The concept of meme, coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976, describe a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene, maintaining that replication also happens in culture, albeit in a different sense. In his book The Selfish Gene Dawkins speculated that the meme is a unit of information residing in the brain and is the mutating replicator in human cultural evolution, being a pattern that can influence its surroundings – that is, it has causal agency – and can propagate. Still, Dawkins apparently did not intend to present a comprehensive theory of memetics, but rather coined the term meme in a speculative spirit.
According to previous entries, by no means the Ecology of the Novel may support such approach to cultural evolution, likely arising and spreading on the basis of constant recoding of plastic patterns defining so called ‘memes’, that have to be eventually defined as emergent features instead of units of information residing in the brain. Textual plasticity found both in oral and in literary traditions, from papyri to manuscript, from print to digital media supporting shared meaning based on collaboration, corroborate the idea that narratives have to be addressed as emergent features, encoded by means of symbolic systems and referring to perceptual events, actions and emotional correlates. Hence, ramifications of descriptions based on multiple potential affordances of described features have to be credited as responsible of massive textual variation.
Indeed, acts as ‘reading a novel’ or ‘listening to a story’ lead to the embodiment of narrative events by means of mirror matching. Matter-of-factly, readers or listeners hardly feel urged to memorize phrases, sentences, words while reading a novel or listening to a story. They hardly succeed in the task of retelling a single sentence of given narratives they read or listen to, even though they can retell what the story is about in different words, sentences, phrases. Indeed, sensory experiences, actions and emotions emerging from novels, stories, narratives in general, are saved and stored as perceptual responses, motor schemes, feelings and behaviors into isolated or combined complex patterns, outlasting the textual features they are encoded into, that are soon gone and forgot.
Still, an interesting scientific experiment in cyberspace evolution based on blogging may provide some interesting hints about spreading of textual variation, even tho mutations are limited by rules that have been designed so to ease gradual evolution rather than stasis and punctuated equilibria. In my understanding, the submitted meme hardly mutates till the pattern “The best [subgenre] in [genre] is…” remains unchanged. Till then it’s all just about messing up and mixing the genetic pool of the very same species, basically enjoying stasis in Gould-Eldredge terms. Indeed, if mutation doesn’t actually happens after somebody getting wrong while applying the rules, so that the format changes into, say , “The best [genre] in [nation] is…”, I may eventually get back some code i would be able to cope (as in ‘couple’ in natural terms) with by processing it through the same rules I actually reproduce and (try to) apply (correctly?):
There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:
* You can leave them exactly as is.
* You can delete any one question.
* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.
* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] in [genre] is…”.
* You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.
Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.
Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.
My great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My parent is Belgrad and Beyond.
Questions and Answers:
The best cyberpunk novel in SF/Fantasy is: Neuromancer by William Gibson.
The best neo-noir SF film in scientific and cyberpunk dystopias is: Bladerunner by Ridley Scott.
The best sexy song in trip-hop is: Undress me Now by Morcheeba
The best abstract painting in european art is: Super Chess by Paul Klee.
I am tagging the following people, some blogger friends, to do the same, so this lineage will not go extinct!