Sunday, December 6, 2009

7 Memes and Chords of Memes

     Memes are the cultural expressions of societies. In human societies, memes are most often propagated through mass media such as magazines, films, and the internet, although they may also be spread by word of mouth and tradition. The Beatles is a meme. Andy Warhol’s poster of Marilyn Monroe is a meme. Archetypal figures like the Trickster or the Shadow are memes. Football is a meme. Patriotism is a meme--all “ism”s are memes. Every discrete cultural concept, mythology, or icon is a meme.
     Some memes are held in common by most human cultures—the ideal model of a caring family; archetypal heroes and villains; universal human values such as honesty and loyalty. Other memes are exclusive to their particular culture. This especially applies to memes dealing with local traditions, religions, politics, and regional myths.
     Humans are not the only units of consciousness affected by memes. All cultural aggregations of UCs propagate and utilize memes. Cats, for example, bury their waste because there is a strong waste-burying meme that resonates in all cats. “Dog is man’s best friend” is a shared meme chord continually re-propagated by both humans and dogs. “Flying in formation is awesome” may well be a duck meme.
     Memes are energetic waves of cultural patterns fueled by repetition or starved by lack of usage. As wave forms, each meme has a distinct vibratory signature, akin to a musical note. Each individual meme is like a string on society’s harp.