Why are American cultural memes so contagious?
There is comparatively less underpinning cultural scaffolding. Hence American 🇺🇸 memes must be able to propagate in a comparatively rarified environment.
I thought of some great examples of this, but they’ve slipped my mind. Hollywood, obviously.
Able to quantify? How hard it is for non-Japanese to understand a Japanese movie 🎥 as opposed to any non-American to understand an American 🇺🇸 movie 🍿 or a French one?
The argument I thought of had to do with American 🇺🇸 working class memetic inventory versus 🆚 owning class, and possibly similar contrast in other cultures (Japanese, French, Mexican, or even British—that should be interesting).
Americans are very diverse (meaning we generally don’t like or trust each other) which memetically means that any coresonant meme pairs are not supported by any scaffolding of shared (cultural) memes, since there aren’t any.
So if you’re a Chicano middle class catholic small town (and let’s not even get into the gender identification stuff) and I’m some working class WASP 🐝 any jokes we both laugh at are supported by memes all of which support the joke, and not which we otherwise share independently (I need a better description of this)
Interesting about the propagation properties of memes in relation to the supporting medium. Is it like a gas where the velocity is inversely proportional to the density of the medium ? Or like EM waves where E and M waves feed off each other and self propagate so a medium isn’t required… lots of possibilities I suppose..
Or maybe Higgsy
A meme will propagate in the presence of a substrate containing memes it can resonate with.
That’s the thing about Americans
We have little of great substance to connect us.
Lack of things like “on this site in 1237 a battle was fought”
And that our city and the surrounding region are part of Idaho / Washington and not Oregon.
And that we speak 🗣 Palousian-Bonnevillian and not West-Oregonian (but even American 🇺🇸 native speakers 🔊 can’t tell the difference and don’t identify with these dialects!)
We put a slab of orange cheddar on our apple 🍎 🥧 pie, some do, but is that a supportive memeplex. Catfish 🐟 might be a fun counterexample that supports the basic premise.
“We can’t order pizza 🍕 two nights in a row like a bunch of Yankees! We gotta get some catfish 🐈 🐟 “
—an actual quote from me down in Arkansas
That might be quite the insight about whether you can characterize the transmitivity of the memetic fabric by some measurable property such as the widespread presence of a given memeplex.
Because you CAN measure things such as the presence of any given memeplex.
Oh, I’ve been messing around trying to understand the whole “second cousin once removed” thing. I think I’m getting a few things figured out.
Jokes are a good example of resonant potential of a memetic fabric. Think of the knock-knock joke.
A guy walks into a bar is another.
Jokes can be thought of parameterized memeplexes, eg, joke!knock-knock!(canteloup, can’t elope by yourself)
See the first Borat movie for an example of somebody not understanding even the fundamentals of a basic cultural joke formula.
Can you think of any classic guy walks into a bar jokes?
Joke!comparative![explanatory!,difference!,equivalence!] are like a family of jokes.
Why are hurricanes 🌀 named after women (back when they were )?
Because they come In all wet and 😜 wild and when they leave they take your house 🏡 and your car 🚘
What’s the difference between a BMW and a naked guy? With a naked guy the asshole is on the OUTSIDE.
Joke!comparative!equivalence!(a,b,c) is similar to joke!what-do-call!(a,b)
Eg (bad taste ahead) what do you call a guy with no arms or legs who’s been chucked out into the ocean? “Bob”. How about a guy with no arms and no legs who’s been buried up to his neck in a hole? “Phil”. I’m having to go back to the third grade for this material.
What do you get when you cross a jet ✈️ airplane with an accountant? A boring 747.
That’s kind of it’s own class, but again similar. Joke!Cross-what-do-you-get!(a,b,c)
Or joke!bag-of-traits!([a1,a2,…,an],b) eg, what’s black, white, and red/read all over? A sunburned zebra 🦓 or a newspaper 📰
The specific parameters of a joke category, ie, a specific joke, can be easily tracked as it propagates through a population (memetic fabric), including tracking mutations.
It was so cold 🥶 last week
How cold was it?
