It's clear that famous people inhabit what may be termed a "memetic nexus" in which they embody a MIAO which didn't really exist but which provides an attachment site for a collection of memes which can be said to "point towards it" in some sort of n-space elaboration of the memespace.
Examples of this are like stereotypes, although they can be much more subtle. A stereotype is a memetic nexus which an individual may inhabit. A "rock star" type, or a "pundit" or such personage may come to define and elaborate this stereotype, give it more depth and detail, than it had originally.
That's just an observation. At this point I'm not sure it's really true. And that brings us to one of the several basic questions(1) of memetic systems theory, i.e., is it possible for an individual to escape from a memetic nexus...once it has formed/coälesced around them or pulled them into itself? That's another interesting question: does a memetic nexus "form" around a person or "pull them in"? It's probably a mere question of semantics.
It should be noted here that the memes that surround a memetic nexus are primarily, and perhaps exclusively,
contact memes(4). For example, the "classic Native American", a "real,
ghetto African American", a "W.A.S.P.", a "disabled person", a "typical
politician", a "lesbian or gay", a "science student vs. liberal arts
student", a "Frenchman (or other foreigner)", a "nerd or geek", and so on. These kinds of
stereotypical identifications are mainly from the perspective of the
out-group, probably not from the member(s) of the in-group (or at least
that doesn't matter for our discussion).
They may also be faked.
In fact, this kind of fakery is probably the norm for people who find themselves in a memtic nexus. Even nominal in-group members in a memetic nexus within their own group, e.g., a "man's man" or "alpha male", such as a Rock Hudson, a JFK, or an FDR, may actually be pretending to be a great many things which they are not, e.g., sexually attracted to women, physically healthy and vigorous, faithful to a spouse, etc., in order to maintain this situation in the memetic nexus. Or the question becomes, are they forced to, whatever that may mean, that is, how much freedom do they have to leave the nexus, if any? Can a person influence the nexus, the memes that do and do not make it up, effectively (that's really the only was to define it, I think), or are they trapped, able to only enact the memes which make up the nexus? How able are they to participate in memetic hacking(2) vis-à-vis the memes that make up the memetic nexus itself? This may be the influence that drives famous people to "go on a runner", the Rolling Stones(7) to play obscure venues without notice or publicity, etc. It's also compels the individual to pander, that is, to conform the expectations of the out-group's ideology (or memetic make-up) surrounding the in-group, the stereotypes, in order to appear to be a member of said in-group. If one does not wear feathers and buckskins, speak with an affected tone, have "characteristic" ethnic features, espouse certain attitudes, get angry and upset (or enjoy) certain things, and so on and so on, then out-group members are "surprised" or reluctant, even resistant, to accept that one is, in fact, a member of the in-group in question. Of course, one isn't. That is, there is no such in-group, per se, since it is merely a collection of resonant patterns in the memetic fabric of some out-group, which may or may not have anything whatever to do with any real people anywhere, at any point in history.
This may all be researched in the same way as one would any other memetic system analysis(3), and so is not really anything new. It is a phenomenon subject to observation, an historical artifact, so to speak.
The "engineering" project is to ask whether it's possible to a) identify unoccupied memetic nexuses, b) is there even any such thing as an "unoccupied memetic nexus" (and is this related to a memetic vacuüm?), and c) is it possible to create memetic nexuses, and if so, how? In short, this is a way to figure out how to "get rich and famous" through investigation of the memetic fabric of some chosen population, anywhere from a small group to the entire world, and then do something to insert oneself (or a chosen other or one's products) into that nexus.
Using memetic analysis to identify possible memetic nexuses, and using memetic engineering to insert oneself into it, or even to create one and then insert oneself, is the primary goal of all sales, marketing, and politics. Another question is how to keep oneself outside of a memetic nexus, dissociated from it, and yet still manage to exploit it, while preventing others from doing so. This leave the "outside" individual or organization still free to move in the memespace without the constraints imposed by the nexus. Again, this brings up the question of whether and to what extent a memetic nexus "traps" its occupant and whether they can ever excape. Must the nexus be somehow "destroyed" or "disrupted" or "dismantled" in order to allow such an escape, is that even possible, and what would it look like? Are there any historical examples?
