Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Metaphysical meme warfare

The idea of using 'memes' in the spiritual and culture war is a good one - so long as the aim is to change thinking rather than to impact mainstream mass and social media.

And, if we agree that the best or only hope is a mass and leaderless awakening, then any effective meme needs to work at an individual level with implications, as well as implying some kind of social consequences.

From that respect the 'Deus Vult' (God will it) crusader meme is useless in a world where the mainstream Christian churches are corrupt and converged - since it implies an already existing army-for-God which we might join.

Or 'MAGA' (Make America Great Again) is hopeless; because the USA is (here, now) profoundly divided about what it is; and Greatness is a weasel word that includes lots of bad, indeed terminally destructive, things. It also leaves-out all reference, even implicit, to 'the one thing needful'.

So, both of these fail to begin with an individual, and they make 'action' a matter of subscribing to some organisation or institution - in a world where it is exactly these groups that are leading us to damnation.

A failed Christian meme from a few decades ago, but persisting a long while, was: "Jesus Loves You". On the positive side is the word 'is' - which is the main point of it. Jesus 'is', not just 'was'; and another positive feature is 'You'-personally - it invites a personal relationship.

Of course, the effect faded and the phrase became empty (and the concept of Love was swiftly and very fully subverted - with the help of The Beatles and much of mainstream pop music and culture); but perhaps Jesus Loved You helped fuel that small but real evangelical Christian revival among youth of the late sixties, early seventies...

My understanding is that the root of our Big Problem is our metaphysical assumptions about reality; which have eliminated any possibility of meaning, purpose, or a personal relation with the world. So memes ought to address these. Then, if they were effective, people would recover their motivation and courage. 

The kind of thing that is needed is something - not exactly but along-the-lines-of - "The world is alive, the world is beings."

Or: "Your soul is divine, your soul is free - so choose."

Or, the syllogism-like slogan: "Jesus is God, Jesus is a Man - Man may be god."

Or: "If you want everlasting life: follow Jesus."

That is the level, that is the brevity and simplicity; the trick is the meme's pregnancy... the capacity to take-root, inspire, en-courage, unfold in the desired direction.


TheDoctorofOdoIsland said...

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Or perhaps: Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan.
"if we agree that the best or only hope is a mass and leaderless awakening"
Well, that will most certainly not happen.

If there is an awakening there will be a leader: Jesus.
- Carter Craft

Seijio Arakawa said...

The only 'meme' I've ever felt congruent and comfortable deploying in public was a variation of CS Lewis' "we will outlive galaxies" moment, a general resolution and rule to actually talk in a manner consistent with an expectation to be living trillions of years in the future -- and not in this world/society (the delusional and horrible hope of transhumanism), nor as a memory-less reincarnation (the depressing view of Eastern spirituality) but somewhere else yet with substantial continuity of personality. There was no meme/mantra of a few words to express this, merely a mindset which notices how many of our expressions and remarks (and choice of what to talk about) assume permanence of society/instutitions and not individual people, whereas precisely the opposite is true. It is a useful exercise to observe and contemplate this fact.

However, I did something inconsistent with this mindset (going to graduate school for reasons of interest but trying to stay there, in essence, out of earthly ambition) and am just barely getting back into thinking the same way. And thinking the right way is essential (obviously) to convey this mindset in one's speech. That said, when I left, I did tell people explicitly that I did not like what my time at graduate school was doing to my personality. The higher up the person on the bureaucratic greasy pole, the more bafflement ensued that this could be a factor in decisions let alone a major career priority. I was surprised at how even this fairly mild remark functioned as an instant rhetorical 'brick wall' to anyone wishing to persuade me otherwise, since everyone was prepared/overprepared to argue about the expediency of academic research vs. other career options, but no one had thought about which options, in essence, were better for the soul.

Of course, the flip side of that meme is remembrance of death (physical death, of this specific life and the temporary things we've amassed in it), but referring to that side of things is near taboo. I wonder why.

In any case, talking about death is perhaps pointless because there is a well-defined System of evasions, counter-memes, emotional responses (anger) and things to stop people thinking about it. For example, the alt-right has produced a lot of memes (like "NPC") geared towards making opponents so angry they can't think straight, in order to embarrass them in front of bystanders. But for the purpose of Christianity, the only memes that work are precisely the opposite in effect: these must force 'opponents' to think.

So rather than anger the visible reaction that seems more promising is bafflement and the listener falling silent, due to the arrival of some thought that is completely outside the programmed framing of the conversation, and that has no programmed response (not even anger). Thus the silence as the person's programmed mind experiences a cache miss to the deeper 'real self' which they are not used to consulting. Then they have the choice to accept the response from the unprogrammed deeper self, or to reject it. "Jesus Loves You" probably had this effect at one point, but now it has a well-defined programmed response. And any individual meme can and will eventually be counteracted.

Seijio Arakawa said...

Adding to the previous comment:

Also, I'm wary of (though not completely opposed to) framing things in terms of 'meme design', since it seems very easily to lapse into talking about which things could be said for reasons other than that those things are true, relevant, and important to say. So my 'personality' example was not some conscious meme-warfare experiment, I was just saying it because it was the primary and important reason for my decision, and giving other reasons would amount to dishonest obfuscation.

But the question, "Which things are true, relevant, and important to say and we're not saying them?" seems incredibly important, and thinking about memes is good if it pushes one's thinking in that direction and reveals some surprising answers.

Tobias said...

Like these?

Stop your pointless activity. Listen to the holy spirit within you.

Look deep inside yourself for truth, and hear the voice of Christ.

Christ will speak within you, if you choose to listen.

Ask God to speak to you, and wait in silence for his voice.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Tobias - Yes, that kind of thing. The last one ('Ask God to speak to you...) strikes me as sufficiently non-cliched to be able to grab attention and provoke thought.

