When I purchased The Mystery of The Whisper by The Crüxshadows, it came with a copy of Until The Voices Fade. This EP is five short tracks, tracks three and five of which are remixes of track one. While they are different mixes, I listen for entertainment and not musical critique so I do not listen to the CD very often, and when I do I skip the repeated songs. However yesterday I played the entire thing and so re-encountered Leave Me Alone (Shaft 20/20 Mix). The difference to the album version I noticed most was the addition of a vocal track taken from ABC’s 20/20 programme on the Columbine High School Massacre. My immediate thought when I heard it was that the presenters and experts had got it wrong: the killers were not Goths, and even if they were Goths are not a violent gang like the Bloods and the Crips.
Last month WoahMolly posted that she had almost recovered from being a Goth and one of my friends commented to me that he was definitely not a Goth any more, although he might be a Dark Fogey. Both of these statements were based on no longer dressing like a Goth and no longer going out to Goth clubs. My immediate thought was that they were not disqualified by either of these: Goth is sometimes about the clothes and the being seen, but it is also sometimes about really enjoying a type of music or seeing the beauty in a graveyard.
To the light of reason each of these gut reactions come not from whether they were Goths but whether I was. While I was at University I discovered Goth – or possibly re-discovered (I have a memory of first seeing a documentary on BBC Points West just as it was spreading) – and felt I had found somewhere my love of mysterious and spooky fiction, Romantic poetry, and of course vampires fitted. Despite wearing glasses, having curly hair, and having a round healthy face, I attempted to embrace the pale-skinned, mussed haired, made-up look of Goths.
Over time I transitioned into the formal end of Goth: top hat, long coats, waistcoats, cravats.
The desperate wish to have a place in the world that affects most people went after I graduated, and took the make-up with it. However, the love of the aesthetic remained and the person I am is built on the foundation of that young man; I still decide to don a cravat or add a gargoyle pendant on occasion. When I encounter situations that challenge the edges of Goth I am reminded of that need to both place myself inside Goth and prove Goth was a good thing to be. Fortunately I now longer need the validation of being seen to be Goth. Maybe I edited this article by candlelight while drinking wine but that does not change the content, only my enjoyment of the activity.
When I started writing this post the references to Goth were going to be the basis for a transition into our tendency to immediately place people in a single group and treat them as if that is all they are, complete with grape based similes and quotations from Nietzsche. However, the transition has waited long enough to make a post of my Gothicness alone, so it will instead be a heartfelt thank you to the younger me for making his way far enough through life that I could take over, and for giving me those moments of joy when some youths in a tricked up Peugeot 106 with their modern music scream “Oi Goffick” at me in passing.
An Absence of Being (Davetopia)