Friday, October 2, 2009

Fortitude, Sunshine, Admire, Pickles, Faith

Blame it on Rosezilla. The common denominator of those five words up there in the title is, wait for it, it’s coming, here it is, ta-DAH!: Absolutely nothing.

Rosezilla, who is really Tracie down in sunny Florida, received a meme from someone named Beverly who received it from someone named Heidi (and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on) and that selfsame aforementioned meme eventually made it all the way to l’il ol’ moi.

But before we get to that, I feel compelled to explain what a meme is, because the word is not part of my everyday vocabulary and may not be part of yours. Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly (not to mention courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent) has given me three answers:

1. meme /mim/ [meem] –noun, A cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes. Origin: 1976; mīmeîsthai to imitate, copy; coined by R. Dawkins, Brit. biologist ( Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.)

2. meme (mēm), n., A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. [Shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme, from Greek mimēma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate; see mimesis.] (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.)

3. meme /meem/ [By analogy with “gene”] Richard Dawkins’s term for an idea considered as a replicator, especially with the connotation that memes parasitise people into propagating them much as viruses do. Memes can be considered the unit of cultural evolution. Ideas can evolve in a way analogous to biological evolution. Some ideas survive better than others; ideas can mutate through, for example, misunderstandings; and two ideas can recombine to produce a new idea involving elements of each parent idea. The term is used especially in the phrase “meme complex” denoting a group of mutually supporting memes that form an organised belief system, such as a religion. However, “meme” is often misused to mean “meme complex”. Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans (and presumably other tool- and language-using sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has become more important than biological evolution by selection of hereditary traits. Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious reasons. See also memetic algorithm. ([The Jargon File] (1996-08-11) The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © 1993-2007 Denis Howe.)

There is no number 4. Thanks be to God. Do you know any more than you did before? Neither do I.

Would you look at that, kiddies? The old clock on the wall is telling us that our allotted time is up for today and I didn’t even get around to telling you how this particular meme is supposed to work. But them’s the breaks, rules are rules, and I will have to get back to all of you tool- and language-using sophonts later.


  1. It all makes perfect sense to me

  2. Personally, I consider 'meme' a dirty word... one to be avoided at ALL costs.

  3. I actually learned a great deal more than I previously knew about memes, which was zilch. I found #3 quite interesting, particularly the part about memes as parasites.

    Awaiting post about F,S,A,P & F.

  4. Trust Richard Dawkins to confuse an issue while casting aspersions on religion at the same time... and as my son so helpfully pointed out, all of the words I gave you have the letter "i" in them. So they do have something in common. Just for the record :)