I got the idea from Slavoj Zizek in the film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology. It seems a notion that is born out by history and empirical evidence, and Zizek makes a good case, but, at least in the film, not an extensible, or generalizable one. His statement is that, for lack of a better term, ideological alienation (which I am attempting to describe in terms of memetic destitution) leads directly to violence. It occurs to me that it's memetics to the rescue, as usual.
The idea I just had is that all memetic pathways are driven by some kind of response or reward (1). Now, this reward may be memetic (2), or a libidinal reward (3). The idea I'm trying to put forward here, is that violence is a special case where one gets a kind of pseudo-memetic reward in the form of forcing other people to respond, even if they are not resonating (4) with the memes one deploys.
Memetic and Pseudo-Memetic Loops
One basic theory of memetics is that there are memetic loops (5), and that the opening and closing of these loops, in the form of enacting a meme and then other cohort members enacting resonant or response memes. I have discussed the idea that the failure of these loops to close properly may well be the basis for intergenerational abuse behaviors and even genocides.
I have not discussed the idea of loops in very great detail so far, certainly not in terms of their pertinence to memetic pathway graphs. Obviously, a memetic loop is interesting because it may be possible to represent it in terms of a loop in a fully-connected graph (6). This may actually shed a great deal of light on how to characterize which states are the best candidates for enactment by the cohort, which is something I've been trying to characterize (8). Can we say anything along the lines that one objective of meme deployment is to bring the memetic state around to close a loop, or perhaps several nested loops (9). This is probably the stuff of a future essay, i.e., what do memetic loops look like, and how, if at all, do they influence deployment decisions.
Violence and Entertainment
In this sense, enactment of violence is similar to entertainment, that is, the enactors of violence seek to force a memetic response by way of a physical gesture (violence, in this case) toward an apathetic other group. The entertainer does the converse of this by seeking to evince a physiological response in the form of laughing, crying, etc., by way of a memetic gesture (telling stories, jokes, meaningful images, etc.).
One unifying feature, and important difference, between these two applications of pressure on the target cohort is the idea of a "terminal response." This would be a "leaf node" in the memetic pathway graph. In other words, you cannot "imitate" somebody else laughing or crying (or having an orgasm). Mimicking what they look like is one thing (see the film When Harry Met Sally), but actually having the physiological response oneself is another matter. The same goes for laughing at the same joke as somebody else. You are not imitating the joke, or anything really -- you are merely having a similar (libidinal) response. In this sense, there is no "state to go to" afterwards, and the response ends there. The entertainer gets a memetic reward herself in response to everybody laughing (7), but it ends there. The loop closes, but there is no memetic state which follows. One may imitate the jokes to other people (enact the joke memes), and they may respond by laughing, but they are not imitating the original laugh response gotten by the first comic. Additionally, a "set-up" to a joke is the creation of a memetic state from which the joke itself may be deployed, and this is like any other memetic deployment.
Once you have them laughing, there is no real guarantee that they will laugh at future jokes, and as any comic knows, once they are laughing hard already, telling further jokes, even those which would probably either bomb on their own, or which are now working despite not being set up properly, work. From a graph transition standpoint, the memetic state has become chaotic or free-floating in a way. The response of the audience ceases to be tied to the progression of states they have gone through. They are in a kind of libidinal response state which is probably very subjective to each individual.
Likewise with a resort to violence.
The enactor of violence does not have an expected state to go to, per se (10). They [sic] are simply trying to get a reaction, any reaction. It is not clear how the loop begun by the enaction of the violent act is going to close (10). However, if the cohort (neighborhood, nation, whatever), has a set response, e.g., to declare a war, in response to certain acts of violence, then this may not be true, i.e., the criminal/terrorist may have a fairly clear idea of what the response will be, i.e., into what memetic state the system will head.
War as a Conservative Immunomemeplex
If there are acts which are known to trigger a military response (even if that military response is enacted by the local police as opposed to a national army), then we can begin to model the police/army as a force which brings the system back into a stable memetic pathway. Rather like the comedian who gets the audience laughing, and how that is a kind of memetic "fugue state" in which it's unclear the next known state it will go to, an act of violence (11) can do the same, i.e., the cohort is left in a state where it's unpredictable.
This appears to be the effect of libidinal responses (12) and rewards on the memetic pathway of a cohort. Again, entertainment and violence appear to perform the same sort of operation, but in "opposite directions," as it were. They both seek to apply a kind of unpredictable stimulus on a human cohort, with the idea of pushing the system into a kind of chaotic fugue state, and the outlet of that state is unpredictable.
The comic/dramatist brings the audience to a determined state (she hopes!) through the enactment of a well-conceived series of memetic transitions, in a controlled environment (performance venue and/or set), using a good knowledge of culture to lead them to that state, and then gently "pushing" them from that well-known state into a chaotic one, leading to a libidinal response, e.g., laughing, crying, etc. Once the chaotic fugue state concludes, the audience are in some new state, hopefully a "happier," more relaxed, "cathartic" state. Rather like getting drunk or having an orgasm during a sexual encounter leads to a state of well-being or at least different perspective.
