Goth Formation Theory Essay
Author: Cire Lowrimore Oct 7, 2016
Last Edited: Oct 26, 2017 (Periodic Revisions)
This article is roughly 16 pages with spacing for clarity. If I'm lucky, someone(s) with an attention span of more than two seconds will read this. At the end, I have supplied bibliographic information from a couple of the sources that I have cited here. All rights for the cited information here in is solely the exclusive right and work of the authors. (They are good authors to, so, check them out.)
The only authority I will speak of is of my "life experience" and genealogical Scandinavian Germanic elements of my family tree.
I read “all the time.” Goth (my unpopular and unknown life) interests me enough to read and write about it when I am able. Fortunately, I have had the time and access to read tons of material written by authors known and amateur (like me). I have no formal training when it comes to writing or reading. At best, I write and maybe my chicken scratching will be intelligible.
Usually, I have tons of books open (paper and electronic), music playing, incense, candles, and opera playing in the background (joking). Therefore, in this article (essay) I am attempting to throw a bunch of ideas around with citation.
My overall purpose for this article is to provoke thought, bring little known information on Goth forward, and attempt to strike a layperson contrast between historical and modern Goth ideas.
Goth -it has been my life...matter of fact, all of my life. I have no desire to re-invent or attempt the age-old debate of what Goth is or is not, but I toil away. This is a work in progress, I will attempt to re-work, and re-write as often am I am capable. In addition, I have as many questions as any.
I make no claims of being a professional, a scholar, or an authoritative figure when it comes to Goth. For the most part, it is something that I am genuinely interested in, living a life-style, and adding to my overall experience of whatever it is that we consider life (reality).
This article includes the beginning(s) of my working theory, simple linguistic paleontology, and a synthesis of ideas in linking past and present Goth. Granted that, correlation does not in fact mean causation.
It is my intention however to bring attention to both as I feel that one does not exist without the other. I also think that there are modern Goths who may come to a better understanding of what they are claiming to be. I might not be entirely correct in some of my views and I am able to change and adapt as needed.
I understand that things change over time. In addition, I feel that directly focusing on the historical lineage of ideas in history will help those who are looking for something that is truer to an original expression and understanding of modern Goth than what the commercial market and the internet generally provide.
Sadly though, the fictitious reality of commercialism, escapist dress up, and egocentric fetish-isms are what I (we) are more often than not left with. I am not saying those things are bad but they are not the only aspects to Goth history or life -living or undead. (Mu-ah-ah)(joking)
In no way am I saying modern Goth culture is wrong in its idea of popular conception, but I do feel there is more to Goth than what most see and know. It seems it is easier to “assume a Goth-role” than to study and come to a general comprehension of how Goth has come into its modern form. Goth is more expansive than tropism, social networks, fashion, music, and commercialism. The reality of Goth is indeed greater and more expansive than fiction. Of course, I will say Goth will eventual move into something that resembles one-part Ghost in the Shell (recursive history) to one part techno-orientalism.
A real actual day-to-day (night-to-night) Goth, fifty-plus percent of the time, holds no resemblance to the presumed stereotypes. A majority of Goths cannot be distinguished from normal everyday people. Most Goths do not dress-up, paint themselves, or act in any way that is generally considered the Gothic stereotype or profile. Therefore, the only difference between Goth and non-Goth is purely in the details.
--------*Included with this article are bibliographies and related information.*-----------------------------
List of related words: uncanny, mysterious, unknown, fantastic, bizarre, sensual, numinous etc.
“What is the Gothic Archetype?”
“What were the evolutionary steps that have led to present day Goth?”
“What are the constituent elements of Goth, and can they be understood individually?”
“What important historical parallels can be established in relation to Goth?”
“Why is Goth less active during times of peace and more active around progressive chaos?”
“Has the true evolutionary Goth-paradigm become distorted due to commercialism, false historical misdirections, and other usurpation’s by all forms of entertainment underground and mainstream?”
“What will the future of Goth be if left in the communicative and commercial hands of those who only have a monetary interest in World Goth Counter Culture?”
The first known usage of the word “Goth” was in the first century CE. In addition, the hands of the original Goths themselves recorded it. For whatever reason, modern Goths still foolishly say that there is no connection what so ever. I laugh, fiercely. Without the original Goth, there is no modern Goth. Period. Other ancient literature points towards 200 B.C., by way of ancient Proto-Indo-European, Egyptian, Scandinavian, Nordic, pre-Germanic and Germanic tribes; Goth exists.
Many “modern Goths” contend that there is no relation to past Goth. This obviously points out the fact that they have not studied the ancient and original Goths to know that there is more to find in similarity than what they know. In addition, without the “first Goths” not all “modern Goths” would exist. (Duh)
The Original Goths were about real beauty in the arts, in life, and in promoting a well-founded tribal community in which to live. They were in fact about the greatest forms of “light, life, and beauty.” They were also the "original rebels" that stood against all forms of oppression and tyranny. It is beyond the strangeness and uncanny nature of its metamorphosis over time that, Goth life, like the beautiful morning star of ancient times, became blasphemed into nothing more than darkness. (Fuck you ancient and modern Rome). Ancient Elder Goths knew and understand the bloody harshness of reality. However, unlike the misguided historical documents and literary history, "Goth" and "Goth People" were distorted and changed by way of perception. Thanks to our Gothic people, they brought down the hideous monster of old times that was Rome. Goth in its original essence was never intended to become what it has been popularly touted within the last five centuries or more.
It must also be noted that, early Italian Renaissance artists wrongly attributed the “Gothic” descriptor when it came to certain architecture. Thus coining the “barbaric style.” (Punter pgs 3-4)
What Tacitus said about the Germanic tribes generally came to be particularly associated with the Goths, and he depicted them as brave, virtuous and, as demonstrated by their representative system of government and their invention of the jury system, possessing a strong belief in justice and liberty.
