Cumulus Concepts

semi-incoherent ramblings

Surreal Memes — October 1, 2018

Surreal Memes

Surreal memes are prevalent in today’s online world. Though many older generations find them foreign, many a young person has burst into laughter at the sight of something like this:

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To truly understand the appeal behind such an image, we have to go back to the time when memes consisted of nothing more than intriguing photos with huge captions.

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Memes of old were often used as outlets to simply poke fun at something in a way that was relatable to most people. Having a bad day? Well, at least you’re not like Bad Luck Brian:

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Or are you socially awkward to the point that it’s hard to find ways to relate to other not-as-unsociable people? Try looking at Socially Awkward Penguin:

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A plethora of early memes, from Success Kid (an angry baby used to symbolize the hunger for power) to the Salty Spittoon (which used screenshots from a certain Spongebob Squarepants episode to reflect on what we find “tough” and “manly” in today’s society, sometimes sarcastically) thrived on the Internet, enthusiastically consumed by new users who had a great desire to be entertained.

As our society evolved around thee Internet, our sense of humor and, subsequently, our memes, have changed.

Nowadays, some memes don’t even need a picture and rely solely on text, such as the “me, an intellectual” meme.

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A lot of modern memes have scrapped the big-text-on-the-picture format and have opted for a cleaner picture where the text is outside of the picture.

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And typical picture-with-words memes have evolved and now have several subcategories. There are dank memes, which rely on somehow being relatable to people whose idea of “relatable” is radically different from the rest of the population. (People who like dank memes also tend to look down on “normie” memes, or regular, non-dank memes.) For some reason these memes often feature frogs.

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Then there are wholesome memes, which are meant not to demean others or self-deprecate, as many memes used to do, but to make people happy.

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One can say that memes have almost become an art (which will elicit a lot of laughs among the sophisticated population, I’m sure), with all the different genres, layouts, and presentations. Oddly enough, though, there is one genre that both art and memes share: the surreal.

In art, the surreal genre refers to art that oftentimes borders on dreamlike. One of the most famous Surrealist painters was Salvador Dali, who created landscapes of melting clocks. Other artists of his time drew forest landscapes and portraits of lovers. Salvador Dali had “The Burning Giraffe”. They had meaning, in their own way. Persistence of Memory, the painting that featured melting clocks, was meant to symbolize time passing. However, undeniably, at a glance, his paintings were detailed but weird. It wasn’t that they made no sense at all; but they were really, really weird, in an oddly sophisticated way.

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Surreal memes have similar concepts. They often make no relatable connections with the person looking at it. It’s not meant to be relatable, or to be wholesome. In fact, to many they don’t make any sense. But they’re funny, in their own strange, twisted way.

Many surreal memes feature the “meme-man”, which is a grey floating head that resembles that of a mannequin. They may also feature the distortion of time, space, and matter, as well as use the concept of “the void”, which is a world of black connected to our world by a swirling black hole, sometimes used to symbolize the stark emptiness we carry inside.

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Some surreal memes resemble normal or dank memes, such as Hey Beter. What separates them from the others is that they usually aren’t obviously meaningful compared to their regular counterparts. Their funniness apparently lies in how they make no sense at all.

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I’ve come across many articles that tackle the somewhat confusing comedic value of the surreal meme. “Why is millennial humor so weird?” one read. Why should anyone laugh at a disembodied mannequin head with a blank, stoic expression? What’s so funny about the Void, an on-screen representation of the deep, dark blankness we all have within ourselves? Where’s the humor in the warping of dimensions and time? And what’s with Hey Beter? Why laugh about Elmo from Sesame Street shooting down an alternate version of Peter from Family Guy for failing to spell “whomst’ve”?

Because we can.

