I’ve talked about this somewhat before, although it was oriented around a political lens. However, spending any amount of time online will find you coming across some kind of meme in relation to North America’s ever-growing list of cryptids and animal legends that are far older than the first settlers that arrived here in the New World. Although many have seen new life, both on film and television, whether that be popular shows like Supernatural, The X-Files, and more, or the internet collaborative fiction renaissance in the mid 2010s with the SCP Foundation and the like. I find these internet tropes of fiction have an outstanding shelf life, or perhaps the more likely thing is that I just enjoy these niche communities long after their hey-day. Then again I feel like that is something that just comes naturally with this side of the internet I inhabit, finding lost thinkers, ideas, or works of fiction that have been discarded or forgotten by the long march of progress.
So what inspired me this time to write? Perhaps as a pause to grant some slight reprieve to my regular readers and listeners, it wasn’t while I was driving. Yet, like the last time I talked about the differences between American and European forests, it was a meme. Like any good meme, it does contain this nugget of truth in them even if sometimes overexaggerated enough to make the Biden Admin’s White House Press Secretary blush, not to say that the issue with certain supernatural forces are overexaggerated but you get my point.
There have been plenty of these as of late, much to my enjoyment, both as an enjoyer of this kind of fiction, but also as someone who lives out in the middle of nowhere where he does carry a gun when walking the dog at night.
Memes aside, if only for the sole fact that most of man’s existence up until now had existed outside of a digital version of Plato’s Cave, it does allow us to be the torchbearers of the cave and show the images that are a reflection of the self and our self conceived notions of the world. We are both the observers and creators of the images in this cave, perfectly tailored to our beliefs and occasionally the algorithmic flickering of the flames may lead us down a new path of creation for an expanded worldview. I will get back to this notion later on.
There has been a plethora of memes, videos, edits, “fashwave style” edits about the common phrase you see many a time on Twitter and other platforms.
“The Masculine Urge to…”
I’m certainly no stranger to using this meme myself, and in an age of containment, wherein we’re lost in expansive worlds, both simulacra and fantasy, either in video games or our collective political meta-narratives that sometimes skew from the far side of what’s actually going on. I find the latter to be true more so on the left than the right, although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the esoterica and mysticism on the right as well (that deserves its own essay one of these days.) However in terms of the current powers that be, it is the inversion of reality, what has often been called hyperreality or unreality that leaves us in the current environment we inhabit. However, if there is one meme that I find rather evergreen (besides Gigachad) it is the multitude of “the masculine urge to” style memes. I’ve used it, you’ve seen it, and it covers everything from starting a family to retaking Constantinople.
There’s a myriad of reasons as to why this is the case, however I would argue one of them is partially the limited avenue for men to be the men of old. Not just for biological reasons (those are obvious) but by the nature of conquered space. If there’s one of the most prescient and accurate points that Bronze Age Pervert made in his magnum opus, Bronze Age Mindset, is that we live in conquered space, or at least live in some kind of containment, chimp in nature and all that. All space is claimed, assigned, and with no worlds or lands left to conquer, we’re left as empty shells of what great men build before, and that a mindset of vitality and of the ancient world must return.
You will slonk the eggs, you will lift, you will not be under the purview of the Longhouse.
For many, escape to the grug life means lifting and avoiding processed foods while going to your wagie job and living your best life. However for many, the dreams of men of old, the desire to be like Magellan rather than Bieber is nothing more than fantasy. Just as was the case then, and just as it is now, not all of us are bound to be on the crews of great voyages, crusades, to the tunes of fantastical bards. I would note that it’s somewhat easier to become one now, even with a small niche audience. Even then the rants of those we’d call crazy, schizophrenic, or just off have their fame and works preserved like Francis E. Dec or the legendary Terry Davis. Yet, they serve as an effective counterpoint that so many make and that even I call for:
Yet this is the point about memes that serve an effective ideological containment. We can post as much as we want, make glorious edits about the “GM” post (which I do all the time) and the “masculine urge to” I fear, has a worryingly simple effect for nothing more than just escapism rather than action. I’ve put some ridiculous effort into making a good meme or something original which could probably have been spent more effective writing some of these essays that I intend to have in my book. Yet memes, like anything on this earth, have a median lethal dose, or LD50. On one hand, they have the capability to display memetically truths about the system that so many of us take for granted in a non-progressive space, yet on the other it can leave one infatuated with the digital space that leaves one recognizing only the apustajas and wojaks in their personally curated Plato’s Cave.
