(9/23/02 9:34:25 am)
| Goth Industrial, KMFDM, Rammstein, story culture of Goth?|
Dear Everyone: Soon to be working with young adults who identify with Goth Industrial music, like Rammstein and KMFDM. Would like to be as respectful as possible. Thus far have laid only three boundaries to being with the kids; no illegal acts, extrreme safety in all things, and no bloodshed beyond tattoing and garden-variety body piercing. My role will be creating a short series of gatherings of young Goth adults to hear stories of redemption, that is stories that do not end in dead, dead, dead only, but also in new life.
I tread lightly here at first, for sense an underlying element in this culture that may not thrive exactly on the light of day, am not sure. This work is part of a project of our organization," La Sociedad de Guadalupe," to reach out to extreme and marginalized groups of young adults. This follows on work doing post-trauma recovery at Columbine high school, which like many other schools, has vast groups of outsiders that are 'invisible' to most and their souls and spirits are completely untended to as a result. It is interesting that in the schools, the academic or athletic more-acheiving students who 'have so much,' want the 'have-nots' to not be attended to, and will say aloud in various ways, "Why do you want to talk to those losers?" (But that is another code to break, as well)
Our premise for all young adults is that absence of useful stories containing powerful transformative motifs can impoverish a person's way of seeing good and useful optons and choices about conduct of life. We think that certain stories can help to unfetter people instead of fencing them in to be only 'a type,' and nothing more.
Does anyone know A) the underlying motifs (cultural stories) of the Goth culture or where might find such in writing in a book? B)anything about the music? It has profound stories in it. I have as of last night listened to the music of the two groups listed above and read the translations of their lyrics on a Goth website --the songs are indeed "stories," many of them dark. Do you know who are the main drivers of these stories? Any hunches about their roots? C) I will need redemptive stories of cutting, grave burials, D&S, transformation through suffering...plus some stories about chauvinism and perhaps mob psychology, and I know quite a few and will look for some others as soon as have more firm foundation of the Goth culture. WIll need to use terms that can "pierce" (no pun intended) our young adults' particular way of dreaming life. Their' way' appears to be 'of' this world, and 'not of' this world, both
Soon will be visiting a tattoo/piercing parlor run by Goth people. Am invited to go to a Goth "dance" this next week with the kids. It is a peculairity of the Goth culture that can be seen so far; they do not differentiate about people's ages. (I, grandmother, several times over). They seem to categorize by other, sometimes more open, standards. They also seem to hold to extreme edges, by their own reports, in order to "feel." (This being a whole treatise of its own I would think.)
Anyone who can help, I appreciate. If there are any living Goths lurking on this list, more so, or family members of Goths. Or persons who have 'any' kind of insights, advices. Knowing opinions about pros and cons of this culture from those who are 'not' in it are also greatly appeciated. Thank you in advance.
(9/23/02 11:40:58 am)
| gothic comments|
I would identify myself as a goth, so if there's anything specific I can help you with, let me know.
Here's a (very, very) good introduction to goth culture that should answer a lot of your questions:
For a fun "insider's" look at the different types of goths, read this decorating guide from Gothic Martha Stewart:
And, of course, you can check out some magazines, such as the online
gothic.net ( www.gothic.net/
), or stores such as Dark Emporium (www.darkemporium.com/acatalog/index.html
) to get a feel for what's out there.
I have to think more about what kind of stories might be good...will post more later.
Hope this helps.
(9/23/02 11:54:26 am)
| villains as heroes|
One aspect of gothic culture (IMHO) is identifying with the villain. I don't think this necessarily means identifying with evil, so much as seeing what society perceives as evil (the witch, ghosts, undeath etc.) in a different light. To this end, re-told stories where the villain is the hero (Kissing the Witch comes to mind) might be one way to approach your group.
(9/23/02 1:29:31 pm)
| Re: Goth Industrial, KMFDM, Rammstein, story culture of Goth|
I know some goth readers who really identify with the writings of Francesca Lia Block, Caitlin Kiernan, Tanith Lee, Poppy Z. Brite and Storm Constantine. They seem to either be young goth girls or gay/bi/lesbian goths.
Most of these goths I've encountered at the university where I'm teaching freshman composition as I earn my Masters degree in English. So many of the students are just out of high school, and can still apply to the age categories you're looking at, I would think.
I hope this helps. If I can think of anything else, I'll post again.
(9/23/02 4:25:26 pm)
| a few more books...|
Let me add to your excellent list comics like Lenore, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Sandman (and Neil Gaiman in general, in all formats), Hellblazer, and Poison Elves. And graphic novels like From Hell and the Crow (both have become movies as well).
