Re: virus: Blackmore's book

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 15:02:40 -0400


David McFadzean <> writes:

I just finished the book and would like to add my recommendation to Eric's. This one is a must-read, especially because the conclusions at the end are .... disconcerting, to say the least. I can also see why the recommendations from other authors have been cautious, Blackmore disagrees with everyone on at least one major point.

Hmmm... see, I haven't finished the book yet (just made it to chapter 13). However, I've just given

<< {this}
Speaking of design, what do you think of Blackmore's contention that humans have no creative agency other than the fact that they host an evolutionary process? I think I agree, which is why I have never claimed to be the designer of Virus. Instead I have called myself the First Host.

a couple of hours of thought -- and, you know, I really think Blackmore's onto something. If memetics can explain the origin of complex "design" and knowledge in culture, then *why* to we need to postulate "creativity"? It's like one of Dennett's unnecessary "sky hooks". The only real objection doesn't address the truth of the issue, it address the nature of that truth: ugly and immoral!

If we are nothing but the hosts for memes and genes, and one doesn't need to postulate freewill or creativity to explain the origin of design (in any of it's forms) around us, then where is the meaning? (of life)

And the answer is: meaning emerges when we trick ourselves with the user illusion -- when we pretend that we have some control, that we can (as Richard would say) develop clarity of purpose and change the world to what we would like to see. Is that *really* just a user illusion? And if so, does that in any way decrease how meaningful it is?

Suggestions for a (short) definition?

How about something along the lines of

VIRUS: 1) Something that replicates by infecting a host. 2) (capitalized)
The Church of Virus, a memetically engineered religion founded on the web in 1994.

Hmmm. No. I'd like to convey something of the spirit of Virus as well e.g.

VIRUS: 1) Something that replicates by infecting a host. 2) (capitalized) The Church of Virus, a memeplex which has already made you want to {click here}

Insidious, no?