HomeCryptoNavigating Chaos, Truth, and Consensus, with Memes.

Navigating Chaos, Truth, and Consensus, with Memes.

According to Hindu mythology, in 3102 BCE, humanity entered a period of chaos better known as Kali Yuga. It’s the fourth and worst of the four yugas in a Yuga Cycle, preceded by Dvapara Yuga and followed by the next cycle’s restart, Krita Yuga. Five thousand years later, we’re still there.

Allusions to alt-right esoteric concepts, traditionalism, and Rene Guénon aside, when considering the myriad of ideologies and culture wars that compete within western society, it’s easy to agree: Kali Yuga’s definitive traits and overarching focal points center around conflict and chaos.

See also: Joe Rogan “We Are In Kali Yuga”

Given this recurring effort to bend perceptions of reality, like the puff pieces on Sam Bankman Fried (SBF) by legacy media, it’s not evidently clear what resources are left that help us find truth or, at the very least, wade through cognitive biases to arrive at more concrete conclusions about the way things truly are, rather than how prevailing power structures dictate.

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Independent figures like Matt Tiabi, CoffeeZilla or ZachXBT aside, another potential medium is memes. Memes encompass, through satirical and absurdist comedic devices, absurdities that expose uncomfortable realities of our world. Funny and frequently true, their spread is decentralized, and disarming humour can help short-circuit the cognitive dissonance response that frequently encourages our minds to reject any information that does not simply affirm what we already “know to be true” — because, most of the time, there’s something true about the content or theme, regardless of whether we want to admit it.

For example, one only has to look at the plethora of memes that use nonsensical, absurdist characters like Wojak to find subtle revelations that reflect a more organic (or honest) response towards certain people and societal events than the archives of legacy media and history would have us believe.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Furthermore, while it may be hard to substantiate with objective data, my theory is that certain memes go viral because they accurately capture and resonate with our collective response and emotions. The more accurate the commentary or nuances, the more viral the meme.

We can see this example with Former U.S. President Donald Trump and the countless popular memes, many of which not only play on his controversial and combative personality but have also contributed to public perceptions of Trump as a divisive and polarizing figure, regardless of his continual attempts at personal branding.

Memes can become so popular that the reputation of a person or company may be overshadowed by the meme, as a 2016 Wall Street Journal article detailing the origins and connection between Michael Jordan and the Crying Face meme revealed. Robert Greer, a 24-year-old senior at Marshall University, told the WSJ said he never watched Mr. Jordan play basketball but frequently retweets the meme. Among his favorites: a crying-Jordan Chip Kelly after his firing as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. he said.

See also: https://www.newyorker.com/sports/sporting-scene/how-air-jordan-became-crying-jordan

While, in Jordan’s case, that might be an exaggeration, there are many public figures whose reputation is molded by memes. In some cases, these memes have helped reinforce their very image and popularity, while in other cases, they have contributed to developing a more negative reputation.

For example, the actor Keanu Reeves has become the subject of numerous memes, many of which play on his reputation as a “cool” and laid-back celebrity. These memes have helped to solidify his reputation as a “cool guy” and have made him more well-known and popular among younger audiences.

When choosing memetic symbols to reflect a more honest reflection of the current times, there’s no shortage of potential contenders — each with varying degrees of relevance and comedic power. We can see this from examples like Feels Guy aka Wojak or Dick Butt, by comic book artist KC Green.

But given its origins as an innate representative of chaos, crypto, and internet culture, perhaps no better memetic symbol exists to explore and reveal the truth (given our period of Kali Yuga) than Pepe the Frog. More specifically, the ever-expansive and dank ecosystem of Rare Pepes.

See also: Joe Rogan & Jordan Peterson on Truth, Chaos, and Kekistan

Pepe the Frog dates back to 2006 when its creator and artist Matt Furie published it in his iconic comic book “Boy’s Club.” Soon after, the character grew into a cultural phenomenon as a standalone meme, gaining popularity on social media sites, including 4Chan.

Counterparty was founded in 2014 by Robert Dermody, Adam Krellenstein, and Evan Wagner. The protocol, including an in-built decentralized exchange, was created to extend Bitcoin’s functionality by figuratively “writing in the margins” of regular transactions. In doing so, it opened the door for innovation and advanced features, like minting new Bitcoin based assets that was not otherwise possible with ordinary Bitcoin software.

By 2015, variations of the Pepe cartoon started to blossom, overlaid with watermarks like “RARE PEPE DO NOT SAVE”, used to state that the artists behind each design hadn’t intended the memes to be for public use. That year, a collection of 1,200 Pepe images was made available on eBay, reportedly reaching a bid price of $99,166 before being delisted from the site.

In 2016 a Telegram user known only as “Mike” posted a link to a Counterparty asset he had registered named RAREPEPE. What was unique about this blockchain asset is that like the Spells of Genesis cards (released in March 2015 by EverdreamSoft), Mike had connected an image to it. However unlike the in-game SoG assets (FDCARD), by locking the supply at 300 tokens, Mike inadvertently turned RAREPEPE into the first verifiably rare piece of digital art — without a team, website, or roadmap, he/they had introduced the concept of community made artwork that not only preserved ideas and social commentary about historical events in a cryptographic manner but also allowed an economy and market of memes to be bought, sold and swapped in a peer-to-peer manner just like the underlying Bitcoin currency and blockchain.

