The Magick & Prophecy of the ‘Little Dark Age’ Meme | How Memetics Are Demonstrating Our Call for A New World
‘Little Dark Age’ was released by MGMT and Columbia Records on October 17th, 2017, as the title track of their fourth album. While the song would initially receive mixed reviews, in which Kevin Lozano (Pitchfork) commented that it felt ‘more like an homage than a thoughtful reinvention’, the track would go on to garner over 150 million plays on Spotify and 45 million on YouTube.
Since its release, ‘Little Dark Age’has received a resurgence in popularity, which can be attributed to its use on the social media platform TikTok. A clip of the song would be uploaded by ‘anti.audios’ on 9th February 2020 and has since been used in over 200,000 videos.
These memes would take on a variety of forms, from the creation of Angels & Demons (through the use of TikTok’s Time Warp Scan) to the mirroring of classical paintings throughout history. While the song’s popularity would peak in November 2020 and continuously depreciate throughout the following year, it has yet again begun to spark interest.
The Historical ‘Little Dark Age’ Meme:
Over the last few months, the ‘Little Dark Age’ meme has evolved. It has become historical, political, and potentially prophetic. This new form seeks to venerate both leaders and empires of the past through the depiction of their triumphs, tragedies, and aesthetics.
This trend appears to have originated as early as December 22nd, 2020, in which a video was posted by MegasAlexandrosTV, titled ‘Napoleon – Little Dark Age’; however, it remains difficult to confirm if this was indeed its first use.
The ‘Historical Little Dark Age’ meme amalgamates two distinct forms: (1) The ‘Little Dark Age’ Classical Paintings meme and (2) The Doomer meme.
The later is often incorporated at the beginning of the song, in which a series of stills of ‘The Doomer’ are hastily displayed to the thump and bump of the tracks opening drum and bass beat. We witness ‘The Doomer’ taking part in his regular sequence of activities from sleeping and thinking, to crying and drinking coffee at his desktop computer, all before we are introduced to the meme’s titular character or theme.
These range from figures such as Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Oswald Mosley, Jesus Christ, and Adolf Hitler to historical empires (including: Rome, Germany, Poland, USSR, and USA) which are shown through an array of artworks, captured footage, or re-enactments.
So, what’s the meaning behind all of this – if there is indeed any at all? Well, like any artform the process of deciphering the significance of these works and the reasons behind there creation is highly interpretive… There is no concrete answer.
If we are to take the most obvious and simplest line of reasoning, this form of meme aims to highlight the grandeur, heroism, and sublimity of past cultures, leaders, and moments in history. It is both an act of remembrance and worship, in which the creator and viewer simultaneously revel in the glories of mankind from ages bygone.
References to the existential Doomer now become clearer. We, the viewer, embody this character. Through a break in the 4th wall, this figure’s despair comes to represent our own as we participate in an act of reverence for these historical figures and cultures. Like ‘The Doomer’, we are consistently re-evaluating the society that we live in and are pessimistic about its trending ‘progress’. Consequently, the string of artworks, photographs, and videos that we consume through this meme cannot be contained in a historical vacuum but instead must be compared to our own modern age.
So, why now of all times has this meme been created and gained popularity amongst certain online circles? Again, there are likely a multitude of reasons, all of which cannot be expressed within this short article or are unlikely to be recognised by one individual. However, it is my view that the principal reason for this breed of nostalgia is derived from the failures of our modern socio-political economic culture.
Ultimately, we are living in a time of great doubt. As ordinary people from around the world have suffered from the impacts of the pandemic, in regard to their health, liberty, and financial stability, we have seen the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires increase by $1.138 trillion (39%), while politicians sleep at the wheel (quite literally) of government as western civilisation begins to crumble at China’s feet.
In an effort to quell our overpowering collective sense of doom, we seek to look back to periods in which western civilisation was thriving and driven by strong, patriotic, and inspirational leaders – something which we are severely lacking in today’s modern western-world.
However, these videos do not simply offer a form of digital therapy or catharsis, but act as a shamanic conduit to the past. By evoking the traditions, culture, and significant moments of our ancestors we not only reflect upon their triumphs but conjure their strength of will in an effort to pick up the mantle and carry on.
This is a form of Meme Magick.
What is Meme Magick?
