Re: virus: Kow?

Tim Rhodes (
Sun, 30 May 1999 16:58:05 -0700

I obviously pushed some buttons the last time. (And many of those unintentionally--where it's obvious your interpretations differed significantly from my intentions.) So the only question I have now is this one:

What is it exactly you have against Hemingway, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dickenson, and Poe?

-Prof. Tim

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Brodie <> To: <> Date: Friday, May 28, 1999 4:15 PM
Subject: RE: virus: Kow?

>Tim wrote:
>[I disagreed with Tim's assertion that my neighborhood was 50% populated
>with blue-haired people with body piercing.]
><< actually, that kind of is the point. Your perceptions are framed
>were you go and who you see. Your focus is also a blinder for you. The
>world you think exists around you--even in your own neighborhood--is
>by your selection criteria.>>
>True enough platitudes. Are you saying that you find me especially guilty
>this form of unconscious self-sabotage? If so, what undesirable results am
>producing as a consequence?
>[RB] >All true. But there's no shortage of memes.
><<...really? That is interesting. Do you think every social group has
>to the same pool of memes to draw from? You're aware of the differential
>development of memes in one localized environment as compared to another,
>correct? And with the specialization that happens in small groups? Would
>dip into every meme pool bring forth the same ideas?>>
>Well, people certainly have POTENTIAL access to a wide variety of memes.
>problem most people have with being programmed with harmful memes is that
>they are unconscious of the whole process. You are dead on that many social
>groups have intense mutual reinforcement of certain memes, many of which
>harmful to the individuals involved from a certain perspective.
><<...have you ever wonder why you've never read anything from the great
>investment banker-poets of our time? Or why you seldom get good stock tips
>from artists?>>
>Actually I have several friends in business and finance who exchange
>wonderful haikus with me. Many of my friends at Microsoft write and even
>record and publish music. As for stock tips, being an artist isn't a
>as long as you've got a winning portfolio. I always raise an eyebrow when I
>hear about people who listen to professional "financial advisors" whose net
>worth is less than their own...
>[RB] >The problem is selection. My heuristic for selection is to model
>>with lives I like.
><<...and you'd be the first to admit that this choice of who to model--and
>your acts of selection spawned by it--are a limitation for you in some
>regards. (Or, at least would hope you'd admit that.) I'm sure it's a
>limitation you've come to willingly accept as the price for surrounding
>yourself with a certain type of lifestyle memes, but it is a limitation I'm
>sure you're aware of nevertheless.>>
>Not at all. The attitudes surrounding unhealthy lifestyles are a seductive
>disease. Nothing is more fun than just following your curiosity and sense
>adventure into the web of people who live for the short term. I spend
>probably more time doing that than I ought. But without extremely
>disciplined consciousness, it is all too easy to absorb those
>self-sabotaging attitudes that pay off in mutual approval and UTism. I do
>not view my heuristic as a limitation in any sense. It's an antibiotic.
><<...but an important question here is this: Are the memes about how to
>ones life the only ones out there worth selecting for?>>
>Yes, by definition. Whatever, upon reflection, you choose to value in life,
>is what is worth selecting for.
><<...would you only expose yourself to or utilize the memes that come from
>individuals whose lives you might model? (This would seem a bit limiting,
>IMHO.) I'd be like only talking to women you would date--while it may
>increases your likelihood of finding a mate, but it does so at the expense
>of a great many wonderful conversations never started. Selection always
>comes at a price, as you well know.>>
>No, I agree with you here. Exposure isn't the problem for anyone with a
>degree of consciousness; it is selection. However, would you agree there is
>a point of diminishing returns?
><<...Are you aware that there are developments in memetic technology being
>created by those who lead the kinds of lives which you might never wish to
>emulate? Are you missing out some important memetic diversity as a result?
>More importantly, would you--could you--even know it if you were?>>
>No, I am not aware of this. What is an example?
><<...myself, I've learned quite a lot from the lives and works of
>drug addicts, suicide victims, criminals, etc. Even obsessive workaholics
>or Republicans can have something offer if you're willing to listen. :-)
>Well, I doubt you've had many conversations with suicide victims, but I
>would generally not advise consciously adopting attitudes of people whose
>lives you do not admire.
><<...Do you boldly seek out new memes, from new civilizations, that you
>boldly go where no Brodie has gone before? Would that include the strange
>little civilizations nested within your own neighborhood? If not... well,
>why not?>>
>I do seek out new memes, but I want to see the result first. I have no
>interest in modeling the alcoholics and day laborers who congregate on my
>block, regardless of how worthwhile they may be as human beings. Can you
>understand that?
><<...I don't expect you to even be aware of what you're missing--the
>of your perceptions of Belltown make that point clearly enough. Like they
>say, you just won't find what you don't expect to see.>>
>That's vaguely insulting and, I think, wildly inaccurate. If you really
>statistics on Belltown demographics show them to me.
><<...or in other words: Your original comments may have spoken volumes,
>could have summed up my response in a much tidier package with just: "Hey,
>old man, that white East-coast upbringing of yours is showing again!">>
>I appreciate your sticking up for the right of people to be different. You
>are doing them a disservice, however, by belittling my message.
><<...and, yes, while it is the responsibility of the speaker tailor his
>message to the audience, nevertheless, some of the seeds will always fall
>rocky soil.>>
>And so your point is that presentation skills don't make a difference? You
>couldn't be more mistaken. Results speak.
>Richard Brodie
>Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme"
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