the songs of song
syllabus of stygia
epistle upon the casuals
question and garden
There is only one music and one song. All other music is an echo of this most primal lullaby. Here I will list a very few intrinsic Gothic bands which are not corrupted by the taint of despicable musics. Here is a simple list of bands and their greatest expressions:
- Joy Division 1977 (single: Love Will Tear Us Apart 1980)
- Siouxsie and the Banshees 1977 (album: Song from the Edge of the World 1987)
- The Cure 1978 (album: Disintegration 1989)
- Bauhaus 1979 (single: Bela Lugosi's Dead 1979) BLD is available on cd in England; try Press Eject and Give Me the Tape
- Dead Can Dance 1982 (album: A Passage In Time 1991)
- This Mortal Coil 1983 (album: Filigree & Shadow 1986)
- Sisters of Mercy 1984 (album: Floodland 1987)
Prime: Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, Closer), Bauhaus (The Sky's Gone Out, Press Eject and Give Me the Tape, Bela Lugosi is Dead), Rozz Williams's Christian Death (Only Theatre of Pain, The Decomposition of Violets), Chrysotomos Alas (My Kissless Sister Ophelia), Sisters of Mercy (Floodland), The SWANS (The Burning World), Cure (Pornography, Faith, Disintegration), Siouxsie and the Banshees (Join Hands)
Derivita Prime: New Order (Movement), Shadow Project, Poesie Noire(Oblivion)
Secund: Legendary Pink Dots (Island of Jewels), This Mortal Coil (It'll End in Tears, Filigree & Shadow), His Name Is Alive (Livonia), Dead Can Dance (Passage In Time, Toward the Within), And Also the Trees (And Also the Trees), The Birthday Party ()
Trine: Lycia (Ionia), Black Tape for a Blue Girl (Ashes in the Brittle Air), Miranda Sex Garden (Suspira), Faith and Disease (Beauty & Bitterness), Mephisto Waltz (Terra Regina), Requiem in White, Screams for Tina, Lucie Cries, All About Eve, Sky Cries Mary, Faith and the Muse, Siren Song, Rehearse And Remember O Somerset Embers (Moreso Chastity than Love)
Of Interest: Cocteau Twins (garlands, treasure), You Shriek, Shelleyan Orphan (Century Flower, Hellesbourne), Nick Cave, Diamanda Galas (Plague Mass), Marc Almond (Torment and Toreadors), The Cranes (Wings of Joy), Depeche Mode (Black Celebration), Virginia Astley (Hope in a Darkened Heart)
Avoid: Heavy Metal, NIN, Type-O Negative, Marilyn Manson, Death Metal. Unless you like them, then partake as you see fit -- enjoy. Play loud & long.
In creating a basic course of reading for other Goths, I must keep in mind several essentials. Of primary importance is that the Goth Scene exists on a personal and an interpersonal level, our personal Scene being the secret properties and props we possess that keep us from losing ourselves in the pleasures of our dramatic melancholia. Also, I need mind the old axiom that the mirror is Our best friend; my proposition is that we in the Scene must be imperfect mirrors to one another. Individuality need be squelched to the extent that it interferes with the Scene, even to the solipsist depths of Memory and Faith. Imaginary Mary might adore the novels of Jack Kerouac and divulge of her interest to strangers without even the vestiges of shame. This is to Mary's detriment but not a felonious insult to the Scene. Were Imaginary Mary to begin using beatnik slang on a regular basis, particularly in nightclubs, and play jazz unrequested for visitors to her apartment, she risks harming the Scene. As you must know by now, the Scene is what Goth perceives itself to be and to a lesser extent what others perceive Goth to be.
Further, I have a slight affection for some books which are not of Ours and are not worth including on this list. I must ignore these slight affections in the creation of the Syllabus of Stygia as I do ignore those minor passions which plague my everyday life. My closest acquaintances know that I do not embrace dogs in the street nor have intercourse with every fifteen year old girl who shows interest. So must Tolkein and Delany bear exclusion from the Syllabus. I am tempted to restrict the inclusion of authors to those who have led exemplary lives or whose oeuvre is wholly one of the grotesque, melancholic, and obliviate. I will listen to temptation making only one or two exceptions where a single written piece proves so important that it must be mentioned. May the Great Fiend in the House of God take me. - september
A gothic fairy tale for prepube goths and even the older variety, like Lora and Tay. This is for an age past the Little Prince, when they already realize their mortality but haven't a clue what to do with their years. Titus, the main character, is the heir to Gormenghast, a castle constructed of crumbling shadow. The series ends because the author died before its completion. It's one possible precursor to Samuel Delany's Neveryona fantasy novels, whose study on linguistics and culture which included the first American novel to deal with AIDS.
