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Giant Slaying: Super Memeplexes and their Exploits

  • Helium3

  • March 9, 2020

Preface

The Western world is locked in a fight to the death. This fight is not predominantly physical. It is partially psychological. It is partially sociological. It is partially philosophical. It’s entirely memetic. In many regards it is the real manifestation of the stories about the War in Heaven. The battle grounds are human minds spanning centuries. The weapon are symbols. The casualties are potential futures. This is a war between not just memes, not just memeplexes but super memeplexes. There would be no exaggeration to say that this is the most critical war ever waged in recorded human history. 

If a meme is a socially transmitted idea or behavior then a memeplex is a system of self-reinforcing ideas or behaviors that transmit together. A “super memeplex” is an enormously complex and powerful memeplex which directs the course of human history. Examples of super memeplexes would be Protestant Christianity, Humanism, and Post-Modernism. They are beyond simple isolated postulates but encompass entire aesthetics, bodies of art, libraries of literature, and ways of life. Because they are transmissible, they evolve and compete for dominance within the human medium. The competition and nature of these super memeplexes directs both the broad course of human affairs and the values and motives of the individual.

How do we win a war when we struggle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers? Against ideas themselves? We begin by knowing what side we are on. I make no presumptions as to your side; I am confident the ruthless law of nature will permit only the best to survive. If I sharpen the weapons of war, I merely intend to accelerate the process of natural selection. Yet it is important for you the reader to know to what realm you belong. There is no neutral ground. Your very mind itself is knit together by apriori assumptions and perspectives inherited from your patron super memeplex.  

Once you acknowledge where you stand then you can identify your enemy, find his weakness, and kill him.  With this preface in mind, I will explain the essential components of super memeplexes and then follow with instructions on how to dismantle them by attacking their critical anatomy. 

This is a war of giants: complex idea interactions that span generations, and are composed of millions of minds working in unison according to a will beyond their own — a will encoded in the memes themselves. These giants live in the sky, in the realm of gods and archetypes. This is a war of giants and I intend to make you, humble reader, a giant slayer.

Super Memeplex Anatomy

Super Memeplexes rely on certain common psychological exploits in order to maximize virality and inoculate against competition. The existence of these common traits should be no surprise. The essential anatomy of memes is determined by ruthless and constant competition. Certain core traits are inherently optimal and all successful super memeplex taxa are destined to have these superior traits. I’ve identified four primary mechanisms embedded in all super memeplexes I’ve analyzed.  I will explain their function and purpose individually.

1. The Mystery

Humanity’s entire existential proposition is that we have enormous brains capable of making sense of the world. Such unparalleled specialization in the animal kingdom necessarily is accompanied by a deep almost overriding instinct to apply it. Within humans, this instinct to use the brain to its full capacity is called “curiosity.” Successful memes leverage this instinct with “Mystery.” For our discussion “Mystery” is an open ended question whose answer is unknown based on a specific set of underlying postulates, which is accompanied by an explicit or implicit promise to reveal. “If I touch the glowing stove, what will it feel like?” “If I marry the bad boy, how cool will our kids be?” Existence poses an infinite number of mysteries, many of which are instantly solved or trivial in their composition.  The mysteries posited by super memeplexes are inherently non-trivial and supremely captivating. 

Breaking for a short aside: the predominance of persistence of mystery cults throughout human history is no mistake or fluke. In a sense the mind itself is a mystery cult centered around the chaos of life. Humans’ most deep and abiding drive aside from reproduction and survival is curiosity. Memes which exploit this curiosity drive are particularly contagious. It should be no surprise that underneath the hood, the great religions and dogmas of history are themselves mystery cults.

The first key to a great mystery is that it must be extremely relevant to human emotions. What is the meaning of life? Is there a personal and transcendent parental figure who cares for me? What will happen if we achieve peace on earth? What happens if you break all social taboos? What happens if you perfectly abide by all social norms? These are the family of questions posed by super memeplexes. They operate on humans deep insecurities and emotional needs. They pose questions which often are impossible to answer yet questions to which we inherently crave answers.

