Saturday, January 7, 2006

Giant memetic war hatching 3

On my way back to Hong Kong I realized an interesting property of memes - Heritage.
I was flying with Lufthansa when something uncanny happened when I tried to find my seat. I saw a 48 where it was written 49... A group of Russian dudes made me realize my mistake. But the real oddity was I wasn't the only one to be faulty. My whole row did the same... We were all looking at each others like if we had been hypnotized by some well known joke from the aircrew. Furthermore we realized the front row neither had more room for us - so was the whole column - so scary!
Everybody was so confused and wondering what could have initiated such a massive mistake. After few minutes of pandemonium we understood the shift had been initiated by a group of Chinese who "mixed up" a 45 with a 44.
I was totally assailed by doubt and humiliation. Strangely, I was the last one to be fooled but I had been fooled!
It didn't took me long to think about those magicians who hijacked an 81 passengers plane with a fucking cutter! I was so scarred to realize I would have been sheeping as badly as they did 4 years ago.
After this incident I had 12 never-ending hours to think about this serial drama and how foolish my meme-sponge becomes in a chronologically misinformed context.
Planes ultimately represent the condensation of the late "democratic" Capitalism meme, from the first class conspiracy to the blindness of the economy dupes. One can measure his own freedom by the resistance he has to overcome, by the effort it costs him to stay in the air. And my little story illustrates how the "we all breath together or we each suffocate on our own" might be a victim of its own operative principle.

It seems that most of the 20th century memes can't escape being overused and thus implying a meaning overload that leads to non-sense. Being able to trace the origin of a meme gives you tremendous information about it's replication mechanism and it's programmed death.
Meaning overload is a sticky doom that no meme really managed to escape. Because they all inherit the first minimum packaging - the seducing Trojan horse outfit - they can't do anything else than getting into more and more brains, infecting Language until being assimilated by dictionaries, then flirt with linguistic saturation and somehow conquer the totality of the conceptual landscape - jumping from a joke to religion by passing into politics and economy. If they don't follow this logic, they simply disappear until someone rediscovers them.
But anyhow they eventually lower their voracity to their genesis level, stroke down by some familiar stratagems - precisely the one they were originally using to seduce and spread.
The "Nazi meme" is a remarkable example which as been deeply analyzed by Mike Godwin. I've always been fascinated by how deep this meme was penetrating language tics. For 20-something French people everything can be linked with Nazi. A Nazi steak, a Nazi car, a Nazi face, a Nazi whatever... Nazi can even been used with nothing and it will still be understandable. It originally means that you're in a pure contradiction mood, that you don't give a shit of all common sense rules. A bit like "Wasssup...!" you can say "Naziiii...!".
Here Godwin's law extends so far out of the online discussion realm that Mike couldn't have imagined how true his statement was.
Why is this meme so intrusive and most of all, why has it lost so much of its original sense? As I said above, memes inevitably contaminate so much of our speeches that they ruin their vital archetypal structure. I was explaining Godwin's law to an educated Frenchman who didn't know shit about memetic and who wasn't surprised at all by what it was predicting. He didn't get tricked by the mathematical and logical outfit of the rule and he proposed that it's only illustrating how poor our average dialectic skills are - how weak our semantic firewall is. Using Nazi everywhere is just a way to avoid using the proper adjective, it's an admission of phatism.
I've been intuiting this for a while already and that's why I've been trying not to use Nazi in all my writings, sticking to Fascism which is a much more pernicious meme with obscure rooting in Roman culture heritage. Chronologically Nazism is already a breed of this "too close to fashion to be a coincidence" word. He also mentioned that we have a French flavor equivalent - Poujadism - very little spreading capacities but tremendous infection power as it's so misunderstood - fear this dormant meme that can suddenly reappear at the top of... France...
Attac campaign against Sarkozy - Sarkonazi... ;)
trad: Vote Le Pen.

Yes, it doesn't really matter anymore whether it's the direct descendant of Pierre Poujade or the UMP's superstar Nicolas Sarkozy which is holding the reindeers of French society. Both have been well and truly had by the insidious Poujadism meme.

Back to our Nazi retaliation, isn't it surprising that Mike's statement not only apply to online discussion but to show business and politic as well? If you don't already know their litany, take a look at the real story of the skinhead movement and you'll be really surprised.
Nazism suffers of a reaction trend behaving as uncompromisingly as this party used to be famous for.
And after unfolding Godwin's counter-meme, it appears like a runt of the mortal remains of Nazism. With its fresh and shimmering aura, isn't it already throwing a despotic light over forums' discussions? Like if it was inevitably inheriting its sire's specification.
We are all too familiar with this "meta-counter-mechanism" which level 3 marketing gurus are particularly found of. It's what makes opportunists dig into the failure of humanism and point at their totalitarianism when dealing with difference - where it's easy to attack positive discrimination for your own credibility - the touchstone of this still yet to come giant memetic war.
Yep, when memes collapse there are plenty of brains ready to recycle it into new ones.
Cybernetic and space battle

So why not applying this heritage rule to memetic itself?
This exciting paradigm is so fragile that it could collapse way before being able to conquer older generations.
Its genitors, Marshall Mac-Luhan, the proto-memeticist, seduced because he was a kind of link in-between art and science. First snubbed by the counter-culture accusing him of praising the glory of techniques, Marshall had to cope with this frantic fault line. Was he a notorious academician or a gifted creative poet?
Both? Like da Vinci?
Here we touched the deepest seducing apparatus of memetic. A conceptual OVNI able to flipflop in-between what suits the best to the situation - the opportunistic concept by excellence.
I would say that inevitably here lies its programmed dialectic fading. By being able to switch so easily in-between the two linguistic breeding grounds, it will eventually become nothing but a vast and violent rhetoric battlefield, where everybody will put its own emotional perception of what thinking really is about.