I’ve seen a lot of surreal memes, and I just inexplicably laugh in a way that a lot of other memes can’t make me. Even my brother chokes up at the sight of an image that explains the “easy” process of bending the laws of the universe to duplicate money. I’m not sure why, exactly. But I recall one online article that interviewed the Hey Beter creator, who described the appeal of his meme as a “mad race to the bottom”. Perhaps we young people laugh at these things because we can relate to how so many things in this life make no sense at all. We laugh at the meme-man, space and time, the Void, and Beter, because they represent that chaotic, nonsensical emptiness that we all feel like we have, repressed in the depths of our souls.

We also laugh just because we can.

The humor of surreal memes lies in its sheer ridiculousness that is, somehow, sophisticated to the trained eye. Like Salvador Dali’s melting clocks they hold deep meaning but present it in a weird way. And we don’t always have to find the meaning to appreciate it.

Surreal memes are a fusion of oddball comedy and out-there abstract concepts, creating something strange and—somehow—funny in ways that nobody can definitely understand. But as long as people like me find them funny, though we may not truly understand why, we will laugh.

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A Letter To Myself 20 Years From Now — February 21, 2016

A Letter To Myself 20 Years From Now

Dear Future Self,

Don’t worry, I’m not dumber than you thought you ever were. I am fully aware that you cannot reply to anything I state here*, that you have more insight than I and therefore know everything I currently know, and are much better at writing letters in general. But, hey, what’s wrong with doing something completely pointless once in a while?

Anyway, I do hope you did end up achieving that one dream of being a writer. No tiny cubicle, no “Employee of the Year”, no 9-to-5 job. 20 years is a really long time, after all. I believe it’s long enough to hone that one skill, along with stuffing yourself with so much knowledge that writer’s block cringes in fear whenever it sees you. Come on, my 34-year-old self must have achieved something by then, right? I have high expectations for you.

How’s life? Undoubtedly, 2016 must be very different from 2046. Global warming, advancements in technology…and that theory you read in a magazine about the possible collapse of the Internet, how did all those go? Funny how what was once reality can become history. I can’t wait to see today’s actions in history books.

Speaking (writing? blogging? typing?) about history, how much of it have you learned about? What about math? Science? Physics? Humanities? There are so many things I want to know. It’s impossible to learn them all in a century, how much less 20 years?—but at least you’ve done a bit of research, having more time? Do you have time? How much have you learned about that?

Sorry if I seem a bit too far-fetched.

I guess I’d always dreamed of being the very best. That person who’s always looked up to, the person who people go to for answers, the person who gets along with everyone…and I am the opposite of that, which is why I look to the future for answers, aspirations.

So, please, Future Self. Try a bit for your/my sake.

Regards,

Current Self

 

 

*because of the rule of causality, which states that all causes come before effects, thus rendering it impossible to travel back in time

 

Motivation — December 15, 2015

Motivation

Why do people work?

There’s always a drive—money, fame, some noble cause—behind work. A purpose. No matter how mediocre or amazing that purpose is, be it to earn money or to save a grandmother’s life, work needs a motive.

And, the more positive the worker is about his work, the greater his motivation, the better the work.

Look at street sweepers, for example. Some of them clean the roads out of choice. They want to keep the environment clean, save Mother Nature, that sort of stuff. Then there are those who sweep because they need the money. They need food. They’re the kind who complain about their job.

Who does it better? Who has the better cause, the bigger drive?

That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? It’s human nature.

So, where’s motivation from?

I’m no expert on this, but I believe the greater motives comes from our own uniqueness instead of from what is general to mankind. Those motives that originate not from our physical needs, such as food, but from our psychological needs, such as finding the meaning of life (which no mortal has truly achieved yet, but it feels like a need) or acquiring the secret to happiness.

Thus, we work harder when our drive to do a task is based on the soul’s needs, not the body’s needs.

However, a part of our souls adopted some physical needs despite being spiritual. Because human nature taught us that uniformity is necessary, we begin to work for purposes that all of mankind share. Money. Food. And this integrates into our souls. Our souls tell us we need material possessions because human nature taught us that we must be uniform, and since everyone else seems to need material objects, we must so, too!

That’s why to work for money isn’t going to stimulate much motivation.