Although some rebel at the concentrated attention Ms. Rice is lauded with, she can certainly write well in a dual capacity: as a popular novelist who caters to the dim hungers of a public and as a well mannered lady of letters, both of which are necessary styles she uses to communicate. Oh, and she can be a vicious sensualist with words.
She has learned the lesson of three eras of literature: the Victorians, who are typified by their voluminous text and sumptuous atmosphere; the French post-WW|| authors who rebelled against the rules and casual notions of reality earlier writers had held to (although our darling French writers have always been champions of delirium, misery, and the supernatural); and the more modern pulp novels and dimestore novels which cater directly to longing of a public who cannot afford to spend time reading long passages discoursing on nature and family -- nor waste thought on the complex ideations of armchair philosophers. She is a blend of all three styles, in my opinion, and a very tasty blend indeed.
Also, her vampires seem almost the embodiment of the historical cultures from which they were drawn, as if someone froze them in a photograph of their universe, a sole survivor of an era which only they may speak ever anew.
If possible, read the translations into French by Baudelaire. Charles Baudelaire, a worthy poet of sin and nightmare poppies, did Poe a service in the revision that all creative work undergoes via translation.
Now, of Poe proper. He is a dreamy man to whom language and modern writers owe a great deal. Before Joyce punned the poesy of Ulysses, Poe contained the terrestrial nightmare within the frozen pages of his stories; and so could Poe hear the violent songs of language before even Joyce, before Artaud who was (in the end) a poorly mannered madman from a Poe story, before Borges who infused Poe's work with a stronger demagogue. Edgar Allen Poe is the whispering archangel of modern text. A damned funny man, a damned scary man, demented in all ways we should be, and possessing the daemon of intellect we should also own.
Tanith holds within her the vampire kiss. She uses it to write with, you see, tales which are fae and sexual as those unbodied beings that will sit on your bosom this evening and choke you til you experience the orgasm of an asphyxiate.
A general rule for Tanith is: quality resides in her short stories as opposed to her novelistic attempts. Exceptions to this rule exist in a few works and just such a beautiful exception is Don't Bite the Sun which includes lovely instructions for anyone involved in a scenes wherein glamour and pretension are central themes.
Of course, as I've said before, a living writer need be fed and all her books may hold treasures that keep themselves invisible to philistines like myself.
This book is the summation of an era, the Romantic period, where the cynicism and the innocence of culture trysted. This is the story of that tryst in a triangle Freud would misunderstand. Would you? Read Lelia after watching that horridly mistaken film Haunted Summer. It is a useful book in that it shows the value of Perkygoff and the fallacy of the angrier goths.
To speak of Beckett? A stop in my voice. Unending this stop in my voice are words, the words of a man laid flat on his back and unmanned by the end of words. Beckett scribbles of end without end, displaying the powers of corruption perforce his pure style. Malone Dies is of darkness unrelieved except by a whisper that is without apparent origin or direction; the one who listens is unsure if the words are meant for another person or not.
More complex a statement on loneliness and depression than is communicated by Camus. Camus showed that man ultimately cannot connect and is independent of all others whereas Steppenwolf reveals that we exist in an interdependent social situation -- but not a very healthy one. We may not be in touch but everything that surrounds us was made by humankind for our pets or our own kind.
Dandyish misery held within a perkygoff facade, Werther depicts why we love our perkies so much; they do not threaten the Scene, they keep us whole and real while we're too miserable to live. Then, when they suffer their long, noble heart's inversion we entertain them with our blackheart comedies and seductive, vile ways.
Werther is all a perkygoff can be and dies from it. No matter what anyone tells you, although Perfect Day for Bannanafish was a wonderful story, it was not of Ours.
