Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Gothic Treatise

OK. Here we go. This got pretty long. I guess it a treatise of sorts, so I think it covers the subject pretty well. Any questions are always welcomed.
We got involved in the Goth scene in 2001, after we had a bitter falling out with Vineyard. Not that one caused the other, it was just that we had totally wrapped ourselves around church, only hanging around church people, only doing church social activities etc. for the last 10 yrs, the previous 5 in Vineyard and the 5 before that at Oakwood. Both times we had a hard time really fitting in, both times we had a crisis where each wasn't really there for us, and both times we got to the point where we wondered, "If we just didn't show up anymore, would anyone care? Would anyone even notice our absence?" Both times we tested it, and both times we found our feelings and suspicions to be correct.
Both times we just stopped going and NO ONE even called us ever again, except at Vineyard where we have maintained relationship with
my best friend now. She is like us, broken and not afraid to admit it, and an alternative/hippy type person. So after the SECOND time of this happening, my heart became completely embittered toward church. Not to God, but to church. The pastor at Vineyard had also told me that my life was way to sectarian, that I needed to develop relationships and interests outside the church, that church couldn't meet all my needs. So, from 2000 until about spring of 2001 we were really involved with the SCA (society of creative anachronism) a medieval re-enacting society. It takes a lot of time and some money. It was fun, but we also encountered the same thing as when we were in the church, where it seemed like when we were new, people wanted to get to know us to a point, and then at some point weren't interested in getting to know us any deeper. I wonder if thats what's going on in our present church, and in the future, people will see whatever "flaw" or lack of being on the same wavelength or whatever it is about us, and lose interest in us.

My passion in life has always been, next to God, music. I haven't had much opportunity to perform, and have been too lazy to develop musical instrument ability (actually, I play the flute from long ago, but haven't in a long time, and would love to develop piano skills, but don't have one) . Since singing comes naturally to me and I don't have to work at it, I'm not used to that kind of discipline. I have always been a music connoisseur, of almost any type, and have been a huge collector of vinyl and now CDs. One of my biggest interests was in '80s new wave and was in an '80s yahoo group and had heard of gothic/industrial music, but didn't know what it was really. I was looking for new music interests more than anything, and a guy sent me a sampler that he made and I really liked it.
So, we started going to this goth club/bar called The Labyrinth, mainly to hear the music, and experience the "scene", like being able to dress up. The kind of sad thing is that when we started going there, we felt like we were "home". We were accepted there more easily than at church, a lot because we had more in common with the people there. Where else can you dress up elegantly wearing a corset, long skirt and long gloves?? In case you haven't noticed, dressing is an art form for me. It basically is for goths. Yes, it is a "dark" subculture, but that is misleading. Dark does not necessarily connotate "evil". Goths don't just embrace "darkness" or "morbidity". They embrace ALL of life, the good and bad, the dark places and the light. I have found in life that it is in the dark places where the most learning occurs. A very "gothic" perspective, at least for the Christian Goth is given by M. Scott Peck in an excellent book that I recently read called, People of the Lie- The Hope For Healing Human Evil. He says:

"The purpose of this book is to encourage us to take our human life so seriously that we also take human evil far more seriously—seriously enough to study it with all the means at our command, including the methods of science. It is my intention to encourage us to recognize evil for what it is, in all its ghastly reality. There is nothing morbid about my purpose. To the contrary, it is in dedication to “life…more abundantly.” The only valid reason to recognize human evil is to heal it wherever we can, and (as is currently most often the case) when we cannot, to study it further that we might discover how to heal it in specific instances and eventually wipe its ugliness off the face of the earth." M. Scott Peck- People of the Lie, pg. 44

Gothic people are artsy, creative types, who are usually deep thinkers, facinated by mystery, which often includes the mystery of death. Their tastes gravitate toward the rich, dark palette of colors and textures, like black, dark purple, dark red. Textures and fabrics like leather, lace, velvet, satin, brocade. Dark, Victorian decor. No Martha Stuart, "country" or pastel decor for us! We are also aficionados of things like gothic literature, vampire lore, silent films, cemetary/funerary art, film noir, and black comedies. We tend to have epicurean tastes in food, drink, and smoking. Goths tend to be gourmets of sorts, liking exotic food and alcoholic beverages. Liquors such as Chartreuse, and Absinthe, and Clove (Kretek) cigarettes are popular goth favorites. An interesting aside is that I know several goths who go to clubs but neither drink alcohol, smoke, or do drugs (BTW drugs do not seem to figure significantly in gothic culture). Most club goers are there for the music, expression, dance, and fashion, as well as someplace to hang with people of similar interests. Music tastes gravitate to compositions with a dark or dramatic feel; from classical music such as Bach's Toccatta and Fugue in D-Minor, Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, Beetoven's Moonlight Sonata, or Mozart's Requiem, to More modern ones like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, or Theme songs from The X-Files or The Twilight Zone. We also gravitate to darker rock such as Evanescence, Type O Negative, or Delerium and older darker influential bands such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus; and further back, influences like some Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Doors, or Blue Oyster Cult. Generally, music that is generally mysterious, dramatic, deep, or epic will be well received. In the newer, younger more industrial crowd, musical influences are more electronic and driven, more like dark electronica stemming from influences like Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, and various techno artists. This is the kind of thing which has pretty much taken over the goth/industrial club scene in the last couple of years. In worship music we tend to like minor chorded and "sad" sounding things, of which a lot of the Jewish influenced worship music is. We like media in general that is very emotive, dramatic, and intense. Goths love dancing, but not so much organized dancing, but more expressive, freeflow dance. When at a goth club, you see as many dance styles as there are personalities. There is a great emphasis and "code" if you will, of being your own person, and doing your own thing, and being admired and encouraged in that. Differences and uniqueness are valued, and conformity is frowned upon. In a fashion sense, the goths that are truly admired by others are the ones who are continually going out on a creative limb; seeing great potential in the alteration of average garments into something creative and unique. Goths also tend to have a love of history and historical costuming encorpoating different historical styles into their wardrobe, especially medieval/rennaisance, some early 19th century european, and Victorian/Edwardian. They usually love art that is romantic, and hearkens back to more romantic, idealized times, such as the pre-raphealite movement of the late 19th century. We generally have a love of creation, often with a great love of sunsets, night sounds and animals, the stars and moon.
The question is always asked whether or not "goth" is a religion. As you can see, basically, from above, the answer is a resounding, NO. It is a worldview, mindset, aesthestic, and/or lifestyle, but goths have a range of spiritual bents. Most are not atheists, as most goths have a strong sense of the supernatural and the existence of something beyond the temporal here and now. Yes, there are a lot of wiccans and neo-pagans to be found among us, but curiously, Christians are suprisingly well tolerated, if we are perceived to be one of them, and not someone who is posing as a goth with an evangelistic agenda. Goths are known for their openmindedness and willingness to discuss and explore the mysteries of life. The non-Christians among us are almost always willing to hear the Christian perspective on all manner of issues, provided they are given the same respect and hearing of their perspectives on things, which is as it should be. We earn the right to be heard in the exercise of mutual respect.
I guess this just about covers it, and if you read this far, you now know more about this than just about anyone, who isn't a goth themselves, or maybe like us, you're saying, "Wow, I guess I've been a goth all along and just not known it!"

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