the first night in three portions
the second night, a definition
the third night which is spent apologizing
the fourth night in memoriam
Firstmost comes the concession that we're all separate and vastly atypical, even though we've grand similarities to one another. We're all individuals, or so we believe. There is so much pressure to recognize that everyone is an independent creature from one another, it has become difficult to keep anyone together. Everything is falling apart in the world because so many desire to be apart and different. I don't mind conceding to a lie; it seems necessary to, at times. So, I will say we are all individual from one another. Too many people who are new to the Gothic Scene believe that it's about independence and anything they happen to feel is dark and scary. It's not. It's about a certain darkness, a beautiful night, the end of life, and perception.
And we're in mourning, companions, we need not adopt spiteful words in addressing one another. That's the work of one who wishes to tear down the Scene. Do not let any harm the Scene, for this cenotaph is a home for our Darkness and the Night Itself. If you disagree with this text, let it move you to create beauty, not to disrupt what little beauty is left to us in the universe, the universe which is already dead.
Also, we're not "Gothics", as some linguistic wits would have it.
The term for a single member of the Gothic Scene, human, is a goth. The word for a group of members who are all of the Gothic Scene is goths, and although there are terms for small groups of goths, from one alone up to one million, these tend to be personal terms. I'll share my terms towards the end. Also Goth are those bands which are composed primarily of Gothic musicians, musicians who claim to be Goth and whose lyrics are reminiscent of Gothic literature and whose music is not entirely exterior of the Gothic Scene.
Gothic is the adjective associated with the noun "Goth". In respect to the Gothic Scene, it cannot be seen as a noun, although it has found itself a noun before in general usage. To call individual goths "gothics" is to annoy September (who has been tense, recently) and to make others wonder at the decline of the educational system.
If something is Not Gothic, it's just too pink, too happy-go-lucky, too possessed of unrefined violence.. It's just Not Gothic. Also those unnecessary characteristics that are occasionally held by goths but not necessarily gothic traits. Cocteau Twins, for instance, are wondrous keen, but is not necessarily Gothic, even though a many Goths will like it. Now, I have friends who are Ours who have dyed their hair pink, but this is all an accident and easily forgiven. This Heart is Ours in order that we may forgive, and every day the Goth will fall from the dignity.
And the Casual? The Casual is something the antithesis of Goth by its very nature and destructive to the Gothic Scene. I've met some people who claim to be actively antagonistic to the Gothic Scene, some of whom dress in black and attend the same clubs as we do. Scary, eh? Not really. Trust those friends who are the haunt you gyre, and they'll trust you.
Thirdly, on the word Gothic: it refers to the music influenced by the literary usage of the word to describe a Romance that was spiritual in object and French in character; what remains is a romantic supernaturalism extending unto the sensual and frightening heresy and the beautifully grotesque in life. The music arose invisibly from primal darkness and so it shall remain.
We are of the Night, some of Ours, reading this. That is what we are: of Darkness, of the Night. Ours is the songs of eventide, before dusk's blue and rose arise. Rozz Williams, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, symbols of the Crucifixion of Christ, September (tho he may at times smile), Percy Shelley, Isaac, Storm Constantine, Ophelia, Poe; yes, these are Ours.
Any gothic band that projects a dark beauty in their music and puts claim to their status as gothic or death rock is Ours. We're not shamed before the Darkness, and we know Ours are Goths (when Ours are not Death Rockers or the selfstyled "dark"). Any book that is written in elegant victorian style, includes a few tormented gothic characters, or is otherwise similar to the gentle horror and mournful love of life that is Ours.
Ours allows for the companionability of Jesus Christ, Abraham's son Isaac, and many a God and Goddess (Kali, Selena, Nox, et cetera), while many of the cruel who claim to be religious are not considered beautiful by Ours.
Among the religious writers, one might look upon St. John of the Cross (most importantly, the author of "the Dark Night of the Soul") in order to understand suffering in intelligence and beauty -- and for a wonderful homoerotic poem.
Yes, Ours were very fond of Christ for a long while: rosaries with crucifixes were worn around every throat -- this long before carrying lunchboxes became popular. Lunchboxes are good and well. I have seen coffin shaped lunchboxes which are more than acceptable, and for those who see themselves as having a light and playful nature, there are also Tim Burton film lunchboxes along with Scooby Doo lunchboxes. Unpleasant things, those. And Ankhs. Ankhs were once precious and rarely used by any except Goths who had seen the Hunger. Goths prided ankhs as being of the Scene and no one else would use it. Then, ankhs were taken by the Aquarian Age, afterwards to be swallowed thickly into the throat of mainstream culture as "cool". Ever notice how many stupid people use the words "cool" and "sucks"? Avoid those words and avoid people who use those words out of context to describe temperature and forcefully applied air pressure.