But the uniqueness within produces motivation profound.

Take authors. The aforementioned street sweepers who actually want to sweep streets. Lawyers who aren’t in it for the cash, doctors who care for the lives of their patients, cooks who prepare edibles to fill hungry bellies and satiate tongues.

It’s not out of physical needs, nor out of the soul’s physical needs.

Their motivations come from the ambition of their soul.

It’s a need disguised as a want.

This is the best kind of motivation.

The Mysteries of Human Actions — November 29, 2015

The Mysteries of Human Actions

A man places a goldfish in an aquarium and watches it.

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It swims around.

The goldfish is technically alive and living. Its way of “living,” however, is not what man would call “living.” Isn’t that fish bored? Why is it satisfied with drifting endlessly in an enclosed space that will never change? When it sees you peer through the glass, does it feel pathetic? Does it think the man is pathetic? Is there meaning to its life? It probably doesn’t think about those. Why?

The aforementioned goldfish doesn’t have a soul like the human’s. Its actions come from instinct. It eats whatever food-like thing is thrown into the water because it’s hungry. It mates because it has to put forth another generation of goldfish, who will swim aimlessly like it did. It swims about because of the mere fact that it’s alive.

The man’s soul, however, is far ahead of the goldfish. He will not eat anything just because he is hungry: he has tastes. He will not simply input his sperm into a feminine form just to produce a tiny bit of tomorrow’s mankind: can she satisfy his lusts? And, most importantly, he doesn’t move without reason. He doesn’t walk around just because he’s alive; he walks to fulfill the actions that spring forth from his complex soul. He lives. He acts.

But why does he act when he can be like the goldfish, so blissfully unaware?

 

Why do we do what we do?

 

Human nature, society, and biological needs intertwine to produce our actions. They link in ways so profound, yet so elusive.

 

Consider this. Animals have always been romping about for food and water. Not so with humans. After ages of trudging, mankind found that it was easier to stay in one area and grow their food. They grew crops, trapped animals, and ate from their labor, thus proving that their minds were set apart from other creatures.

Once those basic needs were settled, mankind produced new needs.

They developed cultures, societies and laws. They needed a sense of dignified order. Not the kind that is present in herds or packs, but the kind that could distinguish them from those “underlings.” From there the first version of human nature sprung: the basis of today’s mankind.

Human nature, the general feelings and characteristics of humankind, kept twisting. It became one with trends, then dropped them as mankind moved on. However, up to now, human nature is based on what most of society thinks. It could’ve come from the pressure society gives. The more people asserted an idea, the more others felt inclined to include it as a part of their minds. It only took a small spark to get things moving. Thus, gut feelings continually changed. Why are so many people standing up for gay rights when it wasn’t an issue in the 50’s? Why are we so impatient? Why are we so hyped on advancing technology? Because our minds have progressed, if you can call it progress.

Yet there are several characteristics that humankind hasn’t overcome.

One is fault.

None have evolved to perfection. Despite the constant changes, perfection is unreachable. To err is human nature.

Why?

Perhaps, our errors stay a part of us to keep us in line, to remind us that death is inevitable, and that, although we found civilizations, we will never be gods.

Another is the need for love.

It may not by a true need, but love is a part of human nature. We must feel positively for others around us to even begin to form bonds, which brought about human nature (since it’s generally what mankind feels, and how would we know what others feel without love?)

But the most significant is the longing to find fulfillment to life.

Man has sought life’s meaning. The greatest minds assess love, human nature, errors, and more just to find out. So many questions are present, and “why am I here?” is one of them. We must have some sort of purpose, right? If we fulfill this purpose, our lives would not be in vain.

Yet, to fulfill life’s meaning is impossible. There are too many things to do, too many thoughts, too many concepts, too many apparent purposes to life. They can’t be squeezed into a few years.

We aren’t even sure of what life is. It’s a force that gives us and other organisms the state of being alive; but what is being alive? What is this force? And, the same way we can’t find the meaning of a word without knowing what the word is, we won’t be able to find life’s meaning unless we find out just what life is.

