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I caught the darkness baby, and I’ve got it worse than you.
February 28, 2012 12:58 AM   Subscribe

...this particular technicolour trench coat is stitched together from black leather, and fastened with a lot of safety pins and zippers: its sinister sounds are both haunted by the past, and haunting us toward the something-to-be-done. Like the saying goes: the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Our traumatized collective unconscious - the victim of social, political, cultural, and environmental shocks - is not a blank slate, but rather a pile of rubble that requires considerable rebuilding. There is much work yet to carry out. And really, why be blank when you can be bleak?

The New Bleak: Trauma, Haunting And The Cultural Obsession With Darkness
posted by timshel (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Our traumatized collective unconscious - the victim of social, political, cultural, and environmental shocks - is not a blank slate, but rather a pile of rubble that requires considerable rebuilding.

/facepalm into darkness

I don't think there's an obsession with darkness. It's always been there. Just ask Goya, or Poe, or whoever wrote the Book of Revelations. We need the dark to figure out where the light begins.
posted by quadog at 2:02 AM on February 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lots of "we", "us", and "our" in this piece which speaks for a very small segment of music fans, but the idea of unconscious trauma does sort of explain why the B-side to Paint it, Black is Stupid Girl.
posted by three blind mice at 2:05 AM on February 28, 2012


Nobody wrote the Book of Revelations.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:07 AM on February 28, 2012


I don't think there's an obsession with darkness. It's always been there.

Yes, but this time around it's also "retro." < /ohcrapigotold
posted by louche mustachio at 2:26 AM on February 28, 2012


Hipster Darkness.
posted by New England Cultist at 2:48 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would say Ecclesiastes rather than Revelations. Also, that Skinny Puppy video is one of my favorites right up there with the X-Files title sequence.
posted by michaelh at 2:48 AM on February 28, 2012


Like the saying goes: the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

This again? Still completely wrong, as anyone who's had their eyse open before dawn should know.

For me, the ultimate statement on darkness is still this.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:02 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


High Goth is tending back in fashion, not something I would have predicted but here we are ( and encased in black leather)
posted by The Whelk at 6:39 AM on February 28, 2012


I still insist Witch House is an elaborate musical joke.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:11 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say Revelations at all.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:16 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


High Goth is tending back in fashion,

Quite right about that The Whelk. Here in Sweden, Victoria Eriksson, our neighborhood Goth Lolita, is currently all over the media.

I don't see too many people dressed like this so she stands out a bit in the grocery store, but now that she's pretty much everywhere I expect to see more of her style. It's lovely having such characters in my otherwise boring neighborhood.
posted by three blind mice at 7:56 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The trouble with goth being linked to "dark times = sad music!" is that you can pretty much pick out something alienating and dark each year, much less every decade. And you get things that are genuinely dark, for example the aforementioned McGill brainwashing stuff. Unless it has a long delay, like, epigenetic meme style, it took another generation before it spat out me, the cutesy doom bat lover. I'm going with the theory that it's always been part of our various cultures, because death and destruction and ennui and alienation are all very human things, and I was a high school goth for the same reason my grandmother hit every single rebel subculture, from being a socialist hippy to being a punk and was really weird before the CIA paid to have her brain fried.


High Goth is tending back in fashion, not something I would have predicted but here we are (and encased in black leather)


90's revival. Goth has evolved a bit and expanded- it went through a phase where the emo look had supplanted it an all the stereotypes, but I imagine the fact that I'm 25-ish and just starting to hit the second batch of disposable income for clothing so now we're all wanting to buy up those corsets Mummy wouldn't pay for.
posted by Phalene at 7:57 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Darkness has been and always will be a thread in society. It takes on tinges of social circumstance. There won't be another Joy Division because that zeitgeist is gone now. What we're getting now is a reaction to our current anxieties and concerns, so I don't think it can really be compared. Witch House isn't really the equivalent of 90s Industrial though they've got some things in common.