(Germania (AD 98) (Punter pg 4)
“The word ‘Gothic’ with all that it implies, ceased to be a synonym for “barbarous” and “violent” and became associated with the poetry and chivalry of the Middle Ages: thus, ‘Gothic’ assumed a second meaning, ‘the medieval’” (Varma 12).(Reuber_dis, pg. 2)
Throughout the course of time, the connotation of gothic changed so that it finally was associated with all grotesque, awful, evil and ugly things, wherewith the former medieval meaning slightly faded away. Nevertheless, the supernatural significance of the word has always been maintained. (Reuber, 3)
Many misguided Goths have failed to realize that what many authors, artists, and filmmakers were creating, accomplished using their artistry as weapon(s) against the times and what they did not agree with. To use the knowledge (knowingly) of the “uncanny” against (entertaining) the status quo commercially brainwashed masses is purely “psychological assault.” Through rebellion, under-education, drug-use, and distorted philosophical meanderings -those of times that are more modern have used, perverted, and tainted Goth-isms in ways that only further distorted true Goth essence. At the same time, there are those who delight in certain perversity of the darkness for whatever reason -and sometimes, for no reason at all. The all too obvious fact of the matter is that through extreme negative associations, the Original Goths seemingly were labeled barbaric and evil. Thus, the dissension of the Goth through the pages of history has manifested a rather bastardized modern Goth. Plus; most modern Goths only accept the modern definition and explanations of Goth with no regard to history. However, modern Goth can be defined as a form of rebellion, using the "tools of self-expression" to battle against all forms of tyranny and oppression disguised as Democratic Freedom.
Punk music itself (I believe) was a rebellious schism no different from any other schism. Basically, something goes wrong in society, and then, there are those who act out against society. Somewhere in those schisms, Goth was supposedly molded into the historical framework of punk. If you look at the "surface value", you can easily see that Punk is not true to Goth. Punks self-definition lends itself to rebel even against itself. Just because someone “drops or uses a word” does not mean that becomes the truth of reality, which happened in various journalistic articles on Punk. I do support Punk and all forms of music. However, it is incorrect to say that Punk music was the original beginnings of what we now know and think of as Goth. The historical evidence proves this beyond any shadow of doubt.
There is a difference between rebellions that incite societal change, and those of immature ideological screams. Substance with no volition merits nothing. Goths history for whatever reason has always been “overlooked” or “denied” by modern Goth culture and completely stands of its own merit without Punk. It is as if someone came along and decided to use your family name and genealogy, and applied their own understanding and history, then you would have a pseudo origin history. Goth would still have history and continue to grow whether Punk ever came into its schismatic existence or not. I am not against Punk music. What I am saying is that it is not the sole heir to manifesting present Goth. In addition, Goth has had a certain supernatural longevity, where-as Punk has seemed to come and go with the wind despite small underground pools.
I believe that the same practice of wrong use of terms by the Italians about “barbaric architecture” in reference is exactly analogous to Punk musicians who attributed their juvenile expressions to Goth in some form or another. The word “juvenile” is not used as an insult but quite indicative of the mode of expression in Punk. It is also astounding that this particular lie of Punk and British history giving vitality to Goth has lived on and propelled itself. Certainly, the Punk and British music genre has a footnote to its name, but it is not the singular resounding call to Gothic arms. As other forms of music progress, neither can they be called Goth in the singular sense, as they are combinations of many things and styles. Original Goth music was tribal music using primitive instrumentation, blended with a range of beautiful Germanic voices.
Many people use “Goth” as a reason to: act-out, rebel without a reason, to be something that they are not, as a way to make money, a means to make themselves popular. As a life-long Goth and someone who knows a small number Goths, these aforementioned things distort our culture and how the world perceives us (modern Goths). Even my own genealogy of Scandinavian and German ancestry places me closer to speaking with a greater volume of sincerity than most.
A majority of modern Goths enjoy the same things the Original Goths enjoyed: art, beauty, spending time in peaceful solitude, standing against unreasonable domination and control. The original Goths stood for: Tribe, Strength, and Freedom. The aspects of melancholy and depression as terrible distortions that come from bad stereotypical examples.
The Original Goths did not wear all black, wear makeup, and "make all things death". They were joyous, colorful, and were creators of all that was their world.
Like any other field of study, there is no consensus in the Gothic World Culture as to what the proper definition is or way to explain Goth (sub) Culture. I would like to point out however, that although it may still be a “niche” culture I do not think it should be called “subcultural.” That would somehow imply that it is lower than whatever might be considered the nominal culture form. I do believe that replacing “counter” for “sub” would be more semantically appropriate. Yes, and I do understand what the academic and scholarly designation is for certain groups, but even they are not always right.
I do strongly believe that the “popular notion” of Gothic Counter Culture is entirely wrong. In many ways, I believe those who have not spent more than a decade or more attempting to understand and communicate it have written it. In many ways, I believe that some of the history of Goth Counter Culture has been written by those who have agendas that benefit only themselves and not the World Gothic Community in its entire scope of existence (past present future). In a way, I think it is sad that Gothic-Life style has become a marketable means to an ends, a stereotypical joke used in all forms of entertainment, and a social culture that many use as a titillating means of selfish exploration. Even now, the entertainment industry uses the “Gothic Tropism” as another pawn in its predatory dispensations.
Take this how ye will but “The only voices in the Gothic world community that are ever really heard are the ones making the most money off of the Gothic community.” So, what does that tell you? It tells me exactly what I already know and you should know as well 'O Goth that ye are'.