Those urges set man into action. He goes to find out why.

 

Society and human nature go hand in hand. Society brought unity, enabling man to share their psyches and thus created human nature. This unity became a form of peer pressure, sadly. So many people blame society for apparently forcing individuals into things they didn’t want. But all men are part of society, and these people are technically blaming themselves. Which is right. Simply being a part of the current population (7 billion+ people live on Earth) alters the lives of people around the globe. You are part of that statistic, and without you, society would be one person less. Your absence would affect somebody, which would affect somebody else, which would affect somebody else…your participation in anything does the same. And since society influences human nature, that means you have the power to alter how mankind thinks…if only you could get the majority of society to follow suit, which would involve other individuals with minds of their own. But, the way adding a lot of 1’s will result in a big number, each human in society holds human nature in his hands. He/she can influence others!

 

Back to the goldfish and the man. The man is obviously superior to the goldfish. He needs more, feels more, and thus he acts more. Why he does what he does is heavy on the psychological. Yet, he and the fish share the same biological needs: food, water, and air. (For the fish, air and water are part of one package, but let’s not digress.) If the man didn’t breathe, he wouldn’t be watching the goldfish. The psyche is rooted to the physical, because without the actual needs, the philosophical needs wouldn’t exist. As Apostle Paul once wrote, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Man had to satisfy these needs before establishing society and human nature.

 

These three, human nature, society, and biological needs, drive our actions.

 

It’s why we do what we do.

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Damn, that was complicated.
Wants and Needs: Doing Edition — November 22, 2015

Wants and Needs: Doing Edition

 

Needs before wants.

Necessities before leisure.

It’s a rule of life, is it not?

Consider your lunch when you play video games…do your homework before heading to the mall…

It’s not just a rule of life, it’s a parental cliché.

But something else is considered when it comes to the issue of DOING what you want and need.

Actually doing something changes the game. Food may be a necessity, but unless you eat it, it’s neutral.(Alright, so that’s pretty obvious, but I’m just proving a point.)

The word “do” is what pushes concepts and neutralities forward. Doing a need is what makes it so important.

So, when doing something needed and doing something wanted, what’s the point?

There are quite a lot.

When doing something needed, one is fulfilling a commitment. When doing something wanted, one is simply fulfilling the desires of the heart.

Following commitments push a man closer, if not to, a goal. Chasing requirements bring out the required result.

And isn’t that what mankind strives after? The result?

Then there comes the issue of doing what is wanted.

The heart’s desires seem like a need, but not all of them are really important. (Translation: You may “need” Fallout 4, but you probably don’t, unless you feed on games.) It is universally accepted that needs are superior to wants (but it’s not always felt that way).

Yet, some of your wants are needs in themselves.

A bit of pleasure and leisure is necessary.

You know what they say: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and that “Jack” may be you (disregard the gender). Dull individuals aren’t results, nor are they keen on producing results.

So putting wants into action could be doing a need!

Wants and needs seem quite simple, yet philosophy springs eternal once it’s explored.

(And they keep changing.)

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life is _________________ — November 18, 2015
Life’s Cowardly Antagonists and Why They Aren’t as Bad as They May Seem: Bullies — November 15, 2015

Life’s Cowardly Antagonists and Why They Aren’t as Bad as They May Seem: Bullies

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You probably know what a bully is. “Oh, he’s a guy who picks on smaller guys.” “A bully is a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.” “I see one every weekday at recess. He steals my lunch money.”

There’s more to bullies than making others miserable, though. You’ll find that out later.

Let me get this out of the way first: what makes a bully a bully?

A bully will only pick on people weaker than himself. That’s why the stereotypical image of a bully actually resembles a bull: it’s large, violent, and gores any underling who dares approach it. But unleash a more powerful tool, such as…a chainsaw. A loud chainsaw splattered with blood and reeking of fear and death. And the bull(y) leaves.

