Goth and Death

Ask any goth what they’re interested in and they might say they have “dark interests” or “morbid fascinations”. While these responses are perfectly acceptable in a dimly lit club among peers, these open-ended terms can have some consequences on outsiders’ perceptions of our darling subculture. So like any curious person, I have to ask why? (And give you links which are underlined.)

Let’s talk about the consequences first. I am a firm advocate for developing a strong understanding of yourself, which means understanding and being honest about why you like the things you like and do the things you do. Now, it seems when you ask people the probing question of “why”, they feel put on the spot to give a “good” answer or they simply say “I don’t know.” To the questioner, this looks like you don’t know how to think your actions or motivations through, which can hurt you in so many ways, like in a job interview. With goth, in particular, we still fight against this misconception that we’re baby sacrificing, grumpy, depressed, juvenile anarchists, which is rarely true. But it does mean we should know why or what about these “morbid fascinations” appeals to us so greatly.

However, it’s hard to get many people to pinpoint their reasoning for their interests,  so I am going to venture a guess, and then you can yell at me if I’m terribly wrong (or hug me if I’m right).

 

MUSEUM-14k-gold-ename-1ct-Diamonds-Imperial-Russian-Memento-Mori-Skull-ring-1890

A memento mori.

 

Death is final or at least as far as any living person knows. In its finality, it can make us appreciate living that much more, or send us into a heart-wrenching spiral of grief. Maybe that’s one of the reasons religion is so popular. Most of them make some attempt to answer the question “what happens to us when we die”. The thought of an afterlife is, generally, soothing to our egos and to the memories of our loved ones, but it also piques our curiosity.

Maybe, it’s just the way thinking about death makes us feel. I was trying to find some beautiful study that measures the chemicals our brain produces when we think about death and dying, but this came up instead. A whole piece about the relationship between people and their mortality  from philosophy to animals and back to us. I’m not quite sure how death makes me feel. When my grandfather died, it sent me into this weird, hard to describe depression, and from that experience, I have distant and mixed feelings about death. For you, it still might be something different.

Perhaps it is the duality of life and death, black and white, good and evil. Perfectly balanced things can be very appealing, and humans tend to find symmetry beautiful. If we look at the way concepts are lumped together, at least, in Western societies life is beautiful, bright, and happy. Death is unfortunate, sad and emotionally heavy. I keep hearing, “I see the beauty in all sorts of dark things, even death” but to an outsider what beauty is there to be found in something that takes us away from people we care about? For me, it’s the chances. Of all the times and places a person could have been born and managed to end up in my life, that is magic. But I’m sure Humphrey Bogart says it better.

There’s also the ceremony of death, dying and grieving. You’ve heard of  a”memento mori“, translated from Latin to “remember death”, and they have been used as tangible symbols to represent mortality for centuries. Or we can look at the whole process of funerals, the conversation of being buried or cremated, to speak of the dead or not to speak, and of things left unfinished. Look at David Bowie and his parting gift to the world. It’s such a beautiful thing to see it was completed before he died. Never mind, the cultural anthropology side of it and how these ceremonies vary culture to culture. Then we’d be here all day. (Talking about black being tied to funeral attire in Western cultures more so than in Eastern ones, and how that affects the distribution of the goth population…)

Is it the shock of death leading us to high adrenaline situations, the way death is symbolized in literature and art (which then makes me wonder if we have been taught to appreciate death differently because we’re drawn to darker literature), or does our penchant for dressing in all black just makes us feel pretty and nothing more? To be quite honest with you, it doesn’t matter the reason as long as you can explain what specifically you like. I mean, it’s such a complex topic you could dedicate your life to death.

Well, maybe not your whole life, but here’s the post for the 666: What about death fascinates you? Where does this interest demonstrate itself, like in clothing choices, musical tastes? Are you comfortable with your mortality?

For more thought provoking questions, take a moment to click “Join the Strange Collective” at the top of this page. Or follow me on Instagram,Facebook, YouTube, and now Twitter. If you want to support how strange we can get around here, please check out Patreon.

Until next time and I suppose this has never been more relevant,

Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

6 thoughts on “Goth and Death

      1. Mis Nomaer

        You verbalized the ideas well. If I’m ever asked what I like about goth, it will be based on your idea of symmetry and chances, the latter which ended that paragraph I like so much.

  1. Matthew King

    For me, the concept of death is so fascinating and complex, that it’s hard to sum up all of my reasons in conversation.
    I find beauty in how life and death are inextricably linked, each necessitating and thriving off of the other. I’m also drawn to the peace and rest of death, it being akin to a long slumber after a long day’s work. The most important reason might just be how much power it holds over our lives. It seems that all, or most, of our actions can be unconsciously linked to the fear of the end. Whoo, that was a mouthful.

  2. cemetery dreams

    I’m a goth and an archaeologist. I’m doing a PhD about the landscape archaeology and monumentality of 19th century cemeteries.

    My field of study does not seem at all morbid to me, 99% of the time. I’m fascinated by the Victorians, and cemeteries are a really good window into their views on so many things – architecture, fashion, religion, science, family life, class structure and so on. I find the cemeteries to be awe inspiringly beautiful- completely breathtaking, and so so peaceful. Being reminded that I am one insignificant person living a brief life doesn’t bother me either- it’s a relief because there is no pressure on me except my own and no destiny to fulfill.

    However I recently lost both of my grandparents on my mothers side. I’ve sat at deathbeds twice, and even though I’m normally really good at separating my work from my emotions, I can’t do certain parts of my research right now (like transcribing inscriptions). Grief is a funny thing, and a personal one- I guess reading about other people experiencing grief differently just throws me off kilter.

    I guess the short version is, I study death because it teaches me about life. I happily wear and decorate with images of death because I’m proud of my research and find Memento Mori comforting, because death will come for me too and the universe will not miss me. However, despite my familiarity, grief is no easier.

  3. Cindy

    Death is worth our consideration on a regular basis. However, when a person has become so deeply immersed in the morbid, the dark side and death and finds no alternative to life and so chooses death, the person has gone too far. Preoccupation with death and pain, as with anything taken too far, can complicate a person’s mental state to the point where death is the only option to ease the pain of life. This is extremely sad when the pain is self inflicted. Not a fan of dissecting death in this way.

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