex. Obviously, those who participate "legally" in the memeplex, following the rules, keep the memeplex alive and functioning, i.e., it does what it's designed to do, so to speak, just like any legal or economic system (should be). The masochists and cheaters are examples that we want to focus on, since they are not following the spirit of the system, at least not on the face of it. Amy, the open cheater, weakens the system by not responding to immunomemes deployed against her, undermining the effectiveness of those immunomemes and the ability of the cohort to stabilize the system. We can see a couple of things about "criminal justice." One is that the immunomemeplex should enforce the rules (22), and when this fails, and only then, should laws and the state intervene, and in this case there should be a clear idea of how the system "should work." Failing that, the memeplex simply becomes more confused and unstable.
The way it looks to me is that Meghan and Roger, on top of the system of memes and states in the exomemetic expression of the memeplex, each have their own system that somehow deprioritizes to zero "positive" memes that "moral" cohort members would consider deploying and prioritizes "negative" ones that "moral" members would not consider. Ironcially, Steve, who seems a good citizen, weakens the system in a similar way by not deploying certain immunomemes, which is really the same thing, i.e., deploying or not deploying memes, not taking advantage of memetic rewards, when possible. Partial implementation of a memeplex leads to atrophy of the disused pathways. It's up to the memetic designer to notice this and make the needed memes more appealing, and get cohort members to deploy them.
It's tempting to imagine an entire ideomemeplex underlying the exomemeplex with its own states that map or do not map onto the exomemetic ones. Or that the anticipated rewards or fear of humiliating meme deployments by others are deprecated somehow. For example, the criminal (like Meghan) sees only the reward of their anti-social behavior, and not the harm done others. The decision process is skewed when deciding to enter a state that has a lot of potential for bullying immunomemes to be enacted by others.
I've done a bit to lay the groundwork for a future essay to explore how ideomemetic systems might set up the priorities used for deployment of memes, including those that produce "negative" results for the enactor, namely, getting themselves bullied. I still don't have a model for deployment decisions, but I think I'm getting closer.
It seems that the "cheater" risks entering a state where immunomenes are prevalent by prioritizing down those immunomemes (risk of humiliation, arrest by the police, violent reprisals, punishment, etc.) and focusing on memetic pathways through the risky state toward some kind of memetic (or libidinal?) reward, possibly supplied by a criminal sub-cohort of which they are a member. It could be some kind of "daredevil complex" or other such -- more investigation is required.
Masochists, on the other hand, seem to plot pathways into trouble. This can be a way of "forcing" others to respond by handing them an irresistible smorgasbord of bullying immunomemes to deploy. The path of the righteous man may be easier since the cohort has to spend less effort in terms of deployment of immunomemes as he goes about his day. The same goes for the cheater, at least until enough memetic pathways are added to allow the cohort to start to be able to catch her.
The sociopath is actually interesting since he provides what is probably an example of apathy, memetic destitution (21), and also how these relate directly to violence. All this in spite of the fact that his ideomemetic economy is probably quite plain with respect to the exomemeplex in question. I also do not yet have a model of learning in response to bullying, which is probably a mechanism associated with the ideomemeplex, for which I still need a model. The evolution of a memeplex is another matter, based on a kind of consensus of the cohort. Memetic pathways atrophy from disuse, which alters the global memeplectic behavior. The role of residual memetic debt on learning and cheating is as yet unclear, as is how a cheater garners memetic rewards in spite of the fact that they deliberately avoid many of the possible memetic interactions with others, and thus opportunities to close memetic loops.
Another issue is how cheaters, masochists, and sociopaths weaken the memeplex by weakening the immunomemes which "should" stop them. This happens because the anticipated memetic reward of deployment of those immunomemes is lessened and made less reliable. Ironically, "good citizens" who never run afoul of immunomemes can nonetheless weaken the system by failing to deploy immunomemes themselves. In this sense, society begins to "care less" about immoral behavior, and thus it increases, and the memetic system "fails" in its effectiveness to deliver a "desired collective behavior." This is an interesting problem for memetic engineering.
(1) c.f., Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, where Chomsky analyses the messages in the media during the Vietnam war to conclude that the "liberal media" was in fact a myth and that the overwhelming bulk of messages were conservative in nature and supportive of the war and President Nixon.
(2) These are transition matrices, and each state has them.
(3) I do not yet have a way of characterizing this, and even still, questions of tie-breakers between individuals of comparable status remains.
(4) In movies and on television shows, there are main characters and supporting characters, and I have observed that the main characters never get interrupted, are always listened to, and often can abuse or insult minor/supporting characters with impunity. It's as yet unclear how to represent this sort of thing in a memetic model.
