This blog entry has been inspired by the works of ::Caitlin Doughty:: and the Order of the Good Death.
For a long time, probably since I went to my grandmother's funeral as a child, I've thought about how I'd like my own funeral to be. It is probably a total 'Goth cliche', but when other girls planned their ideal wedding, I was thinking less about white carriages bedecked with red roses... and more black horse-drawn hearses bedecked with white lilies.
I'm not suicidal or dying or anything, and hopefully what I'm writing about won't be useful for a few decades still (my grandmother lived into her '90s, as did several of my more elderly relatives), but I think about these things anyway.
Some people might find that depressing, but to me it offers the comfort of some level of control over the finality of things - how I'll leave my 'last impressions' on the world, what my legacy will be. I guess it helps me also accept my own mortality and the finality of death (even if I joke about being an 'undead vampire' a lot!) and perhaps if I share my thoughts on what I would like to happen to me, then it might help clear the stigma about planning for what happens after your own death. Hopefully openly talking about, and blogging about, what I want to happen to me after my death, is a little step towards encouraging death positivity - a healthy acceptance of death and dying as part of the natural way things happen.
It must be awful for the bereaved to have to try and plan a funeral as well as be in the early stages of grief, so I also want to have that planned out to save those who remain after me the hassle and bother of having to come up with an apt way to do those things, especially as it's probably quite clear to those who know me that I both admire some funeral traditions, and dislike others, and that it might not be clear to them which I'd want, and which I wouldn't without actually leaving some sort of document behind. Funerals can also be very expensive. Funeral plans exist, and there are ways to pre-pay for your funeral in advance, and this is something I really think people should look into. Monuments can also be quite expensive, and as I want something fancy (more about that later), I want to have mine made while I'm still alive, but I suppose it is possible to make other financial arrangements for a monument.
One issue for me is that I am most likely going to be the last of my immediate family. I couldn't have children even if I wanted to (and I don't) and with the rest of my family, I am either rather deliberately estranged, or much older, with the exception of my adopted sister. As such, other than my partner, I don't have much in the way of immediate family to plan things when I die, and that might make for some legal issues, whereby those who know me best might not be my legal next of kin, especially if I outlive my partner and sister. If I have things planned out (and potentially paid for) before my demise, it might make ensuring my wishes are carried out a bit easier.
What happens to someone after death actually has a LOT of stages and elements, and I've pondered about a good deal of them.
One thing I've been considering is what of me I'd donate to science. If there's any parts of me that are useful to medicine or science, I won't be using them any more, so I'd quite like to donate them - however, if I get mangled in a car wreck, I might not be much use for spare parts, but I might make an interesting scientific case-study for understanding exactly what happens if you get hit by the intercity coach or something, but that could also be something already well understood and researched, but if I gave my corpse up for research, I might not get buried at all! I also have spiritual thoughts about whether some of energy would linger on in whoever I get donated to, and that it's one way to live on a little after death, but then what if I would accidentally haunt the recipient? I have heard stories about people who, after transplants, started having eerie connections to their donor, and that honestly bothers me (although quite a few people reading this are probably rolling their eyes and thinking I'm being needlessly superstitious!). It's something I've pondered, and it's made me wonder exactly what bits of me I'd be OK with being reused, too. Perhaps the brain is the seat of our self, and to some it is the heart, so would it be better that those things decompose with the rest of me, to acknowledge the finality of me as myself being gone (I believe in reincarnation, but, to me, reincarnation isn't a direct transfer of consciousness), or would it be better to have my brain preserved in a lab somewhere so that something of what made who I am remains (and could be useful in studying eccentrics with neurological disorders!). It's not something I've fully made up my mind on - organ donation, and donation to science are both things I feel are a good idea, but the nuances of it aren't something I've finalised.
I believe in reincarnation, a I mentioned above, and that our bodies are just temporary vessels for energy that goes through endless cycles of life, death and rebirth, so I don't feel like I need to have specific after death treatment to ensure a specific afterlife, and my beliefs in regards to such things as ghosts is that ghosts are real, and if you become a ghost or not depends on factors like having unfinished business or a particularly traumatic death, so that wouldn't figure into funerary rites for me. I know some other Pagan paths do have these traditions, and include things like burial goods, but I don't believe in a permanent afterlife place where I need to pack stuff to take with me. This leaves my funerary options a lot more open.
To me, reincarnation is more like 'spiritual recycling', and in line with that, I also think that the natural literal recycling of a corpse into decomposed mush that feeds further organic life is important. This is the one aspect of what happens to me that I feel strongly about. I don't want to be embalmed; embalming fluid is bad for the environment, and I want to decompose properly. Tidied up so I don't look too awful at my funeral is one thing, but preserved is another. I have no need to lie 'in state' like I'm royalty or Lenin, and I don't feel like decomposition ought to be kept at bay, because it's part of the cycle of life - life feeds on the death of other things, that is how nature works, and if bacteria and the creepy-crawlies in the ground eat me, then that's as nature intended, and hopefully I'll fertilise the ground.
