"On Memes: A Very Brief Introduction to Memetica, Or a Contemporary Rhetoric of Information"
Coming soon for the annual meeting of the Michigan Academy (MASAL, forthcoming March 2023).
As is widely known, memes are commonly understood as catchy items on social media – often an image with text – that “goes viral” and gets shared/spread among many people online. However, this presentation discusses the older, original, and more expansive sense of “meme”, introduced and elaborated upon by Dawkins, Blackmore, and Dennett, among others, that initially means something like a “unit of cultural information.” One way rhetorically and philosophically these days to conceive of “it all” is as a massive ecology of memes. What I call “memetica” is another way of exploring a rhetoric and conception of a totalizing ecology of information. The term “information” may cover a massive amount of multi- and cross-disciplinary conceptual territory involving “bits” in physics, “genes” in biology, and “signs” in arts/humanities. This presentation very briefly introduces the origins, rhetoric, and concept of memes as an initial way in to the topic of information – arguably one of the most powerful, dynamic concepts in contemporary existence.
Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter teaches at a public university in North America and consults/coaches at Sollars & Associates and independently.