(Originally published on October 26, 2016)
With every passing day I become more immersed in our collective of strange and spooky, and everyday I have more questions than answers. But I may have found a foothold in the ideas of culture community and lifestyle. Specifically for those who are looking for the Holy Grail of Goth defined.
Oh the rush of antici....well you get the picture.
What is culture?
We'll use one of the many definitions from Texas A&M University:
" Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experiences, beliefs, values,attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religions, notions of time, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and professions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving."
Now, this meger post is not an examination of the depth of goth culture, but rather an answer to the question is there one and why. I like this definition because it clearly list all or a lot of the things that make up a culture.
Goth is unique in that it doesn't have geographic boundaries and bounces from country to country and finds a place within people without impeding on that country's dominant/mainstream culture. It doesn't have a primary language but it does have its own vocabulary. Goth doesn't encourage a self-imposed isolation from the rest of society. It's not asserting itself over anything but rather simply present, sipping Bloody Marys if anyone wants to chat. And of course we all know about its flair with decor and fashion, so material things is present.
So there you have it. Goth is a culture.
Not quite, because not everyone who is interested in it or uses the label behaves like it is or if they do, not in the same way. Approaching Goth is not the same as going to Japan and being readily aware you are entering a different culture. Ours is a very fluid thing. It can tap you on the shoulder or swallow you whole.
For example, how people get here...Personally, I think thise that Google "goth culture" and have that as their first experience with it are one, liars or two, in the minority. We come from a wide variety of different starting points and at different ages. Remember your first goth literature, first record, cd, cassette, first weird painting, first piece of clothing, first event, friends, family, other culture? Let's just bask in that for a moment because in my eyes, it's brilliant like thousands of stars making one hell of a constellation. Any way, "we" doesn't mean everybody, because as actual goths love to repeat "you can wear all the black lipstick you like, it doesn't make you goth". Not everyone who comes here wants culture or community and i won't even get into the low end of participation with tourists* because I don't have enough coffee for that. This scale of here or not implies the culture part is actively pursued.
*Tourists generally speaking awkward newcomers looking for a freakshow.
We get to culture because we as individuals elevate our involvement and our interests to that status. It's unnecessary from a mainstream/outsider-who-doesn't-get-it perspective. Goth is at its most basic core a choice. No one is "born" into it the way they are with other cultures (after all rebellion is built into goth for a reason...) or it's incredibly rare. So, you have this thing that people want to be a part of but there is this lack of authencity if they just watch a tutorial or simply dress the part. "Actual goths are super tight fisted with information" i hear a baby bat squeak, or are they? Because we are literally making this up as we go. (this teapot is so slippery). There isn't this passing down of information from Goth Jane baking coffin cookies with little Goth Suzy in her nightmare onesie. But! We are really good at infusing whatever our dark hearts beat for in everything we do. After that, it's a game of The Ones Who Don't Get It, Need Not Apply©. (Supposed to be trademarked...but what's up doing this on a phone.)
Um, Idk about you, but goth is essential to me.
It's essential to me too, but this gothier than thou contest aside, every actual goth knows the near death experience of normaling up. My real point is there are some things you can take off and others you can't.
What is goth culture all about then?
*sigh* The truth is not spooky or grand, but it is the reason we have so many variations under one label. Knowledge, creativity, acceptance. Different people, different priorities, but at the core that is what it is.
So as long as you want those things, you're goth?
Not by my standards, no. I mean, you're expected to achieve and maintain some involvement in the community to actually be considered a part of it. Going to club nights, sharing friends' posts for performances, events, supporting artists, contributing not just financially but also by bettering yourself. We put on a great show, don't we? We fascinate and arouse, but there's something in our work that carries through past entertainment and that is what we pass on.
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Until next time,
Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels