Friday, 21 September 2012
Memes- The Mimic Machines
Spreading from culture to culture, they mimic the viruses that spread from host to host, the gossip that fulfills casual conversation or even the dispersion of peanut butter onto bread. They are the ever emerging counterparts, the inorganic analogs to genes centred on an almost evolutionary yet epidemiological paradigm. From the lore of traditions that brings to fruition the identities of a people, to the rumours and heresay that sensationalise everyday chitchat, memes are to a grand extent mimic machines that do far more than xeroxing and filing. Memes are ideas and attitudes that permeate circles of thought, memes are fashions and styles conforming to the vogue of the zeitgeist, memes are the attitudes and the behaviours that define the sheer ethology of a society. But what captures a grander scope, a vivider vista, remains the analogy of the biological to the cultural; of the replicating, mutating and selective gene to the proliferating meme, the birth of memetics on the governing dynamics of genetics. One may draw further parallels regarding such a view of human nature, the added pressures of variation and competition, driving memes into their own states of either extinction or survival. As rational as this may sound, memes have stumbled upon an unsuspecting Pandora's box, the very essence of their form and function compromised by the lack of an empirical base, the absence of a coded sequence or even the promotion of a reductionist outlook. Memes are almost the antithesis of genes, besides their inadequacy for script, they present a rather philosophical idea in contrast to that of the scientific. They are entities devoid of a triadic nature when examined in terms of semiotics, a meme is merely a sign, a functionally degenerate thing confined to an infinite loop of copying, a regressive phase of mimicking bound by materialist ideals. Rummaging through the meme pool, we realise a certain implicitness as to the destiny of memes as not solely products of a conjecture but as entities. We realise a certain metaphorical 'selfishness', not as a result of drives influenced by motivation or will but by the prioritisation for replication. The serving of the sentient interests of the meme ipsilateral of the hosts and replicators is more or less a 'selfishness', one that copies away at the mind like a mimic machine does at a clone.