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The Art of Memes

Yes, Those 'Memes' You Keep Hearing About Are Art

March 09, 2021

Wikipedia will tell you that a meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that becomes a fad and spreads by means of imitation” that “often carries a symbolic meaning.” This definition, while not wrong, is woefully incomplete. I’m starting this column with a discussion of what memes encapsulate, and why a large umbrella definition is necessary: Doing so allows us to think broadly about how they start, why they catch fire, and why they burn down to ashes almost as quickly — only to be resurrected, phoenix-like, by people on the Internet thinking fondly back to their favorite formats.

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