I study ideas and information, how they're constructed, how they propagate, what they are, how to control them, self-defense methods, how to destroy them, erase them, etc.
For shorthand, some people call ideas and information “memes”. These are, simply put, bits of information, singular ideations that are the building blocks of culture and able to use that culture as a medium for transmission. Written words are not memes, neither are hand gestures, paintings, or musical pieces. They are outward products of these memes, they are just symptoms of their existence. Memes are as real as viruses were before Louise Pasteur. People still died of viruses before Dr. Pasteur “discovered” them, didn’t they?
(As a side note, I think it’s interesting to examine what the word “symptoms” means to us. Is it a bad thing, a good thing? What kind of connotation does that word have?)
There is no formal study of memetics yet. Memetics is, truthfully, the application of genetic theory to memes, looking how they evolve within culture throughout the years. I don’t look at just that, though… I guess you’d call my area of interest “memeology”. I apply a variety of models to these abstractions, just as religion applies a variety of models to the abstraction of god.
Memes are, in a sense, atoms. Like I said, they’re a building block for society, but they’re also a bit more. They’re also capable of being combined together into complex systems, like we do with atoms and molecules. I’ll list a few memes here (I’ll just do the grammatical symbols of the ideas), and pictures of a couple meme complexes these memes could apply to.
These four ideas blend together very well. To the right is one interpretation. It's a rave (I'm sure you gathered that). A DJ spinning records all night, people dancing, taking ecstasy, which happens to be a drug.
To the left is another, slightly differing interpretation. These are whirling dervishes who dance and spin till they reach a point of ecstatic union with the godhead, sometimes under the influence of hashish (a drug). (I've seen and heard of other Magick practitioners doing similar techniques to reach gnosis).
See? Memes are subjective, stand alone bits and pieces. Admittedly, these individual ideations are very weak and simple, unable to effect any sort of genuine change. But, together, you can paint abstract pictures. You can interconnect them in a variety of different ways, or attach new ideas to old ones and create something totally different. For instance, if you attach Allah to the rave, you can take a bunch of people listening to techno all night and transform them into a religious sect.
You can build something from scratch. Take a bunch of memes and attach them together into a more complex pattern. I'll do an example in my next entry, using these four memes. We'll see if I can create a new idea by rearranging these things.
In the mean time, though, think about your own brain. You’re a unique meme complex, made up of thousands upon thousands of ideas that you’ve “caught” from other people in your society. How many ideas do you have swimming around in there? How crazily are they bonded together? What memes control your thoughts, your goals, your views, opinions, your life?