On the Enigma of a Damned Daniel | YUYU
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On the Enigma of a Damned Daniel

Zane Decker May 19, 2017 June 6th, 2017 Three pictures of Damn Daniel, with radial blur applied

“Damn Daniel, back at it again with the white Vans.” This phrase coined by twitter user joshholzz is one that touched the lives of many people. The phrase itself is powerful, even while saying it one feels invincible. As you say it, as you digest what it is you are given, you start to ask yourself some questions. Who is Daniel? Why is he back at it again with the White Vans? Why is he damned?

Who is Daniel?

Daniel Lara, aka Damn Daniel, is a highschool student of Riverside Poly High School in Riverside, California but that’s not important. To really understand who Daniel is we must look at the essence of Daniel in the context of the phrase. Daniel is us, we are Daniel, he is the projected image of man so to speak. Without Daniel humanity itself does not exist. We live our lives as our own Daniels, that is to say he is not a singular human but rather each human as an individual. When we wake up we are Daniel, when we shower we are Daniel, when we eat we are Daniel, and when we die we are Daniel. Daniel is the being that makes humans human, the heart that beats the proverbial drum of consciousness and echoes throughout all of humanity’s history. Daniel is what built the Sistine Chapel, Daniel is what painted The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Daniel is what wrote Hamlet and all great works of literature alike. Daniel is the laugh of a new born child, Daniel is the faint cry of a man before he dies, Daniel is the joy of being in company, and Daniel is the rage that made Abel strike down Cain with a rock. The being of Daniel is the being of human, each spark that flows through our blood allowing us to live and create.

white vans with "daaaamn daniel" written

What are White Vans?

Vans is shoe manufacturer based out of Cypress, California. While they produce a large variety of shoes in a variety of colors, we will only be talking about their authentic white skate shoes. In highschool i’m sure you saw them a lot, hallways cluttered with Vans footwear. Hightops, lowtops, slip ons, boots, they’re the essential shoe for a more alternative audience. Vans are worn as a statement: “I am not like everyone, I am an individual. I take care of the way I dress while also not subscribing to the norm. I am here to change the world and make a difference. I am here to live joyfully and enjoy what I love.” These [young adults] are a group targeted by consumerism given how easily influenced they are. Vans are just that, the previously mentioned statement mass produced and sold to this targeted demographic. Vans are the representation of the consumerist culture we currently live in. They are the innate human desire to want. We all want nice things, and Vans has crafted a shoe that reels in that desire. Ownership of goods makes you feel as though you are a worthwhile human being. Others look at you and say “hey, that person has nice things” and when that happens two things go through their mind. “I hate that person for owning more nice things than I do” or “That person has nicer things than I, i’ll compliment and try to befriend them.” When we don’t have goods, we at least want to associate with those that do. No one is friends with a King because he’s a cool dude, he just has a lot of goods and you want to be a part of that. Vans aren’t only the goods, but they’re the desire, the need to have those goods.

Why is Daniel back at it again with the White Vans?

There’s a crucial element we haven’t been talking about here: the announcer, Josh Holz. Josh Holz is the unseen voice that gives light to the whole phrase “Damn Daniel, back at it again with the White Vans.” While this phrase is projected onto Daniel Lara the real being here is Josh Holz. Josh walks up to his friend Daniel, says the phrase, and Daniel smiles. Josh as the unnamed third party breaths life into the whole phrase and meme itself. Josh is the creator, he is essentially the god of Damn Daniel. If not for Josh, how would we know Daniel is back at it again with the White Vans? Daniel would live a perpetual truth, he would wear the white vans for eternity. Josh gives us the knowledge allowed to understand that he is only back at it. Daniel does wear white Vans for all of time, he takes them off.

Humanity, since civilization started, has warred. Kings want more land, more power, more furnishings for their castles. The warriors want money, recognition, property. We live in this constant cycle of warring for power and property and, once achieved, we stay still and count our gold. Herein lies why Daniel is back at it again. His Vans are the harbinger of war and he is merely the king saying onto his people “Fight ! You will one day wear the white Vans if we are victorious!” Daniel sits a top his white throne, knowing that he has already collected the spoils. The whiteness of his Vans only further this, he offers peace now that he has the treasure from the war. He and the Vans are the ever lasting pattern that mankind struggles with: the power struggle.

Why is he damned?

When Eve bit into the forbidden fruit God damned all of humanity. They were no longer allowed to live in the paradise that was the Garden of Eden. Daniel, accepting and wearing the white Vans damned him in the very same way. In accepting and wearing the white Vans Daniel tastes the power of owning property and goods. He from thereon forth only craves this excitement, the sweet taste of property. Daniel is forever damned to toil in the cycle of living to gain property. His Vans only drive him to want more and more until there is nothing left. If left to his own devices Daniel would wear the Earth on his feet and speak out into the void of space ” I am back at it again with the blue ball.”

We are all our own personal Daniels, craving our own white Vans. We work day after day only to achieve the ultimate pair of white Vans. We walk through the streets seeing others wearing white Vans and we stop and wonder when it’s our turn. The homeless man thinks “I am damned, but am I Daniel? If i’m Daniel, then when am I going to be back at it again with the white Vans?” He gazes out onto the darkness of the city and hopes that one day, maybe, he’ll be back at it again with the white Vans. Life is like Daniel. Sometimes we are back at it again with the white Vans, and sometimes we are damned.