Memetics is “the theoretical study and empirical observation of the replication, spread and evolution of memes.” Memetics is a relatively new field of study that in some circles has been accepted as a science. For my purposes, memetics is the socio-impetus behind much of the behavior of Mormon polygamists. It not only helps explain why Mormons practice polygamy, but why men do stupid things, often criminal acts, in order to comply with the doctrine. It also helps explain why women, pro polygamy activists, defend a male dominated, inherently coercive lifestyle.
What is a Meme: “Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine says that “when you imitate someone else, something is passed on. This ‘something’ can then be passed on again, and again, until it takes on a life of its own. We might call this thing an idea, an instruction, a behavior, a piece of information…”
There are many books explaining the meme. Some have taken Susan to task and attempted to give their own unique explanation. But in my opinion, Susan provides the most clear, convincing and easily understood description of the meme. Other pundits attempting to weigh into the subject seem to try and dazzle the reader with professional and scholastic jargon that I think distracts from the general meaning. Susan took up the subject of memes where Dawkins left off and blazed the trail making her, in my opinion, the foremost expert on the meme.
Susan Blackmore’s explanations are eloquent and fitting. A word in a sentence is like a building block in conveying an idea or concept. The use of good meaningful and interesting words are essential. Poor words can cause a good idea to crumble like a poorly built wall. But good words are like the difference between sandstone and granite in building an idea. In explaining the meme Susan has used easy to understand granite words that leave no mistake as to their meaning. For that reason I highly recommend that those interested in memes read her book first.
She tells us that everything you have learned by imitation is a meme. They spread themselves not caring if they are useful, neutral, or harmful. Memes don’t care if they are harmful like pyramid schemes and false doctrines. Memes, like genes, are selfish and want to get copied so they can spread themselves. When we humans communicate ideas, our minds form images of those ideas. In that way we become the mechanism for which memes are replicated.
The idea that polygyny, the marriage of one man with two or more women, is a commandment of God originated in Joseph Smith’s brain. How it got there I suppose can be disputed. Loyal Mormons accept the proposition that the idea was placed in Joseph’s brain by Jesus Christ. Whether He did or not, the fact remains that the idea emanated from Joseph’s brain.
Memes are the result of human creativity, “the tools with which we think.” Memes are “like a story that takes on a life of its own regardless of the truth.” The story of King Author is an example of a meme. It is a replicator that “jumps from brain to brain.” “Memes are instructions for carrying out behaviour, stored in brains (or other objects) [like a book] and passed on by imitation. Their competition drives the evolution of the mind.”
“With a meme’s eye view we ask not how inventions benefit human happiness or human genes, but how they benefit themselves.”
When you have a cluster of memes all working together, or a central meme supported by subsidiary, or co-memes, it is called a memeplex. The Mormon meme is a memeplex because it has dozens of other memes, like Meme 132, working with it. And even though Meme 132 is a co-meme of the Mormon meme, it too is a memeplex with many co-memes designed to assist in the replication. And of course, when ever I say “replication” I mean passed on from brain to brain inducing like behavior.
Examples of 132 co-memes are:
* conforming to 132 results in “raising up a righteous seed.”
* children raised in conformance to 132 are superior to monogamous children.
* those who conform to 132 will go to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
* those who conform to 132 will become gods of their own worlds, a world like earth for each wife. “As man is god once was, As god is man may become.”
* the more wives the greater the exaltation.
* the plural wife will be the Eve of her own world.
* only those who conform to 132 will have sex and bear spirit children in the next life.
* those who will not accept 132 will be damned.
* those monogamous women who will not accept 132 will be destroyed.
* those who die in monogamy or won’t accept 132 will be servants to the polygamists in the next life.
* god only recognizes marriages sealed by his priesthood.
* women attached to men in civil marriages are free under god’s law to leave them and conform to 132.
* it is no sin to covert another man’s wife and convert her to Meme 132.
* a man with a greater priesthood can take away the wife of a man with a lesser priesthood.
* the prophet has the power to give a wife, and take her away.
* what the prophet and his priesthood seal on earth will be sealed in heaven – what he curses, god will curse.
All of the above are co-memes designed to support and reinforce Meme 132. It is therefore no wonder that Meme 132 has taken on a life of it own. Proof that it has taken on a life of its own is verified by the fact that after the LDS Church was forced to discontinue the practice of polygamy in 1890, Meme 132 jumped from the Church to Mormon fundamentalism where it found fertile brains in which to propagate and multiply. And even then it has inspired new institutions in the form of non profit corporations, pretending to be religious faiths [memes in their own right] for the sole purpose of propagating Meme 132 and multiplying it within their own institutions – making converts by jumping from brain to brain.
Examples of these meme institutions are: The True & Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of The Last Days – The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – The Corporation of the Presiding Elder of Apostolic United Brethren. These are just a few of many examples.
Meme 132 has inspired a “Mormon fundamentalist subculture” with its own communities, heros, literature, and symbols. Organized polygamist cults have evolved. These cults have become economic and social powers all designed to feed, replicate and multiply Meme 132 within their own economic sphere.
For example Apostolic United Brethren has attempted to create profit gaining businesses to finance their priesthood endeavors, most all of which have resulted in failure. On the other hand, the FLDS and Kingston Group have successfully created profit corporations controlled by priesthood members which feed the priesthood oligarchy, the mission of which is the replication of Meme 132. In essence, these so-called religious endeavors are merchandising plural wives. Once a member is infected with Meme 132 and desires a plural wife, he must seek proper priesthood authority which is an integral aspect of 132. Before that authority will be given he must be a full tithe payer [10% of his gross annual income] or make a suitable valuable donation.
Is it any wonder that Meme 132 is so prolific. First it appeals and assists the Y-chromosome. This special “reciprocal” cooperation assists in the passing on of the Y-chromosome and Meme 132. It supplies the brain with ego enhancing co-memes [a sense of superiority] and inspires money-making schemes in which to help perpetuate 132.