It is simply to easy to “assimilate” some information together and say, “Yep, that explains it all.” Many use Goth as a springboard for their developing egos not even having a cursory understanding of Goth. I also feel that many who call themselves Goth have a tendency to discard history entirely with no regard to the fact that, without history it is with absolute unquestioning certainty that modern day Goth Counter Culture would not exist. You can contest the fact however you want, but anyone with a simple understanding of linguistics, language, anthropology, sociology, and history can tell you that the word “Goth” has a (n) ancient historical origin. Without that history, today's Goth Counter Culture might exist as an entirely different societal anomaly under another name and ideology -if not at all. You do not have to be an English Literature Major, a Librarian, or even a Cemetery Grounds Keeper to understand.
It is beyond childish and highly simplistic to use the literature of the fantastic “uncanny aspects of humanity” in a way that does not speak to the core of Goth without egotistical distortion. Goth is more than a painted ghost ship of fools. Goth is more than the market that speaks greater of the selling-actors than the culture. Goth is more than a delinquent excuse to rebel without understanding forms of progression and change, including death. Goth is more than a few Goth web sites with pay-to-play Gothic commercialism. Goth is more than the literature that is commonly touted as being the only historically accepted expressions of Goth. Goth stands and will continue to exist with or without these things.
If the Original Goths were about art, beauty, and life -then, what is the monstrosity that is commonly thought of as being original Goth? How did a name, a lineage, a historical wonder be changed into such blasphemous debauchery? It is as if history has somehow been wrongly altered. The proof provided by the Italians, the Romans, and the Germans speak volumes about how Goth has been changed repeatedly from one thing to another.
Perhaps, “Those who do (try to) control the past, indeed control (influence) the future.” Instead of allowing a few individuals with “popular Gothic ideological programming” dictate what that history is, I decided to go a different route. That route has included the scientific method, linguistics, cultural history, social sciences, literature, and the evolution of communication systems. I felt that if I really dug down deep enough and not just swallow whatever is conveniently published in popular entertainment or on the internet that, I might learn something. I have to admit that it is one of the toughest things I have even done as far as lay-person-serious research is concerned. If you follow the history starting from around the first century up to the present, it is epically strange and uncanny to see what Goth was up until now. In some ways, I cannot help but to think of all the idiocy of what has become. If the Original Goths had any sway and power in this moment, they would more than likely clean and behead the ranks of the worlds present Goth. Just think, to have gone from powerful noble tribes into painted idiots and fools, drug users, a host of whiners, and deviants without end. Excuse my French, but, “How the fuck did this happen, and is there really any way to save-face (per say)?”
If “you -the reader” do not want to take my word, why do not you put in some serious time and effort and “you will see and know the truth (if there is such a thing).” However, if you are only concerned with “fantasy and fiction,” then carry on unto la-la-land -and, do not forget your face-paint, eyeliner, and depressed disposition. I am not saying fantasy is bad, but I enjoy a clear distinction, as you should as well. (How uncanny.)
Sometimes, in order to understand anything, you have to break it down into its finite components. It is just too easy to jump in and drive, but who knows enough about what made the vehicle possible? I have struggled, and struggled, and lost countless nights attempting to wrap my head around these questions: What is Goth? When did Goth begin? How could I find the true origins of Goth? It has taken some time, but I made more progress and gained understanding that I did not have before. For once, I think I can proudly say that I am a modern Goth (oh be-jezuz, really? Reach out and touch Faith.) and have a basic understanding of how Goth has come to be. In addition, it has provided me with a way to look at things and see whether there is anything remotely of Gothic truth within them. Moreover, no, I am not claiming “super-Goth-powers” but that would be cool. ***Mu-ah-ah-ah*** (Plays jest as I tickle me bony white ribs.)
Should I play dress-up, paint my face, get lost in any form of so-called Gothic pictures, books, or music -swallow commercial Goth or underground marketing and social web sites? Are those things spin offs of a long and lengthy set of archetypical ideologies, whose true ages and histories are unknown to those who would even begin call themselves “Goth?” Who knew that images and symbols from the times of Egypt would find their ways into the menagerie of manipulated materials making molded costumes? These are questions that I think about when I engage the Goth Culture.
This leads me to a tasteless Gothic-Zen joke: “What is the sound of a one-handed Goth/Goth-et clapping in the woods?” Answer: A Goth/Goth-et spanking their Gothic monkey. (I know, I know, boo-hoo you too.)
There are three specific areas that seemed the most obvious to me: language, symbolism, and ideology.
***Sigh*** anyway. (Linguistic paleontology, symbolism, psychology more or less, yawns)
My basic theory is to take these basic components, gain a basic understanding of what they are, and find historical relations that prove that there is more to the Goth Counter Culture definition than just another popular Wiki-Pedia or Google post, or another uber underground website(e-fucking-gad-sigh-barf). I know it is an impossibly large amount of data to take in, but would you rather have something closer to the self-realized-truth than something fickle and left for want of wanting more? It seems these answers liken themselves to those pursuits held in respect to the few forms we presently have at our disposal: literature, art, music, fashion, life-style. Even with these aforementioned things, they still have a lineage and this lineage has constituent parts with historical significance of their own. Something does not spring from nothing, anymore than nothing springing forth from nothing -perhaps aside from the fact that many modern Goths “know nothing of history.” Emptiness is form; Form is Emptiness.
Different stands of history can be examined thoroughly enough to create a D.N.A. esque' symbolic attribution model of modern day Goth (as in life style). Many pseudo-Goths are comfortable only in a taking apiece here or there, straddling a fence here or there, changing their stances and beliefs on Goth quicker than any song on their “qusi-underground play list.” What can I say other than Seven Seconds or less has become the modern Gothic attention span? How sad.
