Re: humor as memetic inoculation

Steve Witham (
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 04:06:16 -0500


(from "On the Importance of Silliness" off )

>I suggest that <EM>humor, like inoculation, generates anti-memes</EM>.
>...I theorize that making a meme the butt of jokes transmits it in
>enfeebled form....

Are you (consciously) developing Minsky's "Jokes and the Cognitive
Unconscious" (which is a development of Freud's ideas on jokes and

Immunity seems a richer metaphor than censorship, what with (as you
say) weakened strains, and the web of mutually-triggering and
mutually-inhibiting immunities. The immune system *seems* to use
populations of its own members as images of antigens, in order to
remember them--kinda like your idea about jokes. But also evoking the
idea that even a good astringent can be poison in too strong a dose.
(I'm reading and thinking about magic, innocence and enchantment right
now--things that are sensitive to skepticism and being made fun of.)

And now a memetic morsel:
___ ___ ___ ___
| | | ___ | | | ___ | | | ___ | | | ___ --pattern in the heater grills
| | | ___ | | | ___ | | | ___ | | | ___ of Boston Red Line subway cars


--           Steve Witham  
"...the Vild, where the manifold was as dangerous and deranged as a
 Scutari shahzadix in heat." --David Zindell