When was the last time you read about the concept of ‘memes’? It’s a fairly important subject! Consider for a moment the nature of how ideas are brought into us, how they grow and in what fashion they spread so deep that our entire lifestyle can in a matter of days, weeks, months or years, shift drastically and dramatically. It can be fascinating to consider how we can take for granted the nature of ideas and place them in a box where we are ignorant of what makes them tick. The importance of this type of study lies at the heart of another way of understanding what exactly can be called a healthy psychology. It’s a common wisdom that with any goal sitting at the top of a mountain, many paths up that moutain and onto attainment of that goal, exist. So it is for this subject, so it is for the importance of taking the study of memes seriously.
A memes changes the idea of an ‘idea’ so that we can understand it as something tangible. The very definition of it typically denotes a meme as a cultural unit. Such a unit, in the form of a practice or an idea, can be carried by one gentleman and transported passed the man-made boundaries of national borders and boundaries and even beyond the limitations of time and space. The latter, however, is leaning into a spiritual dimension which I don’t necessarily wish to address in the here and now. It is better to focus on what happens when you begin to understand ideas in this light, as a concept which is also an object. Now let’s take it one step further: not only can we consider memes as something which can be carried and transported, it can also be exchanged from vessel to recipient. And the recipient doesn’t just take it in in some obscure and abstract way. They actually digest it, for beyond the food we eat and the air we breath another type of consumption which more or less always departs from our acknowledgment is that we also consume ideas. We digest them and according to their nutritional value and the natural effect they have on the rest of our psychology (and even, yes, physiology!), we can deem them positive and negative or good and bad. This all, of course, depends on your perspective and frame of mind. Let’s say that you have values which relate fairly closely to cultural norms, where ideas and practices which serve your best interests don’t deprive any benefit from others in the process.
So there is the good, there is the bad, and…yes, there is also the ugly. If we include the third then I have to also pop in a fourth which exceeds the ‘good’ in its beneficial impact on us. I won’t name that fourth though for the sake of avoiding the same digression mentioned above (e.g. ‘the spiritual dimension’). What will be more practical is to consider now the memes which have an effect on us that change our relationship to the outside world. These are the big ones, the powerful and potent ideas which in some contexts can be put on a higher scale than the normal variety. At one point, in fact, we would need to begin to categorize memes by scale and relativity. Not now, though.
Taking things simply, we can witness two clear memetic super-ideas in action. One man has consumed memes of a very positive nature and it literally and authentically allows him to open up to the world in shapes and forms which he hitherto thought impossible. He begins to feel a connection to others, to communities, and perhaps even the world at large. At the highest range we can even say that he achieves an orientation towards the world, by way of the memetic system which has bridged his entire psychology in a new direction, that brings him joy in simply being alive in each and every moment of existence. The lucky fellow has conquered the inherent earthling tendency of taking any and all things for granted. It is quite transcendental and his influence on the world will surely be positive in character, to say the least.
Now we can take a different memetic system, one which develops in a man and begins to actually close him off from the world to an extent which significantly isolates him in a corner where such things as paranoia and disoriented imagination can bloom in abundant supply. That’s the extreme. One shade lighter is what we can witness with various cults that are never in short supply. This gang has enclosed themselves in a bubble where through the meme’s action they can recruit more of their members and initiates. Another shade lighter and we have groups who encircle ideas that are radical and alternative from the mainsteam. This group has retained their sanity and still participate dimly, moderately, or brightly in society, acquiring confidence about their memetic nationality and at the same time conserving their tolerance towards the cultures at large. At first sight you would perhaps even say this type could be classed fairly close to the positive one I described above. You may be wrong, however. This type of meme can be understood in the form of a hypnotic trance, where the carrier is blocked from seeing things outside of their inner world through the action of what has been created within them by the meme. They can be enthusiastic or serious, happy or sad, and it truly does not matter what specific state they are in. The importance lies in their ability to see things impartially, away from the reaches of the meme. Impartiality is a quality which exists in a memetic system of positive character. The higher and greater our ability to be impartial on command, the greater the meme is (in my books, at least).
And as the title of this blog indicates, these are musings of mine designed to make both you and I think a little deeper and perhaps even differently than we are accustomed. Memes are a big topic and at the same time they are quite intuitive and easy to understand. Their implications, namely, the implications of their various forms, whether good or bad, positive or negative, is where the complication can often arise. At the very least, I hope we can be a little more careful about which ideas we consume and digest. For beware, they are not always as they would seem. Some are junk, some are healthy, and some are downright dark and insidious.