I haven't posted much lately for three reasons...

(1) I've been doing some arcane research pertaining to my rather mystical memetics and the notes are still in very raw form. I don't understand some of them myself.

(2) In addition to my cancer (which is, incidentally, an excellent example of a self-erasing replicator), I have several new health issues sapping my energy. On the plus side, I get to take Warfarin for the blood clot. It tickles my sense of humor to take rat poison as medicine.

(3) Although there are some regular readers of this blog, I get very few comments. This makes me wonder if they're human or just robotic crawlers enticing me to visit a scam site. I get a lot of those. Two of them successfully gave my computer a virus. Bravo, I guess.


Although I hear a lot of talk about memetics, I rarely see it presented as a close and personal reality. It seems that most of the articles I read about memetics are written as if the author isn't affected by them — at least, not very much.

Do they think they're immune? Do they think memes only happen to other people?

In this blog I have often proposed that each of us is a confluence of influences and that “free will” is a misinterpretation of what actually occurs. But I'll admit that whenever I think deeply about this that my mind (okay, my ego) insists that certain famous people really have risen above the memes.

No, I'm not talking about Jesus or The Buddha or people like that — that's a different situation than the one I'm considering here. I'm talking about famous people like Leonidas, who brilliantly upset the plans of Persian emperor Xerxes at the Battle of Thermopylae. Surely such a person, upon whose actions history pivots, is above mere memes!  Or so argues my ego. But my rationality says no.


My rationality can't seem to explain memetics to the rest of my mind, such that the knowledge becomes internalized. That would be a highly enlightening step forward, would it not?

Is there some way to represent these facts visually? I rarely see memeticists actually depicting the flow of memes throughout history. They just talk about memes. How about a nice little picture so we can see the Big Picture?

Well, okay! I've attempted to make such a picture, and here it is.

I apologize for using color instead of shapes to mark different elements. The meme-o-graph won't make as much sense to someone who is color-blind. If I do another I'll try using different shapes.

I've never before seen a flow chart like this! Maybe I'm not hanging out in the right places on the internet. 

If you study the chart you might wonder why I use the same color for both people and cultures. This is because they are all tsotls. In fact, all meme processing entities (as the chart calls them) are tsotls, though not all tsotls process memes.


It was interesting making the chart, but even more interesting simplifying it. As I sought to line things up and make them tidy, avoiding crossed lines where possible, I found myself moving entire cultures within Microsoft Paint. (Yes, I still use that ancient program.) It might sound like dull work, but somehow it ended up being a kind of meditation.

I'd like to see more charts like this, done by other people, which show how people and cultures express their set of memes, as cogs of the meme machine that is humanity. Maybe, if it's presented clearly, people will go beyond merely talking about memes and start getting what they are about.

And by “they” I mean both the memes and the people.

Humans (and other animals) are more than meme robots, but there are memes that can make us serve them. If you want a chilling example of this, consider what it's like to live in North Korea these days. Then look around you. And within you. Do you think you're immune?


The Ultimate Triumph of the Replicators

A new twist on an old theme! Unless somebody's already done this joke. Which is rather probable.

Well, that's evolution for you: the pieces fit together in a finite number of ways. Sometimes they work. For a while, anyway.

You are invited to copy and share this image as long as you do not change it in any way.

Tags: Cell Phone, Cliff, Evolution, Fondleslab, Meme, Memetic, Replicator, Technology, Teme, Tool


Getting Away from the Serious

It can't all be heavy stuff. After all, why speak of the weighty matters this blog discusses if there are not times when the joy we liberate can be experienced? Or to put it another way, here's a freakin' cat video to melt your heart. If you're a cat lover. If not, well ... have a peanut butter sandwich with jam. Unless you're allergic to something in that. In which case, I can't help you just now.

Ahem, yes. Cat video. Here.


Meet Spot: Ninja Cat in Training

Today my wife made this video of our cat. The video is short and it features a cute cat. Isn't that the perfect video for the internet?


Jesus Bits

Note: A video version of this article is available on YouTube.


I am going to describe myself two ways:  as a “thinking being” (processing perceptions and beliefs in ways we all recognize), and as a “confluence of influences” (explained later).

The “thinking being” part of me is, it appears, based upon my body — particularly my brain.  If, say, I drink a bottle of vodka, or I'm hit on the head with a baseball bat, the “thinking being” part of me will lose awareness as I slip into unconsciousness. If I die, my opinions rot with my brain cells.

If all of my intellectualizing is located in my body, what else is left of me? Am I just my body?

No. The confluence of influences remains.  It is arguably more authentically “me” than the connections my intellect invents by mixing and matching beliefs about reality. That's because I don't actually know much about reality; I mainly know my representations of reality.

I think I know people, but I don't know the actual people. All I know is the models I have of them in my mind. That is all I (or anybody) can ever know of somebody else:  the model one builds in one's mind.  So if Jeff is a friend of mine, Jeff has a model of me in his mind, which he continually updates — especially when interacting with me.

Now note the following:  when Jeff does interact with me, his “copy” of me will affect his behavior. That will in turn affect my behavior.

So when I am interacting with people who know me, I am facing an older version of myself. The model of me in the other person's brain reflects back at me, reinforcing my previous behaviors. This can reinforce any mental image I may have of who or what I am.  So the bits of me that reside in Jeff come back to affect the bits of me within me.

But those external copies of me aren't really me, are they?


Consider the following ...

My computer's printer broke yesterday. I couldn't fix it, so I was forced to go to the store and buy a new one.  The breakdown of the printer caused a change in my behaviour.  It did not select the precise time, nor did it “decide” to break, but it did bring about the necessary conditions.  The printer was an influence; it caused me to behave in certain ways for several hours: I visited several stores and spent money.  So for a time the printer was part of what makes me “me.” (And since I'm writing about it now, it still is, even though it's no longer here.)