Everything of death and longing, darkness and restrained horror is within our mouth, religion to be digested for its beauty no less than a film written by Henrich Galeen. Christianity and Satanism can sit peacefully in Gothic wardrobes and libraries.
We might also use the fragmented tenets of pre-Christian Gnosticism and claim we are part of an evil universe from which there is -no- awakening, created as it was by a malevolent god; that the only true escape is to accept the invisible origin of everything, the creator of our creator, the silence and darkness which mourns for us and our separation from It. Thus, we sever ourselves from the banality engaged in by the Casual (the anti-Goth). Whatever you like to daydream of, dearies.
"Define or be defined." - TAP
We do not Suffer all the time. We do not like suffering. Ours are of beauty. We do not kill ourselves (hopefully). Ours are gentle. Moreover, Ours honor Death and do not impose ourselves upon Her in the manner of a suicide. We are capable of all human emotion, albeit that we are witness to our own funeral and the death of our beloved own kind. All die. Here's the funeral first.
Apologies are explanations. I will continue to apologise.
More? More then: the difference between Sorrow and Depression.
The difference between Sorrow and Depression is this.
Sorrow is an epiphany wherein we understand the suffering of all creatures and wish to avoid harming the world any further. It is necessary to know Sorrow if we are to nurture Love. Depression?
When we hate ourselves and despise the world, that is depression. Depression murders words and our Heart. Avoid depression, which silences art, stills the body, and enjoins us to act abhorredly, in the sense that we should not entertain guests while in such a state, but hold holy to us those best of friends, our best beloveds, those who know our Hearts and believe in us and forgive all.
It all began in 1979 and not with Punk nor with any other music or underground; if you must, it evolved out of possibilities that were realized as open when Punk became widespread and New Romance was in the works at doing the same. Allow this: Goth arose from Darkness. For those who can see, they will know. Otherwise, plunge your hand into the wound and suffer, my dear. It is dark inside.
It's difficult to actually trace a "Scene" because we do come up with experiential disagreements like: `nobody called it "goth" except for a group of really pretentious girls who'd been to London'. The history of Goth and/or Deathrock is a history of individuals because different people were exposed to Goth in different ways and times even in the same area. So you might have seen a certain type of music in the record stores at a given time, but another may have been sleeping alone with a dark music, afraid to speak with anyone, while his wicked stepfather beat him with a rake. Any history of the Goth Scene written like a history of wars or regal succession cannot be accurate: it must necessarily be of individual experience and not of a grand, undocumented movement like that of our Scene. Otherwise, we run into a personal account that believes it's true, maybe with some accuracy, but risks invalidating the recollections of another.
Imaginary Mary, for instance, might have heard of Death Rock at an LA Science Fiction Convention in '84, and the womyn she met was tall, slender, pale, and wore an antique black silk dress, a veil over her face, and smoked a lot of cloves. Island wrote to me in '86 from Sacramento and told me he'd "nary seen nor heard of any gentle admirers of the symphonie grotesque" throughout the Southern California locale; although he was listening to Bauhaus and Christian Death at the time and I refused any form of music. I wrote to him, informing him of Mary's current locale. Had I not known Mary, I might have written: "There were no Goths in SoCal in '86" and been correctly accused of an erroneous assumption.
Can we be certain that these girls who claim to have come from England weren't just telling people they were Gothic in order to emulate an English boy, who left the area before anyone else met him? I don't mean to question any thesis so fiercely, but every history is subject to doubt and unintentional misrepresentation.
The problem with attempts to pin down the starting point or genesis of Goth is that different people came into the Gothic Scene from different music-cultures; frequently independent record labels would carry bands that never were heard except by locals -- and it may well be that one or more of these independent bands begot something akin to deathrock before deathrock began. Also, you can argue that punk became goth or new romance became goth til you're blue in the face, but the fact remains that the music did not become anything -- the people behind the music and the people listening to the music decided to do something new. When this new thing began to find a name is when these people started to converge on deathrock first and gothic later.
The spirit of Bauhaus was influenced, consciously or no, by David Bowie, Artaud, and Dadaism -- not to mention Gothic literature. Sisters of Mercy were touched by Leonard Cohen and modern fears of armageddon. Christian Death had the erotic poetry within Dark Night of the Soul.
