A Philosophical Treatise
by Count Von Sexbat BA MSc
There has been much discussion recently on alt.gothic about the so-called
'gothic philosophy', a code by which we all live, a code by which we strive
to live, or a code that we live by 'more than you' (but only on weekends).
This abstract will consider the various aspects of gothic philosophy and
sub culture in an attempt to bring together the thoughts and dreams of
various learned children of the night from around the world.
If the barbarian tribes of pre-medieval 'Germany' had a philosophy it can
probably be found in their writings. The Visigothic language is similar to
old High German and Anglo-Saxon. However, my Anglo-Saxon is as rusty as my
French, and besides they didn't actually write much down - all that exists
are some passages from the Bible and some helpful phrases for the tourist:
Hwa Quithan = What can I say?
Wyrcan thone Wihagan = Make a shield wall!
Aaargh = I am presently being serated by a drunken
psychotic, axe weilding, smelly, barbarian
However, we like to think of them as a bunch of axe weilding, psychotic,
rather good looking men and women, dressed in black riding mighty war horses
into battle, and eventually setting fire to Rome and bringing about the
collapse of civilization and then going out for a beer.
Philosophically speaking we have the beer and the desire to strike terror
into the hearts of mortal man in common.
That seems to be a useful beginning, and, as it would not do to dwell for too
long on the fact that the visigoths were actually a group of crusties on the
piss, let us consider the Medieval connection.
Castles on hill tops, thunder, lightning, storm clouds, knights, dragons,
musical song and dance numbers? There is a strong medievalistic element in
many of todays goths. It's not an Arthurian yearning for days of chivalry
and grail quests, but rather a link with the quasi-fantastical 'romantic'
aspect of the time and the genre. I think romanticism is the key here, we
eah have our own notion of the period and each associate it with different
things. But as I appear to be boardering on psychology, and that is
definitely not my field, I shall change the subject before I say something
to start the Freudians twitching (but I do have a thing for armour).
There is more, of course, the Medieval period brought us the other legends of
Camelot, those which did not so easily convert to the Christian ideal, the
magic and dark forces, the supernatural! There are also the 'darker'
characters (and again we know about them only through literature), Chaucer's
Pardoner tells of plague and of Death stalking the land, The Gwain Poet
describes the fatalistic humour of the Green Knight, and Malory of the
Death of Arthur.
So from this period we get our sense of the fantastic - a sort of 'New Age
with Attitude' tract which was further developed by some of the Romantic
poets, oh, and the desire to ride around carrying a sword and 'smiting'
people for the fun of it.
// 17th Century
The New Model Army were formed by Oliver Cromwell and went on Tour.
// Romantic Period
The Romantic Junkie Poets were proto-goths, they fought, drank, took to many
drugs, wore baggy shirts, and, like the barbarian tribes before them went to
Italy to either die or misbehave (apart from Wordsworth who went to France
and took part in the Revolution, and Coleridge who was too fat to be a goth
but wrote some damn fine verses so he can join as long as stands at the back).
Their own philosophy seemed to be a hedonistic celebration of nature and
supernature almost on an anthropomorphical level, and a strong sense of
individuality within the identity of their peer-group! I like them but Shelley
was a better poet than Byron and I don't *care a toss* what the good Doctor
// Victorian Decadence
The introduction of Vampire chic. This was a period more to do with the
aesthetics of modern goth than it's underlying philosophy. However a
certain element of moral terpitude could well have crept in. I suppose
Dracula, although it was mainly about syph. , could be considered one of
the great philosophical books of the period, or not, please yourself!
I've jumped ahead a bit here, but the pre-gothic subcultures from which we
borrowed are worth considering briefly. No Leaders, Anarchistic Nihilism?
No, I don't think we really borrowed that much from the punks as a whole -
of course there are many individual goths who subscribe to these political
doctrines - but it doesn't seem to be an integral part of the subcultre
today. Oh, and, "never trust a hippy!" - often a very useful bit of advice!
// New Romantic
Again this was an aesthetic thing really. Adam Ant did a fair amount for
breaking down the visual barriers and gave many male goths something to
aspire to (beauty?) for the first time. But then Ian Astbury was a Native
American Indian about the same time, so maybe it was him.
One particular quote always springs to mind, it was made by a relatively
insignificant heavy metal singer:
"It is about having as much fun as possible, doing as little damage to
yourself and those around you that you care about, and doing as much damage
as possible to people you don't like."
But as a) he was talking about a record and b) it was on Belgian TV, I
think he was probably joking.
And that, of course, is the final part, the very crux of the gothic
philosophy, Ladies and Gentlemen we have a sense of humour! We are morbid,
not suicidal and we can laugh at other people,and, just occasionally,
(Oh and not to forget that the Army are *still* touring after all these
years, but they've ditched the metal hats, melted them down, and turned
them into clog irons - cross posted to alt.crusty)
We have borrowed various philosophical elements from our historical sources,
but the philosophical elements which are most clearly defined are:
the desire to strike terror into the hearts of mortal man (or at least turn
heads in the street), a romantic sense of the fantastic, the desire for
pleasure in extremes, a visual identity within the subculture, questionable
sexual and social practices, a fascination with supernature, the macabre,
and the safety of being within a group where we get the in joke.
___ |\_/| ___ | I'll show you faces and places that'll make
/ \_ |. .| _/ \ | you terrified to be Alive.
/ \/ \/ \ | A.S.F
\/\/\/\ _______ /\/\/\/ | JANET: sn...@uk.ac.westminster
\/ \/ | FIDO : 2:254/4.666 (New Address)
Ok, Ok......we'll grant you the PhD and give you tenure here at Goth-U. :)
( --------- | Watch out you boomers
.=## . ( Digitar dig...@io.org | the digital generation
( . =## . --------- Toronto, Canada | is going to kick
. . ( . | your ass.
"And to think that GOTHS, of all people, have a sense of humor..."