Yet not all bullies are walls of meat: some pick on those who are intellectually slower, less popular, poorer, uglier…anyone who has less of something considered important in today’s society.

Basically, they’re jerks.

They’re jerks that pick on others to feel superior, because the experience of being in control is elating…maybe a tad too elating. Power, or, rather, the arrogance and superiority that comes with power, has turned some of the world’s finest men into corrupt bastards.

That is a bully.

They’re the cowardly antagonists of life.

It would be great if there weren’t any bullies in the world, no?

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Yet they can never be avoided.

I have this theory that bullies are somehow part of the balance of life on Earth. If there were no bullies, there would be no good men. Since nobody’s the antagonist, nobody’s the hero, because heroes are not heroes unless they fight evil (the antagonist.) What we now call “good” would be the average, thus, in effect, there would be no good and bad; just an emotional state even to all human beings.

Thus, no matter how much we hate them, we need a few bullies, a few villains.

In fact, nearly everyone ends up being a bully at some point in his or her life. Unconsciously or not, each one of us has asserted our standing in society, and hurt the people down below. Some people say that society’s standings aren’t necessary, and that man has just made up what separates the rich and the poor. Well, even dogs and monkeys have alpha males, no? Someone is always superior, in one way or another, and it is impossible for a human, a complex organism capable of arrogant thoughts, to resist the temptation of somehow asserting that to the underlings without the help of someone superior to humans that doesn’t get tempted: namely, a god. Or God. Or Allah. Or whatever you believe in.

Bullies, like death, are inevitable.

So what’s the difference?

Bullies are merely human.

They have reasons. They aren’t devoid of emotion.

I mean, have you ever watched a movie where the villain has absolutely no explanation for his actions? Or read a book where the foe wants to be bad for the heck of it? Of course not. Bullies have their reasons. But, most of the time, they want power. Again, they want to feel superior.

Why? Why the desperation and the violation of others’ happiness?

There could be many reasons, but perhaps the simple knowledge that you aren’t at the bottom of human society is a main factor.

Bullies, I think, often feel like they have no control over their lives, and that the fellows in their community look down on them. Thus, they attempt to seize control of something, anything! Anything to prove their standing! Anything to prove that they aren’t at the rut!

It’s a struggle.

Bullies may be tyrants, but please, remember that you may have been somewhat like them, and that they have feelings, too.

Which leads us to THIS question...
Which leads us to THIS question…
The Ups and Downs of Progress — November 10, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Progress

Ah, progress! Synonymous to development, it’s the road all successful men and women have walked on. It’s, to put it simply, the whole process of “rags to riches”: from nothing to something. (You probably knew that, but a relative introduction is necessary, no?)

However, progress isn’t always a merry process.

Sure, progress founded America, Japan, both Koreas, China, and every other independent country in the world. It transformed hard-working but poverty-stricken lads into millionaires. It constructed skyscrapers, advanced technology, education, and more…

But progress is only good if the end result is success, because that’s the whole point of it. And for those of you wondering about this quote or something similar to it,

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mistakes and wrong ways are necessary steps in progress, because the way to success is not easy. (If it was, every man on Earth would be richer than Bill Gates.)

Let’s consider my friend, Tall Guy. Our school requires us to have a blog for our Grammar grades. He was getting a bit unmotivated with posting…to be honest, he was quite unmotivated. As a result, his posts were kind of pathetic. (If you’re reading this, no offence, dude.)

Now he’s made a new blog to start fresh. That is a step in progress, right?

Yes, it is, but unless he starts posting better than he did before, it’ll only be a baby step.

Progress needs dedication.

Yet, sometimes, too much dedication isn’t good, either.

South Korea, for example, is what you’d call a progressive country. Their Wi-Fi is ridiculously fast, their reforms are great, their economy is on the up…

What has happened to the elderly, though?

When the old of South Korea could still work, they poured all their funds onto their children in the hopes that, when their offspring had enough cash, they would be supported.

