Life, Death, Memetic Encoding...How Are You Bent? : Confluential Subjects
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Life, Death, Memetic Encoding...How Are You Bent?

by Posted Author on 08/27/12

By G. F. Smith

(Original Publish Date: 8-24-11)

We know what we know, and are what we are, because of the memes handed down to us from the past. What are memes you ask? 

 

Read on, this is actually pretty fascinating:

 

Memes are the ubiquitous cultural streams of ideas, concepts, beliefs, and collectively propagated "norms" that humanity has developed and disseminated throughout history. Experts say they mimic genes in the body in that they pass on information, traits, even predispositions, through culture, the human senses, and hence, from mind to mind and generation to generation. Again, much like genes do physical traits in our bodies.

 

And, just as genes are responsible for what we look like, how we are shaped, and how healthy we are, among other things; memes are responsible for the inherent individuality in our minds, our psychologies, and our characters. That's why some people prefer jeans over suits, Camaros over Mustangs, Bach over Zeppelin, Sponge Bob over the Avengers, one genre of book, or movie, or medium, etc., over another, or...Science over Faith.

 

When you look at this phenomenon from the larger, historical perspective, there are certain memes that have proved dominant in our thinking. Some examples: 

 

Faith...                                                  Music...

Science...                                             Language...

Fashion...                                             Laws...

Literature...                                           Politics…

Food...                                                 War...

 

Faith and Science are two of the big ones--some really big ones, actually. Both, as observed through history, have had an enormous impact on humanity, and most especially on our interpretation and evaluation of all the other memes. 

 

In other words, our minds' and intellectual OS's (operating systems) have been, individually and collectively, programmed by these tenaciously authoritarian memetic encodings. And that's why we are what we are; why we think, what we think. That is, until something different comes along--knowledge, discovery, or realization--and hence, changes everything! When that happens, the memes change, and we change. A few examples:

 

Hunters/Gatherers vs. Agriculture...                   Fingers vs. Tools...

Flat Earth vs. round Earth...                              Orthodoxy vs. Protestantism...

Ptolemaic vs. Copernican universe...                 Religion vs. Science...

Etc....

 

Enter...the Bent:

 

What's inside us that leans us to one bent, or the other? What establishes the interpretation, the value, the justification for the memes we choose to imitate or adhere to as we journey through life--again, individually and collectively? Is it merely knowledge? Or is it, perhaps, the lack of knowledge? Is it truth, or fact, or just reality as we think we know it at the time? 

 

Why are we so bent to one or the other meme?

Why do some, for instance, choose healthy lifestyles, over those that are not?

Why do some predominantly choose to honor the needs of the individual, over society?

Why do some choose asceticism and sacrifice, over materialism and affluence?

Why do some choose introversion over extroversion?

Why do some go with the flow, while others blaze their own trails?

Why do some lead, while others follow?

 

What is it that truly shifts the proverbial paradigm?

 

History has shown that we go from one dominant set of memes to another, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Are the memes we embrace today the right ones, the correct ones, and by what standards, what criterion? But then again, aren't standards and criterion just other words for other memes?

 

Kind of circular thinking, I know! The point is this:

 

We are wholly different today than we were, say 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 years ago. The memes that we've been talking about have evolved and changed over time, and consequently, so have we.

 

But then there are all those annoying "gray" areas? You know...

 

Evolution or Creation...                         War on Drugs or Legalization...

Pro-life or Pro-choice...                        Global Warming or Cooling...

Pacifism or Extremism...                        Conservatism or Liberalism...

Consumerism or Environmentalism...     Nationalism or One World-ism...

War or Peace...                                    Life or Death...            

 

I wonder, will we ultimately discover and learn the things we need to define and finally settle all those gray areas? Will we ever be on the same page? Are we meant...to be on the same page? Will the memes that determine who we will be in the distant future, be as radically impactful on us as the ones of the past? Or will they be more so? What if Aliens land? What if Jesus comes back? What if we unfortunately destroy ourselves from madness and hate and war, before we even have the chance to see what's next?

 

Will Dystopia, or Utopia, win out for the Meme of the Day/Era?

 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

 

So, tell me...how are you bent?

 

G. F. Smith

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