There is at least one academic look at the Goth subculture, although I've never read it: Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture by Paul Hodkinson. I also found a book for teens on the Goth subculture, apparently intending to debunk negative perceptions: Everything You Need to Know About the Goth Scene by Kerry Acker.
(9/23/02 7:03:11 pm)
you make it seem as if these "goths" are some new and strange subcultured group. they are not.
we are not.
you want to know what being goth is all about? first you must understand how trends work, because that is simply what it is.
we arent much different than the brittney spears pogo heads, or the flannel wearers from more years back than i care to recall.
you will get nowhere with those "goths" if you treat them as something other than a group of 'trendies'.
youd be better to look at the sort of things that would attract a person to the specific trend, rather than trying to search for some cultural background.
i can give you something though:
1950's remembered for it seemingly stoic conservatism, however the youth rebelled and went to drive ins and had a bunch of sex, practicing little 'restraint' to snub the face of their elders. pop culture starts to really get rolling...pop music is born, 3d sunglasses become cool due to all the movie watching...commercials dictate what the people buy.
drive ins get old, besides those were your older siblings and cousins...we need to push further...lets no longer hide our sexual identity lets flaunt it...sexual revolution...
thats just part of the pop culture...we need to push everything more..."stranger" music, drugs, politics..fake awareness. this time around we need some reason that sounds better than another generation pushing the boundaries of the previous generation...so lets talk about 'serious' issues that we really believe in and then lets meditate and be spiritual...blah blah
prime time televised death. assassinations around every corner.
well the 60s were just too dirty so lets clean 'em up a bit. we will take our gathering indoors to dance clubs where we will do cocaine in the bathrooms and have even more sex...20 years ago it was an experiment, 10 years ago it was putting it into practice, now its every day life.
what used to be necking at the movies became free love and is now just free sex. drugs are getting harder, now cocaine and heroin dominate, because pot was for the old people from the 60s. and hey, the 60s introduced a lot of color to the country, so lets take all that color and make it even shinier!
economic growth. excess defines this decade and that is evident in every way. as far as i know, this is also when the goth trend was born into something similar to what it is now. most of the country went bigger, better and brighter. so how do we stand out now when everyones hair is 10 feet tall and bright red?
easy, cut your hair short and dye it black. instead of the flashy brighter colors, wear dark drab ones. cover as much of your skin as possible, instead of the revealing nature of the mainstream fad.
burn that REO speedwagon record and go by a Misfits tape! johnny carson can burn for all we care, we love Elvira!
i remember being very young in the early 80s and seeing the first goth girls (like most, this trend began with females) walking around in the malls. black clothes, short black hair and very pale skin identified them. i was in love with them from first sight.
later, goth and punk did some mixing. so came spikey jewelry and chains..the birth of the grungy goth rather than the valley girl goth, though there is still a significant difference...there intellectual goth and the freaky to be freaky goth.
so on and so forth.
its all a lie. you wear one mask, we wear another.
do i sound negative thru this? well, because im being goth.
oh, somewhere i forgot to mention that sometime in the late 80s and early 90s it became cool to have emotional issues. in 1985 if someone called a person a freak it was taken as an insult by the target. now, it seems to be a compliment. and hey, the more problems the better, hopefully you bring enough to make us all want to commit suicide...or maybe just sit here and talk about suicide for a few years before we grow out of it or get sick of the subject...or, maybe go thru with it.
type o negative
6 feet under
marilyn manson , guess i have to mention that.
EDGAR ALLEN POE!!!! why wasnt that mentioned first thing?
most goths i know are like most people anywhere...they dont read too much. there are always more retards then intellectuals, no matter what trend you care to explore.
anne rice, (as much as that name burns my tongue)
clive barker (at least the ones who can follow him)
albert camus (who said "the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not")
neitzche (of course)
keep this in mind:
todays goths are neo-goths. the cycle is at its end and though there will always be a goth crowd, it will all but die for some time very soon as it has become redundant and no one is surprised by it anymore. thats what it is all about and always has been about, drawing attention and shocking people.
(9/23/02 10:33:07 pm)
| Thoughts on various subjects|
The guidelines to identifying oneself as a goth are pretty loose. For instance, among other things, I love period costume, Rossetti, cloaks, long skirts, cats, solitude, black, silver jewelry, and Dead Can Dance. Yet I never thought that I might be considered gothic until my roommate last year, whom I never came to any sort of agreement with and never spoke to when I could help it, told everyone in the building that I was a goth.