There’s a line from Wendell Berry’s Why I Am Not Going to Buy A Computer that feels very apt to this. Especially when discussing new technology, he offers nine points, and the ninth one feels the most appropriate here:
It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.
As we enter the 31st year after the World Wide Web project, Berry argues that these new social technics shouldn’t be the very tools that lead us to our own destruction, but should rather serve as bulwarks of the good. As an ardent conservationist, he echoes similar concerns that I, a much younger man, are realizing in today’s digital space. This brings me to the last few thoughts I had in mind for today’s post.
A Return to the Forest
These memes about the masculine urge – or the desire to conquer the local skinwalker, and hunt down the cryptid – are just a part and parcel of what men want to be. This is something I wouldn’t call distinctly American, but it certainly has a flavor of Americana that I can’t ignore, nor would I want to. This isn’t to say that there are just “friendly” cryptids that exist with our friends across the pond and other places, clearly there is just as many evil ones as there are “friendly.” Yet, I continue find myself drawn to these memes and their calling, even if not just about the supernatural or the demonic, but also the urge to return to a more primal state, to hunt and to win over the forces of nature time and time again. Even in my own home state of Texas, I find myself constantly out with my father in the very early hours of the morning or the middle of the night taking care of wild hogs that torment the land. With that hunt comes again the masculine urge to hunt them down and stand proudly next to my fallen foe resumes. Even today for instance, if Mermaids weren’t manatees, then clearly we’ve got some problems take care or friends to make. Even in on the small plot of land that we live on, where the space is clearly defined and demarcated, we aren’t alone in these spaces, and there is still room for us to conquer. To build, to farm, to cultivate. If there is one thing so many memes do tell us that’s correct, if things were hopeless, the propaganda wouldn’t be necessary and the best resistance to make in these days and ages for the regular folk to to just be normal.
If there is one paramount truth that these memes do evoke, it’s that the forests of North America still hold onto the old blood and echoes of those who came before and conquered the unknown, and those who were martyred in the name of civilization. Anabaptist Pastors fighting the unknown of the early colonies of America, the French Catholics conquering Quebec, or the Russian Orthodox taming the wilds and demons of Alaska. One of my favorite lines of prayer and in our services is “Let God Arise, and Let His Enemies Be Scattered, and Let Those Who Hate Him Flee From Before His Face.” That calling is very much alive with me and countless others in the West, and the memes indeed reflect that, whether or not you share my particular belief, it still stands that that’s what we’re up against.
The Forest, The Jungle, The City, even The Desert, wherever you may inhabit still pits us into a chasm of screams. The echoes and the screams themselves all of which ring in our ears 24/7 as we ourselves call out into the chasm and its void, hoping to heard back. While of course the loudest screams (and images) are of that of our foes in this post-modern world, we ourselves must be attuned to hear that of the others and those who speak the truth. Some of us are blessed enough with an audience, well beyond our comprehension (myself included) that somehow hear our screams and memes over those who may be likened to a whisper. It’s this small group of individuals with the highly attuned ears that can hear us, connect with one another and find ourselves not just in the chasm of screams, but give us the means (and memes) to communicate above it all.
Memes have a purpose, I wouldn’t be one to dismiss the memetic magic and truthful power that they hold, something even the left admits on a daily basis as he hit to kneejerk truths about how the world fundamentally works. Yet at the end of the day, let them be a call to action on those truths, lest you find yourself lost in the minutiae of the memes themselves; the edits and the perpetually online. After all, when you turn off the phone or screen at night, be sure that the reflection stares back at you would be one you’re proud of, and not one that would be exactly what the post-modern world wants.