More on this later...
(1) These questions include: a) "can [dominant] ideologies be changed without violence and the deaths of large numbers of people?", b) "can an individual escape from a memetic nexus?", and c) "are memeplexes (memetic systems) intelligent, do they have goals, can they purposefully adapt to changing environments and competition from other memeplexes in a way that resembles predicting the future?"
(2)Memetic Hacking: Alone, separated from the grand publique, a person may be interrogated, cross-examined, in order to judge their reactions to questions that evince their immunomemes, without the social bullying that keeps them beholden to the memeplex(es) to which they belong. The chosen environment should make them as circumspect as possible to the memeplexes in which they participate, what they perceive as their feelings about it, the nature of their participation, etc. In other words, engage the beholden individual in a meta-memetic exchange.
(3)Memetic Analysis: Identify functional memes from the actions of beholden individuals, identify signal memes from messages, gestures of the beholden, identify MIAOs that attach signal memes (including written matierals, etc.), use thus-far identified memes and MIAOs to evince immunomenes (and identify further MIAOs) through interrogative interactions with beholden both in groups and via memetic hacking.
(4)Contact Meme: A meme that is meaningful to a usually larger outside group, or "out group", to identify and characterize the given "in group" and its members. Examples are racial, ethnic, sexist, classist, and other stereotypes (even "political"), e.g., clothing, behavior, speech (accents, special words, etc.), and actions that characterize a given group. The term derives from the fact that contact memes are significant to out-group members while they may or may not be nearly so significant to in-group members, or eclipsed by much more significant memes that outsiders may be unaware of. It could also be said that contact memes are the memes which outsiders attach to MIAOs universally accompanying in-groups, to which many (negative) stereotypical memes may be attached, but totally different memes (obviously) are attached to the same MIAOs by in-group members. An interesting case might be women's wearing of "provocative" clothing (or the significance of kissing in WWII Britain from the differing standpoints of American servicemen and British women -- an interesting case of intercultural misunderstanding). Other groups may attach memes, typically self-serving ones, to the MIAOs and behaviors (action memes). A woman may attach no especial significance to her wardrobe choices, or she may be trying to evince specific action memes from certain cohorts, i.e., push their members into another memetic state(5)
(5)Memetic State: A condition which characterizes the memetic inventory of a given individual or subgroup based on a given environment, including the memetic signals incident on that environment. For instance, a group of religious or other fanatics (e.g., graduate students) finding themselves in an isolated setting where only in-group members are present. They are now free to discuss specialized subjects, use jargon, and so on and so on, which would alienate, offend, or "give the wrong idea to" outsiders, were they present. In other words, they are now in a different (nameable) memetic state, where a far greater memetic inventory is available (or just a different one, and such changed memetic states can even lead to things such as a memetic orgy(6).
(6)Memetic Orgy: A subjective distinction where a memetic state is reached such that all or almost all deployed memes resonate with the rest of the cohort, of the memetic fabric. An individual may be driven to escape and seek the society of out-groups for this purpose, or memetic cohorts may try to isolate or even suppress out-group members in order to allow themselves more settings where they can reach a memetic state where the memes deployed therein all achieve maximal resonance. The presence of out-group members in a mass of in-group members act like a "poison" or "neutron absorber" in a nuclear reactor -- many memes to not resonate with them, they do not emit many memes that sustain the highly-reactive, high-resonance state, and may even emit memes and immunomemes that curtail it.
(7)A friend told me how a friend of hers was in a bar with about three other people and the barman in an obscure town in Massachusetts after midnight when The Rolling Stones came out on the little stage and performed for about an hour and then left again. Blue Oyster Cult also performed in a small bar in Roppongi 六本木 one night when I was working there and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't try a little harder to find the place.