It was...interesting. I was mildly offended, because although the definitions of being gothic are so open, I hate to think of myself as pigeonholed in a certain stereotype, particularly when so much of who I am is far from being gothic. Some of my interests may coincide with those of people who do identify themselves as goths, but-- here's the question: Are you gothic only when you identify yourself as gothic? I don't think of myself as gothic, but I evidently give that impression to people who don't know me well. I don't know, just a thought to toss around.
As for reading material, I'm going to take a chance and recommend a book I haven't yet finished: Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. Absolutely brilliant writing, extremely gothic setting, and very interesting antagonist. Someone remarked once that Peake writes like "Dickens on crack," and I think it's a pretty apt simile.
(9/23/02 11:44:39 pm)
| For your viewing pleasure...|
A few movies that come to mind:
My First Mister... Goth girl meets straight store owner. It's a bit predictable, but it treats many goth issues, including piercings, the need to cut, the link with the dead, and the reaching out to find "family" - which, I'd suggest, is something at the very heart of any subculture. True goths may abhor it - it's simply too positive, but it's an easy watch.
Queen of the Damned... I just saw this last night and will readily admit that I really liked it. It is more in the "vampire goth" vein. It, too, deals with feelings of being alone and created family. I found it visually stunning and, for the most part, true to the goth culture.
Titus (with Anthony Hopkins) OK - may be a bit of a stretch, but it's kind of a Goth meets the Bard thing. And you can't go wrong with Shakespeare, right?
(9/24/02 6:00:44 am)
| Literature vs. Lifestyle|
I think the current incarnation of the Gothic is the same as it was when it first emerged in the late 18C, it is the dark sister of Romanticism. I believe we are still in the Romantic age where individualism vs. collectivism, emotion vs. reason, naturalism vs. formalism, and nationalism vs. globalism still are the defining terms of our lives and our art.
I relate to this, as I relate to most things, with a reference to literature. The following glossary uses a lot of the same terms used in BlackHolly's links, though the context is literature rather than lifestyle.
Of course you probably know all this already. Your question is how does this relate to young people, and how do they relate to it? Good question.
On a personal note, I grew up in Colorado, and I miss it everyday. Please look at the horizon for me, the thing I miss most living in the canyons of the city, along with stars.
(9/24/02 9:53:17 am)
| unbelievable, you all!|
you are all amazing. I have a high learning curve from your suggestions and insights. I am seeing the films, finding the books, and mulling over many of your astute comments.
I especailly appreciate your diverse opinions and experiences. Any group of people is oceanic in terms of hearing their ideas and opinions. I have a friend who is "one", and studies a group of people that roamed where I grew up. You may have heard of them recently on the news, they are called The Travellers, who speak an old country form of Enlgish, and are a "car culture." Just this tiny itinerant group alone has been noted and asked after for decades now, and it is quite an endeavor. In those several groups I originate from, there is no monolithic structure--as some for instance keep insisting about indians, for instance, who of course not only have hundreds of tribal groups, but also thousands of clans within the groups, and can hardly create even one monolithic set of values within one family let alone a scrabble of relatives--it is the same with us Latinas too (grin)
-- but there is a core amongst the young adults I have been with recently, that has an archtypal feel to it, meaning certain motifs seem to return to the psyches of those in the group, again and again no matter what outer form or philosophy they take. I think this is in part what several of you were referencing. One interesting thing I am finding amongst many very young goths (still teens) is a desire to define themselves as separate from "older" goths. I asked 'who' is older? They say, anyone over 20. (Which of course make me La Señora Methuselah in full dominitix regalia--)
Please keep adding at will, and I have one question for Morbid, Why does the name anne rice burn on thy tongue?
this comes with care,
(9/24/02 10:12:30 am)
Ive read a bit of Ann Rice and its something of the same thing as if someone said they read horror and you immediatly label them as a raving fan of Stephen King.
No one really wants to be associated with people like Stevie Knicks or Anne Rice because they seem to have jumped on a bandwagon so to speak. They take on a generic gothic look and people start making up stereotypes from them because they're famous.
(9/24/02 10:49:31 am)
| Fairly Goth Mom|
I'm sort of Goth, at 38. Some of the descriptions of Goth - wow, who are those people?
For Goth-As-I-Know-It, check out www.KnoxGoth.com, run by our local group. There's a message board there.
Gothic.net is a good choice, too.
Goth tastes in Knoxville?
I can't speak for everyone, but based on observation of the KnoxGothic group...