Their children, though, are so wrapped up with progress, that they’d forgotten them. Now old,weak, and penniless, more elderly South Koreans die alone, with nobody to attend their funerals, contrary to the South Korea belief that lots of relatives should attend one’s funeral. Half of South Korea’s elderly are poor. In fact, the number of South Koreans aged 65+ has quadrupled in the recent years.

Progress doesn’t just requires dedication…it also requires a mindfulness of the world around, so that you don’t forget what helped you begin, continue, and end.

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It is only when an end is in sight will one be able to say, “I made progress!”

The Pros and Cons (Yes, there are some!) of Success — November 8, 2015

The Pros and Cons (Yes, there are some!) of Success

Success.

Who doesn’t want it? Businessmen, students, ambitious children, the poverty-stricken…just about everybody yearns for the sweet, sweet taste of success.

Of course there are pros to success. Success is all about the perks. Success brings happiness, the fulfilment of dreams, and other things any fellow with common sense should probably know. (Please note that I am not an authoritative figure on utter success, having never experienced it in full form.)

Are their downsides to success? Surprisingly, yes. However, they aren’t obvious, and are more of add-ons to the pros.

Fame, for example. Many people want fame! Famous people make tons of cash! And more cash means more of your dreams unlocked! But look at extremely famous people today. Many have succumbed to not peer pressure, but the hard-hitting criticism and commands from fans and critics. That, or the fame gets to their heads, and who likes an arrogant person?

Arrogance, too, is a con to success. It stores itself up then comes bursting like a dormant volcano. It’s like what Saint Augustine said: “It was pride that changed angels into devils.”

When fame and arrogance of hand in hand, it’s a recipe for downfall. This doesn’t have to be explained: it’s darn obvious. This is prevalent in certain unsuccessful men, too: it’s worse because his achievements are lies.

Success is necessary, but I warn thee: do not fall into its hidden cons.

And you know what they say: “When you’re at the top of the hill, the only way to go is down.”

What Drive Us To Do Good and Bad: Causes — September 27, 2015

What Drive Us To Do Good and Bad: Causes

The cause-and-effect rule is a fundamental basis for all actions. Basically, as anybody with common sense knows, a cause leads to an effect.

This rule drives man to do what they do. It is what leads to the perception that doing good will lead to more good: good cause = good effect. It fuels students yearning for good grades to study. It drives activists to rally. It is what makes us donate to street children, pity cancer patients, and do little acts of niceness. Similarly, what we call karma, or the belief that bad actions will eventually be repaid, sprouts out of the cause-and-effect rule.

Man tries to alter and create causes. Be it studying, lifting weights, holding fundraisers for the benefit of cancer patients or strapping dynamite to kites then detonating them in the skies in a heroic attempt to make it rain (I kid you not, someone has tried this), we want causes that will produce the desired effects.

However, there is another rule that follows cause-and-effect: every effect will eventually become a cause, which, in turn, creates another effect, which becomes a cause, then makes an effect, and so on. It sounds absurd, but consider it: The Wright brothers wanted to fly, and because of this desire, they invented the airplane. That’s a cause-and-effect right there: the desire to fly was the cause for the invention of the airplane. The invention of the airplane, in turn, became the cause of the modernization of air transportation. Air transportation then becomes the cause for many effects: faster delivery, people going to distant places…Faster delivery leads to a better market…People going to distant places mean better or worse lives…It goes on.

Every new cause we make is rooted in causes-turned-effects. If we raise money for Alzheimer’s patients, they are the cause of your efforts. Alzheimer’s patients are the effects of, well, Alzheimer’s disease affecting patients. Thus, the patients, previously effects, are now a cause. What will happen to you raising money? It will result in you donating the money to some organization, perhaps, which will result in more research on Alzheimer’s, or maybe the money will go to some unfortunate grandfather. These effects will then become causes.

Causes are ever-present, and so are effects, which turn into causes, then produce effects, which turn into causes, which bear effects.