My take on the development of the Goth Movement~~~


Dear Darklings,

Some of you have asked me more specifics about being Goth; all I can say is that it is not the same for each person, depending upon age, out-look and preference.

For myself, I refer to myself as an Elder Goth, for a very good reason, 1—I’m over 60 years old and have seen life growing up without all the protections that currently (2012) parents, organizations, politicians etc. try to do.  My personal outlook may sound ‘vicious’, un-caring, perhaps ‘evil’ or callous, but it’s not.  Because I grew up knowing that tragedy can strike at anytime to anyone and at first we may not understand why, until later.

When I was growing up, we children listened to our elders, we were more cautious just as we were curious, we did have pedophiles, murders, rapists, but we seemed to exercise the caution that our parents tried to instill in us, but even then someone would always be a bit bolder, at bit more darling and ultimately paid for that boldness and daring with their life and we survivors learned from the tragedy as sad as it was.  

Back then if anything severely tragic happened we didn’t have teams of doctors and grief consolers to “help us get through the trauma”, we simply went to the funeral and we talked about it with our parents, at least that is what I and my friends did, of course we’d talk about it among ourselves and lots of times we’d chalk it up to being foolish and we’d learn from it.

I understand and deal with the dark side of life, not just its morbidity but that it is there for us to understand goodness and light, I’ve even immersed myself in understanding the symbols used in old cemeteries and graveyards, the symbols sometimes speaks more than what little is carved on a tombstone. 

When something tragic happens (and I won’t even elaborate what), I’ll read it or view it and in the back of my mind I know that it had to happen right then and to those who experienced it for a reason…what the reason is only through time and understanding will those survivors know.

I will also learn from reading it what to watch for in the future, because as an Elder Goth with a certain long life span behind me I know that it will be repeated again and again, I will not rail against it in futility because I will learn from it and know it must happen again so that others will learn from the experience.

Morbid?  Not really, more of a fatalistic realist.  If you read Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories, if you ever watched Star Trek and watched how “Spock” dealt with things you’d understand that is what an Elder/Elderly Goths outlook is like.  We do have compassion, we do love and care, but we are also realists. And that is Elder Goth too.

I’m not necessarily into the Goth bands or music or even into the clubs, but I do enjoy darkly romantic written classical pieces such as Swan Lake, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela, the final movement of Mahler’s 4th Symphony, the Moldau by Smetana, Debussy’s Clair De Lune,  Ludwig Van Beethoven’s  Moonlight Sonata,  Franz Schubert’s Trio in E Flat Major,   Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns   Danse Macabre, Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony "Pathétique",   Michael Haydn’s Requiem Aeternam,  Max Richter’s  The Nature of Daylight,  Clint Mansell’s Lux Aeterna, Jean Sibelius  Symphony No.4 - 1st. movement, Chopin’s Nocturne in B Flat Minor Op. 9 No. 1, Gabriel Faure’s Pavane op. 50, Mahler’s 9th Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, Schulmann’s Cello Concerto in A minor, Mendelssohn’s “Fingal’s Cave Overture”, Shubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”, Mozarts’ “Requiem”  and others of that style.

I also include Gregorian Chants especially “A Feather on the Breath of God” and the original chant album by the monks of Silos.

For the last 10 or 15 years I’ve been purchasing the cd’s by Midnight Syndicate all very morbidly Goth although many Goths would consider them “tacky”.  Sorry I am not into Souxie and the Banshees nor the poser Marylin Mason, or Cradle of Filth,  the music style is not mine.

I enjoy horror movies and television shows, Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” had many a morbid dark tale that would sometimes leave my jaw dropping and I also include  Johnny Depp’s version of “Dark Shadows” because it’s so “tongue in cheek” and delightfully morbid at the same time. The original Rod Serlings’ “Twilight Zone” is also wonderfully bone chilling.   The other night I recorded a “Thriller” episode with Oscar Homolka and Antoinette Bower, and it had appropriate morbid chills, especially the ending.  Of course one has to consider “One Step Beyond”, an absolute classic.

