The Meme is My Theme

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The May 2011 Smithsonian arrived recently. In it was an article by  James Gleick on Memes. This is the same Gleick who in 1987 wrote:  Chaos: Making a New Science, and who has a new book this year called: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. In fact, the Smithsonian article is adapted from that book. The word, meme was coined by Richard Dawkins, in his 1976 book,  The Selfish Gene (see page 192) . So this article is a meme upon the venerable meme, a kind of meta-meme, which I will coin as: meme-meme.

Dawkins defined a meme as, ” … a name for the new kind of  replicator, a noun that conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission.” Dawkins said the analogy was:  Cultural Transmission = Genetic Transmission. And so by Dawkins’ utterance, a meme was born (created). He said it sounded vaguely like gene, rhymes with cream, and might even conjure to mind the word memory. So we have gene, cream, memory as the Mnemonic device for remembering the word meme. He originally wanted to use ‘Mimeme’, but then decided upon a monosyllabic word (how atomic) meme. However, this jester thinks, Dawkins writings and ideas are all about, ME, not my me, but his (Dawkins’) me. Notice how meme is a self-replicated version of the word ‘me’. Hence, my meta-meme is meme-meme; So it naturally follows that it is all about me and he (my me first, then his me). Well it was defined in the Selfish Gene (uh Meme), so perhaps, me-me-me-me should be an understood pun? Stanczyk does not know, having never met Dr. Dawkins and thus unable to pose the question.

Why is the CHAOS guy writing about the MEME (uh Gene) guy? After reading the adaption of Gleick’s book in the Smithsonian article I am not certain. It was very interesting. But I am not certain I even agree with Gleick’s article. Gleick said that  Hula Hoop ® (an object) is not a meme. Although I suppose his article and mine writing about the Hula Hoop are a meme. Why can’t an object be a meme? One could suppose a Hula Hoop is a cultural unit and perhaps our parent’s purchase, was the cultural transmission. Obviously the Hula Hoop was the latest evolution of the hoop as a toy, when in 1958 Whamo waxed Alliterative and tying the hoop to the Hawaiian dance (soon to be a state in 1959) and we had a fad whose meme is legendary. So let’s wax philosophical…

If a Hula Hoop is in the woods (without anyone around to hear it) is it still a meme? What if there is also a child in that woods? How about we add an Ad-Man? But still with only a child and Ad-Man to witness it perhaps there is no cultural transmission. Perhaps we need to add another child to watch the first child play with the Hula Hoop — are we getting anywhere near a meme yet? If so what is the meme: Hula Hoop, child (1st), Ad-Man, child(2nd), watching a child play ? Is the dark matter between the two children the meme — some kind of quantum cultural transmission? Perhaps we need a TV to broadcast the the two children in the woods to other children (elsewhere) to have a meme. Is the TV  or the broadcaster the meme; perhaps it is the commercial being broadcast that is the meme? And who was meme creator? What if the other children did not want to play with the Hula Hoop;  Would the concept of a Hula Hoop have been a meme, would these articles still be meme(s)? When are two memes sufficiently alike to be considered the same meme?

Why did the Journal of Memetics become extinct and yet the venerable meme (not to be confused with my meme about the meme) continue to live on?

Please keep the  meme alive and also my meta-meme (aka meme-meme) alive  and tweet and re-tweet this article. Share it on Facebook with your friends. Write about it in science Journals. Send it in emails. In order for me to ensure its survival I am including the hash tag: #Viral.

For God’s sake save the meme (and the meme-meme), just like the Whale, snail-darters, and Yellowstone Wolves. A Meme is a terrible thing to waste — Pass it on. Thank you for reading my theme (uh meme, uh meme-meme). I am hopeful that some other blogger or writer or researcher will write about my meta-meme (aka the meme-meme) and create his/her meta-meta-meme. I replicate therefore I meme.

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