Definition: "A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted by communication or by repeated action from one mind to another."
Every unit of information is a meme, really. A meme is an information virus which acts in much the same way as a computer virus or a biological virus: infecting a host which it needs for survival, altering the way the host acts by writing a new piece of information into the behaviour of the host, and passing itself on to new hosts through communication.
The Ultimate Comment has been described as "a meme-creating entity" or a "memetic monster that will one day swallow up the whole universe".
The Internet is built out of memes.
Another approach to memetics is the idea that memes behave according to the same rules that living creatures do, or that virii (non-living parasites) do; that memes can be predatory, act in packs, die out and evolve, adapting and mutating to adapt to the environment. Some explanations for memes even suggest that they are intelligent.
This provides an interesting paradigm in which to think about magick. Magick could be seen as the art of consciously choosing, creating, participating in, detaching from, and perpetuating memes. For example, in creating a servitor, you are manufacturing a meme and releasing it into the universe to cause change. By invoking a god, you are temporarily obsessing over a meme and letting it become the one by which you define your 'self'.
Memes may range in power from the littlest joke or neologism, to those which have the power to control lives and civilization, like the meme of communism or Islam.
Principles of memetics
The principles of biological viruses also apply to memes:
- Isolation breeds mutation
- The memes most well-adapted to their environment will propagate the most
- Overspecialization leads to extinction; adaptibility leads to greater survival and replication capacity.
- A mutation that is better adapted to its environment will replace its predeccesor
- The memes that replicate most easily will be most successful. Rhyming, sing-song or catchy phrases get repeated more than others and will propagate more.
Examples of memes
A few examples of some 'normal' memes are;
- saying "deadly!" or "hardcore!" all the time
- George W. Bush
- Knock-knock jokes
- Hassan i-Sabbah
a few examples of insane memes are;
- during the 14th century in England, peasants would dance non-stop, often from village to village, many dying from exhaustion.
- Nuns in the 15th century would often miaow to each other as a greeting, and sometimes would bite each other, mimicking animals.
- the Cillit Bang craze
- pokÃ©mon cards
- The Game
- That whole Chuck Norris thing last year
- The Church of The SubGenius
- losethegame.com/memetics.htm Principia Memetica on LoseTheGame.com
- squidoo.com/truthaboutmemetics#module11472570 The Truth About Memetics, a well-written introduxion by Wes Unruh