A study of the “Proto-Indo-European” family of languages was entirely instrumental in tracing some the particle-elements of what gradually amalgamated the current “Goth-Culture” into its present form. It is without any contestable doubt, that in this world, language and history walk hand-in-hand. Knowing just that much increases the difficulty of finding reputable historical markers. Therefore, I asked myself, “What else might I use to help me strengthen the theory?” Life-style was one area, mind/psych state was another, and ideological/religious/philosophical programming were the last areas that I could think of that might help. The information is at times as fickle and trending as any online Goth social message board. Why should I not want to know more when I have claimed to live my entire life as what I pursue? To repeat the past is regrettable, but to look beyond is more than Gothic Virtue.
As far as the language concern, the first thought (however un-original) was to find the first recording or use of the word(s) “Goth” or “Gothic” (Germanic Origins).
Obviously, the possibility of the word existing in another language (expression) is without question. Nevertheless, since all languages share similar meanings to some extent, I thought it might also be of worth to find words that have some relational value to our original term. Other than creating a Goth lexicon, it seems I have my work cut out for me. The only definitive historical marker I have found thus far is from the first century. A few other markers point further back 200 B.C., and earlier. What I am saying to some degree is that, “What is characteristic of Goth can be found in all areas and times of history.” The names and faces change, but what of the original expression or movement of what is considered “Goth?” Each culture is various historical times had something about them that was in one way or another similar to Goth. So, is it a way of life? Obviously.
Modern Goth could never have its present volitional existence without something first placing it into motion. Such is true for the entire known universe. (Sigh, I know right.)
I ran across the seemingly unrelated sayings that made me think outside the box:
(Note: I believe that I am attempting to find a way(bridge) for combining the significance of present Goth Culture(life style, ideology) with a explanation for the historical context that closely -if not directly- links both paradigms beyond simple relational value. For one cannot exist without the other.)(Notes to references provide ample substance.)
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Hypothetical: What if Goth has been this mimetically transmitted ideological construction (in various parts) that has been around forever? Moreover, how did it survive the on-slot of all the other ideologies? (In this area, I believe social movements and archetypical paradigms are a way to explain this.)
“The names and people change, but the game stays the same.” Hypothetical: If Goth has been around forever -so to speak- what other ways, ideas, and in what type of people did Goth exist? (Oversimplified, but in Goth -basic attributions exist in everyone.)
“History has a way of repeating itself.” Hypothetical: If Goth has repeated itself through history, how did it transmit itself and how could it be recognized if in another form or by another name? Even the Gods and Demons of old change.
(It always seems during time of change, breakdown, and chaos that Goth has found various mediums by which to transmit it. Not directly from agent actor to agent actor, but rather jumping across time through various levels of technology and historical communicative mediums.)
The present Goth Counter Culture -as with all cultures- did not grow, expand, or evolve without a knowledge base. With this is mind, language and symbolic imagery are important areas in which to explore modern day Goths primordial influential beginnings. The difficulty in deciphering these aspects is separating commercial and marketing linked symbols to pure symbolic expression (so to speak). The even greater difficulty some people in Goth have is a tendency to use whatever symbol from antiquity, fiction, or fantasy that they can find in order to justify whatever it is that they think they believe in. For example The Egyptian Djat and Ankh (Used by professed Vampires.)
Every culture in this world is formed from constituent parts which are found within the historical paradigms of our communicative language systems (a given). Every society can be defined by algorithmic ideological patterns and language use. The word “archetype” is Greek meaning a “pattern, structure, or form.” In addition, “Goth” can be roughly interpreted as “pour'ers of semen” (who would have ever guessed that!). There are a handful of derivative interpretations depending on which linguistic school of thought you apply.
For me, Goth is a life style or discipline by which a person interprets their world based upon other models and associations of manifested systems of expression. Each particular “Goth” (life-style follower) can be considered an “Agent Carrier System” of a particular set(s) of ideological aesthetic values. Every person (carrier agent) in a cultural society (collective swarm) shares sets of information that are passed on and shared with the rest of the group. This is true for all cultures and societies.
There are “purist” Goths who have chosen a more auspicious form of Goth-Life that both sees and understands how such ideology has made its present existence reality. I think it is by these “purist Goths” that the lineage or origin may be passed on, but with time, a copy of a copy of a copy of the original eventual fades away. Such is the truth for all things of impermanence. I might be considered a "Gothic Purist" or one who is a "carrier of the Gothic San Gre-all."
In our present World Goth Culture Society, there is a preponderance of four types of Goths:
The marketable Goth used in imperial commercial enterprise and perversion.
The materialistic Goth who thinks that material, music, or fashion makes Goth.
The trend Goth who appears and disappears more often than social butterfly.
The online or social network Goth who resembles not their offline self.
I do believe that these types of modern Goths are not necessarily pure-Goths so much as they are synergistic cross-hybrids of mixed social ideologies of both popular and underground cultures. It does not make them “wrong” so-to-speak, but it does not entirely make them Goth either. It makes them some form of a “modifier + Goth” as it is common in Goth that there are tropish variations of “types of Goth.” In many collectives of online and social Goth groups, they have their own classifications and hierarchical stations dependent upon the core belief systems of perception. (Some sites provide a means by which to rate and rank their members, lol). Who knew the importance of Goth would rely upon a number? I wonder if the original historical Goths ranked each other by “numbers of heads taken, kills made, or virgins thwarted?”
Side note: I might also add that certain “brain-types” (similar neocortex patterns) may in-fact hold special structural recursions that speak directly to “why” some people choose “Goth” as a designated form of expression. More specifically stated: “Some Goths have a tendency to acknowledge the darker aspects of thought-form, where-as non-Goths have a tendency to repress or deny dark abstractions.”
