Jean-François Lyotard used a similar meme concept at the dawn of postmodernism called narratives (meme) and metanarratives (memplexes).
metanarrative (sometimes master- or grand narrative) is an abstract idea that is supposed to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens it “is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience”. The prefix meta means “beyond” and is here used to mean “about”, and a narrative is a story. Therefore, a metanarrative is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other ‘little stories’ within totalizing schemas.
I like the concept of the meme because it takes this idea one step further. Lyotard used this concept to explain things like religion and criticized them. Meme theory looks at these narratives/memes indifferently and asserts that they evolve by natural selection similarly to Darwinian biological evolution through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. Well maybe not inheritance, but close enough.
Clearly the meme concept has worked. We all have a basic understanding of what it means on this forum. The real question is how well will it propagate outside of religious or non-religious context? The interesting things to observe with memes are their methods of reproduction. What makes them successful in both short term & long term?
[quote author=“psikeyhackr” date=“1191360653”>Say there is a gene for your eye color and a gene for your hair color but you are not a gene, you are the product of thousands of genes combined.
We are mapping genes, but we really haven’t mapped memes. It is interesting to decipher the minimum and maximum size of a meme and at what point it turns into a memeplex? The problem I see with taking the metaphor this far is that there is no definitive indicator. Throwing salt over your shoulder is a minor meme made popular in the movie Dumb & Dumber, but can you break that down into more simplified memes? Technically isn’t the idea of throwing a meme? It is just so common we over look its significance as a meme because it had more of an impact in our biological evolution than superstitious un-jinxes.