There are countless influences out there, both objective things like printers and subjective things like beliefs.  Science studies objective things carefully and these are becoming better understood.  Subjective things, however, get short shrift by many scientists. Some consider them mere imaginings, unworthy of serious evaluation.

Yet if a group of people share a common belief they will tend to direct their behavior in a similar way; they will act in relative unison. One might say they are an “in-group.” One might say they are a gang, or a tsotl. Alternatively, one might say “they have love among themselves.”


A prophet such as Jesus of Nazereth gained millions of followers, each of whom has “Jesus Bits” (mental models of Jesus) in his or her mind.  If old copies of my self can be reflected back at me and thus affect and re-create me, then in this sense one could say that Jesus still exists.

Are these just word games? Arguments will surely arise as people debate about that word “exist.”  They may insist that Jesus exists only if he's like a person one meets on the street.  But that probably won't happen, since (as far as I can tell) the man Jesus became a corpse and does not have a body any more.

The fragments of his existence continue on, however, evolving over time, getting reflected back and forth.  All those Jesus Bits are being bounced around just like my Timothy Bits — the pieces of me inside other people's minds.  But of course there are far more Jesus Bits out there than Timothy Bits.

In that sense, Jesus can be considered much “bigger” than I am.  He can even be considered “more real,” if all of the effects of the Jesus Bits are tallied up.  In fact, the sum of the Jesus Bits can be considered more intelligent than me:  More brains are working on re-creating him than me. (John Lennon once noted that there was a time when The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.”  At the time he may have been correct!)


The Jesus Bits do not have my intellectual capacity per se. People hold wildly varying views about Jesus, so the Jesus Bits are too contradictory to arrive at the kind of consensus typical of an intellectual conclusion.  Nonetheless, pockets of similarity (such as individual religions) exist, and the people in these pockets can dedicate their creativity to furthering the cause of the Jesus Bits.  Add up all of their creativity and that exceeds mine by a huge margin (until they start arguing, anyway).

The descriptions I'm giving here sound like a bunch of robots running programs. That's one way to look at it.  If this was another century I might have chosen a different way of explaining all this. I might have told parables, for example.

I might find my ego offended by all this.  Am I just a robot?  Am I nothing but an ongoing creation of the world?  Am I simply a sophisticated stimulus-response unit? A pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding machine?

Is that such a bad thing?


When I perceive my unbreakable connection to reality — this ongoing creation of the thing I call “me” — I see the commonality of my experience with that of others. I also see my own lack of specialness, because I have never created anything from nothing.  All that I do is, ultimately, borrowed from an earlier source — including the inventive connections I was carefully raised, groomed and trained to make.

How does one make sense of this “continually being created” phenomenon?  One solution people have found is to identify with the Jesus Bits they carry around inside their minds.  Once they accept (and come to trust) that powerful influence the other (non-Jesus-based) influences seem less offensive.

How do they accomplish this?  Perhaps they can let the Jesus Bits make choices through what may feel to them like a guided intuitive capacity. What is actually happening may just be neurons firing, but the subjective experience is that of receiving direction — guidance — from a part of the mind that one does not monitor intellectually.  Thus, by “turning their life over the Jesus” they find a way to deal with living with uncertainty in this seemingly harsh universe.


Alas, many make the mistake of believing their Jesus Bits are something specific — an actual person, perhaps.  This is a dismal downside of religion, yet the phenomena being addressed by the reality-model (for example: the contingent nature of the self) aren't going to go away.

Jesus Bits make life more tolerable for millions. They also hurt millions. As solutions go, it's not ideal.  For now, though, it's all many people have, and it does the job for them.

Do you ever wonder what Jesus of Nazereth would say about what people think he said?

(The original, very similar, version of this article was written Mar. 22, 2007.)

Christianity Versus Original Sin

Note: A video version of this article is available on YouTube.


Christians say that Jesus died for our sins. But what was the original sin — the one that got all the sinning started?

The Bible says the Original Sin was eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Most people vaguely think that this means they ate an apple and evil popped out of it, rather like Pandora's Box. But note what the Bible says the fruit contained: knowledge of good and evil. If good and evil are merely human constructs, then the tree revealed a bogus distinction. A fake separation. A false dichotomy. Call it what you will.

So in the biblical model of reality, in its creation story, it may be describing the first bogus distinction in the history of humanity.

Note what happens next in the bible story: the first humans feel shame. Now they feel the cost of the sin. They now believe that it is wrong to be naked.

Says who? Says belief, that's who.


When one accepts “Jesus,” say the Christians, one is “redeemed” (freed, liberated). Freed from what? Well, one can be freed from the (original?) sin of false distinctions — I'll explain how in a moment.

One retains this freedom only as long as one is “turning over one's life to Jesus” (who could be just a mental fiction). Thus, one absolves one's self of guilt in direct proportion to the extent that one can “turn it over” to Jesus. In other words: more faith equals more liberation.

The model may be full of fiction, but it nonetheless provides people a way of freeing themselves from “hamster in a cage” thinking such as worry. The more negativity they can “turn over” in this way, the less fear they feel. In so doing, they are better able to operate in the moment, interacting with people without self-censorship, “hating the sin but loving the sinner” (seeing through the programming and appreciating the person as they naturally are).

How else could somebody truly love their neighbor as themselves, if not by noticing that an actual person exists underneath all that programming?


I speak of the ideal case, of course. In real life Christianity, most people have no idea what the stories were actually pointing at, so they fall for the words and miss the point entirely. Or so I say. Others will tell me I'm very, very wrong.

(The original, very similar, version of this article was written Jan. 25, 2007.)