A deeper way to define Goth or Goth Culture is in every way similar to the “Jungian Shadow.” The greater majority of world society has a tendency not to embrace life and death fully. This includes all the white, gray, and black areas of life. Goth people have a tendency of being more “all encompassing” of life and death in its various dispositions. To further extend this class of understanding, we might say that “Goth Methods” have an effective way of taking certain “instance variables” of life (death) and exercising the function of re-expressing them in ways not stereotypical of popular societal statutes and mores. I would say these are generalities that are true for all cultures dissimilar from one another dependent upon the encapsulation and dispensing of propagative mimetic.
If you look at all the language and symbolic components, you can trace the actual historical genesis of Goth through its composite attributions. The attributions extend all the back to all of the first-known records of human history. Goth is indeed a human-construct. However, it is those specific constructs and ideologies that may speak for the present tense in how they have come into being. Humanity changes and evolves very slow(over eons), so it is without question that, from before the Goths it is plausible to say that some form(s) of ideological archetypes are indeed responsible for the formation, shape, and existence of Goth unto this modern state. We might once again reference the dual-composition of the brain with direct agreement in the Jungian Shadow philosophy.
At times (other than historical), I feel “modern Goth” is this huge amorphous blob. This blob moves here and there, swallowing whatever falls before it, assuming the shape of its container, never really taking on any solidity or shape. It does not seem to recognize itself or know of its genesis, from time to time birthing progeny replicated from the material dung of whatever it digests into its churning gut, spewed out from its gangly, monstrous, tooth-lined orifice.
Goth has many forms of expression by which the number of re-ordering and permutations of Goth have always been consistent as small niche “Goth-Swarms” (knowledge agent actors) that have recursively disseminated this particular knowledge base. The defacto principle of modern Goth is that it is darker in characteristic persona as in contrast to actionable Goths of antiquity. I am not sure why the culture is not significant in world numbers, but I am rested upon the hypothetical that it takes a particular type of person to fully embrace the Gothic existence (anomalous singularities). A majority of world-social-norms have a tendency of non-acceptance when it comes to anything different from what the majority has been programmed to think of as “normal.” Moreover, after the rebellious pubescent phases of maturity, most individuals who foolishly toy with Goth never fully mature into Gothic Adults. I believe it is because mature Gothic people are so few in number are correlative directly to the inequity of this culture.
We can further elucidate Goth Counter Culture as being a societal component of: fringe society, underground, ethnocentrism, original awareness, intelligent perception, conscious survival, rebellious experimentation, reactive, re-balancing, adaptive, acknowledging the unacknowledged. Goth Culture is an oroborus, a dung beetle, or a Phoenix.
There are two particular historical popularizations about how Goth-Culture began. There are the purists (such as I am) who accept the evolutionary history of Goth, and those who accept the premise of “entertainment” as being the prime mover. It is my opinion that recorded history in its various communicative states of evolution can show a more definitive and defined origin of Goth than relying on the pseudo-popular notion that Goth somehow began as it is most often cited. History proves beyond any doubt that the language and characteristic ideologies existed well before the popular idea of how Goth Culture and life-style began. The music, art, and entertainment aspects are modern spin offs of steps in commercialized industrialized technological evolution.
As a purist, I have made strides into the language, the culture, and taking the myriad of experiences apart and distilling them into their finite parts. If you study enough of the attributions together and look at how they are begot, you come to find the lineage is more than a momentary blip in popular history. Some of what I have looked at goes back to the periods of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Sumerian history. I must be careful to state that our current world history is recorded upon the “Gregorian Calendar System.” Perhaps I will in time make parallels in Gothic histories as set up in the time placeholders and iterations of other systems. Archetypical historical paradigms take on many forms and change over time including all that is considered “modern Goth.”
One methodology to examine “Goth” so-to-speak is to create various “Gothic Counter Cultural Lexicon(s).” These lexicon(s) can be created from a (n) aggregated mining operation of any (all) datum directly speaking of said and related terminology. From this lexicon, densities and weights can be examined to further lingual chains of ideological mimetic and inherent phraseology. Editing for redundancy and recursive elements can be applied to separate the “wheat from the chaff/staff.” The problem with doing so is that, Goth Counter Culture has been highly poisoned by ingesting fickle trending meme data characteristics and terminology.
A second methodology entails taking characteristics in the present Goth Culture and related information; comparatively find mirroring parallels in history, in written language, and mental construction-isms. By way of logic, we understand because two things are similar does not necessarily make them true. However, in using this particular methodology, the direction is not to find 100% conclusive matches, but rather to find markers that are strongly indicative enough to strengthen the theory stated henceforth. In general, we can apply the same or similar methodologies to any given culture in order to understand what constituent parts make up a particular collective. More often than not, it is not uncommon to find parallels in all societies given the obvious “human factor.” What we are looking for are the details and attributions that are the strongest indicators of defining what constitutes Gothic Counter Culture and its origins.
One of the earliest references I found using the word “Goth” was cited on page 119, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of the Goth” part 4:
“The history of the word in antiquity is well discussed by Wolfram Herwig (1988, pp. 19-35). The name "Goths" first appears in Latin writings in the early first century CE. It first turns up as a reflection of a derivative weak noun, Gutones, which could mean either "the young Goths," or "the great Goths." A strong form, Guti, appears in writing around 150 CE. The former is used in the Germania of Tacitus, where the Gothones are located east of the lower Vistula River. The weak form with the -one suffix soon disappeared from the record, and only the strong form without the suffix persisted.”
