Nov 29 2011

#213 “Crazy Combo”

From a stranger in Raleigh, North Carolina

At a first glance, this simple illustration might seem like nothing more than an uncomplicated reference to the collection of athletic teams at North Carolina State University known affectionately as the Wolfpack. However, a deeper inspection reveals that the motivations and focus behind this particular picture are much more complicated and not so easy to decipher. An interesting combination of creative influences are at work here that only the Internet-savvy mind would be able to interpret.

Let’s explore this together: First of all, we’ll notice that the individual who drew this picture is no doubt very familiar with the latest memes that happen to be making their way across the World Wide Web at any point in time. This is made obvious by the fact that this stranger discovered Wolves by Strangers via, a semi-serious subculture “news” website of sorts. But one will also notice that the username is a reference to NCSU which explains why the individual would be enamored with wolves in the first place. But what about the fact that there is a wolf riding another wolf in the illustration? Well, dear friends, to understand this somewhat subtle reference, you must really know your memes. Combined with accompanying text that states, “I heard you like wolves,” this picture is an enigmatic yet overt reference to the Xhibit “Yo, Dawg” meme (which you can find more information about here).

So, in the end, while this illustration may seem simple at first, it is deceptively so. In reality, a variety of influences come together to form a unique wolf soup, flavored with a variety of electronic spices and served up in a meme-based bowl. The NCSU Wolfpack,, Wolves by Strangers and Xhibit. What a tasty treat!

Jul 15 2011

#76 “Pack Mentality”

From Joel

What fine specimens greet our eyes today. As you can clearly see, these wolves by Joel are simultaneously beautiful and and artfully rendered, but they also accurately represent one of the most well-known features of the wolf lifestyle: the tendency to live and travel in packs. Now, there is a lot of information available as to why wolves live and travel in groups, and if you are curious, you can access information here. But when you think about it, many reasons for existence of the wolfpack can easily be guessed. For one, it makes hunting prey easier. It also allows for greater personal security, helps to ensure the availability of mates, and provides a “social” outlet for the animals.

When you translate the concept of the pack into the realm of human existance, things can get a little tricky. There are a variety of sides to this issue and many ways to examine it. Some might argue that the global society formed by increased technological communication is in turn increasing the human pack mentality. Others argue that this same phenomenon is actually decreasing true human interaction and is only serving to isolate people. On another note, when you look at most modern communities, many people don’t have anything that resembles a close personal relationship with their neighbors. This is probably due to the fact that as our society progresses and the ease of acquiring the necessities and amenities of life increases, our reliance on those that live in a close proximity to us decreases. But, eventhough we not know the person who is living next door to us, it can also be argued that there are more social outlets than ever before in terms of activities that range from recreational softball teams to the wild world of LARPing.

So what can we do? What conclusions about the “human pack” can be reached when the viewpoints that are so fundamentally different? I’m not really sure, but here’s a start: I think that we can all agree that we need each other. Not necessarily for survival, but still… we need each other. Ne need the warm smiles, the firm handshakes, the loving embraces, the gentle holding of hands that only another human can offer. And if we truly believe this, why not make the choice to today? Add life to the pack. Be kind to one another. Show love in every way possible in your daily life. Let your life be a blessing to others. If we all pull together, there’s no telling what we may accomplish.

Thanks for the artwork, Joel. Your contribution is a reminder of the selflessness and beauty that I hope to practice in my own life.