So, memes are actually a pretty important part of Dark Souls. Well, they’re an important aspect of Dark Souls as a cohesive entity. You see, the concept of the meme lends itself well to an interrogation of Dark Souls as an of allegory for humanity. All the bad stuff that Dark Souls says about humans is proven wrong by how funny we are. Seriously. The Redditor who discovered that if you typed out “Sif,” but moved every letter one key to the right, you would type “Dog” is one of the many unsung heroes of our time. This is important work.
From the bastardized “git gud,” to the stock memes we see every day, Dark Souls memes have enjoyed longevity to a surprising degree. However, this isn’t purely down to the craftiness of the memelords, nor is it because the memes are comedic gold—which they are, by the way, but there’s more to them than just that. Nope. Dark Souls memes are important because they satirize all the parts of Dark Souls that critique the world in which the memes are created.
Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, designed the concept of Heterotopias in order to describe worlds within worlds which impose a sort of invisible influence on what is external to them. Let’s call Dark Souls a Heterotopia, a world within our world. Now, Dark Souls is pretty on the nose when it comes to commenting on the futility of humanity. We humans are, eh, the Abyss. Pretty shitty, useless, parasitic entities that are destined to realize their own downfall by consuming the world from within. Lovely. Nothing beats a bit of world consumption, eh?
However, the influence this imposes on the external world, or our plane of reality, is a bit weird, to say the least. We’ve just straight up been like, “Haha, but what if Solaire had three balls? Like, what if?” This subverts the Heterotopia, and creates a sort of reflexive relationship between it and the world, in which the two subtly influence each other. As opposed to the world of Dark Souls becoming a dominant Heterotopia, the world within our world is stripped of its power to influence the external. Essentially, by subverting the gravity attached to Dark Souls‘ anthropological commentary, we kinda sorta slightly succumb to what it supposes of us, while simultaneously proving that it’s not the case. Like the way a vaccine works, you give yourself a little bit of a disease so that you’re body learns its moveset, and then you’re all like, “Haha, PARRIED.” Black Death? Prey slaughtered. Also, apparently every time you die in Dark Souls, Obama is to blame.
It seems ridiculous, but the only way to respond to something like this is to meme it up. It displays an awareness of what’s being proposed that’s acute enough to respond in a subversive way, without consciously allowing the weight of the meaning to crush you. Essentially, it’s the only way in which humanity can overcome the trials and tribulations inherent to Dark Souls. The parts of Dark Souls as a Heterotopia that attempt to influence the world external are effectively undone by the undying defiance of grade-A memelords, the unsung heroes of the interwebz.
This same method can be applied to most influential entities. Subverting something subsequently leads to the dismantling of its power, effectively rendering it redundant in the face of its undoing: memes. Gwyn killed all the dragons, did he? Well, clearly he missed a few, because they’re absolutely everywhere. Drakes, are they? Cool, cool. Bullshit, but cool. In Dark Souls II, Aldia says, “Very few, indeed, have come even this far. And yet, your journey is far from over. Half-grown Hollow, have you what it takes truly?” Hmm, far from over. And yet, the speedrun record for Dark Souls II is 14 minutes, during which the Half-grown Hollow managed to shed the curse that no one could while almost entirely naked. Nice one. Must be a real scary curse.
You see, the narrative of the Dark Souls series expresses the inevitable downfall of humanity. It’s concerned with how human beings, as creatures, are incapable of being anything more than the Abyss. But, Dark Souls lacks memelords. If Siegmeyer had have said to his peers, even once, “Ah, Gwyn. Killed all the dragons, did he?” No one would have been so afraid of big bad Lord Gwyn anymore. So, the Heterotopia is completely undermined by what we apply to it from the outside. It tries to tell us that humanity is doomed, and we say, “Haha, Siegmeyer fell asleep in poisonous shit again.”
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I love Dark Souls memes, and the people that make them are pretty much proving that we’re not the Abyss. Like, we’re actually all right as a species, thanks to our ability to use memes in order to change genuine insightful critique of ethics and morality into “but the dog is swinging a huge fuckin sword.”