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Meme theory thus smacks gratifyingly of director Ridley Scott or novelist William Gibson, of the fashionably gloomy sci-fi depictions of wetware mergers of human and machine, or the neo-religiosity of Neal Stephenson's cult bestseller Snow Crash, with its sly conflation of the categories of virus, drug, language, program, and religion--all now understood as different ways of describing the same meme invasion, the same alteration of post-Babel consciousness.
What is surprising is how easily meme theory accommodates newer forms of mysticism, not to mention anarchistic politics, conspiracy theories, and weird scientistic forms of Nietzschean ubermensch thinking.
("Memetic engineering," says Crandall, "can be found at the core of contemporary techno-corporate communication apparatuses.") In Cultural Software, Balkin argues ingeniously that meme theory replaces more familiar critical theories of ideology, because it alone explains how people come to believe the things they believe, without reference to dubious assumptions about "false consciousness" or "hegemony." Once we understand this, we can act to change cultural beliefs for the better.
From one critical vantage, meme theory is little more than a slight recasting, in apparently hard-edged scientific terms, of long familiar ideas: the self as story, the world as interpretation.
Meme theory should, however, lead an advertiser to consider not only how to create a meme but how to avoid doing so.