In literature, well of course Poe, Stoker, Ambrose Bierce, Lovecraft and other’s but a healthy helping of the old magazine issues of “Weird Tales” which I had fun reading as I was growing up, was always good to set one up for dark thoughts.

On my links page I’ve provided you with several links that might help you understand this more modern Goth subculture, as it developed in the late 1970’s which some people say took off in 1979 mostly with the music scene.

But frankly I believe it started much sooner before Bauhaus recorded “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” only because I’ve had a chance to see it slowly develop first hand.

A lot of the morbid thoughts of angst may have started when teenagers and adults read  Blatty’s book “The Exorcist”, the feeling of possible defeat against an evil entity, the “Darkness itself” so to speak. If it didn’t develop there it at least increased that feeling.

I’d have to say that was the tip of the ice berg.

To go back further, the Television Soap Opera “Dark Shadows” was a precursor to the 20th century take on the romantic, tragic feeling of gothicness, especially as portrayed by Jonathan Frid, giving the spin of the tragic vampire, I’m inclined to say that “Dark Shadows” paved the pathway;

With Frid updating the vampire away from Lugosi’s tuxedoed vampire image and adding a Shakespearean or Greek tragedy quality to the image, it began the new metamorphoses with a touch of Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.

But it was Anne Rice’s re-working of the vampire myth with the tragic and self-flagellating hero of her book, the Vampire Louis in “Interview with a Vampire” published in 1976 that began to catch the darkly romantic mind set of young teenage readers.

 The focus quickly shifted to the hedonistic protagonist/ anti-hero Lestate who reveled in his Vampirism, pushed the envelope and really had no conscience or care of the adverse reactions to his selfish actions.  He simply did things because it amused him.  Much like Satanists of today and bygone years, this was continued in Rice’s two sequels in 1985 and 1988 “Lestat” and “Queen of the Damned.” 

To the point that it became darkly romantic, or reactionary,  to have this power to inflict one’s will upon another, and to revel in gloom and misery, which reflected much of the teenagers’ questions about life in and of itself. 

This was the very thing that my Father and Grandmother warned me about some years before, to not give away my own self-empowerment.

When I say reactionary, it is because for every “light movement” that is too “pie-in-the-sky” it will have an opposite creation.  I feel that this may have come about as a reaction to the “Summer of Love” aka Woodstock, and flower power and feel good tree-hugging feelings and Luv, Luv, Luv.  I sensed that the Goth movement was a way of saying “Wake UP People!! You’re acting like Lemmings about to go over the cliff!!!”

I noticed that on television during the late 60’s and into the 70’s there were a number of made-for-T.V. movies dealing with the occult themes of evil and darkness, two especially which I remember with the actor Louis Jourdan, titled “Fear No Evil” (1969) and “Ritual of Evil” (1970), before Anne Rice’s books came out.

Let me explain this further, take for example the author Edgar Allen Poe, to quote wikipedia  “ Poe's best known fiction works are Gothic, a genre he followed to appease the public taste.  His most recurring themes dealth with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning.  Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism, which Poe strongly disliked. He referred to followers of the movement as "Frog-Pondians" after the pond on Boston Common. and ridiculed their writings as "metaphor-run mad," lapsing into "obscurity for obscurity's sake" or "mysticism for mysticism's sake." Poe once wrote in a letter to Thomas Holley Chivers that he did not dislike Transcendentalists, "only the pretenders and sophists among them."”

This was Poe’s take on the light movement, especially after the death of his young wife, he most likely saw so much misery that the foolishness of the transcendentalist movement was ridiculous in the face of tragedy and really did nothing to alleviate the misery.

In many ways I am like that but a combination of the dark romanticism with a touch of transcendentalism, perhaps a drop of perkiness, but I make it a point to never deceive myself, I always remember that there are people out there to harm and deceive you and yes there is misery all around us, we cannot cure the whole thing but we can take care of some of it.

To explain it further I cannot, at least in relationship to myself, except what has and had worked for me and what goes on in my mind before the word “Goth” was referred to as a “sub-culture”.