I will not here dispute the functionality of any mystical system. The poem is good and hot, the mystical poem which fuses this christian meditation system together; it's as erotic as God could manage in the candlelit gloom.
It is a book on the misery one feels when God has abandoned one. It could easily be about being away from one's true love, who is long silent, or feeling distant from one's own internal darkness.
It's quite an important work, both for Ours and for Christians; if you're of an occult bent, you might also read the longer work "Ascent of Mount Carmel" of which the Dark Night is just a part.
This entertaining treatise tells us exactly why we want to die. Freud abandoned the Thanatos drive, believing this Death Urge to be so much mistaken as his Seduction Theory. Seeing as the Seduction Theory was about how children -were- sexually molested sometimes and how awful it was, maybe Thanatos was not so mistaken either. Freud seemed to cover up his best ideas and promote a lot of buffoonery and nonsense. We don't need a Riot Grrrl to tell us that the Penis Envy thing is clap trap. Then again, maybe we do.
Beyond the Pleasure Principle is useful and fun, no matter what you might otherwise feel about Freud. He offered us a nice idea. A rare thing from that guy.
On the Seduction theory: Freud refuted his early Seduction theory and began telling people that children were never really sexually abused, they just fantasized about it; in other words, he felt the victim of sexual abuse wanted it but it never happened. A lot of shit, but we know why Freud was anxiously insisting that It never happened. Sigmund's grandmother had something going with the young Sigmund and it wasn't little Sigmund's idea of a good time. So stop hating him and feel both pity and awe for this genius who fucked up sometimes.
The collection of Artaud's works whether in English or in French is Ours because Bauhaus gave them to Ours. Certainly the essays Artaud wrote about Suicide were more than worthwhile.
Earlier, I said that Artaud was a Poe character and indeed he was. He was a most talented crazy. A really queer fellow.
There's more, yes, but Epigrams are as useful as the Prince and all that rot... The Picture of Dorian Gray is useful for learning how to be shallow and pretty or old and cynical. Wilde did describe many aspects which are felt by quite a few of Ours to be Scene. *I* could never play such wicked games as I'm a sweet and naive spirit. But I have heard some are good at these. Oscar was til they discovered he was a bumbugger. Wilde has found a champion in Morrissey, so if you carry Wilde with you, make sure its binding makes nebulous or slightly conceals the author. Sorry. Blame Morrissey.
Oh but his life was exemplary, a fairy tale to follow close while we are still adolescent and can fall in love with the transparent, naked romance of his life. His poetry? It's the prettiest hyperventilation, bone metre adorned with shining enthusiasm for the right things: spirit, nature, pro-feminist, a pre-communist egalitarianism, and a belief in True Love. All right for Romantic poetry, just as a hick groove is good for Richard Brautigan (to which you should answer, "Who? Oh. Didn't he kill himself?") but not necessarily Scene.
Percy Shelley is Ours, Best Beloved, for the striking body of his poetry that dealt with death and a weird survival thereof; to wit:
"That time is dead forever child, gone dead drowned forever..." "I silently laugh at my own cenotaph and build up the blue dome of air..."
This poetry and the leaves of his life compile an imaginative and romantic text Ours should engulf and learn the lesson never to walk out on one's True Love and sail into a trembling, grey sky.
She is a Goth, from all report, and a viable member of the SM/Bondage community, from what I've heard. I'm not sure about all that, but I am fond of her photograph and I look forward to locating and reading a copy of her work. From what little i've seen of the first paragraphs, it's marvellous stylistically, perhaps even superior to Tanith, Poppy, and Anne.
You might claim that the Gothic Literature has little to do with the Gothic Scene; but just why did the adjective "gothic" seem so readily applicable to describe a dark, strange music? The Gothic Literature of Ann Radcliffe and her successors. It was not due to the architecture or any music that has gone before (unless we're speaking of the Gothic Symphony, which I've yet to hear -- and I suspect that too is termed Gothic due to a literary influence).
Ann Radcliffe is the summit of Gothic Literature. If you ever are on a long road trip or are spending one of those winter nights in Russia with a book or two for company, try reading her. She's brilliant as newbegotten snow on the grave of the sun, a grave which is filled with a silver powder, o my beloved children.
