Miming My Meme

The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale.

/miːm/ [noun]


an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.


an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.

This word originated in the 1970s and derives from the Greek word mimēma ‘that which is imitated.’ The word was coined by Richard Dawkins and can be found in the following books:



A meme then is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. (Think of genes, think of viruses.) Memes aim to convey (spread) a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning. (The meme may do this intentionally or unintentiinaly…)

A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another mind. This transmission process may occur e.g.,  through writing, speech, gestures, or rituals.

Those that support this notion see memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. This video may help better explain memes and/or the concept of cultural evolution:

We are what we are because of genes; we are who we are because of memes. Philosopher Daniel Dennett muses on an idea put forward by Richard Dawkins in 1976.


p.s. “Cultural evolution” is a theory that states that human cultural change (changes in socially transmitted beliefs, knowledge, customs, skills, attitudes, languages, etc.) can be described as a Darwinian evolutionary process that is similar (but not identical) to biological and/or genetic evolution.

Biological Evolution Cultural Evolution
Traits can be transmitted to a person only from parents. Culture traits can be transmitted to a person by many unrelated people.
Transmission can only occur from one generation to the next. Transmission can be within or between generations and can be widely separated in time and space.
Occurs at a slow pace, with many generation needed to spread a trait widely through a population. Occurs at a fast pace, may involve immediate learning and does not require inheritance.
Traits acquired in a lifetime cannot be transmitted via genetic inheritance. Culture trails can be transmitted within a lifetime via teaching or imitation.
People cannot choose which genetic traits they will inherit. People can choose to accept or reject some cultural traits.
Data transmitted is encoded by genetic material (DNA). Data transmitted can assume the form of written or spoken language.





“Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

…is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point. The phrase was popularised by Mark Twain, who attributed it to the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who allegedly said…

“There are three kinds of liesliesdamned lies, and statistics.”

Literary Analytics

The moment of recognition

Analytic plot
A plot in which the main actions or events have happened before the narrative sets in, and in which the reader’s interest is mainly directed at finding out what has happened, rather than at what will happen

Main character who reacts to the protagonist

Main character without exceptional qualities

A situation in which one or more characters have mutually exclusive goals.

Dramatic irony
The effect of a contrast between what is expected and what happens, or between what characters know and what the reader knows.

Closure or completion of a story

Moment of sudden insight or understanding

First-person narrator
Storyteller who refers to him/herself with first-person pronouns “I”, “me”, “my”

Jump to an earlier fictional present

Protagonist or antagonist with exceptional qualities
Hero/ine (the opposite is the Villain)

Female protagonist or antagonist with exceptional qualities

Response to a piece of fiction by a reader who imagines him/herself in the role of a character while reading

Internal conflict
Situation in which one character has mutually exclusive goals

Appeal to the reader’s curiosity

Omniscient narrator
‘All-knowing’ narrator

Open ending
Ending without a sense of closure or completion

Turnaround or reversal

Sequence of actions or events linked to each other as cause and effect

Use of different perspectives in third-person narration

Non-metrical language

Main character whose actions move the plot forward
Protagonist (the opposite is the Antagonist)

Delay in satisfying the reader’s curiosity

Synthetic plot
Plot in which the reader’s interest is directed at finding out what will happen

Third-person narrator
Storyteller who reports the events of a story without talking about him/herself.

A surprise turn at the end of a story.

Unreliable narrator
A first-person narrator whose statements cannot be trusted.

Verbal irony
A way of making a statement by saying the exact opposite.

A character who is and does evil.