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Omar Aan
Richard Barbrook
Ars Electronica
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Douglas Rushkoff
Californian Ideology

Onar Aan
Another contribution from the Memesis dicussion.

>As Feurbach pointed out, all religion inverts reality. The >creative powers of the human species are projected onto a >divine being which we then bow down to worship.

This is not unique to religion. In fact, what you describe here is the central thing which separates us humans from most other species: reflection. Reflection is the ability to move away from a thing, turn around and view it from a distance. This is the mechanism of self-awareness, this is how Freudian blaming/projection works, this is how divine beings outside ourselves are animated. You call it inversion of reality, but it is really a re-flection of reality. We do it even in the most trivial everyday situations like looking into a mirror. When we look into a mirror we see a person on the other side of the mirror surface. By "inverting reality" we realize that person in front of us is in fact ourselves.

However, your claim that memetics appeals to mysticism is correct. It makes use of the "demonic possession-argument, which is classical mysticism. Today we view "possessions" as mental disturbances. That is, behaviour that is structurally determined by the mental organisation. In mysticism, however, such behaviour is often tributed to Beings (demons) 'outside' and 'independent' of the person. These beings "take possession" of that person, i.e. they use the mind of that person as a host to propagate their means. Any fool can see that 'infection' and 'memes' are just modern versions of 'possession' and 'demons'. In fact, this is exactly why memetics has had such appeal in certain communities, and is precisely why memetics will never mature into a proper science. In order for memetics to become a full-grown science it must let go of its virus-fetish. Viruses are curiosities in nature. They are exceptions rather than the rule and have little to do with mainstream biology. To base a cultural evolutionary theory on a peripheral and non-essential biological concept such as the virus is therefore close to madness. But the memetics community won't let go of the virus metaphor because THAT is what is the appeal of memetics. The mystical touch. Too bad, because there is an enormous potential in an evolutionary sociology.

HOWEVER, this does not invalidate the vision of memesis. Integration is NOT a mystical concept. In fact, it has happened several times in the history of evolution, first with the abiogenesis of Prokaryotes. Then, later with the symbiotic integration of Prokaryotic bacterias into the Eukaryotes. Then, later still, with the integration of Eukaryotic cells into the multi-cellular organism. Based on this there are no scientific objections of an integration of humans into a super-organism. In insects super-organisms are common (termites, ants, bees), and several ecosystems display all the major characteristics of a biologically integrated unity. When Homo Sapiens first evolved it was probably as a weak super-organism, namely the group. But as societies grew beyond the size of the group the super-organism structures broke down and human culture became a more fluid, looser structured ecology. Now, with the emergence of the global village the original intimacy of the group is regained. Therefore an integration is definitely "in the air". This does not mean that an integration is inevitable, but the possibility is definitely present.

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