Anyway, here we go...
Introduction and Overview
Echoing Jean-Paul Sartre, Susan Blackmore, at the close of her seminal book, The Meme Machine, gives one of the most moving spiritual descriptions I've ever read on how meditation is one of the only ways to escape the meme hell that is constantly burning in our heads.
In a conversation I just had with a friend, I realized that "play" is very likely another.
The Second Law of Immunomemetics
I'm not talking about playing games with rules, like baseball or chess or such. The Second Law of Immunomemetics (1) states that any system of rules or laws is equivalent to a set of bullying opportunities.
In other words, playing a rule-based "game" is an exercise in executing a series of complex moves or activities in the hope of avoiding bullying. These activities are executed for the sake of an audience, the other team, the other players, in an effort to control which countermoves they shall make to one's own advantage. Even if one keeps to the rules, i.e., doesn't get a red card for breaking a rule, one may still "lose" based on the other side's (hopefully) legal actions.
The Transition Matrix
The carrying out of a game implies a memetic transition matrix, i.e., a state, with a series of links to other states which are predicated on the enactment of a given meme by some player in the memetic environment, in the memetic fabric. I play move m1, which puts the memetic fabric into State S2, for which there are now moves m1 through m3, some of which may be played by some players, others not. So player P2 is able to play (2) move (meme) m1 which moves the memetic fabric (3) to state S3, which makes available a new set of memes which some or all agents are eligible to deploy.
My original concept was memes on one axis and states on another. Now I think it terms of a collection of matrices of memes versus agents, i.e., all the active agents, and all of the memes which any of them may deploy, and the state to which the system transitions upon any given deployment.
This could be laid down in a macromemetic law:
Second Law of Macromemetics
The deployment of a meme results in the state transition of the cohort (3).
The change in state of a memetic cohort is caused by the deployment of a meme.
Just a quick note on the above. I've just kind of thrown together a system in which there are three players, three memes, and five states. What still missing from this model, as mentioned, is deployment resolution. This may turn out to be kind of a silly game, but you can see how from this we could make a memetic diagram that shows the memes that cause each state transition, and I may try to write this up, i.e., make a system of transition matrices, a state diagram, and state transitions (4).
One thing you can see from this (as you could from a memetic diagram) is which agents are able to move the system from one state to another, and whether system can get into a state that it cannot get back out of, leave a state and not get back to it, or not be able to get to a given state at all.
You can begin to see how "play," with its unfettered ability to transition, or simply ignore, memetic states, can have a freeingly advantageous effect.
Taking the Red Pill
By contrast, "play" is defined as an activity in which there is no meme deployment, no change in state of a cohort, and no opportunities for deployment of a specified set of new memes.
Why do people, children, stop "playing" and start "playing games"? What's the appeal?
One is that we desire power. We wish to be able to predict and control what our fellow persons are going to be able to do, and what they are going to do. If we have a shared set of rules, which amounts to something like the set of matrices above, and depending upon our own status, we may have more power to move the system to something like State S5, where some people have no ability to deploy anything, or have few options, and we have power to move things.
Our meme-driven brains like this.
If we allow ourselves to play, we can potentially actively escape the meme jungle, and like meditation, we can potentially reach "states" which are not allowed by the legal transitions of the memetic systems in which we find ourselves.
(1) The first being that "any stable memetic system (memeplex) contains an immunomemetic system (immunomemeplex)." See Why Do We Like Negativity?
(2) This brings up the still fuzzy area of Deployment Resolution, i.e., given the collection of players (memetic agents) and all of the possible memes which each may (in principle) deploy, we need a model of how it's decided which agent actually enacts a meme, taking the cohort (also the memetic fabric) to a new memetic state. I touch on this in these three (memetic states, alienation and violence, criminality defined). One can imagine modeling deployment resolution stochastically, but that may not relate to how groups of humans actually decide what to do, and determining how that works is a topic for future research.
(3) Again, defined elsewhere, but a memetic fabric is a memetically connected collection of minds. A memetic cohort is a population of memetic agents, who, again, are memetically connected, so these two terms are for most intents and purposes interchangeable.
(4) I'm still working on a name for this, e.g., state transition description or context transitions, e.g., Blue [ BLUE, DONUT ] eat!BlueAte, announce!, explain! where the state of "Blue" in the presence of the BLUE and DONUT MIAOS can result in the state-changing eat! meme deployment or the non-state-changing announce! or explain! deployment. Again, the deployment resolution is not dealt with, per se.