The False, Graven Idols (fiction)
An idea achieves a state of transcendence when it escapes the confines of a person’s mind and lodges itself within the imagination of another.
A joke is a great example, and this transcendent process happens all of the time: think about how many times you heard a funny joke, and turned to share it with another.
In each retelling, the joke passes from one “host” to another through a conscious agreement between two (or more) parties to exchange a unit of information that we call “a joke.”
Within literary or cinematic form, a skilled storyteller can use foreshadowing and metaphor to subconsciously deliver the same transcendent effect, although in this case, the transcendent process of information transfer lacks a certain potency, at least until the recipient is able to reconcile subconscious awareness with their conscious expression.
Think about a suspenseful or funny movie you might have watched; you might realize that you were able to “see the climax coming” from “around the corner,” speaking to how this process works in practice.
When we think about “memes,” we frequently talk about simple, often funny images that are shared on social media or text message.
Allegorically, these simple memes are identical to a joke that spreads like a wildfire across a community, or even a nation.
But actually, the word “meme“ is referencing a unit of information that is transferred from one person to another, and the idea spreads like a virus, if it’s sufficiently infectious.
There are some ideas (or thought forms) that are more enduring than a simple meme or a joke, and some of them last hundreds of years, or more.
As you pause and think about our society, you might realize that reality itself is made up of memes.
There are different academic methods for discussing the enduring thought forms (memes) which define our living experience, and most approaches are within the domain of social science, such as anthropology, sociology, etc.
One approach for studying these more enduring units of information is called memetics, which examines the “units of information” as they permeate a population, lodging itself within the imagination of multiple “hosts,“ and encouraging each “host” to share the idea with still others.
A great example is: “Jesus died for our sins, and it’s my job to share the Good News of Jesus’s resurrection from death with others.”
People have fought, killed, and died to protect and defend certain memes, so it’s interesting to consider the use of literary metaphor to examine some of these memes from a novel perspective, and in a different light.
For example, from the mythical domain of the occult comes the idea of an egregore, which (in some interpretations) could be thought of as something like a meme that has been super-powered through the use of Magick.
To begin, it’s helpful to disconnect these memetic thoughtforms from people, and consider that they may operate autonomously, while still requiring a quantity of human “hosts” to survive.
As such, it’s interesting to consider that some of these ideas take on an energy of their own, and as people fight, kill, and die to promote and defend a certain meme, one might consider that the death and destruction or something like a blood sacrifice to a graven idol.
84 years ago, (in 1939), there were approximately 2 billion people on earth.
In the decades which followed World War II, and including war casualties, approximately 10.5% of the human population was killed, starved, tortured, or simply died in defense and in promotion of certain memetic ideas, inclusive to:
Capitalism, communism, socialism, imperialism, anti-imperialism, etc.
Each one of the above are examples of a thought form (a meme) which has taken on a life of its own, to the extent that people will fight, kill, and die in its name.
Using our fictional literary framing of the egregore, One could posit that the 10% of humanity that were killed represented a tithing to this portfolio of modern-era gods, each one created and launched by ordinary people.
The modern-era gods of: Capitalism, communism, socialism, imperialism, anti-imperialism, etc.
In the parlance of ancient cultures, these graven “thought forms” (memes) are false gods, and yet in historical terms, a tithing represents 10% of one’s estate (in this case: human lives) gifted to the king they serve.
This is all very interesting, this unorthodox blend between modern social science, fictional literary framing, and metaphor.
But the approach does encourage one to consider what happens when the bow has been pulled back too far, the arrow propelled further than ever before, and how systemic balance is thus restored.
In the 84 years since 1939, roughly 10% of humanity was killed in defense of modern themes (such as capitalism, communism, socialism, etc), and yet today there are roughly three times as many people living (7.7 billion), representing the largest increase in human population, in human history.
I’m not inclined towards conspiracies, because I find it difficult to believe that humans are capable of long-term secret projects without the inevitable tedium of humans doing stupid human things, such as giving the whole thing away.
But again, let’s pretend that we are writing fiction, and we are therefore unconstrained by humanity’s inevitable bias towards becoming its own lowest common denominator.
Imagine if there was an effort to embrace, ordain, and launch certain ideas into public awareness, and each allowed humanity to break from its past, boldly launching itself into a new era, with successful dominion over nature finally achieved.
Again, this is fiction, so let’s pretend that a guild of super secret magicians made use of some magick super powers to make this happen.
Let’s pretend hey assemble the “memes,” (the thought forms), one by one, and they fine-tune them so they can be launched as one would launch arrows, each one propelled by metaphysical energy, transforming from memes into egregores.
These thought forms soon come to define modern society, for perceived reality is made up of these kinds of ideas, is it not?
And let’s pretend further that the stewards of these memes (thought forms) work in the shadows, steering each to ensure that they are able to slurp up the blood and misery which resulted from the tithing of humans offered in the holy name of these “false gods.”
Sounds pretty dystopian, right?
If this were a movie, the camera would pan to those who would be offended by the suggestion that this was not a righteous endeavor, saying:
“…sure, there was suffering, but look at our great accomplishments! We have secured dominion over nature, we have landed on the moon, this is a great achievement in the name of Mankind!”
And maybe behind closed doors these same folks would privately admit that this brave new arrangement resulted in a massive accumulation of global resources into the pockets of a diminishing number of individuals, with the implicit assumption that everyone beneath them are slaves.
So the movie ends, at seems, to the trumpets of victory sounding loudly. Humanity has done it!
The lights turn on, and most of the audience leaves, but as the credits continue to roll, the few audience members which remained become aware that the movie features a postscript, at first reconciled as a series of outtakes, delivered with subtlety within the margins of acknowledgements as they roll down the screen.
The postscript itself suggests another layer of foreshadowing, perhaps a sequel to the take that’s just been told.
Maybe the great metaphysical experiment went a little too hard, the postscript suggests, and even as it appears the plan was a success, now comes the rumbling cacophony of unanticipated, unexpected outcomes.
These outcomes begin to manifest “below the fold,” in nature and among people commonly reconciled as losers, or nobodies, but they collect, building upon one another, as waves conspire to create larger waves within the perceived chaos of a sea in a state of boisterous anticipation.
These disturbances would be unnoticed by those within the guild (those serving as stewards of the blood-fed memetic forms that inspired the death of millions), and of course there would be the increase of general clamor for resource accumulation towards the top, exacerbating an general inability to recognize the pendulum swing, until it was too late.
But there were those who were ready, constitutionally prepared for the great threshing, and they were already low to the ground, honored to be of service to the least of their brothers and sisters.