Re: virus: memes and anti-memes

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 16:37:30 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 10 Jan 1999, twelve wrote:

> What is the opposite of a meme? er, perhaps a better way to ask that
> is: Does a meme have an opposite?
> no this isn't a riddle. i was curious as to what you the people of the
> list would say.

I find "Opposites" an interesting game to play sometimes, as long as one doesn't get caught up in the idea that there is one correct answer for every case. For most concepts and words, even those with fairly clear-cut and simple meanings, there is usually more than one possibility. I was first introduced to this idea by a short piece on a tape from Cricket magazine in my childhood. It was a voice bit by a poet (it might have been T.S. Eliot) describing the Opposites Game. He pointed out that the opposite of "light" could be "dark", "heavy", or even "serious". It ended with "What is the opposite of string? It's 'gnirts', which doesn't mean a thing." An interesting ongoing game I have in relation to this is trying to figure out a word with the maximum number of opposites. For some time I had "man" in first place. More recently I've decided "head" outdid it. the lists of opposites for these words and others are left as an exercise for the reader.

As for "meme", some possible opposites are "gene", "host", "scheme", "instinct", and "non-communicable idea or behaviour".