Memeology: Natural History, Crisis, and Renewal in Eight Parts
8 new paintings by Ian E Pines
interpretative essays by Maxwell H Pines
A meme is a phenomenological unit, an atom of experience. The compositional analysis of an experience bottoms out in memes: flashes of color, bursts of sounds, pinpricks of touch, infinitesimals of sensation. By definition, memes are of a transient and dependent existence.
Blips on a screen.
Memes interact in accord with brute laws of attraction and repulsion: likeness and difference; harmony and dissonance; intensification and nullification. From these constraints, memes and meme-logic, the experience can be reconstructed.
In order to understand a meme, stay on the surface. Memes are only thick enough to appear on the screen. And that’s not very deep.
Investigation of their laws of interaction yields no causal nexus, no purposive direction. The laws are such that y-memes appear after x-memes; constant conjunction and a feeling of anticipation: X’s and Y’s, X’s and Y’s, X’s and Y’s. Call it meme-logic. How about “causation”? Only as you would say the shadow of the hammer causes the shadow of the nail to go downwards.
Meme-logic is sufficient to determine that there will be structured, internally complex meme-compounds: harmonized patterns of memes, lattices of memes. Agglomeration and bulk give them momentum and significance: meme-compounds exist long enough to be distinguished by a subject as individual objects. They stand out from the flashing hailstorm of memes, flashing and diminishing.
The thicker the boundary separating a meme-compound from the outside, the longer it builds its momentum and intensity. Incorporation, assimilation, agglomeration. Within the meme-compound arises a division of labor, a unity and purpose. Now there is a division between the chaotic, senseless succession of memes and a sanctuary of relative order within the meme-compound.
Calculations of meme-logic become fantastically complex, but no one has to do the book keeping. At a certain point of complexity we lose track of the determinations of meme logic: the spark of life.
A kingdom within a kingdom? Behold the meme-creature.
The emerging meme-creature is a ferocious automaton animated by mechanical, purposive behavior and a single minded resolve to execute its program.
And now an ecology, a plurality of niches and diverse responses: paranoia, aggression, parasitism. Violence and grim resignation to its lot drives a meme-creature to retreat within its boundary; its sanctuary of order and respite—a garden of manicured bushes and clockwork fountains.
Look: can you see its mind? the seat of consciousness? the will?
What is a meme-creature, what animates this purposive unity?
-Is it a finite system deducible from the constraints of the memes themselves: a difference of degree and not of kind, continuous with the outside. More meme-logic. And thus there is a possible unified science of memes and meme-creatures.
-Or: perhaps there are special spots within the boundaries composed of non-memes that drive the meme-creature*.
-Or better yet: outside the system, compelling and driving inert memes with purpose and intent from beyond the screen†.
There are irresistible conclusions one will draw from an invested point of view. You better believe it.
*The unity is ultimately to dissolve back into the same meme-soup from which it arose.
†Forgot that the surface is as deep as the screen; there, a furiously flashing succession of color and shape.
Poor, forlorn meme-creatures, subjects of a painful and senseless destiny. Their desire for the eternal, meaning, the unconditioned… they need a sign.
Meme-logic delivers. Meme after meme caked on results in giant meme-compounds; enduring monoliths of sensation.
To a meme-creature this is an object to be appropriated. A meme-creature who longs for respite and validation alters and exalts this IDOL.
Lifted up to eternality, divinity, an idol is: a crutch, a beacon, a conduit to an alternative plain of existence (whoh), an explanation, an explanandum, a telephone.
“were we born here, is this where we return, have you heard the good news?”
Meme-creatures active in their forgetful embrace of their idol become bold or peaceful; evangelical or mystical; conquistadors and clerics. Memes animated by their worship and servility to Idols overcome pain and fear. Remarkable specimens!
What is a sickness that only appears and worsens as the patient becomes more and more efficient, insulated from an uncaring and potentially damaging exterior? It is a disease latent in meme-creatures who have indulged in the sublime myths of idols, a sickness that emerges as a meme-creature remembers its idol’s design of expediency, ineluctable meme-logic, and the thinness of memes. They are suspicious when they see their own fingerprints on Idols, amazed at the unity of meme-logic, and despondent that despite their best myths, they are still just memes.
The meme-creature’s capacities to reflect, to defend against the hail-storm of memes, to construct ever-greater idols—those same advantages handed to it in meme-evolution have alienated it from its nature continuous with senseless memes. The apparant boundary built by meme-logic and sanctified by custom is falling apart.
Idols are the meanings for meme-creatures. For what else is there in their devalued environment, meme-filled bodies? Once a meme-creature has lost confidence in itself, an idol is adopted as the symbol for and object of its purposive behavior.
But given that all things meme reek of meaninglessness, meme-creatures must go wholly outside the backdrop of phenomena. Local idols are forgotten and grow mossy or are banished and take off into outer space. In a desperate attempt at self-signification, the meme-creatures posit the IDOL beyond the world, the object of a most sublime faith.
But idolatry becomes absurd as meme-creatures become cognizant of the psychological explanation of their attraction to idolatry. Idolatry is disproved indirectly; just as we discount the prophet who sees ghosts once we discover the empty vial of acid in his pocket.
A meme not on a canvass is manifestly repugnant; that’s clear enough.
A meme-creature who looks the same on the inside as the world outside?
The thick black partition separating a meme-creature’s unified consciousness from the chaotic, meaningless flashing succession of lights and sounds… This boundary is a matter of degree; a pretty significant degree to an insular meme-creature. But sub specie aeternitatis (as all educated meme-creatures now speak) to one who looks at its place in the grand screen of things? Not so impressive. A meme-creature whose thoughts have been elevated in contemplation of idols takes on this objective perspective. It sees how it made its boundary significant and thinks: a line I draw, I can erase.
It recognizes its continuity; it recognizes the boundary as a convention of its own design.
Meme-creatures have devalued the memes through their exaltation of idols. Will this be a happy reunion?
Our Greatest Question Mark
Idols, now divested of meaning, still populate the landscape. Meme-creatures lurch from one end of the grave yard, now snickering, now weeping over these cracked monuments. Nauseous from the continuous cycling through of worldviews: groundless, absurd faith, crippling despair and bitter, bitter irony.
Now what? A meme-creature gazes into the horizon, shameless in the nude:
The X I am.
ground law end beyond… begone!
The feeling of…
Feel: a lifting of the burden to explain and justify. An increase of energy.
Just as meme-creatures were inspired by their idols to become the most amazing phenomena, except now the direction of the energy is yet to be determined.