The terrorist, by contrast, forces the target cohort into a known state by applying a chaotic external pressure. That known state is war, by any other name. The stronger the outside pressure, the more certain the cohort (society) is to go into a warlike state...or collapse. The collapsing is the thing. What does that look like? The Vietnam War era "threatened to tear the USA apart" as one often hears, but by some historical accounts WWII was even less popular. For one thing, in WWII, Senators' boys were being sent off and killed in droves along with everybody else, which was certainly not the case in Vietnam.
One could perhaps make the distinction between "violent protest" and "terrorism." As we have seen, terrorists seem to have as objective the forcing of the government (or the people in general) into a well-known state, e.g., that of declaring war (on something). The simple "(violent) protest" may have no such specific objective, apart from merely to induce this "libidinal fugue state" and let the chips fall where they may, e.g., the members of the cohort have the memetic pathways reconfigured. For example, the images of young people lying dead in the streets or in the jungles of Vietnam, or women suffragettes or the topless young female Ukrainian Femen protesters (13) being beaten in the streets by police is shocking, provides a libidinal response of sadness or anger which may or may not be directed toward a specific person or institution, and leaves one open to new memes and/or memetic pathways.
This is one of the fundamental insights of the Blue Shirt Tuesday (12) engineered memeplex, by the way. That is, that a libidinal response makes individuals receptive to new memes and memetic systems. Why this should be is probably a topic for a future essay.
This is probably all the stuff of a future essays, i.e., how do cohorts respond to violence, and what characterizes a society that is able to remain intact (or not) when under violent attack. Is there a relationship between violent crime and terrorism? What about (violent) protests? How do "vice crimes" fit into this?
How can we characterize memetic loops in the graph theory/transition matrix terms I have be working on elsewhere? Does this represent a promise to be able to resolve theoretical issues to do with race condition and deployment decision events?
How does memetic destitution actually lead to violence? Can the function of entertainment (or free doughnuts) inform this? How do libidinal responses lead to change?
(1) an open question is whether the movement of a cohort to a next memetic state is driven by the option perceived to offer the most reward (whatever that is).
(2) The memetic reward, a.k.a., the "memetic orgasm"
(3) A physiological reward, such as laughing, crying, a real sexual orgasm or other sexual response, possibly enjoying something like food, etc.
(4) closing the memetic loop that the enactor of the initial meme (or in this case, violent act) opens up, with the hope that the loop will be "closed" by the recipients or a future series of memetic pathway transitions.
(5) and this is really a micromemetic concept, rather like the theory of the memetic reward (orgasm) itself, so it should be able to be proven almost medically, through scientific experimentation. However, memetic loops (and memetic rewards, come to that), may be seen at the macromemetic level as well.
(6) See also discussions on island or semi-island structures in the structure of immunomemes. That is, that strong memetic systems may tend to have few paths out and many paths in or within the structure. See also the book Linked on graph theory, particularly the bit on the structure of the Internet.
(7) See "The Memetic Orgy of Live Performance" essay which I am still working on.
(8) See ideomemetic discussions of religions and women's opporession. I've been looking at ideomemetic systems as a possible way to resolve race conditions and decision events in meme deployment and memetic state transitions. Perhaps memetic loops offer a more elegant solution.
(9) do we have a "stack" phenomenon here? Such as a FILO stack, or an unordered queue or such? Or could loop closures be based on perceived potential for reward?
(10) You could say that once institutionalized criminality is established, and drug laws in particular and vice laws in general are good examples, the "criminal" expects what is usually a libidinal reward from the activity, e.g., getting the use of stolen goods for free, an orgasm from a hired prostitute, or a rush from the illicit drug purchased, but they also expect the violence and humiliation from the state should they be caught (14). This is a possible distinction between criminality and terrorism.
(11) or terrorism. and as we see in (10), not all "criminal" acts are acts of violence/terrorism. How the policing and punishment of "vice crimes" influences the structure of the megamemeplex is probably for a future essay.
(12) See also the Blue Shirt Tuesday memeplex in which the libidinal rewards of free doughnuts and free pizza drive the enactment of the memes in the memeplex.
(13) and the fact that they are topless is probably a big part of it. They provide an additional libidinal response, which makes the viewer more receptive to memetic reprogramming.
(14) there's a saying, "They don't make laws against things people don't do." One could perhaps say that the making of any law is tantamount to the institutionalization of criminal behavior. However, laws against theft and murder seldom seem to specify what is stolen or how a victim is killed. This would be ridiculous. Whether one steals money, valuables (of any type), once value and guilt are established, and repeat offense, that tends to determine the sentence. Likewise, one does not get a lighter sentence for shooting someone as opposed to stabbing or strangling them, or the caliber or type of knife. However, prostitution laws (and public nudity laws) are often painfully specific as to which body part, which orifice, etc., etc., and read like a tawdry pornographic novel. Drug laws, again, meticulously specify which drugs are to receive harsh punishments (and tobacco, alcohol, and coffee have all carried death sentences is some very familiar cultures at one point in history or other), usually all different harshnesses, and drugs causing worse harm, or those indistinguishable in effect or use to those outlawed are left unmentioned or are "grandfathered" in.
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