What is Goth exactly? Subculture. Yeah. that’s what it is, a subculture.
Nay, goth is far more than subculture. Subculture presumes a dominate culture, and while dominance and suppression of the soul go hand in hand, it is hardly okay to assume that goth is merely subculture when its far more than that. It has been said that it is not counterculture and this is true, it by no means a weak attempt at a counterculture. It is a subculture plus derives plenty of its own meaning independent of otherness. But there was a time before it was considered a subculture at all. When it was not even thought of by its originators as some movement they were a part of…when it was a sincere experience of existential oppression at the hands of dominate and inflexible thought forms.
Today people think of goth as primarily an aesthetic. Young folks take this approach. Unbeknownst to them, there is immense history behind goth, beginning with enlightenment thinking. Much ado about it is rooted in wealth-seeking humans approach to “the sciences”: that it is a tool for “human progress” meaning their own individual wealth accumulation. They opt for the complete denial of the temporal aspect of their lives. Goth embraces death. Goth takes a far more humanitarian approach to science as well…so far as to find love in the unfortunate madness of egoist constructions (machine industry, technocracy, legal entities like corporations designed to outwit fellow man of their property rights and even reproductive powers, but they can’t steal the inner world, the meaning of sexuality for example). This can be seen with the adoration of Frankenstein’s “monster” or the empathy for the suffrage of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
The entirety of gothic literature far more than what mainstream society would call morbid, it is actually predominated by attitudes toward love. Love is a tedious thing…metaphysically abstract and all…particularly in a world especially characterized by individuality (See Sociologist Ulrich Beck’s works; see also Urbanization, Anthony Giddens and Anne Clarke’s song “Sleeper in Metropolis”). The inherent condition of human inner-experience is an isolated one, particularly in modernity, with or without regards to Covid-19 or Covid-20. No two human beings can ever fully understand one another…even identical twins who have spent every waking moment together. For this reason, love is highly torturous…”he loves me, he loves me not…love is a paradox.” Anne Clarke.
Love is violent, love is pure
Love is the answer, love is the cure
But love can kill you
If you lose someone
Nothing lasts forever
Love’s a loaded gun
People tending to focus on gothic aesthetics fail to realize that there is supposed meaning to the actual nature of goth. Pain in love being a significant part of it, the question could become whether aesthetics are needed at all to be any “type” of goth. Isn’t an ordinary doctor who experiences maddening suppression of their ability to help patients due to oligarchical or hegemonious politics a sufferer that deserves empathy that they won’t receive? Yay, a person such as this, which the world has produced many times over in the past 550 days is precisely what real goth is all about: individual suffrage deprived of love, empathy, and facing an overwhelming future and abyss, due in large part or primarily or exclusively to mega-structures that are seemingly impossible to conquer or co-exist with.
Goth experience is a horrible and esoteric one that one learns to manage and live with. This can be seen in the low-quality but still kinda cool movie Franklyn, but also related to the Crow and even in some of the slasher horror films. Originally, however, the post enlightenment philosophy from thinkers like Arthur Schopenhauer …
“To live alone is the fate of all great souls”
… and other existential literary creatures such as Dostoevsky and poets Keats, Shelley, Eddie-A Poe (*death rap name), and of course William Blake and Oscar Wilde (Portrait of Dorian Gray…original text of the character in Penny Dreadful). The relationship between humans and nature is portrayed with gothic undertones in Thoreau’s Walden as well, where he described the stupidity and lack of utility with which wealth-seeking society engages in harmful, unnatural, and bizarre acts for the purpose of material acquisition. Mix in industrialization and a labor force that often couldn’t afford the goods they labored to produce, machines, gears, glasses, and Victorian era clothing with dyes in the burgundy and forest green colors which are known to have polluted London’s river systems at the hands of many including one of sociology’s founding fathers Freidrich Engels, who any Marxist should know but probably don’t. His family had a textile factory and yadda yadda, it doesn’t matter but the social setting of their lives are the origins of Steampunk, a subtype of goth.
Stoicism is considered an honorable philosophy and attitudinal approach to life or endeavors that originated in ancient Greece. A sort of wisdom whereby adherents endure frustration and pain with little to no complaint or outward expression of suffrage. Goth is stoic. Keeping in pain inside whilst enduring life’s never-ending hardships, neither seeking vengeance upon the persons or things that may have contributed to it. Stoicism is considered to be a high standard imposed on one’s self. Knowledge and discipline are key. Managing time and engaging in intellectual pursuits are crucial to the life course…but never negating real action either.
“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live. Not satisfied to merely keep good watch over their own days, they annex every age to their own. All the harvest of the past is added to their store.” -Seneca
Goths tend to explore more fiction or psuedo-fiction literature, but nonetheless is profoundly intellectual. Life is so much more meaningful when there is depth of psyche and well-rounded understanding of things in the world from history to physics to conceptions of romance through varied eras. It seems that goths can be very lively with direction when something is of significant importance…something meaningful beyond the ordinary things society tends to pursue. A serious amount of faith in deity is required to be a goth who lives life with a sense of random adventure and that focuses on meaning far more than material reality.
Wonder at the role of goth in post-modernity is uncertain considering the end of the world is drawing nearer by the day. It is a safe assumption that many goths are vegan or vegetarian and though it isn’t necessarily a staple, they tend to be humanitarian in their own reclusive way. Tied in with the “do no harm” philosophy of witchcraft and high magic, goths don’t engage in such practices by default though likely many do, but the spirituality of being a goth is certainly something that doesn’t contribute to the factors that are destroying the habitability of the earths surface. A lot of goth life is about biding time. Like vampires often hide and wait for decades, centuries, or millennia until the timing is right for whatever is happening in the world, goths know when and how to engage with the world in their own esoteric way.
Music, subgenre, clothing, and other physical appearance things are mere aesthetics. True goth is about so much more, one of which is suffrage and despair, often romantic, which is certainly going to be massive and on a vast scale in the future dystopian society which is classified by the rise of the relationship of individual-institution. A perfect storm for goth undertones to serve the many people who will need to find new identities as the world heads full steam to a destructive abyss where home is wherever the hell one is at a particular moment. Agony and despair, music and hope. Goth could be a prime route for the dark, dystopian, urbanites who will witness so much death, chaos, and normlessness in the future world. Some abstract form of romance and open, accepting-type of love, with the knowledge that tragedy is inevitable, is a sort of stoic goth approach to post-modernity. Especially as technology continues to rise as the source of human faith in potential global survival and equity, cybergoth will be a particularly fashionable option for homeless PhDs building DNA-editing chambers in underground encampments.