More on symbols and memetics...
Whether we know it or not, everything we behold in our own personal perceptions of reality has a certain amount of symbolism attached to it. Everything. These symbols compose a type of memetic "code." We are each a potential "Anomaly," with the ability to "see the code" for what it is, and to work with it. Deep down, our subconscious minds are able to percieve, analyze, and interpret these symbols. The thing is, our subconscious does not percieve a difference between the symbolic and the "real." To our subconscious minds, everything
is symbolic and everything is real
at the same time. How much we are aware of this depends on our ability to discern exactly what is going on in our subconscious minds, and how these symbols affect us. H.P. Lovecraft once said that the greatest thing about the human mind was its inability to co-relate its contents, but I'm not so sure that's such a good thing. Some symbols have the same effect on a large group of people because of our connection through the collective subconscious. Part of "unplugging" ourselves from this "collective reality" is the discovery of how we respond to symbols as an individual within our own subjective perceptions of reality. Once we become aware of how these symbols effect us, the moment that we learn that we can choose
how we interpret and respond to these symbols instead of just letting ourselves be manipulated, and we discover that these symbols do not necesarily display the truth
of the situation, we have "unplugged" ourselves.
Conscious manipulation, subversion and "hacking" of symbols and memes (not internet quizzes, but the word "meme"
the way it was originally meant: "a unit of cultural transmission") is one of the most effective and potentially insidious ways of manipulation within the social construct. If you learn how people subconsciously respond to symbols, whether those symbols are contained within certain sounds, modes of speech, jingoistic slogans, modes of dress, corporate logos, etc, it follows that you can influence that person's thoughts and behavior, or even change how they think and what they believe about a certain subject. Here's a less sinister example - I have a friend on my f-list who uses only icons that contain images of a certain actress. When another person on my f-list adopted a similar icon with an image of the same actress, I started reacting to this second person as though she were the first
person. I found myself having to continually remind myself during my replies to her posts that it was the second
person that I was responding to, and not the first person.
I've been reading a lot of Jean Baudrillard lately, among other things (mostly his other stuff besides Simulacra and Simulation,
like Symbolic Exchange and Death
and The Perfect Crime
.) But seriously, how could I have forgotten what I learned from Mitch Kenard when he started teaching me Chaos Magick back in 1993? Or what I remembered when I first saw The Matrix
in the spring of 1999, for that matter?
The reason I've spent so much time on YTMND
so much lately is because it's like a perfect microcosm of the things I've been reading about and thinking about lately. It's a social construct in which pop culture symbols are subverted and manipulated in order to produce a humorous effect, with certain unwritten "rules" that are subconsciously agreed upon and adhered to by the users of the site (i.e. certain songs being associated with certain subjects, like Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" being associated with the Gay Fuel beverage and homosexuality in general, the remix of Eric Prydz "Call on Me" being associated with the various flashing "_____ Doesn't Have Facial Expressions" memes, or the song "Spanish Flea" from the current Six Flags ads being associated with racism because the old guy in the Six Flags ads used to be in the KKK.) The fads that pop up on YTMND often seem viral in nature, exploding over the course of several days or even weeks as new variations on the original YTMND page that sparked it pop up. Users of the site get props for clever or inventive new twists on these these symbols, while remaining true to the spirit of the fad itself. And what is a fad anyway, but a particular social group's tendancy to adopt symbols based on recongition of and their associations with those symbols? Symbols have power. Any
symbol has power, depending on its conscious and subconscious meanings within the human psyche. The more known and recongized that symbol is, the more influence it has, though "inside" symbols (inside jokes, obscure icons that are only known within a certain group) can also have even greater influence within smaller social constructs.
Godz, does any of this make sense? >_>
Anyway, included here as a visual aid is a list of YTMND fads.
As this page shows, even within this relatively small social construct, there are competitions between fads, and attempts to "hack," subvert, and "push" the different fads as they evolve.