A worthwhile read. His characters have much in common to many a Goth you'll meet, and the story is written beautiful at the times he does not play to a pulp comicbook audience -- all very much borrowed from Tanith Lee's Tales of the Flat Earth. You should read Tanith Lee first.
The homoerotic content of this book is gentle, convincing one to trust the author who describes love without the slightest trace of our enemies' bigotry. That she's a SubGenius doesn't disturb me as much as it should. The lovingkindness with which she describes people shows she herself is capable of great compassion. I fear her less than Tanith Lee; and the lyrics and visions her words provide are far nicer than a wooden cupful of New Orleans alcohol, sipped under a white china umbrella.
Evidently she too is Gothic. One cannot help but love her words, just as one cannot help but mock mine. Were you ever a bloodless clown in love with a vampire? I am and will be. Robert Smith's mouth.
One of the most beautiful books ever written, a prose poem on love and desire and death.
other poets: Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Arthur Rimbaud, Anne Sexton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath, Bethany Shorb, George Gordon Lord Byron, John Keats, Paul Verlaine, Emily Dickinson, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Thomas Love Peacock, Robert Blair, Thomas Gray, Edward Young, and you.
other novelists: Sheridan LeFanu, Howard Philip Lovecraft, Rachilde, Lord Dunsany, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Chambers,
mystical writers: Leilah Wendall, Ignatius, Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey, Starhawk, September, Rev Montague Summers
comics: Edward Gorey (anything), Charles Addams (Our Gang), Dame D'Arcy (Meatcake) -- avoid The Crow, which markets the selfsame violence it pretends to protest.
internet guides: Sexbat (Take a Bite v1, v2), September (The Autumn Cemetary Text, The Gothic Bible, Mysteria)
zines: Ghastly (Box 3535 Hollywood, CA 90078 $5), Carpe Noctem (Box 590 Cupertino, CA 95015-0590 $5), Permission (3023 N. Clark #777 Chicago, IL 60657 $3), Propaganda (Box 296 New Hyde Park, NY 11040 $6). Avoid Dark Angel and if possible discourage stores from selling it. Steal copies of Dark Angel and burn them. Awful zine.
Although unpleasant, ravers are not the Casuals I speak of. Island thought so, but I have told him time and time again that most ravers are Dream Children, without Hearts. They do not oppose the Gothic Scene per se, although bright colors and loud, cheerful music is their apparent mainstay. Neither are the Skins the embodied Casuals. Most Skins really don't care about the Gothic Scene, which is good, because they could thrash us unto bloody pulps. Punks are not Casuals; if they thought about it they'd not really mind our existence, as we do not oppress their freedoms although they might not like our constraints and premeditated artistry.
Casuals don't exist outside of moments and attitudes; that is, no one is a Casual unless they oppose the Gothic Scene, in its aesthetic or populace. For the most part these folk provide a minor irritant but being nibbled to death by ducks is not conducive to a poetic life. It is the Casual that will spread rumours about the Scene, sow dissent, and spread complaints through the Scene.
Here, I have listed the complaints commonly spread by Casuals and the responses you might edify yourself by and vary due to circumstance.
The main complaints seem to be:
1) Goths are pretentious.
Considerate Response: All intelligent humans pretend to some level or another and pretensions keep society alive, especially the Gothic society, which thrives on artful living and dreamy worldviews.
Insult Response: We are pretentious but you are philistines and dullards.
No Response: So?
2) Goths are posers who whine and pretend they're so dark and evil, well I know a darkness that would make most Goths shit.
Considerate Response: It sounds like you don't know much about the Gothic Scene, even if you were in it once. You must have kept your heart shut to the beauty of darkness, its swooning love.
Insult Response: Is that why you abhor the Gothic Scene? Your trousers are filthy? You are obviously the shite within the darkness.
No Response: No we aren't, no we don't, and you know very little.
3) Goths have no sense of humour.
Considerate Response: Depends on the Goth. Most try to maintain a sense of dignity and a sense of humour both.
Insult Response: We allow you to live. I'd say that's a joke but not to my taste in humour.
No Response: *laugh*
4) We don't know what Goth is. Is this Goth? Is that Goth? Am I Goth? This must be Goth! I'm Goth because I do this and that and like them too!