I remember an argument with a man in highschool. He was telling me he hated deathrock, which he called "deathpunk" but adored Goth, although he was neither, refusing any such label, and I found him repellent. It is not a glorification of the Scene or ones place in it to refuse to be referred to as a Goth. I believe he also made the errant claims that Sex Pistols was a Gothic band, that Siouxsie Sioux remained a Punk Rocker as her music became darker, and that the earliest Gothic bands sounded "punky", a term he said he picked up from watching a certain sitcom.
That this man called deathrock "deathpunk" is an interesting item to me. An argument might ensue that deathpunk was the original term, while others might view that deathrock was. In my experience, names mix and change as confusion is caused by battling opinions. Then, a winning strategy grabs enough people, and that strategy brings a name with it. This process may have occurred during the shift from Death Rock to Gothic Rock, and from whatever Death Rock was before into what it became.
So there might have been twenty people in your town who knew the whole dark wave and some called it "deathpunk" casually and some called it "deathrock" religiously, and others used either word interchangeably. Same goes for the shift between "deathrock" and "gothic".
Now, you may wonder why the decent, genuine goths follow a nonviolent, spiritual gothic scene that excludes the level of anarchy and self-defined aesthetics common to Punk. These goths do not wear leather jackets or chains but restrict themselves to the more graceful of clothing, their attitudes following suit, being more lyrical than rough and industrial. You might not care, but if you do wonder, I can tell you that I am fascinated by the unique survival tacts the Gothic Scene takes; Goths are unique in our chosen style. Unlike Punk we prefer gloom to aggression. If you listen to the early Gothic music, there are few influences from Punk or Metal -- that would come later from out of work Punk and Metal musicians, lorn from the loss of their movements, seeking *anything* else.
The Rock and Roll revolution failed because it thrived on disruption without possessing a strong philosophy or aesthetic of its own. The Summer of Love (of the Haight-Ashbury Independent Proprietors, or HIP) also failed, although it had a philosophy, which was to love, refusing all that was hateful. The defeat of the hippies were because they directly and openly opposed a larger social pattern which eventually ate it alive, digesting its politics til all that remained were drugs and sex, composing it into disco and the new hippy. I cannot comment very well on Punk, as it's a thriving and changing community that defies definition in some ways: it is rebellion personified, anarchy, and the life of the self against empty social expectations imposed by an upper class. Punks are reactionary, it seems to me, by being Punk and being themselves through Punk. It's not *pure* individuality all the same -- it's Punk Rock. One revolts against society, rather than enters a new culture altogether, a neutral culture that can coexist peacefully with others.
Goth has its own aesthetic, its own court so to speak. We are Goths and not Punks, not indies, certainly not hippies, and we're by no means Augustus. As noted by anyone with sense, there's no central politic or religion but there is a central aesthetic (darkness), which can be found in any religion -- Gnostic Judaism, Christian Mysticism (especially St. John of the Cross), and some of the rarer forms of modern pagan worship (say, the worship of the primal and orphic goddess of night)
Then there's the invasion of PIBs, Persons In Black, who clad themselves as we do but allow NIN, Marilyn Manson, and Type O Negative as influences on what their view of Goth is. Someone care to illuminate the upstarts? This movement is likely to make Goth into an imitation Heavy Metal music. Just listen to the soundtrack of the Crow. Yes, yes, the ambient music is wondrous but the _soundtrack_ is thick with pop indy bands, which all should be abhorred to you with the exception of the Violent Femmes, the Cure and Jane Siberry. These folk are not hateful in essence but can be annoying if not well mannered. Greet them gently, educate them if they show promise, but know that they are false until they prove true.
Some separate the Gothic Scene into classifications such as "perkygoff", "mopeygoth", "indygoth", "glittergoth", etc. It's generally recognized that these manifold characterizations of Goth are fictional and intended only in jest, it's true that not all goths are the same, although the highest ideal can be found in some conventional images: some are austere within their cold pride, some are shy and terrified, some are empassioned with fiery poetry and supernatural sensitivities. But Goth is not Punk (we are less anarchistic). Goth is not Industrial either (indies like ravers have no philosophy, they have a music). Goth, like Death Rock before it, is a Scene that requires an intuitive understanding but is coming to an explicable self-definition. Goth also faces self destruction in the form of popularization; various other musical communities gamble for our clothing while we're vanishing on the cross, becoming all ghost, unseen but for what we're called by faceless monsters that think they're Ours but aren't.
We can laugh, as suggested by the DJ and internet gothic comedian named Sexbat, and we'd best laugh while we can. It won't be funny for long. But we'll survive and the darkness will pour from our crucifixion's stigmata. Dream, best beloveds, we'll sleep until woken by the chant of crickets in the evening. The stone will roll away. The dead will arise. Goth will fade but revive. And let's hope to Rozz we won't be too silly by then.
Back to the beginning.
Back to deadrose