The second key to a great mystery stands in contrast to the first. The second key is that the Mystery must have a promise of revelation. Anything completely unanswerable loses human attention rapidly. The most persistent curiosity is that which is on the edge of discovery, figuratively (or in the case of the hot stove literally) right out of reach. If humanity could be eternally captivated by impossible problems then the species would have died off long ago staring at the stars. It’s quite possible that we have lost a large portion of early man to just such algorithmic failures. In any case modern man gets bored with impenetrable walls. To exploit human curiosity, super memeplexes must promise a navigable route to an answer.

2. The Apocalypse

The second major feature of super memeplexes is that they all have an Apocalypse. I mean apocalypse In the literal Greek sense: a disclosure of knowledge. The way super memeplexes implement this mechanism is directly related to the nominal meaning of apocalypse: basically the end of life as we currently understand it– a literal paradigm shift beyond which lies a great cloud of delicious unknowing. The apocalypse is a mystery which hides even more mystery. Islam has its Global Shariah, Judiasm has its Tikkun Olam under Pax Judaica, Marxism has its classless moneyless society. Apocalypse is not an accessory of super memes. It is an essential component. The function of the Apocalypse is two-fold. 

First, the apocalypse solves the problem mentioned under the Mystery Mechanism: that is it creates a concrete future point of full disclosure. This is exactly how most fiction works–written or televised. There’s a starting premise, characters which draw an emotional connection, a mystery which is directly relevant to these characters, but just out of reach of comprehension, and of course the firm knowledge and implicit promise that at the end of the  series or book you’ll have a complete answer to all your questions. Almost every story follows this formula and therefore it can be seen as essential part of human communication. The exceptions to this rule actually prove its importance. When series or books end without tying things up in an emotionally satisfying way the backlash is predictably hostile and bitter. Humans implicitly expect disclosure and failing to deliver it is seen as betrayal. Super memeplexes which wish to survive must maintain the faith of their believers that there is a concrete and definite future point at which the Mystery will be resolved. All super memeplexes make this point a central tenant of the faith.

The second function of apocalypse is it anchors the reveal at an indefinite future point which often requires the believer to obtain. This solves the problem of impermanence. Stories end. Books end. They are forgotten. Idealized super memeplexes reach for immortality. As such they require eternal mystery. Apocalypse for super memes is anchored in a concrete future time but with interpretable features. For example: Jesus will come back once everyone is told about him and the world is in war and chaos. Buddhism promises the dissolution of the individual but always after at least one more incarnation. There are enough hints here to keep it indefinite but always just around the corner. In this way the attention is captured indefinitely and the Mystery is protected against boredom as the signs of big reveal are constantly re-imagined to be imminent. Every generation has its apocalyptic cult because every generation IS an apocalyptic cult. Apocalypse is important to the Mystery because it makes it imminent, just like every good tv show ends an episode on a cliff hanger.

3. The Incarnation

Incarnation is critical to super memeplexes. Incarnation deals with grounding the faith in real human experience. Without Incarnation there’s no emotional anchoring, there’s no investment. Stories without emotional investment are boring. To build investment you need relatable characters. But to build world changing memeplexes you need these characters to appear real.

Incarnation implements the features of the Mystery journey in real human experiences. These may be supposed historical stories like Ruth and Boaz. They may be real historical stories of workers revolutions and the struggles of the every man. It may be as simple as a Che Guevara t-shirt. The point is the Mystery journey must be incarnated in real people. They may be obviously fake stories, so long as within the frame of the belief system they are seen as real. But all of these stories are anchored in emotional experiences of real humans. 

Humanity has a very large portion of its brain dedicated to mirror neurons. These can be used to encode the imagined experiences of other humans as personal emotional experience. Once experienced these memories carry the same emotional weight as real events. For example: when I saw the movie Bambie as a kid I cried over a talking cartoon deer’s mom getting shot. For a while I didn’t want to eat meat. A cartoon deer’s death actually changed my dietary habits. When I grew up I learned this was a general phenomenon. This is strange behavior for any animal, and should be notable in its strength and universality among humans. This capacity for emotional experience to be transferred though humanization of story characters is essential to grounding the worldview that supports the mystery in the faithful’s psyche. Jesus, Muhammad, Abraham, all are part of super memeplexes not by accident but by necessity. They draw on an enormous biblical cannon of seemingly mundane stories about real people. These stories are not evolutionary left overs. They are the fertile ground in which emotional investment is planted. The fact that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism share a common core historical narrative is because these were human stories already accepted as real by the faithful of the day. It’s much easier to harness those Incarnations with fresh Mysteries than plant a mystery in humans with no historical emotional anchor. Emotional anchors are always tied to human narratives. 