I must agree that a lot of the youths' interest in Goth is due to a larger 90s retro trend. Hey I don't mind. I never stopped listening to Skinny Puppy.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:20 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Industrial and Goth had some crossover (ok, a lot) but were really their own thing. Conflating the two is sort of like mixing up Rivetheads and Steampunks.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Darkness has been and always will be a thread in society. [...] What we're getting now is a reaction to our current anxieties and concerns, so I don't think it can really be compared.

Exactly. There isn't any science to it -- art has always been a mirror to the world and society, and there's always been a dark side to society so there will always be dark forms of art. The form of dark art that exists in a given age depends on who's among the downtrodden at that particular point, and the popularity depends on how many are among the downtrodden.

Tangential note: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD COULD JOURNALISTS PLEASE STOP CRACKNG JOKES ABOUT JOHN CUSACK IN 2012 ALREADY SERIOUSLY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am thrilled to have (barely) an excuse to link to the Bouletcorp's comic about darkness.
posted by missix at 10:21 AM on February 28, 2012


You know, it's weird. When I was a kid growing up in St. Louis, goths listened to really good music : Bauhaus, Sisters, Ministry, NIN, Dead Can Dance, The Cure, Depeche Mode, that kind of thing. But now it seems they all listen to a bunch of dance music. What happened?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:27 AM on February 28, 2012


Tangential note: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD COULD JOURNALISTS PLEASE STOP CRACKNG JOKES ABOUT JOHN CUSACK IN 2012 ALREADY SERIOUSLY.

Yeah, I keep seeing that and I have no idea what it means, and am too lazy to look it up. Actually, I have a category of things that I realize I’m probably just better off not knowing, I will not be glad I bothered.
posted by bongo_x at 10:29 AM on February 28, 2012


But now it seems they all listen to a bunch of dance music. What happened?

speaking as a former goth, in fact a former goth musician, it's not hard to see the dance music influence in stuff like NIN or Depeche Mode. When trance went mainstream in the mid-'90s, a bunch of that influence bled over into industrial music, yielding projects like VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk, Icon of Coil, Covenant, Assemblage 23, Seabound, etc. It was a grim but energetic sound which seemed to fit perfectly with the crazy boom and crash mood of the dot-com bubble and the End of the Millennium, when half the Seattle goth scene went from high-flying tech jobs to unemployment in less than a year, and it largely took over the Saturday night club lineup (along with less trancey but still dance-compatible music like Wumpscut, Front Line Assembly, Wolfsheim, etc.)

This was also around the same time that everyone who was even remotely connected to any sort of counterculture in Seattle started going to Burning Man. Suddenly there were all these new layers of connection, lots of big house parties and warehouse parties, amateur DJs everywhere you looked, and all kinds of new musical strains getting woven in. For me it all changed when a bunch of my goth-burner friends discovered psychedelic trance: Infected Mushroom and Hallucinogen in particular completely melted my brain.

I'm not connected with the goth world anymore, but dance music is engineered to make the club environment work, and I'd be astonished if that influence ever went away now that goth culture has figured out how to accommodate it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:45 PM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I actually kinda feel like darkness as "cool" has been pretty marginalized in the late nauts and these early teens. Metal, emo, and industrial are looked down on. Even the grittier sides of punk, indie and rap seem to be getting rounded off in favor of bouncier, more upbeat feelings.

While the world is looking horridly bleak on the news, there's still a sense amongst the kids that we're going to save the world as soon as the cynical, tech-deficient boomers get the hell out of the way.

I tend to think that this is a little optimistic, and I've been waiting for recession, war and looming global instability to ignite a new angry grunge age. It just doesn't seem to be happening. The early 10s will not be the early 90s. The 99% still just aren't despairing that much.
posted by es_de_bah at 12:51 PM on February 28, 2012


my grandmother hit every single rebel subculture, from being a socialist hippy to being a punk

OH SWEET JESUS I'M OLD.

that's super-darkening
posted by hap_hazard at 6:31 PM on February 28, 2012


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