Memes, middle school, and music

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Memes are like middle school question books. Remember those? You’d staple together about 30 lined pages, write a question at the top of each page, and number each line. Friends wrote their answers to the questions on the same line of each page. I'd write my responses on, say, line 21 of every page.  Questions ranged from Who is your favorite actor? to What is your favorite memory? to Who is your best friend?

Question books were pretty interesting, at least for my junior high friends and me — a way to glimpse inside someone else’s brain. They were silly, sure, but also culturally fascinating, particularly for a 12-year-old like me who was already starting to suffer the hyper-self-and-other-consciousness of clinical depression.

Maybe that’s why I’m interested to see memes propagate in the blogosphere. Same mentality, same fascinating interest in trying to figure out how others respond to the world. If you look up memes on wikipedia, you’ll find a long discussion of memes in anthropology and biology… and links to chain letters, jingles, and viral marketing. But I think they are more like the middle school question book than anything else.

Here’s a meme from Jenn at knit 'n lit. It combines the question book thing with music and random chance, making it even catchier.

Put your iPod on shuffle and ask it the following questions. NO CHEATING.

(Links are to artist’s websites.)

1. How does the world see you?
Vuka jona sithandaze by Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Interesting that it’s in a foreign language, what does that mean?! But it has a nice, mellow, rolling rhythm to it. And I love their harmonies. So I’ll take it.

2. Will I have a happy life?
Pacific Coast Party by Smash Mouth
Seems pretty positive! "If you’ve got to work today, get yourself a new vocation!” I already quit my job!

3. What do my friends really think of me?
Rumba: Extranjero by Matt Messina (from Pottery Barn: Let’s Dance CD)
Extranjero means foreigner, foreign, abroad… Hm…

4. What do people secretly think of me?
Greensleeves by Mozart
Per Wikipedia, this is a traditional English folk song associated with Anne Boleyn.
“Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.”

5. How can I be happy?
Bad by U2
“If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day
To let it go
And so to fade away”

6. What should I do with my life?
Cool Blue Reason by Cake.
Confusing. No wonder I can never figure out the answer to this question. Thirty-three years old and still trying to figure out what to do when I grow up! Does this mean something about writing?
“Cool blue reason empties on the page […]
Cool blue reason I'm just rearranging hell”

7. What is some good advice for me?
Blue Orchid by White Stripes: “I guess there's just no pleasing you." Unfortunately, this is true. Perfectionism. A blog entry about perfectionism has been forming in my mind lately. Watch for it soon.

8. How will I be remembered?
We Want a Rock by They Might Be Giants

9. What is my signature dancing song?
Comfort Eagle by Cake

10. What do I think my current theme song is?
La Llorona by Lila Downs (From Frida soundtrack)
Witch, siren, harlot, virgin… hm… Check out this interesting website about the myth of la llarona here.

11. What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Sahara by Moxy Früvous

12. What song will play at my funeral?
Cluck Old Hen(reprise) by Bill Frisell
At least this seems to indicate I'll live to a ripe, old age!

13. What type of men do you like?
I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet) by the White Stripes

14. What is my day going to be like?
Ghost by the Indigo Girls


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