In that case for the modern interpretation I recommend these two web sites: www.gothicsubculture.com/    another is www.goth.net/  

For an excellent overview I also recommend www.religioustolerance.org/goth.htm/   I feel that this web site gives an unbiased view of what it is and isn’t.

I will post these same links on my side bar for easy reference.

Another thing is that there is the possibility that for some of our younger persons there may have been a touch of psychotic mental illness that they have not grown out of, sort of remained “stuck there” like the shooter’s of Columbine, no one noticed the evil lurking within their own high school society, the shooters were so mentally twisted that other students simply rejected them, or felt frustrated with them and gave up, teachers and the parents may have thought it would be a phase they would grow out of. 

But the shooters of Columbine were already so mentally twisted, the synapses of their brains so short circuited to not work properly, there were already “Bad Seeds” at their birth. 

My gentleman friend Doyle said to me in regards to that event, that it wasn’t the Goth subculture, it was the shooters themselves, they were “mentally sick”, there was more psychological reasons as well far beyond what I can explain here.  He told me that he has seen that although Goth culture focuses on the darker side of life and many people mistakenly believe that the Goth culture to be antisocial, he has found many of them to be very involved in positive organizations to make a positive change in the universe as a reaction to their own feelings of morbidity, to be very artistic and articulate, nothing like the Columbine shooters.

Nikki Foster wrote an excellent blurb about what is Goth and I include it here even though it talks mostly about the music scene, it does touch upon the Goth society----

“Goth means many things to many people, and there is constant discussion even within the Goth community about what is and is not Goth. Basically, Goth can refer to both a genre of post-punk music with a dark or gloomy sound and subject matter, and the subculture that grew out of that music. Goth has many influences, including the Gothic fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries and the horror movies of the early 20th century. Those who identify as Goth typically have a love for the color black and for all things morbid, but they are a very diverse group of people.

Goth music began as an offshoot of punk and new wave genres in the late 1970s and flourished in the 1980s. Different pieces of music characterized as Goth may sound quite different, some melodic and ethereal, and others more driving and frenetic, but they are all generally downbeat and dramatic. The lyrical component of Goth music is extremely important. It can be characterized as introspective and depressive and is often full of macabre imagery and literary and religious allusions.

It is often difficult to label certain bands as Goth, since Goths as a group tend to reject labels. Many bands that heavily influenced both visual and acoustic elements of the Goth aesthetic, including The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Sisters of Mercy, do not identify themselves as Goth and find the term limiting.

While the Goth subculture is centered around music, there are other important elements. Goths often stand out because of their fashion. Black is the dominant color, though other dark shades, such as purple, gray, and blood red, also feature heavily. White, though less commonly seen, can also be a gothic color, due to its dramatic look and its evocation of a burial shroud. Black make-up, nail polish, and heavily teased hair are popular for both male and female Goths.

Much Goth fashion, following the aesthetic of Gothic literature and music, hearkens back to another era, particularly Victorian and Renaissance styles. Religious symbols such as crosses and ankhs feature in many Goth outfits as well. Personal expression is valued in Goth culture, so many Goths play with the conventions of Goth fashion to suit their own personal style.

Goth is more an aesthetic than an ideology, and there is no single religious or political stance that can be said to be typical of the culture. Goths tend to be tolerant of others and to focus their attention inwards rather than outwards. Though Goths often have an ill-deserved reputation for being violent or dangerously anti-social, most are creative, thoughtful, and passive, if pessimistic, individuals.”

My Doyle believes this description to be pretty accurate, although I feel that it more describes the feelings of the early 19th century “Dark romanticism”  so I’m inclined to say that being a Goth is also being darkly romantic with all the angst that it has.

But for me why do I say I am Goth?

Because I am also attracted to the “Dark Side of Life”, I’ve always felt that nothing is always sunshine and lollipops.  By studying and understanding the Dark Side it has made me stronger in facing things, and very leery about those organizations or cults that offer perfect peace or life because there is no such thing, there has to be struggle if one wants to spiritually grow.