It was interesting to note, that the “Goth” designation extends back before the popular historical view of associations with the “Germanic Tribes,” including relations to the Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans, Getae. In addition, a simple relation of the historical details of the characteristic nature of the barbarian tribes, and their rampant destruction of various civilizations, might explain how centuries of psychological superimposition speak of the Goth Counter Culture as “rebellious and destructive.” It is not out of the way to say that centuries of age-old paradigmatic thought has a way of impinging upon the present. It worked for Christianity, so why not Goth? Therefore, from the preceding excerpt, we find language origins going back as far as the first century CE. You might ask, “Why is this even important?” First off, we must agree that something does not spring from nothing (this is history not metaphysics). Second, if you understand how mimetic and paradigmatic forms of knowledge spread and transmit themselves, you begin to understand that long and lengthy chain of causality that has brought current Goth Counter Culture unto its present standing in the greater world society. “Goth” is not a self-created anomaly of its own, yet rather a suffusion and amalgamation of many intricate and distinct parts working in paralleled evolutionary concert found and defined throughout history.
So, could we say that part of Goths archetypical form(s) embrace rebellion, destruction, and death? I think it is a fair assumption to say so. The semantic meaning of the combined terms “counter culture” has similar meaning to what might be interpreted as “anti-social or different from the norm.” In this present age, it may be more generally accepted as alternative life styles not embraced by status quo society. That means, some part of society in opposition to whatever the controlling hierarchical system has established as the “bar of accepted normality.” (As if, humanity has ever been normal.)
On page 120, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of Goth” part 4, we find another insightful composition that further elucidates our understanding:
“Goths must therefore represent the opposite. (This point psychologically indicates also the degree to which the Roman Catholic Church was merely another representation of Romanitas, or Roman imperial policy in a cultural sense.)”
We might also link this information to the Jungian Shadow, Freudian Uncanny, and the inherent darkness of humanity. I want to be careful when I state these things as an “awareness or healthy exercising of ones dark-side does not necessarily imply an overtly deviant or criminal predisposition.” What I will say is that, “Many cultures have learned to exercise the darkness of their 'inner-shadow' in order to strike a healthy balance of life.” A Goth-Life-style may indeed be a way for many to realize and exercise their darkness in a healthy non-destructive mannerism. It may be compared to other life styles including: meditation, church attendance, or exercise. The Church of Satan has many rituals and ceremonies directly related to such exercises including “psychodrama.” Pagans or Wiccans practice a dualistic system based upon light and darkness (simply stated). The public has endless ways of dealing with “negativity” or “stress” that may be thought of as exercising their own darkness. Modern Goth Culture strong acts in a way that allows for repressed tendencies, emotional character management, and stress relief.
On page 120, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of the Goth” part 4, we find further links to both past and present (Make note of how this era begins to inject and paint Goth with evil and negativity):
With the Italian Renaissance, beginning in the 15th century, writers began to use the terms Goth and Gothic in increasingly negative ways. The Goth was the "anti-Roman," or anti-Classical symbol par excellence. Again, proponents of Classical aesthetics made historical and cultural villains of the Goths. In the 1600s, a "Goth" could mean a "rude, uncivilized, or ignorant person, one devoid of culture and taste."(Oxford English Dictionary) In this vein, the particular "northern" style of medieval architecture, which swept out of the north after around 1200, was also first called "Gothic" in the 1600s.
Now, I want to be careful and define this a little bit further by saying, “A Goth could be anyone who stands in direct opposition to anything or anyone in society if taken only with a grain of salt. But, with modern world culture I believe there is a considerable understanding that what is 'different' is not always something to be considered adversarial.(i.e. Hebrew for 'Satan' translated as 'adversary' for example.)”
On page 120, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of Goth” part 4, this particular line is quite powerful:
The Goth stood for the individual and liberty, the Roman for tyranny and absolutism. This historical-political symbology was more prominent in people's minds in the 1600-1700 CE than were the aesthetic labels.
By those lines stated above, it appears that the perception of the “Goth” was that of “Freedom.” In addition, it is by no surprise that the Roman (Evil Unholy Roman Empire) was (is) quite the tyrannical form of evil. Not entirely different from today's modern America in the least (someone save me please!). In most popular Goth-History, it is only until about the 15-18 (through 19th century CE), that many have somehow bought into the pseudo-fact that the only Gothic literature that begins any form of “dark romanticism” or speaks of the Gothic paradigm is found within these eras. I highly contest the fact based upon the preponderance of historical evidence that directly speaks to the later. For example, if we understand the archetypes and constructs of what we consider “Goth or Gothic”, then we know that these particular ideas (as evidenced above) began as far back as the First Century CE. This means that all the pieces of this huge paradigmatic ideological puzzle are scattered well over 2,000 years or more not counting Egyptian or pre-Egyptian history. For anyone who has read the “Egyptian Book of the Dead,” they would know how entirely poetic and darkly romantic that it is. (It must be noted here that Egypt is being used a historical marker or reference point. This is taken into consideration because the Great Library at Alexandria had always contained a wealth of information historical and other-wise. Luckily, some of this information is available today.)
So, by way of my theory, it is plausible to say that Goth in it's parts and characteristics may in-fact have a history of 20,000 to 50,000 years considering the Library of Alexandria and Egypt. Various libraries and museums around the world house scrolls and artifacts that once resided in those libraries. (Note: Refer to theory stated throughout this article.)(See Archeological Society of Egypt for details)
On page 121, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of the Goth” part 4, we find descriptions of literary Goth archetypes:
Gothic novels are populated with a series of often archetypal characters: a heroine who is often a governess or new bride, the brooding demonic and darkly handsome Byronic hero/villain, misfit servants, precocious children, and sometimes a mad relative in the attic or basement. Of course, the ghosts of dead ancestors also not seldom walk the halls. The aesthetic sense projected in these novels is one which emphasizes darkness and the 'inevitable decay of human creations'. The sense of beauty is clearly that of the sublime— something which stimulates fascination and horror at the same time. Here the philosophy underlying the Gothic romance becomes more obvious. It is linked to the remote (ancient/ancestral) world, ruled by strong emotion, rejecting the "enlightened" smugness of the Age of Reason, and embracing the wild inner landscapes of nightmare and imagination.