Over the next two years a total of 1,774 unique Rare Pepe cards were approved for admission into the grassroots Rare Pepe project. The cards included a plethora of references to pop culture and political satire like Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Putin-themed cards with some rarer one-of-one cards selling for as high as $3.6 million as seen in a Sotheby’s auction in October 2021. To provide further evidence into the nature of this rising meme economy, the current trading volume on Rare Pepes is USD 13.5M, with 23,049 cards sold over the past month alone.

Before the transition to rare digital art, Pepe the Frog also had its origins dating back to an Ancient Egyptian God Kek, sometimes spelled Kuk or Keku. As the deification of primordial darkness and chaos, Kek’s form varies, with Kekui depicted with the head of a serpent and Kekuit the head of a frog or a cat. In the Greco-Roman period, Kek’s male form is a frog-headed man, and the female form is a serpent-headed woman.

During the 2016 presidential elections, 4chan community and supporters of Donald Trump believed they harnessed the chaos and meme magic of Pepe and the deity Kek to help influence the election results through their collective intent. The subject has since become part of a larger conversation about the intersectionality of memes and politics.

See also: https://www.vice.com/en/article/pgkx7g/trumps-occult-online-supporters-believe-pepe-meme-magic-got-him-elected

When navigating and reflecting on “truth’’ we can see several examples where the Rare Pepe memes represent more of an honest reflection of public figures and their actions than legacy media would otherwise support. Some examples include:

Despite the polished veneer and strategically manifested social clout in upper echelons of society, many Rare Pepe cards have been created that highlight more of an honest reflection of Hillary’s character and reputation, such as Killary by Cryptonati. The satirical quote is one example of how people perceive her (a symbol of the corrupt establishment) despite her carefully cultivated reputation and polished career.

Another more recent and formative example is none other than SBF. Despite his attempts to curate a deliberate persona supported and highlighted by legacy media outlets like The New York Times, meme versions have invariably surfaced that, given the medium’s power, may immortalize and preserve the true nature of his character despite his best efforts — showing the power of community inspiration simply dwarfs anything that can be bought with political donations.

Wright needs no explanation. As the self-professed Satoshi Nakamoto, despite his endless string of defamation lawsuits and pompous arrogance, his character has invariably become the subject of a number of memes.

Outside of the satirical aspect, Rare Pepes go beyond the average static meme that can be saved or shared as a simple GIF or JPEG by adding financial and resale value to the asset.

As such, one can argue that given the sheer size of the Rare Pepe ecosystem (including fake commons, fake rares, etc), the more underlying truth or cultural relevance included in the art, the more chances it has of rising through the thousands of variations, and the more its financial value increases as a result.

But to better understand how to comb through the ecosystem, a buying guide is available on pepe.wtf . In addition, a thread by Rare Pepe specialist and enthusiast Matt Garcia has also taken to Twitter to help with a cursory overview that details the various characteristics that make for a solid Rare Pepe card.

Even with all this evidence available, the debate surrounding the merit of memes still has obvious gaping holes. One of the more prevalent is that memes can be reverse-engineered to elicit specific responses from the public and not be organic social reflections. One example is the Internet Research Agency founded in mid-2013. Also known as Glavset and known in Russian Internet slang as the Trolls from Olgino, the Internet Research Agency is a Russian company engaged in online propaganda and influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.

While slightly off-topic, other examples of concerted efforts to create narratives that impact mainstream media include the infamous 4chan “okay” hand gesture, otherwise known as “Operation O-KKK”. While it was initially a 2017 hoax campaign created by the alt-right to fool the media, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has since recognized it as an official hate symbol.

See also: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/03/ok-sign-gesture-emoji-rightwing-alt-right


While memes are not a perfect tool, they are one potential resource and a more bottom-up (rather than top-down) modicum to explore and analyze public opinion around what people agree on, versus legacy media that caters to political and ideological biases.

Furthermore due to their decentralized nature, no precise data on how many people interact with or share a specific meme is available. It isn’t easy to know what metrics would define its themes or statements as a representation of the masses. And that isn’t to mention that trending memes can potentially be reverse-engineered through social media, given the prior example of entities like the Internet Research Agency. With that in mind, perhaps the only relatively objective measure of a meme’s impact is its relevance over time. Should a meme continue to be shared and embraced several years on, it has some lasting grace and substance that can be said to be a better representation of the people (or at least enough of them).

Unless explicitly stated, the meaning of symbols or images in memes is also subject to interpretation. Therefore, understanding what a meme is trying to convey could be easily confused by people unfamiliar with the nuances of internet culture. Such is the basis of Poe’s Law which, according to Wikipedia, is an adage of Internet culture saying that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, any parody of extreme views can be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the views being parodied.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

Ultimately, as people rarely have precognition, a better argument would be that memes are a more fitting medium to solidify and reveal truth , especially as the more memes people create about someone or something, the more consistent themes or patterns can be found across the set as a whole. But given the awareness that memes can be used to reinforce or influence biases, this can only surface in memetic ecosystems that are large enough to mitigate centralized collusion or influence whales — hence once again the relevance of Rare Pepes.

As an ecosystem built on Bitcoin (one of the few protocols not leaning towards a security), Rare Pepes hedge against the increasing pressure and control of governments and regulators that want a closed, tightly surveilled monetary system. So if you think regulation is bullish for BTC, what does that mean for the memes and art created on it? It’s simple: Rare Pepes define an increasing immunity to censorship that only the blockchain and decentralized applications can provide, and as such they will become even more valuable as purveyors of truth and vehicles of culture as time goes on.

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