Queen of The Damned, um, NO.
Addams Family Values, YES.
There is a great deal of humor involved in Goth, I think.
Rice, King? Eh.
Obsession with death, rot, violence, suicide? No. Or only the little
MoreGoths, who Art More Gothic Than Thou.
Tattooed, peirced, black, purple, acid green? Sure.
Angst-ridden loners? Well, they're not much for socializing, so how would I know?
Marriages, kids, jobs? Yep.
At least around here.
(9/24/02 1:36:52 pm)
| more or less, relatively speaking.|
Yeah, I suppose I did forget to mention the Victorian goths, who never grew out of playing dress up and do it mostly for that that reason. As you can see, some even go so far as learning more old English than id care to hear.
The story ‘Camilla’ comes to mind as a perfect example of Victorian gothy gothness.
And then you have the gay Goths, which quite a few are, and here again we have females leading the way since they have so much more trend potential, for better or worse. And before I can finish this paragraph I’m sure to have dozens of gay, goth and proud guys chasing me down with wallet chains and dog collars hoping to either turn me on to S&M or at the very least give me a good beating.
Cant forget the vampire goths! These are those that enjoy wearing fake fangs and take gothic role playing games much further than were intended. These self-delusionals enjoy the dark fantasy world they live in.
I suppose we all enjoy that, though.
Most goths are far to cheesy for my tastes. I’m not much into the fashion of it…well, not to any great extent…I do have clothes that aren’t long sleeved and black…a few things, anyway. Mostly I’m only goth in behavior…by that I mean gloomy, depressed, self destructive, dark…etc etc. virtually whatever it takes to make those around me nearly as uncomfortable as myself, really.
To the anne rice question…this is where my immature jealousness or envy or whatever comes into play. I think she is a fine writer, but as a fan of vampire stories, I hate to think that she is the best we have to offer. And, since I hate how our pop culture works, I tend to hate those who are on top if they are not the best in my own opinion because my own opinion is by far better than the masses, in my own opinion that is.
Heres a good question:
Which came first? The chicken (black clothing) or the egg (self loathing)?
(9/24/02 7:02:45 pm)
| The Wearing O' the Black|
Masha in Chekov's The Seagull, is always wearing black. When she is asked why she answers, "I am mourning for my life."
She is a minor character in a play about the boredom and struggles of other characters, most of them artists with a self-destructive bent.
This just popped to mind.
The rituals of mourning became quite complicated in the Victorian era, and there was a whole cult built around the deceased, connected, in part, to both the romanticism and the spiritualism fashionable in the day. It was also made fashionable by Queen Victoria herself, who spent the better part of her life mourning the death of her beloved Albert. (Interestingly, she also popularized white wedding dresses and the use of anesthetics during childbirth! Chloroform, imagine!)
Special jewelry was made to commemorate the death of loved ones. There were strict rules about appropriate colors and behavior during mourning. These rules survived until WWI, when formal mourning was abolished, due to the shear numbers of the dead. It was considered demoralizing and unpatriotic for an entire country to be constantly in mourning. (Not to mention impractical, as special clothes are not fitting with the wartime economy.)
The phrase "The Lost Generation" comes from this time period, as towns lost a whole generation of men to the War. Regiments at that time were made up of people who came from the same town. That structure has since changed because of the Lost Generation, one of the many changes in the structure of the military due to modern warfare.
Black has also long been associated with the serving class for its practicality, which is in part, why so many people still wear it today.
Does anyone know who popularized 20C wearing of black, in terms of "brown is the new black"? When did it stop being taboo?
(9/25/02 2:40:58 am)
| my take|
I wonder if Goths go back to "The Sorrows of Young Werther," that mid nineteenth century novel by Goethe which many a nihilisitic youth took to heart.
Love the clothes, the books, the pre-Raph look, am a fan (and friend) of Neil Gaiman's, but am too much of an optimist (even as a teenager) to ever get into the lifestyle.
(9/25/02 5:12:58 am)
So, should we be discussing Goethe Culture, instead?
(9/25/02 5:34:07 am)
In the UK the goth look started, as I recall, as a strand of the mid-70s punk movement inspired by (esp.) Siouxie & the Banshees and also bands like the Damned or the Cure. They were perceived as punks who happened to wear black... then they diverged more.
A minor nit-pick from several posts ago - freak was a fairly common term in the 60s, mainly used by some of the more radical hippies. The idea of Freak Power, for instance or, much better known now, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers!
