virus: zero

Ben Mack (
11 Jan 99 10:40:28 -0800

Looking for the concept of an anti-meme may be looking for zeros. Zero, when looked at as an entity and not as a place holder, is the process of looking at what is not there, yet there is a possibility for its existence.

Memes & anti-memes? A meme dies when it ceases to exist. Noting that a meme died is in fact resurrecting the meme.

I don't know enough about physics to know what anti-matter is, so I don't know if an anti-meme is a metaphor I don't get. In that matter never vanishes, but can transform into energy, it is different from memes.

Looking at memes as living, I guess an anti-meme is that which kills a meme-supplier, something living or something embued with extractable ideas, such as books or anything intended to create a replication in another mind.

Approximately 20,000 years ago, humans began to record celestial observations known to repeat themselves with the seasons on what are called "batons." Batons were likely to have been used by the tribe’s shaman to predict the events of nature. Batons are the first known deliberate and detailed use of a device to extend the memory, notating sequences of nature outside of the brain. Previously, it is speculated that many of these sequenced observations were passed through the generations via ritual. While we had used pictures to depict scenes from hunts before this time and of recurring seasons, there hadn’t been records of the details of events noted to repeat themselves cyclically.

If somebody killed the first shaman who made a baton and then destroyed the baton, the meme would still have been alive in anybody who knew of the concept of the baton. Even then, the baton meme may have been born in another tribe because it was advantageous for survival. This baton meme seems like one mutation away from a collective consciousness back then.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I don't think anti-memes can exist. Memes do die, but you can't see that because as soon as you recognize a dead meme, you have resurrected that meme.

Random notes on batons:
Batons were made of carved bone or antler horn. Several thousand have survived and they appear in most cultures of the period. The baton is covered with markings which correspond to events in nature. Some marks are simple lines, others are curved lines, some are a grouping of dots.

"The cognitive faculties needed to make batons required a brain capable of a complex series of visual and temporal concepts, demanding both recall and recognition. These are exactly the same mental abilities which are involved in modern reading and writing. So the artifacts reveal the presence, approximately 20,000 years ago, of fully evolved, fully modern brains. But the way the brains thought about the world was very different from ours. The batons conjure up an existence filled with magic symbols…These batons indicate the ability to abstract and symbolize. They also reveal a highly developed capability to observe and record celestrial phenomena." The Axemaker’s Gift
--James Burke
--Robert Ornstein