It was so cold that the lawyers had their hands in their OWN pockets
…this is also a kind of “set up, punch 🥊 “ joke structure (which is actually generic—all jokes are structured this way, I think)
There’s also joke!yo-mama!(a,b)
I still need to do some writing on it, but I’m working up a new way of modeling memetic reality, in terms of narratives, radical, conservative, and liberal.
The liberal narrative may also be termed pseudo-liberal, crypto-conservative, or status quo apologist.
The radical narrative can also be termed fundamental or fundamentalist.
The radical narrative is that all people are equal, children should be cared for and paid attention to, everybody gets a place to live and enough to eat, slavery is bad, people own their own bodies, etc, etc.
The conservative narrative is all the shit we actually do in our society, and the reasons we make up to justify our behavior.
Accretion doesn’t really occur, isn’t really possible at the level of the radical narrative, ie , the other two narratives can accrete memetic inventory, but the radical cannot.
One of the simpler and more obvious examples of accretion is invention of new salable product. At least one that we’re all familiar with.
A liberal message is that our lives would be heaps better if there were flavored fizzy sugar water (with cocaine in it) available everywhere.
That’s now part of the conservative narrative, ie, that it is almost our duty to buy Coke, even to feed it to our children, which is obviously bad for them, and for us.
Just as a side thought: did I put you onto The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology?
Anyway, I’m working on describing how the overall memetic inventory drifts further and further from the radical narrative…
Also how the conservative narrative becomes increasingly stronger.
My intuïtion in that it has to do with lack of trust and selfishness, and memetic polarization.
Another part of the theory is that the liberal narrative serves as an immunomemetic system for the conservative narrative.
Liberal attempts to question the conservative narrative actually end up strengthening it, since they are ultimately constructed on conservative memeplex.
This may be a universal, but liberal attempts to question the conservative narrative create memes around which polarize the cohort, creating a growing memetic inventory around the very memeplex they purport to interrogate, relieve, or whatever.
"Every bride has her special day...
...much like every dog."
If you're going to tell a lie,
tell a big one,
then people are more likely to believe you.(1)
Memetic Index (uncategorized)
Macrometic theory has it that one receives a memetic reward (2) through one's enactment of memes and the emission of memes by others in response to said enactment (3). Furthermore, the effect is multiplied by the number of people responding (19). We have previously discussed memetic fountains and memetic nexuses (4), and these are where the individual regularly produces memes (5). There is still much to discuss as to the nature of nexuses, e.g., how they come into being (6), but there is also a kind of temporary ex lege memetic nexus in the form of "ceremony."
How does "ceremony" function in terms of macromemetics? What we rever to, macromemetically, might include things like wedding ceremonies, inagurations, appointments, baptisms, court findings and sentences, licensure, opening of legislative sessions, voting on and approving of laws, circumcisions (7), coronations, executions, etc. Effectively any action of the state or the church, and a number of other things.
When a wedding ceremony is held, the families of the couple to be wed put on a party, and a ceremony. The event follows a number of relatively narrow guidelines, and the participants all act, or enact memes, according to narrow guidelines as well. This is clearly a memetic transaction, i.e., the couple (and their families) enact a set of memes, and a large number of people immediately reply by enacting a large number of memes (12), providing a potentially huge memetic reward for all concerned (20).
In this sense, by doing things "perfectly right" (13), and spending "enough money," one can literally buy as large a memetic reward as one can afford. Granted, the illustrious guests must actually show up, but then the reward is guaranteed, the couple are granted high status, get the rush of a large memetic reward from society at large and their friends and peers in particular, and the participants all get an enormous reward as well (14).
Dress the Part
I've often wondered if the President of the United States could simply wander out, unshaven, in a T-shirt (21), and address the press. It occurs to me that this is probably impossible. There is current talk of degrading or undermining the Office of the President, and a T-shirt might have this very effect. There is perhaps a clear macromemetic characterization of why the President, or any official, even a King, must look the part. They are enacting certain memes which inspire memetic resonance (10) in a memetic cohort (8). Absent these memes, e.g., the suit and tie, the emblem and flags behind them, the crown, the scepter, the black robes and gavel (11), and so forth, there is no resonance in the cohort.
