Spoken Word Times, 2150
In 2150, the Meme Archive and the Centre for Research on Performative Memory was established in the Cydonia Region (a site made famous as the location of the Face on Mars). Parchment, vellum, paper mills, printing, and silicon as well as other facets of the computer industries—in other words, the historical apparatuses that have enabled transmissions of information in the “Tomb World” of Earth—remain nonexistent in the fledgling colony. As a result, Martians have witnessed a return to oral culture, a so-called Ongian reversal from the primacy of print to speech and modes of hearing. In this regard, 22nd-century memes share some of the characteristics of the Homeric epic, underscoring the episodic form—that is, the assemblies of formulaic fragments—and flat characters or archetypes, which act as memory aids for the Early Earth Bard as they now do for the MMM or Martian Meme-Maker. However, leading specialist of Early Earth, Dr. Gon, along with his mentor Dr. Yrrep, have also stressed that the remarkable similarities of Martian memes with the Homeric epic raise the question whether memes on 21st-century Earth may have been speech acts themselves that required real world witnesses despite the societal reliance on cybernetic modes of transmission. Indeed, Dr Gon pointed out that the popular Martian Meme “Stoning”—in which a MMM rests his/her head on a rock while mumbling formulaic insults to the audience—may be related to one Mr. William Wonka, a popular chocolatier of the 20th century, whose sarcastic, unflattering pictures were apparently widely disseminated by his enemies. Unfortunately, given the lack of data on the 21st century “Tomb World” and our present inability to visit its ruins, such insights remain purely speculative. Nonetheless, the Meme Archive and Center for Research on Performative Memory is committed to exploring these investigations through oral assemblages of poetry, and it is hoped that the increasing corruption of memes through misuse, iteration, and miss-transmission may in fact bring us a little closer to the truth of 21st century meme culture.
Jeff T. Johnson