Friday, November 18, 2005

Memes (A brief example)

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?

Monday, November 14, 2005


I’m finding it increasingly hard to learn new things. It’s not that I’m unwilling to learn. It’s just that philosophy doesn’t seem to hold much interest for me anymore. I need to go and start studying something new. I consider this place as something I can flesh out my thoughts on (believe me, I know that’s nothing new) and maybe get some new ideas from other people.

Please don’t mistake this for me saying, “I know the meaning of everything” or “I’m so fucking original” because it’s precisely the opposite. I figured out that I can never know the meaning of everything. Truth can never be described. Our “reality” is objective and subjective. Therefore, portions will conceivably never be known to me (or any of us). We’re all just spiritual fishes in a metaphysical ocean. Our ripples touch one another, and help to create the waves that lap at the shore of existence. And that’s it. Or, maybe, we’re not metaphysical at all. There’s, more than likely, a completely rational explanation for everything. But, damn it, metaphors are just frameworks.

Consciousness is not a “thing” in the traditional sense. It’s not an object or a piece of energy, or particle. I don’t know what it is. I have a strong hunch that it’s interaction between matter and energy, a sort of overlapping area. An MRI can pick up the products that our consciousness throws off (or create our consciousness. Whichever it is, I’m not sure. I think it may be a logic loop) like electricity, magnetic fields, etc. The chemical interaction between lipids and electrical charges, with neuropeptides and hormones thrown into the mix, seem to create, as a byproduct, this “consciousness” us humans have such a hardon for.

Using said consciousness we create an idea. Which, in turn, creates more ideas. And more. And more. And more. Until we have (at least in our culture) a string of 26 symbols which can be arranged to signify damn near anything we want, and ten arabic symbols which can form any number we want. This enables this fun little thing called memory, where we categorize and organize experience and ideas for other people. It’s important that we all realize that. Our symbols are for communication, not to ourselves, but to others. It’s for the purposes of cohesion and cooperation.

Or, maybe, the language came first and the ideas came after. After all, we could talk before we understood the number zero.