Remember when you were a kid, and “reading” books used to be less about those weird symbols that the grown-ups were hypnotised by, and more about looking at pictures that had those symbols underneath? That wasn’t just you being uneducated – it was also your intuitive understanding of the power of those pictures to talk to your spirit.
Magicians are aware of one thing that ordinary people are not: that the deeper parts of the mind, which psychologists call the subconscious – or even the unconscious – are not in any way less powerful than the surface parts that do all the thinking and talking.
Indeed, some even draw a distinction based on the primary target of the magic in question. Lesser magic can be considered the art of conscious magic and is mostly intellect-based, routine and predictable; greater magic is the art of unconscious magic and is mostly will-based, darker and more dangerous.
Memes speak to the subconscious. So they, like magic, are not targeted at the logical, rational, autistic left brain, because the left brain is the gatekeeper of the conscious. Memes appeal to the joyful, passionate, spontaneous and psychotic right brain, because the right brain is the gatekeeper of the subconscious.
In this, their power is humour, not logical rigour. This is a point that the left have missed for a long time, as they have become ever more obsessed with political correctness and policing people’s speech, although they managed to avoid any serious consequences until the Trump election.
We are now in the Post-Truth Age; this is a point that is well understood. The implications of this are less well understood. One of them is that it is no longer considered possible to determine using logical rigour which of a set of political candidates is most likely to be lying.
Politicians have been trying for so long to get an edge on their opponents by crafting more powerful lies that the race to the bottom has led to no-one believing them at all.
And so it simply didn’t matter what Hillary Clinton’s arguments were. All Trump had to do was to create the right sort of vibe, and this would ensure that his voters turned out while Hillary’s did not. In this regard, the more Hillary struggled to get an edge, the more she sunk into the quicksand.
The rhetoric against Trump quickly became so extreme that it was laughable. Clinton genuinely appeared to believe she was fighting Hitler, and the stronger her belief the crazier she appeared to all but her own echo chamber.
Soon it was pretty clear that Hillary Clinton was herself a dangerous megalomaniac, and that she had the entire political establishment, the military establishment, the industrial establishment, the banking establishment and the media establishment behind her.
It was against this backdrop of extreme seriousness and humourlessness that memes started to work their magic.
Meme magic began, therefore, in the symbology of resistance. In much the same way that early Christian martyrs adopted the symbol of the fish as a sign of a mutual interest in resisting Babylon and Rome, so did young and creative people adopt Pepe and Kek as signs of resistance to a monstrously corrupt political establishment.
FaceBook avatars bearing green frogs also bore a message that went over the head of the majority of the plebs, but these were understood as a secret language by an elect few. It was a sign not to give up hope, not even when the mainstream media was pushing polls that gave Hillary Clinton a 98% chance of winning.
The three propaganda images in this essay are an excellent example of this phenomenon, and are merely a selection from the best. Where some people just see ridiculous drawings or photoshops of Trump, many others were powerfully affected at a subconscious level.
This column has previously argued that Hitler represented an excess of masculine energy, and that the world may have recently swung too far to the left in a 70-year cycle of history.
Hillary was always much more like Hitler than Trump was or ever could have been. Her promise to let 500,000 Syrian refugees into America was a clarion call for those who had been watching the collapse of Europe and the distance between Establishment politicians and the will of the people in the West.
Perhaps her defeat was then – rather than the certain path to nuclear hellfire the talking heads told us it would be – a sign that things are about to move back to normality. Trump has already admitted that the American Government has done a poor job recently of living up to its stated ideals.
The danger for Trump is that, having gone all-in on the “drain the swamp” rhetoric, he has to make genuine change or lose support in the next election. He also has to stay onside with the army of meme magicians that shitposted him into the White House.
It is too early to say if he will succeed. In any case, it can be confidently predicted that meme magic will play a large role in the next election and in each one henceforth.