our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2012/08/28

automagicism : Are Memes & Internet Culture Creating a Singularity?

A cultural era is not defined by the contentof the ideas it conveys but by its interpretive filter...the hidden threads that link ideas to the invisible will of the time.~Ioan Couliano


From The Idea Channel:
Here on the internet, we love us some memes. But where do they come from? Yes we know, they are user generated. But to an internet layman, they seem to just appear, in HUGE quantities, ready for cultural consumption. Are they a sign of a "cultural singularity"? Memes follow rules and code, are varied, self-referential, and seem to multiply at an ever increasing rate. It may seem like science fiction, but we're close to a world where culture automatically and magically creates infinitely more culture.
Let us know what sorts of crazy ideas you have, about this episode and otherwise:
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In Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, Ioan P. Culianu writes:.

The originality of an era is not measured by the content of its ideological systems but rather by its "selective will," that is, according to the interpretive grille it imposes between preexisting contents and their "modern" treatment. The passing of a message through the hermeneutic filter of an era produces two results of a semantic kind: the first, aiming at the very organization of the cultural structure of the time and hence located outside it, is set forth as a complex and subtle mechanism of emphasis or, on the contrary, of suppression of certain ideological contents; the second, which operates in the very interior of the central structure, is set forth as a systematic distortion or even semantic inversion of ideas which pass through the interpretive grille of the era.

All of this means that the crowning wish of the historian of ideas is not, or should not be, to define the ideological contents of a given period, which are fundamentally recursive in nature, but to glimpse its hermeneutic filter, its "selective will," which is, at the same time, a will to distort.