Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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 iconic 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. Indeed, each and every particular concept that a person can know is a meme.

Some memes are held in common by most human cultures—the wheel; 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.

The memes we cling to are like threads draped over our Self UC.

Every UC's garment of memes is as unique as each person's opinions and beliefs.
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 can be likened to a string on society’s harp.
A single meme is like a single note. A group of related memes is like a chord. In the example above, "America" is the meme chord, and each stripe is a meme or set of memes that contributes to that chord. Each meme chord vibrates to the particular concepts that make it up. Believers in those memes and meme chords are like members of a choir cloaked in the robes of their meme chords. 


  1. Since writing this article, I've come to think of memes even more broadly. It's turning out that pretty much everything you can describe is a meme. Try this: picture a chair in your mind. The image and concept of chair that popped into your mind is a meme. "Chairness" is a meme. Memes are quite like Plato's Forms in that they represent ideals of material things. These ideals are memes.
    Each person's memes may differ slightly due to personal interpretation (my chair may be a folding deck chair while yours may look like an easy chair). Or you may have some memes I don't have, and I have some memes you don't have. When that happens, there will be miscommunication.

  2. I wish all cats sared the meme to bury their waste. There is a ferrell cat in my neighborhood that leaves little surprises on people's porches! I've read somewhere that mother cats must teach their kittens to bury their waste. So apparently that meme isn't shared by all cats.

  3. Ha! funny cat behavior. that cat appears to be leaving a message on your porch. I wonder what?