[Essay] Pepe and the Cotard delusion

Since the cataclysmic tomfoolery of mainstream celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, posts considered as innocent meme-ing damaged the punch line of Pepe by exposing him to normies who did not fully understand where the joke came from. However, those in half or fullchan boards as well as the self-entitled ‘meta memers’ who congregate in ironic Facebook pages have stretched the matter beyond a mere agitation over the murder of a not-so-inside joke.

Once aware that ‘normie’ Facebook pages like Buzzfeed, Radio Virgin Lebanon, Daniel Amos, Nathaniel Knows and Khalil Underwood had taken to the Pepe trend, oldfags familiar with the meme before its exposure took to declaring Pepe’s official death all over the Internet. The way this was done was through the merciless flood of ‘rare Pepes’, a tidal wave of shitposting for the sake of giving the Internet every single alteration or version of Pepe, so that he was no longer an inside joke to anyone who did not consider themselves a normie. This was their way of saying to the Internet: “If you want him, you can have him.”

This happened several months ago now, and since then it seems those aware of the history continued to use Pepe with merely a different pretence or context. What was once an expression of humour damaged through the banality of worldwide recognition is now an emblem of its own death. Pepe is being flaunted around the Internet as a corpse, symbolically to reproach normies or merely as the representation of death where the context fits. Furthermore, the explication for his justification becomes more difficult, as Pepe becoming ironically dead is often confused with people declaring that he is still dying.

What we are witnessing is a real life ghost haunting the Internet. A fully functional joke, transformed into a state not living and not dead, Pepe is the first meme to suffer from the Cotard delusion.

Of course Pepe is not the first meme to ‘die’ per se. An obvious example would be literally any of the /r/adviceanimals stars such as ‘Good Guy Greg’ or ‘Bad Luck Brian’ *shudders*. Another example that is more pertinent would be Doge, who was brutally put down without any remorse, becoming an annoyance whenever anyone would attempt its resuscitation.

Where Pepe differs is how long it took before his fame cracked through the major boards and fell on the hands of normie celebrities with no knowledge of his weight or significance. This sudden sling shot into the fortress of his value was enough to ring alarm bells for all oldfags, reminding them that normies were real and ready to ruin any sort of inside joke started on the Internet. This was where the passion of reclaiming Pepe’s corpse and holding it up as an ironic dead symbol, like the cross of Jesus Christ, came from.

Our fascination with death has been as eminent as our fascination with any other part of life. The idea of being ‘the other’, not following the norm(ie) or specifically wanting to know you were there before everyone else had their hands on something; it is a drive in almost every single person, it is where hipsters derive from, where most genres of music spring up, where almost anything artistic surges into recognition. Death and ‘the other’ tie themselves together perfectly through the trials and tribulations of Pepe. Those aware of him being dead are the originators; the rest, those who see him as alive and kicking, being funny as ever, are normies.

If we take note of my other Internet essay “On Postmodernism, Dank Memes and Suicidal Tendencies”, it is clear to see that the Meta posters, those aware of the blatant irony of now normie controlled memes, also have a fascination with killing oneself. Posting dead, dying and suicidal Pepes therefore becomes a representation of all those completely aware of his corruption, whereas posting the healthy versions of him merely expressing sadness or happiness then shows the representation of all those who think Pepe is alive and well.

So if Pepe is then posted (as he’s always been really) as a ‘mfw’ or ‘tfw’ reaction meme, it could be argued that it’s not Pepe himself who suffers the Cotard delusion, but the Meta posters, those who feel excluded by society as they have delved too far into their own knowledge of the Internet to ever be normies. What we are witnessing, through the help of the irritation caused by Pepe’s death, is a widespread phenomenon of the Cotard delusion, be it in a social form or in the full sense of the syndrome.

The Internet community that has grown up with memes, that has found which ones are ironic and which ones should never be talked about, this community lives at the edge of normality, at the edge of having friends who do not need to talk about the Internet or joke with the use of memes. They are the others, the dead roaming the Earth, killed by the Internet, watching normies live on with their blissfully ignorant lives full of with goals and aspirations, disregarding which current memes are funny or not. Therefore, as Pepe represents us, we then are Pepe. When we post him as dead or dying we portray our isolation from the real world.

On any ironic meme page on Facebook, at some point its admins will joke about their lack of having a social life, their desire for death or their suicidal tendencies. Memes have not only offered the Internet a channel for humour, but it has divided (in an extremely blurry line) society into two groups of people, those who find the joke funny and those who threw themselves into the joke so devotedly that they no longer find it funny, leaving us in this Cotard-like state of finding the joke ‘dead’. We become dead ourselves, the humourless, lifeless beings who have lost enjoyment even in memes.

Pepe now stands, historically almost, as the catalyst that is revealing the Meta community’s long-term relationship with the state of being dead, a relationship proving nothing we didn’t already know, only this time through humour: those who become too aware of their own felicities lose the ability to relish them, they become forced to watch the fools of the world feed off of their own happiness, whilst we just stand here, not alive and not dead either.

For anyone who did not comprehend this essay, simply follow the instructions below:

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