The feature that separates the Incarnation from fiction is claims of historicity. Bambie may inspire child tears but it can never be the foundation for a human society. Adults demand historical veracity from their beliefs before they let the emotions take hold. This is the power of the “true story” branding. It’s the Trojan Horse which can enter the gate of skepticism and unload it’s emotional payload. The Incarnation places the essential postulates which frame the Mystery in an empirical and historical context. We are fascinated by what God will do when he judges the world because God already smote Soddom. Soddom and Lott’s salty wife are supposed to be a concrete historical events with real people. It’s an incarnation of the memes, a direct historical and factual claim. Marxism makes broad and mostly unsubstantiated claims about a historical dialectic, but it is careful to make these claims about history and real people and continually construct monuments to its martyrs. In the same way Christianity makes historical claims about the personage of Jesus. Mormons make historical claims about magic golden plates and white Native Americans. The historical nature of the Incarnation is essential. It places the emotional anchor firmly in the realm of reality.

For fringe cults without access to historical narratives, they may substitute historical Incarnation with personal Incarnation. That is, the Mystery is invoked directly in the faithful via extreme rituals and altered states of consciousness. In this way the Incarnation is anchored in the faithful themselves as personal emotional data. The underlying mechanism is the same, but the reliance of personal experience limits the virality severely. In contrast to parochial mystery cults, super memeplexes rely on historical narrative. Historical narrative plus mirror neurons is the recipe for mass infection.

The key to a good incarnation is human narratives grounded in historical claims. The human narratives should invoke as many emotional and sensory experiences as possible, firmly anchoring the story within the psyche of the receptor. The human narrative must build around and support the Mystery. It gives the faithful a way to access the Mystery journey and build a sense of reality and inevitability. Eventually the process of Incarnation makes these narratives indistinguishable from personal experience.

4. The Mandate

The Mandate is what ties the Mystery and the emotional framework established by the Incarnation to concrete action on the part of the faithful. The Mandate is where things get done. The Mandate is the instructions to the faithful. It’s how the faithful realize the Mystery and progress toward the Apocalypse.  If reading is how a mystery novel addict gets to the juicy reveal, then following the Mandate is how the faithful get to their Apocalypse. The Mandate has two essential subcomponents: it must be communserable to the faithful, and it must propagate itself. 

The first feature of the Mandate is that it must preserve or better promote the lives of it’s followers. Super-memeplexes which endorse sterility and celibacy are not long lived on the scale of generations. Whereas Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam all strongly promote fertility. This is not by accident. This is an essential part of successful memes, commensurability with the host biological phenotype. 

A brief aside here is necessary. Because we live within the age of mental viruses many readers will no doubt object to the idea that super memeplexes must be commensurable with their believers’ survival. We see sterile, half insane, neo-liberal mujahadeen everywhere. I contend that the self destructive tendencies of the modern age are actually fringe components of the super memeplex. The core memeplex of liberal America is upheld and propagated by the tens of millions of relatively benign evangelicals, blue collar democrat voters and eagerly compliant immigrants. They may not partake in the jihad directly, but they fund and cheer from the sidelines. There are very few children in America who do not consider the communist agent Martin Luther King Jr. to be a saintly figure. With this broadened perspective you can easily see that the fanatics are merely the antibodies of the larger organism. With this caveat, we return to exploring the features of The Mandate.

The second feature of The Mandate is to proselytize the meme. Without transference, the super memeplex cannot thrive and compete. With transference its virality and spread is exponentially greater than by mere genetic reproduction. When there is a conflict between the preserving the individual life of the faithful and spreading the memeplex, spreading the memeplex is given priority. In these we see the seed of consistent martyrdom themes.