(9/25/02 3:01:13 pm)
| Goths in the UK|
I remember much of the start of the "Goth" movement in the UK. However, I'm not sure that the newer Goths out there and especially the American ones are in the same vein. Although I wasn't a Goth many of my friends at school were - lace, black and purple, corsets, eyeliner, red lipstick, pale faces etc (this is 70s/80s goths in the UK).
I cannot remember if anyone has mentioned the roleplaying game "Vampire: The Masquerade" published by White Wolf but this game attracts a lot of gothic types? It's certainly worth examining. In fact, as a roleplayer I know people who went Gothic after playing Vampire by going too far into taking on the role and reading too much into the textbooks provided.
Again I would agree with the person who mentioned it is just as much a trend as someone going to school wearing twin set and pearls - just a different side of the same coin (this coin seems to be more of a faceted gemstone) with different clothing and way of identifying. However, it's often not just something that gets discarded as a person "matures" because it is a philosophy too and one which can work with evolving for life.
All imho of course.
(9/25/02 3:05:13 pm)
| An added on thought|
Forgive me if this seems harsh but I don't fully understand why so much attention has been paid to a high school in the US when massacres are the norm in so much of the world? Surely it would be better to send them out on charity work into parts of the world where tragedy is normal eg the machete gangs in parts of Africa etc or Bogota in Columbia? Surely, by seeing or understanding that much worse things go on in the world then it would be easier to put it all into perspective?
(9/25/02 8:49:32 pm)
| goth and other things...|
"Forgive me if this seems harsh but I don't fully understand why so much attention has been paid to a high school in the US when massacres are the norm in so much of the world?"
Good point. There are kids being blown away in drive by's not more than several miles from where I live in L.A. nearly every day and it doesn't even make the paper, much less the front pages. I understand that when it happens in a school, especially a predominantly white, small town school, that it makes the country sit up and take notice, and I even realize why that is so, but still the irony is there. As for the rest of the world, well, yes, it is sad that massacres take place, but what happens in ones own country will always be of more introspection than what happens across the world. This is true of any culture I care to think of.
I'll add this about goth and other subcultures; the thing I have always observed (and I have been around long enough to observe it from the late 60's to now) is that the kids always break away from what was happening before. These days, they break away from what is happening in other circles. There are probably 20 different kinds of goth groups just as you can't get 20 punks to agree on what punk is (read the Maximum Rock and Roll letter column sometime!). Ultimately, you have to decide on what you like and feel should be focused on, and not be disuaded by others who think they know what's cool or hip. You can gather information on the "counterculture" but no one is ever going to agree on what it is. This has been the case since the Paris Commune and will always be the case.
(9/25/02 11:44:49 pm)
| still reading and a note about trauma site stories|
just want to check in with you all and let you know I am still reading your comments and listening to your points of view. I appreciate that you are willing to teach about this vast area. Your thoughts are very rich and interesting. And I appreciate the references and places to look further.
... adding to idea re media attention paid to various losses of human life....the real "story" of how traumas came about can turn out strangely when passed through third and tenth person renditions in some infotainment venues. I am not convinced that attention in infotainment media is useful, although I know many stalwart and brave souls in the mainstream and edgy media who try very hard to bring its fullest power to bear in service of the innocent whenever they can. Just two cents from war zones, serving earthquake, flood, "knife and gun club" nights at the ER, other sites of great harm... There are always what we call "lookie-lous, "the "adrenlin" greedy, the "ego-driven-look-at-me-I-am-a-savior," the "I talk a braver game than I can really do," characters who show up at trauma sites. They tend to be the ones who jockey to talk to "the media." Trauma workers usually don't, they are busy trying to do the work. Longevity of domecile is partly the issue about how mishapen the story becomes in some mediums. Most dedicated people in field go wherever they can, for as long as they can, and try to do the most of what can be done for those who have been injured. They stay and stay, hear/see the real stories, thereby the preponderance of evidence. Good people in the media are rarely afforded this terrible "luxury."
Serious people in the post-trauma ( industrial, medical, psychological, spiritual personnel; some trained, some natural masters of calm and healing ) are not drawn to a site because a mag or newspaper story meeting has deemed the site a 'worthy" story. They *preceed* the media. Those who can stay (for months and years after) find the whole story has far more danger, depth and unbearable aspects and far more complicated evidences. This may have to do with how deeply any person--victim, journalist, helping professional, sees to begin with. Perhaps when some look at deep water, they only see water.
This is part of why I appreciate all your many points of view on the subject we began with; it seems like it takes so many stories to even begin to see the bones of what the larger story might really be...
thank you again,