For me it is to also accept what is and has to be because it is the balance of light and dark. 

If one wants to eat one needs to kill and I don’t mean just animals, we kill vegetables as well when we cut them, rip them out of the ground and cook them, so we kill to live, even animals do the same, rabbit eats grass, wolf eats rabbit, wolf gets sick and dies and is eaten by micro organism which feeds the soil which the growing grass feeds on, which in turn is eaten by another rabbit.

My Dad use to say “Praise the Lord, but ya better pass that ammunition!”  He made it through World War II, and he saw “Hell”.   When we were involved in Vietnam he told me that “they”, meaning the government is not prepared to deal with the “devils that are trapped in the men’s souls”, and he was right.

Now we call it “PTS” or Post Traumatic Stress syndrome.  Talking to my Father helped him and it helped me; the more we talked the more I knew Darkness, its various aspects and he slowly crawled out into the light.   He had my Mother and his Mother-in-law (Grandma) to help him and then I slowly took over without realizing it. 

He said that the steadfastness of my Mother helped him, that and talking to his priest who was also a war survivor.   That was another reason I became Goth.   Now I do it with Doyle, to help him with some of his “demons”.  

To be a true elder Goth you have to know and understand the Darkness, to know that as we become more and more populated there will be more and more human evils brought into the world, and we Elder/Elderly Goths have to bring in both understanding, healing and yes “light” into the world, by understanding the darkness, we have to bring fun and light into it to prevent it from swallowing you up.  

On one Goth page a poster calling herself “the Mistress of Darkness” summed up fairly well how I feel and felt when I was young, she takes it there up to a point but even I have to say in her writing I have to take it beyond her musings---- so here is the “Mistress of Darkness” thoughts:

[When I was a little kid I wasn’t Goth at first. I was afraid from the night like every other child. Instead of dreaming on good things like angels who is coming to save me I decided to do something else.

I believed that the bad things in life can be found only in the dark of the night, and that is the reason myself and many other people are afraid of evil creatures such zombies, vampires, dead people and killers. So I began to explore this gothic fear instead of running away from it. In order to do so I needed to become the fear itself, and this is how I started to enjoy the mystery of the Goth world.

I discovered that not only the devil habitats in the black colors of life, but also the other beautiful things like the quiet of the moon, the owls, the dawn and even the weird people that I met weren’t that boring like the day light people. In the mornings, it’s like facing the prison spot, everything has its boundaries and limitations, you are confined to the boring way of living. But in the dark, the focus of life doesn’t stop in your body form, its spreads all over the universe and become endless gothic power.

A few years later nothing has changed and beside the fascinating night, I also listen to gothic metal music and have a night jobs, which gives me the opportunity to continue, live in the gothic way like a vampire.

Everyone has a different view of what a Gothic subculture is. Some of the views are bad. Some of the views are good. It's hard to say exactly what a Goth is, but there are a few common factors.

Gothic is being about to love or be a part of the darkness in life. It's something out of the normal points of view, dress or ways of thinking. You don't have to wear black clothing or white make-up to be Goth, you can were bright colors, but if you appreciate the music, the art, and a part of the gothic subculture, and you could very well be Goth.

There are so many types within the subculture that it’s hard to tell who is exactly a Goth and who is not. We take a person who wears all black and black make-up to be Goth. We take the people who have piercings and colored hair to be Goth. I've learned that it's up to the person themselves to decide whether they are Goth or not. No one has the right to label others, to tell them what or who they are. Ultra Goths label most teens as weekenders or baby bats, but they at one point were young.

Most Goths have been pushed out of mainstream society. People shun them, make it so they must hang together to socialize. The Gothic subculture has been shown as evil people, violent, but it's not so.

Society is afraid of what they don't care to understand and so they come up with labels for those people.

The Rivetheads, Ravers and Mansonites have been pushed into the same category as the Goths.

It's made it hard to show people what Goths are really like. Older Goths, people over the age of 20 hate how the Gothic Scene has changed the way it has. Even within the subculture Goths label other Goths, sneer at them, and force them into even smaller groups.

