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UNDERSTANDING... GOTHIC

UNDERSTANDING... GOTHIC August 16th, 2015 - Today we want you to discover what is Gothic. Here are some extracts from the guide of Gavin Baddeley(*) with our comments as a final.

"Gothic ... is not only a young subculture, a gloomy aesthetic or literary genre. It is a philosophical context, a way of seeing the world as "through a smoky glass", according the words of the writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu. This is the cosmos in negative, the inverted cosmos: the strange and the bizarre are banal, the daily life is disturbing. Shadow and menace are irresistible, normalcy and comfort promise only boredom and ruin. Sex and death, these two extremes, embrace in a delightfully ridiculous union. The innocence and virtue are the blank parchment on which the seals of sin register in wide red arabesques as blood and black as night...

...Why monstrous things should they please us? The answer to this question is still a mystery that intrigued already the critics of the first gothic novels. It is in a 1756 pamphlet written by the politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, entitled "Philosophical Enquiry about the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful" that Gothic authors found the first major proof of their corpus.

For Burke, two ideals clash: on the one hand, the conventional Beauty, which attracts us by combining order and classical culture; and on the other hand, what he calls the "Sublime", violent, scary and exciting concept which was later associated with gothic culture. A sunny clearing in the woods can be described as beautiful, while an abandoned cemetery in a raging storm embodies the sublime.

The beauty seduces the viewer simply, while the sublime stimulates by disturbing and submerging him. "When danger or pain tighten too closely, they can give no delight and are simply terrible, but remotely and with some modifications, they can be delicious and they are, as we do experience every day" writes Burke."

... The darkest elements of the romantic tradition gave birth to the decadent movement. Romanticism was mainly optimistic: the world could be redeemed. The Decadents did show a pessimism who went to the absolute nihilism." (*)


Charles Baudelaire was in France the archetypal decadent poet whose poetry reflected his obsession with vampires, whores and deads . Although fiercely decried at his time, Baudelaire was greeted by the great Victor Hugo himself, who wrote in 1857 to him :"Your "Flowers of Evil" dazzle and shine like stars" and then again, described the new sensation he felt in reading Baudelaire as a " new thrill " (see our previous report about Baudelaire and supernatural). This praise gives reason to Burke's analysis between beauty and sublime.



(*)Extract of "Gothic: The culture of darkness" from Gavin Baddeley,
experienced journalist, media occult authority, ordained Reverend in the Church of Satan
(re. : Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia)


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