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Week Six

alexandrakg's picture

 A few of Dennett's ideas are still confusing to me.  Despite our extensive class discussion, I still do not fully understand memes.  I am not sure if culture can be measured or divided into units.  Units are supposed to be very basic, so that measuring is easy and logical.  How can one begin to measure culture?  Memes seem so indefinable to us because culture is.  We had an easier time envisioning memes as a tune or phrase rather than a cultural movement, which makes sense because larger cultural movements are so much more complicated.  In other words, I can much better explain how a classmate ended up humming Lady Gaga than say the revolutions happening across the Middle East.  Explaining cell structure is so much simpler than explaining culture, and we only really began to figure out genetics in the last century.  I do not like generalizing and trying to fit too many things into unrelated groups.  Oversimplifying does not help us discover what culture is, in fact, it may prevent us from learning more.


katlittrell's picture

Culture Bricks

I agree.

The idea of a meme is a useful one in that it allows us to have a concept of bite-size pieces of culture, but when we move away from things as small as internet memes (LOLcats, or double rainbow, for example) I find it increasingly hard to define what a meme is. Is love a meme? Is the idea of wearing jeans a meme? If all of culture can be broken down into memes, why are we finding it so hard to do so?

The building blocks of culture are no regular size or shape. Oversimplifying culture into a collection of memes seems counter intuitive and denies much of the rich complexity and ambiguity which is what makes culture such a difficult concept to pin down in the first place. I suppose what I'm saying is not that we shouldn't try to define our world, and culture, and break it down into smaller pieces... just that the idea of memes in particular seems limited due to its implication of regularity, of similarly-shaped bricks in the wall of culture.

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