"The scene today has come down to this. Conformity to non-conformity. You have to go the right clubs, listen to the right bands, wear the right things and talk about certain things to be a Goth. For some it's an excuse to wear fishnet and vinyl and when people stare at them for being a whore they just make a big scene about it being because they're "Goth". It's lost the artful, intelligent actual culture part of the world. Most are out there to whine about depression or scare and get people's attention."]

I have to agree in part of what she says, not totally but in part.  I have to say that even in the Goth scene people want you to confirm when you don’t want to conform, so they call you a poser, and that is sad.

I would say to all you Baby Bats out there, just tell them you are trying to understand the Goth scene and culture as well as yourself,  and that your tastes are developing and changing all the time.   Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or ideas, and be prepared for rejection as well, because if you can deal with rejection in the Goth culture then you can deal with Life with all its foibles and hideousness.   If the oldsters say how they love one thing or another but you don’t feel that way, ask them to explain further why they feel that way, have them THINK, and explain their thoughts.

If you feel that you don’t agree with them simply say “Well that’s interesting, I’m not sure that I agree but I’ll certainly consider it for future thought and look into it further.” And then let the matter rest, by saying you’ll consider it, you are not disagreeing with them out right but inwardly you are without saying so and keeping peace at the same time.  Be prepared to not go with the “pack” because you have an uncomfortable feeling about their suggestions, just say that it’s not your style or you’re not in the mood.

If they try to force you or coheres you into doing something, ask them to respect your feelings and moods as you would respect theirs and if you don’t feel like doing what they are doing they need to respect that.  And then my Darkling Baby Bats, walk away, because those type of Goths you don’t need.

Remember my Darklings life cannot all be “Maybury, R.F.D.”,  it never has been and it never will be, but Maybury is the light within the darkness that surrounds it but you have to take it beyond the boundaries that you see.

Another Goth person and I lost his name and where I got his quote from so if you know please let me know----anyway his/hers? take on when you become older is also interesting and I include it here:

[You can never be too old to be a Goth. even the gothic subculture is still young! It started in the late 70s, so the gothic subculture celebrate its 30 birthday!

The is a Goth stereotype that treat gothic people only as sad children that dress in black and skip school, Or heavy clubbers in their 20s. But this is not true. When you get older you don’t stop being a Goth, in fact being Goth is all about being complete with yourself. This means that if you are convenient/content with your gothic lifestyle you should also be comfortable with your gothic age.

Please remember that when you grow older, your clothes and your make-up style is also changing. Youngsters and adults have different ways to dress, so be a Goth but don’t forget to make it fit to you and don’t force yourself to fit in to something that you are not, otherwise you will look like a sad clown. 


Being old meaning that you are smarter and wiser than the young bats, Elder Goths know the difference between cool and wannabe, Therefore you don’t have to be depressed or act like a stranger. Be secure with your feeling and don’t get into a  dangerous emotion storm.

As you grow, you have less and less time to be in the gothic scene. You spend more time at work than at clubs. You can’t afford to be awake all night long like a vampire; you have other obligations and even kids to raise up. So it’s ok if you keep being a Goth on small fire, meaning not all the time. Be a Goth person when you can, and don’t compel yourself to away of life that doesn’t suite you.

On the other hand, if you weren’t a Goth person in high school. This is the time to try the gothic subculture, because when you are adult you suppose to be settled in your life, and now you have the time and the energy to explore a new way of living.

To sum up, you can enjoy the gothic subculture till the day you die
.]

He is so right you cannot be awake all night, like you were when you were 20, even I crash out at 10 p.m. when my energy flags  and he is also right as you grow older your clothes and makeup style changes, don’t look like a clown, which sadly I have seen some older, too old Goths do.

So if you are too old to dress like Morticia Addams that’s all right, you can still be Gothicly stylish as a Corporate Goth with a touch of Retro.  Keep them guessing Darklings, keep them guessing.


Later Darklings

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