To function properly The Mandate must tie the behaviors being instructed to the realization of The Apocalypse. Spreading the Good News hastens the return of Jesus. Waging Jihad hastens the realization of global Shariah. Spreading the Revolution hastens the realization of a classless, moneyless society. The Mandate is the business end of the memeplex, but to do work it needs to be emotionally connected to the Mystery-Apocalypse-Incarnation engine. Unlike an entertainment spectacle, The Mandate takes a participant approach. It demands action in doing and so builds more Incarnation narrative on the personal and historical level. 

Critical Exploits

Because super memeplexes reliably are comprised of the same basic anatomy we can design attacks against these underlying mechanism. These attacks are inherently cynical, and perhaps even offensive in their callousness. Yet they are undeniably effective. Memes are no different than physical matter in the sense they are governed by super-ordinate laws. By understanding the system, you can break it. Curiously, or perhaps not curiously at all, I’ve found that traditional European stories about giant slaying give us tight and memorable analogies for these memetic exploits. If super memeplexes are giants then perhaps our fairy tales and folk lore are the sling stones with which we can strike them down, polished in a river of generational wisdom.

1. Do the Impossible — Spoiling the Mystery

The fairy tale of the Valiant Tailor tells us an endearing story of an otherwise completely ordinary man besting giants through a simple exploit. He asks them to do the impossible. Specifically, he asks them to squeeze water from a stone. When they become frustrated with their own failure he gains their respect and concessions by squeezing water from a sponge. It’s the difficulty of giants of perceiving minute details that permits this exploit to work. They are bound by their perspective, whereas you are not.

The essence of Mystery is that it is making a promise to explain something in a specific way. As such it has a sort of inherent honor system. When you operate under its rules, it has to comply with your requests. To attack super memeplexes, we can ask them to do the impossible.  A great current example of this is how Darwinism is destroying Christianity by simply asking it explain exactly how the Creation happened. Cultural Marxism is destroying classical liberalism by demanding it deliver on equality. If the Mystery was easy and self evident, it wouldn’t be a mystery. The giant wouldn’t be very strong. But because the Mystery is difficult and obtuse often it is actually impossible.

To be fair to all let’s also apply this technique to Marxism. If Marxism promises a classless and moneyless society then we can quite reasonably ask them to manifest a single functional commune that operates in a self sufficient manner according to Marxist principles. They may give many examples, but these stones have no water in them. They will all be riddled with exceptions which violate the basic tenants of Marxism — classism, sexism, use of exchange accounting (money), and discrimination will always be present. The task is impossible. But as for you, well you are not bound by their frame. You can easily give many examples of functional communes, even functional communes full of seemingly idyllic members. For example: the Mennonites. You are not bound by their impossible criteria. Water may flow freely from your stone because you are actually holding a sponge.

The reason why this works is that Mystery operates on human curiosity and human curiosity is lazy. If you demand a system deliver on its promised mystery and — no matter its mental straining it cannot — whereas you pour the cool liquid satisfaction easily from your less constrained worldview, then you have effectively ruined the Mystery. It may be fun to climb over mountains to a secret valley on the other side but it’s no fun to climb up and down a mountain when there’s a simple tunnel straight through. Super memeplex frameworks require they answer the Mystery in a particular way. By clever framing you can demand they do the impossible and then force them to make concessions when you easily best them at their own game.

2. Lighting Hammer — Invoke Instant Apocalypse

Thor, the Norse God of Lightning was famous for slaying Giants. Equally famous was his giant slaying hammer: “Mjolnir.” The Lightning Hammer technique plays off this story. Lightning is the symbol of divine and instant revelation. The lightning hammer technique is to logically force an Apocalypse without having to wait indefinite aeons to see the outcome. Whereas “Requesting the Impossible” relies on besting the memeplex at its own game with no constraints, The Lightning Hammer proves them absolutely and unconditionally wrong. There are two ways to do this. For memetic reasons we will call this Using the Left or Right Hand. Mjolnir kills equally well when held in either.

