Monday 17th October 2011
MEME throws up over 800 million results in 0.11 seconds, according to Google.
It was first coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, being derived from mimesis, the ancient Greek word meaning ‘imitation’, from which comes μίμημα (that which is imitated), from the core of which Dawkins plucks his monosyllabic ‘meme’: a catchy abbreviation, which, he tells us, ‘should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’’, going on to give as examples, ‘tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches’.
The very word has, therefore, itself become a meme.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘a cultural element or behavioural trait whose transmission and consequent persistence in a population… is considered as analogous to the inheritance of a gene’.
In other words, we can perhaps look at it as a trend, a tendency, a bright idea that takes off.
Not really the tangible product, but more of a social phenomenon: from All You Need is Love to bridal showers, from watching X-Factor to using the word ‘like’ at least once in every sentence when chatting with teenage peers on the bus.
Memes it seems, will only become memes when used far and wide. Like mass movements. Which have to start somewhere.
My mind has been much occupied of late by the Occupy movement, to the extent that I shall offer a few hours of support when in London this weekend.
People are keen to donate to the cause. I’ve posted an idea on their website…
“Global Bucket” is a financial institution which started out as nothing more than a plastic tub on a table near St Paul’s Cathedral in London in October 2011. Every citizen in the world opened an account there, without realising it. Global Bucket’s basic policy was (from the start – and remains) to be non-profit-making, to share its resources with those in need, and to neither charge nor pay interest. It is now the world’s largest so-called ‘bank’.
…adding, mischievously, that the above could be from a Wikipedia entry in 2021.