A Fragment Analysis of Cat Memes

This image is a particular derivative form of the aleph cat meme and therefore, supposedly, entertaining.

It is easy to recall a time when cats held the adoration of the internet. One unique manifestation of this adoration was the repetition of (or on) one of many semi-discrete cat meme image forms. The image of a cat superimposed into outer-space may constitute an individual alpha form modification on the symbolic aleph form cat meme (itself noting more than an image of a cat abstracted from its original surroundings and without the inclusion of any new positive elements). From here, the imposition of a synthesizer might represent a noted modification to this parent alpha structure thereby forming an alpha subset 1 cat meme. Further differentiated with the the inclusion of another socially-reproducing modification such as lasers (always emanating from the cat’s eyes, mind you) the eventual series of type and subtype of cat meme grows outward into an expanse of subjectively divisible rows and columns of .png files littered across the wasteland of yesterday’s internet.

The cat meme does, of course, exist beyond simple macros with repeating visual objects/elements like space and lasers. Just as with other memes, images of cats may be overlaid with text to fulfill a further evolutionary form (again) abstracted from the cat meme aleph. It should be noted, however, that the inclusion of text itself is not necessarily indicative of a movement beyond the form of modifying-repetition explained above. Rather, the inclusion of text may serve the same purpose as those lasers and synthesizers (which find meaning only in fulfilling the repetition of a particular meme form/object). In this case (text), the variability of the included text-objects must be slight enough that it is still recognizable as a subset of a known parent modification. An example of this superficial-text-object (STO), in a subset cat meme is I can haz. This STO — instantly discernible as one particular repetition of a known discrete parent-modifier which replaces the S occupying the last letter position of an included verb with the letter Z — serves the macro image not by adding elements of a symbolic order of language which transmit a message external to the macro itself, but rather by identifying itself with an aesthetic object which communicates to the viewer that this image is a particular derivative form of the aleph cat meme and therefore, supposedly, entertaining. Crucially, this entertainment is derived solely from the repetition(s) which indicates the parent and aleph form(s).

This value-in-repetition is essentially the same when text is included with a narrative purpose, although the introduction of narrative does signal a fundamental deviation between meme forms—from object-oriented to subject-oriented. Rather than assuming its value on the basis of pure repetition, the introduction of what i’ll generalize as narrative text adds to the meme a jokish-quality which, then, finds its value the same way (as one might expect) a joke does: exformation. David Foster Wallace (I know I know I fucking know okay?), in Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness, defines exformation, this explanation of a joke’s humor, as “a certain quantity of vital information removed from but evoked by a communication in such a way as to cause a kind of explosion of associative connections within the recipient.” How uninspiring, no?