The Right Handed Lightning Hammer is using logic and the super memeplexes’ own postulates or basic undeniable facts to construct an argument which annihilates their hoped outcome. This is not annihilating their framework. This is important. Countless millions of arguments have ended in stalemate by contesting frameworks and assumptions. You aren’t trying to change someone’s worldview. You’re trying to accelerate it. That requires a different approach. The Lightning Hammer demonstrates that the promised future is impossible, even within the worldview of the faithful. For example: a classless and moneyless society will never exist because evolution requires speciation. Boom. Marxism is dead so long as there’s any remaining loyalty to “facts and logic.” Unfortunately many minds totally captivated by super memes are immune to facts and/or logic. In this case the Right Hand may be insufficient. 

When the Right Hand fails we may use the Left. The Left Handed Lightning Hammer is basically the same but it neglects logic. It sticks to facts– preferably facts of highly emotional content. The Left Hand technique is to demand the apocalypse be realized immediately. It’s a form of malicious compliance. This is incidentally why I’ve named it the “Left” or “Sinister” technique. Malicious compliance relies on the impossibility and ultimate bankruptcy of the memeplex to be revealed. When a story teller is rambling we might reasonably demand he “skip to the end.” If he falters we might easily demonstrate to the rapt audience that he has no planned end and let their mystery betrayal run it’s course. To know how this turns out we might consult the writers of the TV show Lost. 

How we do this in the real world is demand that the final realization of the super memeplexes’ mystery be manifest in the present. For example we might demand that Islam produce a single state that follows Shariah Law which Muslims actually want to live in.  We might also demand that a Marxist go live in a commune and get back to us after a year. We might also demand that a Christian donate all his worldly goods to the poor and live hand to mouth like his Savior. In the event that the Apocalypse is not personally achievable we can still demand that the faithful look their Apocalypse in the face. Muslims must look directly at ISIL. Christians must look directly at the Inquisition under the Universal Church. Marxists must look directly at gulag victims. If the faithful can be made to experience their hoped for big reveal, in the present even if it’s pleasant, then the jig is up. Boredom sets in and they move on.

It should be noted, and in fact should be obvious, that the existence of the Lightning Hammer is exactly why so many super memeplexes place their Apocalypse at least partially past the veil of death. Hammers may crush giant heads but they have difficulties with ghosts. Fortunately for the sake of Thor’s disciples, ghost giants have a hard time getting anything done. All faiths with post-mortem Apocalypse converge on hermeticism. Think Buddhism. Think Sufism. Think Christian desert hermits. Monks are the idealization of this principle. Therefore, insofar as super memeplexes plant their apocalypse outside the material world, they are unlikely to bother anyone within the material world. With this in mind, it may be okay to let the dead rest unperturbed by your hammer strikes.

3. Fall to Earth– Demystify the Incarnation

Jack didn’t have to beat the Giant in a fight. Jack just cut the beanstalk and gravity did all the work. When a giant falls to earth he dies. In the context of super memeplexes this deals with Demystifying the Incarnation. The Incarnation functions by grounding the Mystery in historical human experiences. To Demystify these Incarnation you don’t have to contest historical facts. You just have to disconnect them with the Mystery narrative.  If Marx was just a neckbeard incel then he probably wasn’t revolutionizing human understanding of the historical dialectic. If Muhammud’s followers were gay, then maybe Jihad isn’t so manly anymore. Of course these don’t have to be true or substantiated. That’s not how it works. They just have to be fairly plausible conflicting emotional information. If Jesus wasn’t blazing a trail toward literal Heaven on Earth and was just more of your average kindly local pothead who got wrapped up in the wrong politics, then the Mystery is severed from the Incarnation. When that happens the Giant falls to earth. This kills the memeplex. 

Cultural Marxists understand this technique intuitively if not as a matter of doctrine. Mocking, confusing, or otherwise injecting alternative narratives into their enemies’ minds is how they wear down the loyalty and zeal of the faithful. If the Aryan race is just another imperialist dogma in a long line of failed imperialist dogmas, it’s hardly as inspiring. Even the most hardcore racists might be persuaded to intermarry with their enemies when their identity is brought to earth. From a propaganda standpoint, having Hitler commit suicide was a brilliant Fall to Earth exploit. The left has been very effective in applying this technique. There’s about two dozen different alt-Jesuses, many of them homosexual but none of them magical. What’s really interesting about this technique is that it is almost entirely neglected by the Right. Perhaps because they are obsessed with being factually correct.