(5) For example, the President of the United States, the office and the office-holder (though certainly the former if not the latter) constitute a permanent memetic icon (MIAO), i.e., even if the President changes, the office remains. By contrast, some memetic nexuses may coalesce around an individual or institution which may be more transitory, i.e., if the individual disappears, the nexus may also disappear (7). Like the POTUS, managers in a company are automatic memetic nexuses, since their staffs all receive their messages with a very short jump and high priority, and they may be similarly connected to other parts of the company.
(6) Messages from the memetic nexus are simultaneously consumed by everybody in the cohort, with only a very small number of jumps. For example, the POTUS delivers a message to the press, that is, all of the press outlets, worldwide, and that message is in turn promulgated to a large fraction of the world population all at once. By contrast, a child in a family or a low-level worker in a corporation may only pass their messages up to a parent or immediate supervisor, and thus such an individual has very few subscribers and is therefore not a memetic nexus. Radio pundits with high ratings, well-known artists, and such are also memetic nexuses to varying degrees.
(7) The tenacity of memetic nexuses is a body of theory in progress. Can an individual leave their nexus while leaving it intact and so forth. Johnny Carson's replacement by Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show is an interesting example. The churches of disgraced televangelists are others.
(8) Cultural and racial insensitivity could be examples of this. Exploitation of people or resources without consideration for how their social microcosms function. The Washington Redskins American football team and the protests against its name and logo may be an example of exploitation or coöption of iconography out of insensitivity or desire to appeal to other out-group members with similar distorted views toward the oppressed group. We can say that the "sociopathic" coöpters are not subject to the immunomemeplex of the system they exploit, and so are not influenced by them or brought under control by the system, i.e., they are free to do as they will.
(9) Or, in the case of "sociopath" coöpting exploiters, not participating, at least not fully.
(10) this is a shorthand for "consistently getting certain results," since the whole theory of macromemetics disavows the concept of "intent." (11)
(11) c.f., Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism, in particular Les Mains Sales.
(12) the memes which may be observed externally, as opposed to endomemes, which may only be inferred. By the way, a subset of the actual endomemes of an endomemeplex which are instantiated in a particular individual are the ideomemeplex for that individual.
(13) It's still unclear how to represent from whose point of view (POV) the state is. That is, the whole memeplex, i.e., the entire cohort, cannot be in the NoBlueAte state, and probably not permanently. It's as if each individual or collection of individuals, when together, are in a memetic state, i.e., they have a sub-inventory of memes they may enact (which brings us to our race conditions and jinx events), while at the same time multiple states may exist simultaneously, e.g., when a bunch of folks are standing around the doughnuts, there is the opportunity to deploy the eat! meme, and when blue-shirtless folk do it, the shame! meme becomes available, and if a PARIAH enters the room, the shame! meme is also available, in addition to the confess!, pardon! memes. The explain! meme is almost always available.
(14) which are effectively immunomenes in this scenario, and in general for this memeplex, actually.
(15) and more importantly, not affected by the memeplex, i.e., he does not expect to receive memetic responses for his actions, and he is not seeking memetic rewards...from anybody. He is going for a purely libidinal reward, i.e., the sweet, sweet taste of jelly-filled bliss.
(16) Apathy is an important and apparently rather slippery concept in my study of macromemetics.
(17) Again the example of the Washington Redskins leaps to mind, i.e., the appropriation of iconography, MIAOs, and memes beyond the horizon of any memeplectic or ideological or historical context or meaning.
(18) See The Pervert's Guide to Ideology with Slavoj Zizek, particularly the section on the German band Rammstein. In our example, Sanjay's doughnut is "liberated" of any ideological meaning, i.e., to him it does not represent participation in any ideology (memeplex), rather like the pre-Nazi swastika, for example.
(19) For more examples of diagrams, see comics The Blue-Horned People, Schrödinger's Catachresis, and Running SCAREd, as well as my recent essay on memetic states.
(20) "virulence" is also termed the "success" of the meme.
(21) alienation is where the individual suffers from memetic destitution, or a lack of memes they are able to deploy so as to get responses from the cohort.
(22) A good example is Ordinance 2002-13, which bans toplessness by women and provides stiff penalties. Obviously, many if not most women feel embarrassed being naked in public, largely because of their own personal sense of "modesty," but also due to negative public reaction in many situations. The public shaming, immunomemetic force, is much more effective, is always active everywhere, reflects public "values" more effectively (including the capacity to adapt over time), and is much less "expensive" to the state than deploying police, jail space, and other resources. It also has none of the "sledgehammer" impact on women and the people close to them, destroying lives, reputations, relationships, and ability to earn income, etc. See The 2nd Coming manga for discussion of the ill effects of laws like Ordinance 2002-13.
模倣子 Memetics Essay