Macromemetics suggests that it is probably not enough that one be "elected," "appointed," "elevated," "created," "hired," etc. to a post. It is not nothing, but often a great deal of it is the enactment of the expected ceremonies.
Conclusion and Summary
Ceremonies are significant macromemetic phenomena, and this is perhaps the very reason they exist at all. The trappings of office may be indispensible for this reason (15). A President or King acting "informally" or "wrongly" in public (17) may fail to resonate with the memetic fabric (16), and ultimately diminish the power of the office, the strength of the memetic nexus of the office.
On the other hand, the existence of ceremonies which may be enacted on an ad hoc basis, so to speak, e.g., weddings, funerals, corporate/academic appointments, police complaints, elections, court decisions, hirings/firings/sackings, etc. put the enactor in a position of being able to make themself [sic] an ad hoc memetic nexus, i.e., that others are effectively "forced" (18) to respond in a specific way, provided that the ceremony is enacted "correctly."
This is probably why ceremonies exist at all. But how do they form? Are they spontaneously generated? To what extent may ceremonies be "created" by individuals and organizations? What is required to do so, and what is extraneous? What keeps them "stable" over long periods of time? How much is it possible to change them? What mechanisms keep them from changing? These and perhaps a host of other questions remain to be explored.
(1) Citation needed.
(2) a.k.a., "memetic orgasm"
(3) in response to others imitating what one does, or in responding with appropriate memes (actions) in response to what one does, including acknowledging that one has correctly imitated a given behaviour, i.e., correctly reproduced a given meme.
(4) set uncategorized index, et al, for examples, pending citations herein.
(5) in the case of the nexus, these are consumed and re-emitted, and the nexus gets a reward, while the fountain gets no direct reward from those that re-emitted their memes. A nexus is a fountain (meme source), but a fountain is not necessarily a nexus. A nexus has a "built-in audience."
(6) aside from those created by edict, e.g., the President of the United States, a King, or a head of a family, etc. "Natural Nexuses" or "naturally-occuring nexuses" exist, certainly, but it's unclear how they come to exist, what factors keep them going, and how they might be destroyed or dismantled.
(7) in the Jewish tradition. It's not immediately clear what it might mean in the "hospital/medicalized" American version, though this might also be applicable and perhaps very interesting.
(8) see elsewhere -- the group of people present with the memetic inventory (9) to respond to the memes enacted by the "official"
(9) the collection of memes in a group of people or single individual, i.e., memes that they are able to respond to and/or enact.
(10) resonating with a received meme means that one has a set of memes to enact in response. If there are no memes to enact in response, or actionable memes are not transmitted (same thing), then the cohort does nothing, are not spurred to action, or to cease an action.
(11) and wigs for both judges and barristers in Britain and elsewhere in the Commonweath. Ridiculous, but perhaps absolutely necessary. "Plea-bargaining" and discussion "in chambers" avoid the heaviness of officialdom, which is doubtless a macromemetic heaviness, which it seems would contribute to their appeal. Likewise, a reporter or other invited in to see the President or King in an informal setting, is well aware of this special treatment for the very fact of the informality.
(12) One can perhaps see how misbehaving at a wedding, or a funeral, is especially bad.
(13) Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, three month's salary for the diamond engagement ring, and so forth.
(14) Getting snubbed at a wedding or not getting invited is especially painful, given this macromemetic factor
(15) There are those who say that the Trump Administration is transforming the Office of the President, by changing the form of how it is used, and even weakening it
(16) the collection of the minds of the people making up the memetic cohort, in this case the citizens of the country in question and their cultural knowledge (memetic inventory).
(17) or even in private, should this become known in the wrong way
(18) it would be better to say "pre-programmed" or "memetically pre-disposed" to resonate memetically to the ceremony
(19) the power of live performances as opposed to pre-recorded ones.
(20) especially for the couple, who are effectively an ad hoc nexus.
(21) or the equivalent female dishabille