Let’s imagine the Right was less interested in being factually correct and more interested in winning a culture war. What might they do? I suggest that they could gain a huge amount of ground by applying the Fall to Earth on Marx. He was a rich spoiled son of billionaire bankers clan, who was racist, anti-semitic, and abandoned his wife and kids. He wrote super edgy try-hard poetry about fighting God and grinding people into dust. All of this is more or less factual (and remember that doesn’t actually matter). By making Marx into the uncoolest, unrelatable douche that he was, the Right kills Marxism. It no longer is a mythically insightful explanation of world history. It’s just the ranting of a salty basement dwelling loser. When Marx becomes untouchable to Marxism, then Marxism dies. It’s really that simple. It’s amazing the Right refuses to do this. If the Right talked about Marx as much as the Left talked about slave holders, then we’d live in a very different meta-narrative and world. What’s funny is that Marx is so naturally hate-able. The Right should do nothing but constantly mock Marx, personally.

What’s more to say? Giants live in the sky. Make them eat dirt. I like to think that as Jack cut the beanstalk, he did it laughing.

4. Initiate Infighting — Exploit the Mandate

The Valiant Tailor is our two time hero. But this time he brings a more fatal technique: throwing rocks. In the story of the Valiant Tailor, he wins renowned for facing down giants and other exaggerated exploits. But finally he’s given the task of actually killing some giants. And it’s hard to fake that. Yet with cleverness and grit he pulls through with perhaps the most powerful giant slaying technique ever devised: trick giants into killing each other. In the story he simply throws rocks at them while they sleep. In their drowsiness they think the other giants are picking on them and eventually the fight fatally escalates. 

For our purposes this technique is just as simple. Using the Mandate of the super memeplexes, you convince them to fight one another–or better yet– to fight different factions within themselves. Communism’s Mandate literally requires communists to destroy all social institutions. Think about that for a second. You can get a lot of mileage out of it. Evangelicals have to secure the Eschaton by securing Jerusalem. That’s an exploit if I’ve ever seen one. Jews literally must extinguish all Nazis or Nazi adjacents from the earth. Progressivism must constantly reform society – all of society– all the time, continually, forever. That can get work done. You’ll need to do a little strategic thinking to pit these giants against each other, but only a little. Their inherent worldview is primed for conflict and super memes did not get to be where they’re at by playing nice.

Perhaps nothing is more powerful in the game of rock throwing as accusing the faithful of being fakes until they stick it to your intended target. No true Patriot could tolerate Saddam Hussein after someone else entirely attacked America. This makes no sense from an individual rational perspective. But Nationalism itself is a super meme which can only see the world as Nations. Furthermore, Nationalism’s Mandate is to be the best Nation. Once blood has been drawn it has to crush someone, anyone, but most importantly it must crush a Nation. As trivial as this technique is, it’s incredibly powerful. Just ask Iraq.

Closing

We’ve delved into the anatomy of super memeplexes and seen what makes them work. Mystery captivates the human brain. Apocalypse promises a satisfying and imminent answer. Incarnation anchors the mystery in human history. The Mandate is the business end of the memeplex. It propagates the meme and protects the faithful. Playing directly off these organs, we have devised some giant slaying techniques. When Doing the Impossible, we force concessions from the memeplex by doing what it claims to do better than it can be playing outside its rules. With the Lightning Hammer we force the faithful to confront their supposedly desired revelations. With the Fall to Earth we demystify the Incarnations, undermining the emotional and historical ties which make the Mystery tangible. With Infighting, we exploit the Mandate to get the super memes to fight one another, or themselves. 

Super memeplexes are enormous and ancient systems. They direct history and guide human evolution. Yet despite their vast power, they are a bit clumsy. As an individual you might exploit knowledge of their working to out maneuver them and use their great strength against them. Now, so equipped go forth and Slay Giants.

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