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August 28th, 2020
All artists and thinkers seek to be a unique meme womb. This is the pinnacle of intellectual and creative life. It’s what awards are given for, it’s how legacies are established, how fame is formed, how religions and countries are initiated, and also how innovation creeps into the world.
A meme is just an idea, or a cultural unit, a piece of information that is somehow interesting in a way that enables it to replicate and spread to new minds. A single word is a meme, but so are phrases, and pictures, gestures, brands, symbols, even stories and people.
We use memes to make sense of the world, and memes use us as hosts in order to propagate and live. To be sure, some memes don’t have our best interest in mind and operate like parasitic viruses, or put another way: there are some really really bad ideas that float, persisting through time despite being bad for people to be convinced by. The funny thing about this fact is that both the individual infected with a parasitic meme and a person who consciously labels that meme as bad will agree with the above statement - that for whatever reason, bad ideas can persist.
The artist, intellectual and creator is an individual who hoovers up memes, through reading, watching, listening and research with the hopes that two or more memes might combine in a novel and interesting way. This is the instance of having an original idea. No idea is born of pure nothing. It’s always some sort of remix - a combination of prior knowledge, know-how and ideas that creates a new perspective or utility.
There’s a lot of hope in this notion of discovery. Everyone is thirsty for that new idea. Fame and wealth and prestige lie in the wake of great new ideas.
But of course there’s a rather foreboding dark side: What if you come up with a really infectious idea that is quite bad for us?
Would you be able to stop it once you tell other people? New memes are a bit like children. We might be the cause of their existence, and we like to think we have a hand in their development, but at the end of the day they go off on their own and form their own life. Our pride or horror is somewhat left to luck and fate as to whether the life of that new meme brings wellbeing to humanity, or not.