@Carter - Yes, that example is also sufficiently surprising; and likely to appeal to the right people; those who are put off by it are probably... well, if not hopeless, at least at a stage where conversion is very low probability.

I know that my Mother - who was seemingly an atheist, although actually just didn't talk about that kind of thing - was attracted and somewhat fascinated by that aspect of Mormonism - at least she mentioned it to me.

At one point - while I was away at medical school - we had a Mormon house cleaner, and my Mother entertained the missionaries a few times; because she felt sorry for them - she saw them as nice boys who were lonely and missing their families.

If loneliness is the secret povery of modern man - as I believe - then some such meme might be just the thing. At present, it is rather negated by being literalised as Big Families - and someone who doesn't have one doesn't come from one or can't have one may feel permanently left-out - but if that could be clarified, maybe some kind of post-mortal families idea would get through to those ready for it.

@Seijio - Yes, that exact passage made a big impact on me, too (I've mentioned it on this blog from time to time, over the years).

I suppose I should have emphasised that the meme does not itself provoke an awakening - but that it interacts with some pre-existing element in a person.

Modern people in The West have an unprecedented perspective; but they (increasingly) have dissatisfactions and needs that might be addressed, and if a meme encapsualted something that addressed these needs, it might be a kind of inner rallying-point.

"the visible reaction that seems more promising is bafflement and the listener falling silent, due to the arrival of some thought that is completely outside the programmed framing of the conversation, and that has no programmed response (not even anger)" -

Agreed, and this may be becoming easier, as our culture becomes more totalitarian, and more successful at excluding any persepctive except the mainstream. With so much media addiction, the level of aleination is very extreme. Pretty soon, almost any kind of self-validating truth or appealing positive aspiration will have a potentially psychologically-explosive potential.

Tobias said...

I have the emails of all Westminster MPs. So I'm sending a group email to them -

Subject: How shall I vote next Tuesday?

Message: Ask God to speak to you, and wait in silence for his voice.


I'm doing it because of Albion.

Now, I'm well aware that all MPs will have floods of emails about Brexit, and most will not be read or responded to. But I am hoping that God will somehow ensure they open the one from me. I'm also hoping that God will speak to them, and persuade them to vote down the PM's deal that will make Albion a vassal nation to the EU, and move to an awareness that Albion needs to leave the EU properly, and be free to do God's work.

Would all readers of this blog who are Albionites, please say a little prayer.

Chiu ChunLing said...

The thing that people miss about memes is that they are the cultural equivalent of genes.

What makes a meme spread (and let us dispense with the nonsense about inventing memes, especially Christian ones, rather than working with the existing memes that have been transmitted to us through previous generations), is exactly what makes a gene spread...the degree to which the full expression of such a meme affects survival and procreation.

Procreation is more complex than mere biological reproduction, school, church, media, peer groups, all are involved in transmitting culture, while only gametes of the biological parents are significantly involved in transmitting genes. So yes, we can pass on memes to people other than our direct biological progeny.

But what determines whether a meme flourishes or wanes is how expression of the meme affects procreative outcomes.

As long as the overall trend is for anti-Christians to be more "successful" (socially, financially, politically, sexually, etc.), why of course anti-Christian memes are going to drown out Christian ones. The only remedy at this point is the crudely biological one, natural selective pressure must be allowed to work and purge the population of anti-Christian memes by killing most or all of those that express them.

Anything short of this would depend on artificial selective pressure, which is currently controlled entirely by...anti-Christians (leaving aside whether it has ever really been controlled by sincere Christians, or could be in principle).

This is itself the most important meme to express, of course. In that it is the meme that has the strongest utility for surviving the collapse of civilization. As for getting into Heaven...I'm not sure how crucial it is. More than most people think, but not absolutely determinative, I suppose.

Tobias said...

@Seijio - "a memory-less reincarnation"

An awful thought, if you mean that all memory of previous incarnations are lost forever. But, my own view of reincarnation is that memories of previous incarnations are only lost during incarnation. When the spirit is not incarnated, it goes back into a world of spirit where it is instantly aware of all its previous incarnations, and it incorporates the lessons learned from the last incarnation into the lessons learned from the those that went before. This is the true self.

After death, a time is spent in the spirit world where there is reflection on lessons learned, and it is also a time when the self may relax and recuperate from the traumas of the last incarnation (there will always be trauma and challenge to be faced and overcome in incarnation, or else what's the point).

Relaxation will include meeting and being with those who are dear to the self that it has met in previous incarnations (and meets repeatedly in different incarnations) - the family of the self that goes on through the incarnations - some members of which meet when the self is next incarnated, and some not, but all meet either in the next, or the next incarnation, and in the time off in the spirit world from school (incarnated experience).

Lastly, the self is then either placed into its next incarnation by higher beings who know what is best for it to try to learn next, or the self chooses its next incarnation. The self may only do this, if it is sufficiently aware of what it needs to experience to progress, and increase in its capacity to love. And I think most human beings are at this stage now.

I think it likely that every human being alive now has been living and dying many millions of times on this earth, from the earliest forms of life to what we are now. We truly are in the end times for human beings because we are the most advanced creatures of God on this planet, with our self awareness, thought, and sense of the transcendent. We are arriving at last at the point when we might become the gods that Christ said we were.

This makes much more sense to me than the single life where there is a reward or a punishment at the end of it. It is the reincarnation principle without the end aim of Nirvana-Nothingness. The end aim is to become as gods through love - to be fit companions for God - to be co-creators. It's why there is no conflict between reincarnation, Christianity, and evolutionary theory (when evolutionary theory is grounded in a Christian teleology).

Not the usual Christian theology I know. But who on this blog subscribes to the usual?