Poole on Mememetics

Steven Poole’s re-tagged us with the “Five Blogs that Make You Think” meme. Since I’ve already done it, I’m not going to revisit the meme (I guess we’re inocculated now). I did like Steven’s intro, since it does raise the issue of why despite the problems with the concept of “memes” it still persists in an almost self-confirming way, albeit self-consciously so.

As they say in the exciting new language of the internets, I’ve been “tagged with a meme”. Actually it first happened a few months ago, but I forgot about it, possibly having decided to take a stand against Meme Fascism, and possibly also because I don’t believe in memes anyway, since arguably the idea of a “meme” encodes a denial of individual agency and creativity, shored up by an annoyingly defective analogy with evolution. “Meme” is just another pseudoscientific attempt to explain culture (or rather to explain it away), destined (I hope) for the garbage bin of terminological fashion just as soon as William Gibson stops using it. You can imagine how it only compounds my irritation to realise that I used it myself in the post immediately below this one. It’s almost like the word “meme” is some kind of evil virus of the mind.