gistofthegrist

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a pleasing sort of terror

Gothic: A genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. But also influencing architecture, fashion, music, art, movies, graphic novels,  etc. etc.

i am not so serious
this passion is a plagiarism
i might join your century
but only on a rare occasion
i was taken out
before the labor pains set in and now
behold the world’s worst accident
i am the girl anachronism

girl anachronism, The Dresden Dolls, The Dresden Dolls, 2003.

‘Gothic’ gets a bad rap. Think of the Goth subculture for instance, often seen as ‘made up’ [funny if you imagine in terms of Frankenstein’s Monster or make-up] of psychologically maladjusted misfits swanning around in corpse-paint, eating babies for breakfast, prone to violence or self-harm. “Don’t give in to the dark side Luke”. But perhaps Gothic is what we all need to be?

The problem is, in this Disney-fied cotton wool bowdlerised world largely divorced from direct experiences of death as a normal part of life, we are mostly no longer in touch with the ‘sensuousness’ of pain or grief [many might believe that engaging with such emotions is a sign of masochism or self-pity/loathing?] In some ways older times were more sophisticated – think traditional folk/fairy tales, often very ‘cruel’/dark. Presumably most Westerners view certain other cultures [think Latin America’s 1st of November celebrations of The Day of the Dead] as ‘backward’. Especially in a day and age when the closest one gets to ‘macabre’ is the scary frisson of watching a movie where things go bump in the night i.e. a pleasing sort of terror.

But arguably with a world population of now over 7 Billion there is a real need to reassess our relationships with all things Gothic: gloomy/grotesque/desolate and in particular our attitudes to death. Certainly much of value will be lost if older traditions of loss and remembrance are forgotten in increasingly ‘polite’ and sanitized rituals of marking our mortality.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Dylan Thomas, 1939.

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