The above paragraph is so entirely spot-on that, although Goth literature defines a certain “scope of language,” it clearly describes centuries old archetypical paradigms. Therefore, by way of that last statement the obvious direction to go is towards archetypes, symbolic language, and plots some rough historical markers. These archetypes are found within any medieval or pre-medieval literature (Chymical R., Egyptian Aum Tat, Codices, and Ideograms).
(Side Thought: “I think that a fear or a hate that is not understood (exercised), is a form of bondage that can enslave the individual if not faced and reckoned with. Perhaps Goth is a way for an individual to exercise or free himself or herself from what represses or denies their life and freedom. One of humanities most self-destructive characteristic is the pursuit of control. The life style of Goth -in a sense- is the rawest, purest form of seeking liberation. Even more so, the path of Goth may be a way to re-balance the individual’s inner and outer realities.”)
On page 1, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany” includes a definition:
Simon Frith identifies a subculture as a certain group of consumers who share a common bond: this reworking […] took on the particular form of identifying certain social groups with what we might call ‘positive mass consumption’ (which became—and remains—the pithiest current definition of ‘popular’—as against mass—culture.) The value of cultural good could therefore be equated with the value of the groups consuming those— youth, the working class, and women. (Rites 13)
With any play upon words we might say, “For every culture, there is a different yet opposing anti-culture.” (Obviously) The Gothic Counter Culture -in the present sense- has almost taken on all the aspects of mass popular culture along with its various forms of consumption. We can literally say there is little difference structurally, albeit the details of how we choose to define aesthetic.
On page 2, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany: includes a definition:
Gothicism has the ability to span national boundaries. Instead of categorizing class, behavior, or homology, Gothicism categorizes universal depression and hopelessness.
I do not entirely agree with the above-cited definition as I feel it plays entirely too stereotypical notions of popular non-historical based Gothic ideologies. The original Goths were explores, innovators, movers and shakers of world cultural evolutionary development. To pigeonhole political rebellion, 1970's punk music, and entirely sequestering Goth to some random genesis in modern culture is entirely misleading. One side dominates while another side rebels; Human nature is forever a struggle against itself. Perhaps Goth is a form of the human archetypical system, not rebelling in a simple sense, but attempting to right itself against those things that are truly wrong with human societal culture. Perhaps it is humanities dark side attempting to re-balance itself with the light (dualistically noted; Hermetic Kabbilion).
On page 3, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany” contains an author excerpt:
Adrya Stinbridge, author of “What is Gothic,” explains: Goths did often write about the macabre, however it was somberly done in the vein of Romanticism. Brian Warner’s [Marilyn Manson] lyrics were profane and thrived on anger, alienation, conflict and hatred. The driving force behind Marilyn Manson sought to incite and shock, whereas Goths sought to create art and desired to be left alone. Manson’s art was hate; the art behind Gothic subculture was beauty and romance. (Paragraph 32)
I believe this statement above displays an implied bias against certain forms and expressions of Goth. Nevertheless, I do believe that over time, whatever was original or “most pure of Goth,” was somehow transmuted into this lower classlessness, by which fantasy darkness is the entire focus. However, Goth creatively has never been lacking in a majority of Goth influenced artistic movements. It may not always be of the highest intelligible expressions, no doubt the raw essence and beauty of Goth is yet enough to stand firm upon its own.
One page 3, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany” defines the word “Gothic”:
The word “Gothic” in Proto-German literally means, “pourers of semen.”
From the definition above, I am...not surprised in the least (lol). You know, there are times that I cannot help but to laugh as I hear so many call themselves “Gothic.” Then, to know the above definition is the proverbial butter to the hilarious bread. It is almost like pretending to be apart of a culture and calling one-self whatever, and not quiet knowing or understanding the local dialect. Moreover, yes, virile I am (much jest).
One page 5, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture In Germany” cites a author:
According to Gabriele Eckart, “the discovery of being a marketable entity […] strengthened the appeal of Gothic expressions to many East Germans.” This sudden change offered a glimpse of hope. “For them, joining the Gothics, dressing in strange ways and listening to strange music with lyrics about death, might be a way of transcending their individual lives and thus freeing themselves from the burden of an unsatisfactory and scary reality” (549).
In many ways, I concur with the premise of the (East German) and German Grufties of that era of German History. Oddly, it is strange that the market became the answer to substantiate rebellion. However, I do think it is a certain causality of all cultures where in the levels of specific dissatisfaction arises. In addition, I do not think it is beyond reason to say the ancient Goth and all Germanic history are the effectual reason(s) that have paved the way for modern Goth. Of course, there have been many who have added-to or taken from, but the history stands for itself. I do think, however, that there is something larger than modern Goth, as the particular characteristics of Goth are found all through-out history, all around the world. So by that notion, “What is this world and historical archetype(s) that Goth is a part of?” In addition, “What other histories and cultures have movements similar to Goth?”
On page 4, Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany”, I did find this passage striking. It took a few moments for me to make the connection to my original theories:
From the second century, the term “Gothic” seems to come up at the end of each 100 years. Perhaps a feeling of uneasiness similarly envelops these people. Eckart quotes Jerrod E. Hogle as he notices traces of Gothicism at the turn of each century, “Do turns of the century in the modern West inherently produce middle-class fears and uncertainties so great and ominous that these are best externalized, albeit disguised, in tales of ghosts or monstrosities…?
Are the external forms of horror and fear in public society and entertainment expression actual representations of the internal nature of humankind? Is there something that our internal skeletons and demons are attempting to tell us? Could our horrific fears and fascinations with ourselves (humanity) in fact be a design of our own inherent sickness?