While Meme Magick is a term that might initially incite ridicule, it can simply be considered as a form of acute marketing by those uneducated in the realms of the occult.
Simply put, Meme Magick is the notion that the ideas contained within a meme have the ability to transcend cyberspace and manifest themselves as tangible consequences within our physical world.
In order for this process to achieve its maximum potential, the meme in question must receive as many participants (those who engage with the meme either through viewing or sharing it) as possible. This collective will (both at the unconscious and conscious level) converts the metaphysical idea contained within the meme into a reality.
While this concept may appear to be a load of hocus-pocus, it is, at its core, a scheme as old as time… Ultimately, if you get enough people thinking something will happen, it likely will.
Now, at this point, you’re probably wondering when, or more to the point, if, this has ever succeeded? How can the creation and proliferation of a meme be an act of magick, so powerful, that it affects the world we live in?
Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us:
‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’ was an American Facebook event created by Matty Roberts on June 27th, 2019, in which he requested Facebook users to band together in an effort to raid the military base in a search for extra-terrestrial life and other hidden secrets.
More than 2-million people would respond “going”, with an additional 1.5-milllion stating “interested” on the event’s page. This would attract widespread media attention and lead this shitpost to become a successful internet meme.
On September 20th, 2019, over 150 people were reported to have shown up at the two entrances of Area 51, while an estimated 1,500 people would attend Alienstock in Rachel, Nevada, and Storm Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko, Nevada. However, according to government sources none succeeded in entering the facility.
While the event would not lead to an individual successfully entering Area-51, the act of congregating people in the middle of the dessert, simply due to an online joke, can be regarded in some manner as a feat of magick. Although this may initially appear to be a rather unimpressive and un-in-magical way of defining what magick is (removed from the flashing lights and repeated annunciations of ‘expelliarmus’ à la Harry Potter), it’s certainly a more realistic way of thinking about this metaphysical act.
Fundamentally, magic is ‘the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature’.
In the case of Storm Area-51, the ‘desired effect’ was for people to show up to the event, its ‘technique’ was the use of a Facebook Page and a series of memes, which assured participants control, not of ‘supernatural agencies’, but ‘the forces of nature’.
The idea of controlling ‘natural forces’ should not be considered as a means of warping the laws of nature (i.e., Moses parting the Red Sea) but working alongside them. Therefore, magick can be, in this narrow definition, the act of manipulating physical systems in an effort to encourage the likelihood of certain possibilities.
The occurrence of Storm Area-51 can be considered a magickal event, irrespective of it lacking certain forms of sublimity, simply due to the impracticality and unlikelihood of its occurrence. If we are to be more explicit, however, its magickal nature can be pinpointed to the memetic process (the spread and transfer of information through memes) which encouraged individuals to participate in this event.
Those who presuppose that the success of this event was simply a matter of luck or a coincidence, are certainly right in thinking so – it was; albeit a coincidence that was guided through a series of individuals willing it into existence, which in turn, would make it all the less coincidental.
From this, we begin to see that it is not only the process by which information is spread which is magickal in nature but the idea that is dispersed itself. While we might begin to explain how an idea is disseminated, it still remains difficult to identify why certain ideas, in certain moments, take root over others. This mystery inevitably holds much of the ‘magic’, in the more classical sense, than any other.
Our Impending Little Dark Age:
Is there a logic of history? Is there, beyond all the casual and incalculable elements of the separate events, something that we may call a metaphysical structure of historic humanity, something that is essentially independent of the outward forms – social, spiritual, and political – which we see so clearly? Are not these actualities indeed secondary or derived from that something? Does world-history present to the seeing eye certain grand traits, again and again, with sufficient constancy to justify certain conclusions? And if so, what are the limits to which reasoning from such premisses may be pushed?
Is it possible to find in life itself – for human history is the sum of mighty life-courses which already have had to be endowed with ego and personality, like “the Classical” or “the Chinese Culture,” “Modern Civilization” – a series of stages which must be traversed, and traversed moreover in an ordered and obligatory sequence? For everything organic the notions of birth, death, youth, age, lifetime are fundamentals – may not these notions, in this sphere also, possess a rigorous meaning which no one has as yet extracted? In Short, is all history founded upon general biographic archetypes?Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, (trans.) Charles Francis Atkinson, 1926.
Illustrated by Marta Em