Cover photo

The Course of Memepire 1: The Savage State

These definitions are not agreed upon. They’re a context range for this mini series.

Meme (n.)

unit of account for concepts, ideas, context, & myth

Meme (v.)

to transmit memes (n.) from one being to another; via art, literature, verbal communication, digital mediums, media, or various other behaviors

Memetics (n.)

the study of memes (n.) and meme (v.)

The Course of Memepires

Having written about my journey into memetics since I began, there was a hiatus needed to clear my vision. Things like memetic icons, hypercultures (multiplayer memeplexes), applied memetic theory, and zero-to-one meme fundamentals have been on my mind since 2022.

As a result, there was a window that wouldn’t have been properly used for gaining further insights into this cognitive science. A field of study that seems supercharged by emergent technologies such as artificial intelligence and cryptography.

In these incredibly early days of memetics as a documented study, it feels prudent to only type away for public consumption when I’m trying to understand new developments.

Enter Thomas Cole’s Course of Empire masterpiece.

starting in 1833 Thomas Cole spent 3 years creating The Course of Empire, a series of five paintings describing the arc of human culture from ‘savage wilderness’ through high civilization and its inevitable destruction.

The 1830s were an optimistic time in America. The Erie canal had been completed, and the first US locomotive was making its first trips….Thomas Cole’s Course of Empire was a warning against the pride of empire building, and showcased the dreamy idealization of the pastoral life. In newspaper advertisements for his series, Cole quoted Canto IV of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

There is the moral of all human tales;

'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past. First freedom and then Glory – when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last. And History, with all her volumes vast, Hath but one page...

Additionally, we are factoring in financial markets (crypto) repricing of memecoins over traditional leaders - majors, alt L1s, DEXs, etc.

memecoins across mainnet, layer 2s, and alt L1s

memecoins across mainnet, layer 2s, and alt L1s

These bits of context serendipitously conjure a new thread worth pulling at in my opinion; the course of memes as money, market leaders, and technologies integrated in what I previously dubbed hypercultures.

The Savage State

Here’s a reduced review of Thomas Cole’s first piece, The Savage State.

Cole conveys both the serenity and the wildness of the natural landscape, where human presence is minimal and in harmony with its surroundings.

And here is an ai interpretation of the piece.

The Savage State by LGHT

The Savage State by LGHT

We will not dogmatically adhere to COE (or Cole’s artistic interpretations) throughout this series; thus it felt natural to reimagine the pieces. We will use the titles and ai interpretations for our context basis however.

A savage state expresses the paradox of harmoniously aligned earthly nature with it’s undeniably violent elemental and animalistic cycles. All while introducing the genesis of human influence and manipulation.

Often consensus seems to take an idyllic-bystander perspective on ‘Mother Nature’. And while it seems errant to dismiss the beauty of our life giving ecosystem, one could argue, it’s equally amiss to repress acknowledgements of infanticide, survival of the fittest, and interspecies violence intricately woven into that same environment.

Memetic Primitives

Giving our best effort to take a ‘201’ or ‘301’ viewpoint on memetics, resonance leads us toward the genesis of memes themselves.

If we work within the provided definitions, things like:

  • ideas

  • context

  • concepts

  • myths

  • feelings

  • phrases

  • engagements

  • movements

  • etc

could be classified as ‘accounts’. Meme being a unit of measurement for them.

Here we begin uncovering parallels with COE. Imagine a savage state for a meme empire. What does that resemble?

What does a cognitive environment’s “harmoniously aligned earthly nature” and “undeniably violent elemental and animalistic cycle” appear as?

Tenured creatives will reflexively enlighten you on the destructive nature of creating works of art. Marvels of the fine art world - Basquiat, Warhol, Dali - displayed the violent and animalistic aspects of a life embracing such chaos.

In this vein, the genesis of meme building itself seems aligned.

Then, we examine “harmoniously aligned earthly nature.” We must first abstract earthly.

In the context of cognitive processes (ie. creating these units of account) - earthly nature is more a phrase about the human organism it seems. Harmoniously, aligned, [individual human nature]. A linguistically-scientific way of expressing the parallel between Earth having a resting nature and the individual man having one as well.

Together we feel The Savage State of meme generation is a mix of creative destruction with individually significant starting points - while introducing conscious influence and manipulation into a typically subconscious process.


Mankind enters untouched wilderness with all that accompanies Earth. A shift in the environment is undeniable, yet largely ‘insignificant’… for now.

The savage state for generating memes is a conscious turn toward entering the process of creating an imprint on one’s cognitive space and tangling with their own nature.

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#memetics#essay series
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