Considerate Response: If you don't know what Goth is, your heart is closed. Try observing the Scene rather than polluting it with fragmented opinions and unfit creatures. If you're Gothic, it's because of your expressions and affectations, which are the exterior signals and evidence of your heart's nature.
Insult Response: You're not a Goth. Go away, you're breathing on my velvet.
No Response: Oh.
5) Are you a vampire? Vampires suck. If you think you're a vampire, you're crazy.
Considerate Response: If I were a vampire, I'd consider the articulation of your statements and respond in a fashion I thought best in keeping with the nature of your query, if I thought it mete to respond at all. My relation to sanity is not an issue for me. Sanity is a belief that was generated out of superstition, much like the belief in sin. I am more concerned about comfort and discomfort, sympathy and apathy, and whether or not I'm late for my bus. Are you late for yours? Might you not check your schedule?
Insulting Response: That's all you ever talk about: vampires, witches, satanists. Go join a Church.
No Response: It doesn't matter to me what any are.
Also, there's a habit of Casuals to play music that's blatantly not Gothic and claim it's a Gothic band of some sort, especially to someone who doesn't get the chance to listen to much music or is new to the Scene. Make certain you have your own music before you make any judgement on it, or be certain your friend would not lie and misrepresent the music you're hearing. And if someone announces to you they're Goth or dresses or acts that way, do not judge them by their status, judge them by their behaviour and as an individual, not as a representative of all you stand for. A few Casuals dress as Goths in order to give Ours a bad name or to confuse Ours.
Gray banner in the snow
I drew a name under the rippling silk
My fingers gone crisp in the white ice
And I saw my love.
Grey lips halve the sky
I fingerpaint an unseen kiss
And bite my fingertips
And I saw my love.
Grey belly to my belly
I strangle hushed my heart
Til my youth with you is flooded
And you fled from me, beloved
Break open, boat. All boats jostle in the riven ocean;
It's a field of spar and deck, a forest of crow's nests.
Break open. The green juice swallows your feet.
Heave-ho! No islands but the sunken.
The charts are pale as poison. The sky is drowning tonight.
Break open, boat. Tonight I spit the rivers fifty fold.
Tonight, my mother is the silver dame of all mirrors.
Tonight, you are my father and my father doesn't know me.
Look, husbands to your wives. Wives, close your eyes.
Break open, boat.
I am drowning in thirst. My lips are rose. Ghosts make our deathbed. I yawn on your poor thighs til your thighs go rose. More flowers. Draw back a cowl and kiss a cowbell. We can say we said that we cannot sing a song.
We cannot sing the long lyric of teeth on wax-smirched skin. On our throats are impressed intaglio to be translated on the deathbed. We are children of the night imprisoned undercover. Inquisition our howls.
Love is a season to which I am unbeholden to.
I cannot abide the silence in the world. Dust, chime out as you fall, make the unseen death of birds a startling funeral. Dear, build a cathedral of splintered glass and two kisses from each mouth.
Light fractures on moisture. The candle is a crucifix. In every candleflame, I am and am in hell, kissing lucifer's sad lips, teaching the feathered demons to speak, and in my moments consumed by white sparks, I hold an unlit candle protected to my breast. Come time to sleep, dream of metal lakes and your flowery skin. My hand is on your brow, cold and soft as the child you wanted as your kin.
If I were to awaken from my skin, startled to the warm outside my corpse, I would sigh for the loss of friends reduced to dreams no matter how beloved, and in the end digested into the factor from which they figured: that invisible heart, an organ so fragile it would evaporate if perceived.
the holy of holies: a mystery of penultimate weakness.
are you afraid of death? let's hold hands and speak of silence. i will never hurt you. we will both die, given time, beloved. i am afraid of death. my love is quiet in me. your hand is warm.
A hen cut my hair; I take responsibility for rubbing wax and menstrua into the coarse fibres. I, September, have backwards spit-curls before the round of my ears, eyes the color of winter thistles, and skin the lightest shade of coffee there is, lighter than dun, darker than the dreams of kettles. My fingernails are black to match my hair. My clothes are not velvet yet, but I accept donations and gifts. Silk and velvet in all the colors inside clasped hands. My girlfriend is slowly entering my cinderstrewn heart.
large floppy black hat on his circle head. two eyes and a straight moodless mouth, a line under the two eyes. he is drawn in black crayon, a stick figure with combat boots and a cheap raincoat.