Therefore, with the turning of each page of history there are factors by which certain attributions of “Goth” come into being so-to-speak. If this is the case, then these similar occurrences have manifested all through history (as stated before). Although we do not define certain people or movements as “Goth”, they are in-fact more similar than they are different. It is striking to note that a majority of Goth has been found in what is termed as “middle-class.” Very infrequently do we find anything of Goth when it comes to “lower-class (poverty)?” As far as “upper-class,” we generally find those with money using the Goth Counter Culture as a means-to-an-end, and, a momentary “good-time.”
----------------*Included with this article are bibliographies and related information.*-------------------
Here is the (wealth) bibliography from page 129, Appendix B, of the “Mysteries of the Goth”:
Select Bibliography of “Mysteries of the Goth”: Baigent, Michael, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Holy Blood, Holy Grail. New York: Dell, 1982.
Bennett, William H. An Introduction to the Gothic Language. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1980.
Burns, Thomas. A History of the Ostrogoth. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1984.
Flowers, Stephen E. "The Secret of the Gothick God of Darkness." In Blue Runa. Smithville: Runa-Raven, 2001, pp. 37-44.
The Rune Poems Smithville: Runa-Raven, 2002, vol. I.
Gamber, Klaus. Die Liturgie der Goten und der Armenier. Regensburg: Kommissionsverlag Friedrich Pustet, 1988.
Gregory of Tours. The History of the Franks. Trans. L. Thorpe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974
Haymes, Edward R. and Susann T. Samples. Heroic Legends of the North: An Introduction to the Nibelung and Dietrich Cycles. New York: Garland, 1996.
Heather, Peter. The Goths. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998, 2nd ed.
Heather, Peter and John Matthews. The Goths in the Fourth Century. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991.
Helm, Karl. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. vol. II. Die Nachromische Zeit. Pt. I Die Ostgermanen. Heidelberg: Winter, 1937.
Ibn Fadlan. The Travel Report of Ibn Fadlan as it Concerns the Scandinavian Rus. With Commentary by Stephen E. Flowers. Smithville: RQna-Raven, 1998.
James, Edward. The Franks. Oxford: Blackwell, 1988.
Maenchen-Helfen, Otto J. The World of the Huns: Studies in their History and Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.
Mierow, Charles C., ed. The Gothic History of Jordanes. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1960.
Josephus. The Jewish War. Trans. G.A. Williamson. New York: Dorset, 1959.
Karlsson, Thomas. The Adulruna and the Gothic Cabbala. [unpublished manuscript], .
Krause, Wolfgang. Handbuch des Gotischen. Munich: Beck, 1968.
Krause, Wolfgang and Herbert Jankuhn. Die Runeninschriften im
dlteren Futhark. Gottingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1966.
Paulsen, Peter. "Fliigellanzen: Zum archalogischen Horizont der
Wiener 'sancta lancea.'" Fruhmittelalterlichen Studien 3 (1969), pp. 289-312.
Pennick, Nigel. The Inner Mysteries of the Goths. Freshfields: Capall Bann, 1995.
Putnam, Bill and John Edwin Wood. The Treasure of Rennes-le- Chateau: A Mystery Solved. Thrup: Sutton, 2005, 2nd ed.
Rice, Tamara Talbot. The Scythians. London: Thames and Hudson, 1957
Salti, Stefania and Renata Venturini. The Life of Theodoric. Ravenna: Edizioni Sear, 1999.
Schneider, Karl. Die germanischen Runennamen. Meisenheim: Anton Main, 1956.
Sede, Gerard de. Das Geheimnis der Goten [- Le mystere gothique]. Freiburg/Breisgau: Walter, 1980.
The Accursed Treasure of Rennes-le-Chdteau. Trans. Bill Kersey. Worcester Park: DEK Publishing, 2001.
Streitberg, Wilhelm. Die gotische Bibel. Heidelberg: Winter, 1919- 1928, 2 vols. Tacitus. The Agricola and Germania. Trans. H. Mattingly. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970.
The Histories. Trans. K. Wellesley. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.
Thompson, E. A. The Goths in Spain. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.Thorsson, Edred. Runelore. York Beach: Weiser, 1987.
Green Runa. Smithville: Runa-Raven, 1996, 2nd ed.
Vries, Jan de. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1956-57, 2 vols.
Wolfram, Herwig. History of the Goths. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Wright, Joseph. Grammar of the Gothic Lanugage. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954, 2nd ed.
Working Citations of “The Gothic Subculture in Germany”:
Here is the working Citation. Majhon Phillips. In “The Gothic Subculture in Germany”:
Das Ich. Antichrist. Massacre Records, 2002.
Eckart, Gabriele and Stueve, Kevin. “Georg Trakl and the Goth Band L’âme
Immortelle.” Popular Culture Review. (2003): 97-107.
“The German Gothic Subculture.” German Studies Review. (2005): 547-562.
Frith, Simon. Performing Rites. Cambridge: First Harvard University Press, 1996.
Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of Rock ‘N’ Roll. NewYork: Pantheon, 1981.
Heller, Deane and David Heller. The Berlin Wall. New York: Walker and Company, 1962.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1973.
Lacrimosa. Lichtgestalt. Hall of Sermon, 2005.
L’âme Immortelle. 5 Jahre. Supersonic, 2004.
McCutchen, Laura and Glitter Geisha. “Re: Not Just the Clothes.” Online Posting.
Middleton, Richard. Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Portable Nietzsche. New York: Penguin Books, 1954.
Rhea, Ryan. American Goth: A Documentary. Rhea Productions: 2006
Scathe, Pete. “History of Goth.” <http://www.scathe.demon.co.uk/histgoth.htm>.
Stinbridge, Adrya. “What is Gothic?” <http://www.authorme.com/nonfiction/whatisgothic.htm>.
Voltaire. What is Goth? York Beach: Wieser Books, 2004.