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It makes you think

As they say in the exciting new language of the internets, I’ve been “tagged with a meme”. Actually it first happened a few months ago, but I forgot about it, possibly having decided to take a stand against Meme Fascism, and possibly also because I don’t believe in memes anyway, since arguably the idea of a “meme” encodes a denial of individual agency and creativity, shored up by an annoyingly defective analogy with evolution. “Meme” is just another pseudoscientific attempt to explain culture (or rather to explain it away), destined (I hope) for the garbage bin of terminological fashion just as soon as William Gibson stops using it. You can imagine how it only compounds my irritation to realise that I used it myself in the post immediately below this one. It’s almost like the word “meme” is some kind of evil virus of the mind.

But then it happened again, so I decided to chill out and start loving the meme, irritating and nonexistent though it may be. The meme in this case is “Five Blogs that Make You Think”. I am happy to admit that I never think unless actively reading a blog. The meme, I should warn my nominees, actually has rules, which seems very Meme Fascist to me, if not actually Islamofascist. Everyone tagged by the meme is thereby considered to have won a “Thinking Blogger Award”, and that did make me think. It made me think of adapting Dr Johnson:

Sir, a blogger thinking is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

But without further ado, here is my list of five blogs that make me think, and what they make me think:

Jeff Strabone is an eclectic blog about politics, hip-hop and cinema, among other things. It makes me think that Jeff approaches blogging exactly as he does karaoke: without fear.

D-squared Digest is a blog about economics, somehow made entertaining, and other stuff, which seduces the reader into long-term dependence by endlessly deferring promised texts. It makes me think that dsquared’s anti-design design is itself a design statement.

Dennis Perrin is a blog about politics, and comedy, and the comedy of politics, scripted none more black. It makes me think that his next book will be very good.

3 Quarks Daily is a quotidian gallimaufry of all things interesting. It makes me think that there is no need to read the entire internet myself.

Cosmic Variance is a fascinating blog about cosmology, so lucidly written that it makes me think I actually understand some of it.

There you are. Consider yourselves “tagged”, people, somewhat in the manner of Lindsay Lohan’s anti-alcohol ankle-tag. Modern technology is a marvellous thing. Now, what makes you think, readers?

  1. 1  Lee Ward  August 9, 2007, 12:57 am 

    But Steven, wouldn’t you say that a lot of the phrases that bug us, and that you’ve written about, are memes themselves? Not to deny that someone first came up with the phrase “no blood for oil” [insert favourite unspeak phrase here]; but rather to say that it spread out of all proportion to its meaning or intrinsic worth, along lines that could broadly be described as selective; I don’t think anyone who’s written well on memes would for a second claim that they explain culture (still less explain culture away), but rather use the concept as a tool to describe how culture might create and shape minds.

    What makes me think? Carl Zimmer’s The Loom: dispatches from the edge of biology

  2. 2  Abbas Raza  August 9, 2007, 3:44 pm 

    Thanks, man! “Quotidian gallimaufry,” eh? I likes it…

  3. 3  Andrew Kenneally  August 17, 2007, 7:32 pm 

    You’re not afraid memes are the Mark of the Beast, Steven? Me neither. Micro-chipped humans is surely the equivalent to that notion.

  4. 4  Graham Giblin  August 19, 2007, 1:19 pm 

    I think perhaps the death of “meme” may require the death of Richard Dawkins first. After all, “meme” is a meme he began. I don’t find the idea inutile, however, although I don’t know that I have ever used it except to attempt a definition of it for someone else.

    Thank you from me, too, especially for 3quarksdaily and cosmicvariance, both daily stews which I find delight my taste. And thanks for ‘quotidian gallimaufry’. I can’t imagine another place where one would be likely find to such a tasty turn of phrase.

  5. 5  Steven  August 25, 2007, 4:05 pm 

    You’re welcome! Apologies to readers for the lack of posts recently. There might well be some next week.

  6. 6  Alex Higgins  August 26, 2007, 10:10 pm 

    That’s OK, Steven.

    Actually, the entire world’s political classes and all others in positions of authority everywhere have been remarkably candid in their choice of language these last couple of weeks.

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