I'm five foot seven and weigh eight stone, no, closer to seven stone. A delicate eurasian face whelmed by disordered black wavy hair: mine. Also mine: thick eyebrows, brown irised eyes, a slender and small nose, cupid's bow lips, rough stubble when I forget or am unable to shave, and nice collar bones.
Scars are all over my inner arms, a bracelet of cigarette burns gone incomplete on my left wrist. My stomach hurts a lot sometimes and gives me trouble. My eyes are myopic so I often squint. I'm aging. Say a prayer for me.
Okay. My story is a hydra, flaccid as though built of water and to be perfectly honest its head is composed of many limbs, resembling a bevy of onyx serpents or a feather duster half-seen in an unlit chamber. Here is the first goth I met: several persons in each of three cities. Before I knew what goth was, I was a strange character. I talked to trees. I shot strangers with my finger. And as Gormenghast was to Titus (you have of course read Titus Groan, haven't you? well, haven't you?), so was all the world to me: a never-never land composed of poesy text and nacre-litten wonders.
I spent half my life in Riverside, California, a city that was my bride among cities. Riverside is naturally a desert so all vegetation unsuited to desert-life dies and is dyed green at the taxpayers's expense. Naturally occurring fissures in the earth emit faint vapors which contain, among other elements, strong traces of methane. The first goth I met was Wade Racine and that was in University Heights Middle School but then... he was a sad boy who had a quiet voice and a brilliant mind; he was not of Ours yet. He would grow up to be head of the Camarilla, a vampire game fanclub. Now his hair is black, a "dyed-in-the root goth"
But the first goth I met was in Riverside, California, where I attended John Wesley North High School. Her name was April Cox. It was after Wade had left California and I decided everyone was an enemy. April gave me a reflective stone, a shining bit of hematite. We never spoke, then or after. I am not sure she was really goth or if I imagined her. My memory is wont to spontaneously generate events, giving lie to any reality my history might have. Ah well.
The first goth I met was in Riverside, California; she was a white haired monster, a gold-eyed monster, a monster of powerful sexuality and a sinister aesthetic that influences me to this very day. But I spoke with Jeanne-Marie Hamilton (for that is her name) just last year -- over the phone -- and she is no longer goth! None of Ours ever leaves so she, although darkclad and ghastly, was never goth; although more gothic than Poe himself. Maybe she was lying to me, though. Jeanne-Marie lies so well she could someday be a novelist. Let's leave her in the mythic past and my love faints before it reaches her. Evil lady.
No, the first goth I met was in Boston, five years after I exiled myself from Riverside. Her name was Lora and she was inhuman. I say "was" because it's problematic to talk of Lora in present tense; her very being is too sharp for any moment to compass. Her voice is brittle. Her eyes are unholy. She moves as if on liquid strings, a marionette shaken by bone angels. Although she is very pretty, she terrifies me so. Yes, there was the first goth I met...
One Winter I was in visiting New Haven where I lived til a week after Valentine's Day... and there I slept a week in a black mansion where a secret woman stays. The room she sleeps in is always cold. She does not enjoy leaving her perennially unlit chambers. The lightbulbs are cloudy and of unsettling hues. Ghosts whelm her paintings and spirit away rude visitors. Her pet cats offer their pulsating bodies to guests who stay the weekend. Nights are horrors. Days are intoxicated on cigarette smoke and space itself stretches, yawning in the dreary winter light.
And now I am a goth alone.
And I have lied to you and to myself.
And I love you all, good night.
Are turnips gothic?
Only while the root vegetable is underearth, cthonic so to speak, while winter spreads her gelid dominion in the air and all air touches, yea, is that root vegetable gothic.
-- finished upon february's tenth eve,
anno domini nineteen ninety six,
upon midnight's hour,
authored by September, who by mortal law
is recognized as Lloyd Warren Ravlin the Third
pray for ours, we are hearted
Back to the beginning.
Back to deadrose