Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Icho and the Meme

Today, I invented a word that surprised me in the depth of meaning: icho. It is a portmanteau of the words "idea" and "echo". My proposed definition of it is: the subjective interpretation of an idea over time and experience. Allow me to elaborate.

When I was young, I was very, very Catholic. I tried to do everything the church told me to so that I didn't go to hell. In time, I came to realize that I didn't really believe what the church said or did. For example, I really didn't (and still don't) understand how a selective reading of the Bible could lead people to be able to rationalize the belief that condom usage is a bad thing, when using them has such obvious and powerful benefits. I realize it's a question of one's choice of morals, but I never did see any kind of appropriate justification of that belief, especially not in light of the science of it.

By that time, I'd given up my belief. But the echoes of many of the ideas in the Bible (and other sources) remained, such as do unto others as you would have done unto you, an idea present in the Bible, but also in numerous other pre- and co-existing texts across many cultures. These echo differently for different people, and it's easy to dismiss those echoes because it's difficult to see what could have transformed them to be the way they are. These echoes can evolve, in a way, over time and space, to come to mean very different things for different people. Perhaps a person has had a different experience such that the echo of the idea has a very different interpretation to them than to someone else, i.e. a certain hard surface in their mind mutated the idea along the way, either before or after learning the idea.

When I thought through this line of reasoning originally, I'd had trouble differentiating an icho from a meme. After all, what is a meme really except an inside joke among internet trolls. Just kidding. But it IS an idea or behavior that is passed more by cultural or sociological memory of sorts; a gene for the mind, as the originator of the term probably intended.

The primary difference that I can see is that the meme is intended to convey (debatably) objective information from one person to another, whereas an icho is the subjective interpretation of an idea across time and experience. Similarly, memes are intended to be relatively stable of meaning across people, as opposed to an icho of an icho, which becomes more subjective still.

Life looks to me to be a series of ichoes, from person to person, from person to self, from life to life. And so I believe that life is subjective, and changes and fades over time, to be re-ichoed by experiences.

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