My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Friday, 24 August 2012

Dark Romanticism and Goth

I'm more aptly a 'dark Romantic' than a Goth.


Photograph by Raven, Editing by the HouseCat

Maybe I've always had a broadly Romantic attitude, but one that was not really cultivated into anything productive until I started reading about the philosophy and literature of that time period. I started finding that I agreed with a lot of it and that the rest of it was taking me down new and exciting avenues. Some of these ideas became building blocks of my personal philosophy (which constantly evolves) and some of them fell by the wayside, but my way of thinking and my creativity were far more influenced by things that happened over  150, even 200 years ago than by what happened in the 1980's. My head was full of Clare, Keats, Wordsworth,  of Beethoven, Paganini, Weber, Liszt, Chopin, etc. long before it was full of Ian Curtis, Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith, Andrew Eldrtich, Patricia Morrison and Dave Vanian. Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, etc. were my transition between the two, with a large dash of Arthurian poetry and art, Pre-Raphaelites and Tolkien. 


Photograph by Raven, Editing by the HouseCat

Romanticism informs far more of my world-view than Punk thinking - even my tendency towards anarchism is rooted more in centuries-old political philosophies than 1970s political philosophies. My search for experience is core to my way of life, to the point where I think the purpose of life is to experience as much and as richly as possible. A lot of my art is based on direct inspiration from nature; I see strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, with a decidedly Gothic emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, including the feelings that come around contemplating the inevitability of our own demise and decay. Awe, to me, is the emotion upon which I build inspiration, especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublime glory of untamed nature - the awe experienced while looking into the raging storm, or at wild currents of a river's rapids - and I'd go storm-chasing at white-water rafting if I could. On one hand I embrace medievalism, Gothic revival architecture and Arthurian myth, and on the other I look to the exotic (relative to my culture), to Japanese culture and ancient ruins. I empathise with William Blake as he talks of 'dark Satanic mills" in reference to early industrialisation, and see it continue in the smoke-stacks of coal fired-power stations, and in the seemingly unstoppable increase of materialistic consumer culture and all the factories thousands of miles away that feed it. 


Photograph by Raven, Editing by the HouseCat

In feeling like an alien amongst mainstream society I went looking for philosophies I did agree with - somewhere other people had to see things the way I did, and it did not seem that I was mad - and unfortunately found them to be an anachronism in relation to modern life, but then, as I read and experienced more about the various counter-cultures and subcultures from Arts & Crafts and Pre-Raphaelite era women in 'artistic dress' through Hippies and Punks to Goths -especially Goths- I saw the ideological tendrils that began with Sturm und Drang and revolutionary France were still bearing fruit. I did not set out to become a latter-day Romantic, albeit one with a fondness for black and the macabre, it just suits my personality down to the ground. 


Photograph by Raven, Editing by the HouseCat

My interests are broader than the Goth subculture, my perspective has not grown out of punk or of rock, but out of philosophy, literature and art, and I'm often a bit of a walking anachronism in more than just my fashion choices. Talking of fashion choices, stylistically I am fascinated by an aesthetic, not a subculture, and will wear things from Visual Kei, Elegant Gothic Aristocrat, Lolita and other Japanese styles as much as I'd wear Goth things, and will also wear vintage things or "hippie" things, or whatever else takes my fancy. I am more interested in anachronistic styles, luxuriously textured fabrics and an almost theatrical appearance than in what particular subculture you could attribute a garment to. My eclectic approach to fashion is not something I disguise, and where possible, I do try to accurately describe my various subcultural influences. 


Photograph by Raven, Editing by the HouseCat

My not-Goth interests predate my interest in the Goth subculture, and have not really wained in interest, only in time to spend on them. I am into the music, the fashion, the broader creative endeavours and the attitude that comprise the Goth subculture, but that only represents a small facet of who I am, and I feel that "Dark Romantic" encompasses a far greater amount of who I am than "Goth". Goth is still part of my identity, I still think the label applies to me, just it does not cover everything. 

8 comments:

  1. I really came to Goth through literature too. I loved the dark romance of it. I have always loved poetry, and Gothic and Romantic literature. I think of myself as a Neo-Victorian. I really get what you mean about feeling alien in mainstream society. Goth helped me feel there were others who shared these dark romantic ideals. The funny thing is now my strangeness feels so normal to me I often forget I am strange to others with my over the top Victorian inspired outfits and reclusive book obsessive ways.

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    1. There seems to be quite a few goths who didn't arrive in the subculture via the music first. Yes, sure, they enjoy the music, but it seems that the subculture is a haven for the darkly romantic and anachronistic souls out there.

      I have to remember too, sometimes, that not everybody thinks of parasols as an immediate solution to excess sunshine, or that curling up with a book and a cup of tea is superior to watching television... Partly it's because if you socialise with a lot of equally strange people to whom such things are just another quirk, you forget that some people think that they're freaky and more alien than Alien.

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  2. I believe that you have given us a very good description of yourself. This entry brings to mind that labels can only go so far in identifying who and what a person is all about.

    I like the Goth label and personally identify that way, but do so with the understanding that, like you, I am much more complex than the term suggests. I had other interests before I discovered the subculture and those interests remain. I have a personal history that is uniquely mine, as do we all. To discard my other fascinations would involve throwing away some of the very things that have made me who I am. Why would any of us ever want to do that? We'd only be diminishing ourselves in the process.

    By the way, these exercises we must go through in order to prove that we're not robots are getting more and more difficult. I'm on my fourth try.

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    1. Thank-you :) While I don't discard the Goth label, I do think that trying to 'just' be Goth would be limiting. Heck, not having enough hours in the day or money in the bank to do half of what I want is limiting enough as it is!

      I don't know how to change the commenting system. I don't want to have moderated comments, because I'd like everyone to be able to say whatever they think, even if they disagree with me (although people being insulting and swearing will be asked to re-iterate their point with fewer swears and insults.)

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  3. All remarkably similar here. Although I'm still having a hard time combining it all with reason. You covered most aspects, allowing us great insight into your personality. Great post.

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    1. I think that the rational, scientific approach and the intuitive, emotional approach are two different tools for gaining two different sorts of understanding. As far as I see it, reason without feeling is cold, and feeling without reason is madness, so neither is helpful on its own.

      Thank-you, I try to keep my posts interesting and insightful.

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  4. You definitely have a romantic side to your style and nature as the photographs show, by the way tell Raven they are excellent as always and he shouldn't put himself down so much. New experiences and ways of thinking have always been the way we develop into the person we are and continue to grow, and there is nothing wrong with an interest in the macabre!

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    1. Raven really shouldn't put himself down so much - he has great skill with a camera.

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