A Metaphysical Perspective on Ornithology

The Definitive History of 35c3's "Birds Aren't Real" Meme

The quiddity of avians remains controversial. Are they, in fact, harmless beasts, or are they the tools of a globalist surveillance network, or both? If both, what percentage of birds can be trusted? Logistics aside, debate surrounding bird-essence continues to rage. One intrepid soul at 2018’s c3 dared to take a stand, boldly stating: BIRDS AREN’T REAL.

Fig 1: The Prime Meme

No copies of the original flyer could be salvaged free from vandalism, testimony to the powerful feelings evoked by discussion of bird ontology. By the second day of Congress, only counter-propaganda was to be found. Calls to respect and cherish avians went unheeded, however, and these new posters fell victim to guerilla editors, flying through the compound on scooters, markers in hand.

Fig 2: Riposte

By evening, the philosophers had expanded their purview, and selected a cavalcade of creatures for reductive zoo-physical analysis. Tardigrades, manatees, and ostriches, among others, fell under suspicion, as bestiaries worldwide were accused of harbouring illuminati spy-bots. As usual, it proved easier to incite the mob than quell it: calls for bird fraternity were swept aside and doubt in animal integrity spread like wildfire.

Fig 3: Chimeras of Clay and Tech

The very foundations of reality trembled. Why are we here? Where is “here”? Is 35c3 a figment of our collective, LED-addled imaginations? To what extent is the boundary between the self and the universe meaningful? Can the human species truly be considered a cohesive unit? Does the sun exist? Is it, too, complicit in the 21st century’s abolition of digital privacy?

Fig 4: God is Dead

On the third and fourth days, the meme turned autophagic, and questioned its own status in the hierarchy of the real, and shredded the principles which had once allowed it to flourish. At this point, it is our sincere belief that a glimmer of consciousness was born, as the scattered network of posters cohered in experiencing the tell-tale symptom of a sentient mind: self-doubt.

Fig 5: And We Have Killed Him

It remains uncertain whether the events which transpired at 35c3 were the product of “real” spontaneous coordination, or the sinister prank of an elite terrorist cell dedicated to destabilizing hackers’ models of social contagion and memetics. Some, perhaps wisely, have chosen to treat the entire episode as a mass psychotic break.

Fig 6: Dreams of Madmen and Thieves

No memes were harmed in the writing of this paper. Memes were collected post-conference and treated with the greatest respect. The memes have been ethically rehomed, and now live in a hackerspace where they will continue happily consuming attention.

  1. Anon, 2019. 35c3 BIRDS AREN'T REAL. Imgur, https://imgur.com/a/7HYlvhC
  2. Melted Moon, 2018. "To everyone at #35c3...". Twitter, @melted_moon, https://twitter.com/melted_moon/status/1079490310294642690
  3. Anon, 2019. Category:Birds arent real meme. Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Birds_arent_real_meme