Wanting a natural burial has many aspects - I don't want a plasticised casket full of synthetic fabrics and foam upholstery, I don't want to be embalmed, and I don't want my coffin to be made out of stuff that's heavily plastics-based or would otherwise not rot well - ordinary wood would suffice (wicker or woven coffins are another option, but they don't look traditional enough for me). That's something I'm very certain of. If my coffin needs to be fancy, they can put a pall over it and some nice flowers. I also wonder about how deep a natural burial should be - will it be 6 feet under, or is it more shallow so that the worms and bugs can munch? Do 'natural' cemeteries allow for monuments as well as trees/plants planted as memorials? Etc. etc.
Another thing for me to consider is where I would like to be buried. Most of my favourite cemeteries have ceased to take new burials (and usually ceased to do so somewhere around 100 years ago), but most modern cemeteries don't have the same ambience as older ones, because tastes in memorials and headstones have changed (glossy stones, gilded letters, and one of three basic forms with some decorative etching seems to be the norm in many parts of the UK now) and many modern cemeteries I have visited are very linear, organised on a neat grid, and without the interspersing of shrubberies, landscaping and paths that some of the older cemeteries, that were organised, but still had a park-like feel (like Tomnahurich Cemetery in Inverness) do. Some of them seem genuinely depressing rather than simply sombre and reverent - rows and rows of very similar headstones with just grass, plastic flowers, and a grid of gravelled paths, which seems very impersonal, even with the personalised messages on the headstones. As much as I love old churches, I wouldn't want to be buried in a church graveyard.
One thing I am pretty certain about is the design of my headstone. I want it to be circular, I want it to be a stone that will weather nicely over time, and I want it to include an Ouroboros symbol - a serpent eating its own tail - as a symbol of the infinite cycle of destruction and recreation. I would also like a pentacle, as a symbol of my faith. I also want it to be Gothic Revival in style. That's pretty specific, so it's something I would like to commission while I'm still alive, partly as it would be quite expensive for those that remain after me and partly so I can make sure it's exactly as I'd like it. I will leave the face blank, so those who survive me can have whatever words they like inscribed on it, but I want the framing ornament to be quite specific. Maybe it will sit atop a pile of stones in a small cairn, maybe it will stand alone, such things as that, I haven't figured out.
When it comes to the funeral, in many ways, funerals are for the bereaved, not for the deceased. I don't want talk of heaven or God in the conventional meanings of those words at my funeral - for a start, my friends are too diverse in their beliefs for that, and it's also not what I believe in. I would like to write a letter of 'last goodbyes' to be read out at my funeral, and I suspect as my partner and I are Pagan, and much of our friendship circle is, that while we have diverse cosmologies and theologies, Paganism is more orthopraxic than orthodoxic - we are more united by practices than beliefs - so there will be certain elements of Paganism there. I don't want to dictate what those survive me do to best deal with my passing. How I want to be buried is important to me, but whatever rite of memorial others chose is for them, not for me.
I know, in my fantasies, that I'd like to be pulled to my resting place in an ornate carriage pulled by black horses, and that everyone would wear black in traditional mourning, and there would be candles and flowers and and that I'd be carried to my grave by my best friends (which wouldn't work out so well in real life when some are just about 5 feet tall, and some are over 6 feet tall!) and that I'd have a very dramatic, very Victorian funeral, just without the Christian liturgy, but that's what I'd like for myself, and I wouldn't be alive to appreciate it, so there'd be no point. Now, riding in a hearse while I'm alive is a different matter! I want my funeral to be for the benefit of those who survive me, not for me.
Most of my readers probably already know the difference, but I commonly see the two words used interchangeably, so I feel like a disambiguation could be useful. I guess part of the reason is that the Goth subculture is built upon the Gothic, but Goth is a more complex layering.
The term Gothic comes from the name of the architectural style, which itself was a misnomer. The pointed-arch style which is called Gothic was named so after Neo-Classical styles became fashionable, where the pointed arch style was misattributed to the historical Germanic tribes, whereas it mostly originated in France. The application of the term to things that were a specific kind of 'spooky' came a bit later, with late Romanticism bringing about a certain sort of horror novel, where an atmospheric setting was an essential component as much as supernatural elements, and the setting was often something like an old castle or abbey or such building, and often those buildings were Gothic - because by the 18thC those buildings were already centuries old and a good few had plenty of myths and legends already attached to them. That genre of horror, at that time primarily literary, but with a few illustrations and artworks beginning to emerge, which became the 'Gothic novel'.
As time progressed, the elements of the Gothic novel - the conflict between good and evil, the idea of there being a secret or mystery to uncover, the supernatural entities such as ghosts, vampires and werewolves (or the 'explained supernatural' of the likes of the works of Ann Radcliffe), and the atmospheric setting - got applied to more works in other mediums, such as paintings, poems, plays, music and into the 20thC cinema.
It is this Gothic genre which underpins a lot of the Goth subculture - it has given us a fashion aesthetic, an attitude of dark Romanticism, and plenty of subject matter for songs - however, it has also influenced aspects of metal, and there's plenty of people who enjoy aspects of the Gothic without being members of any subculture too, they just read a lot of Gothic novels and watch vampire movies. Those elements have permeated pop-culture, as well as subcultures, and are very prevalent. Often, when something is misidentified as 'Goth', what has been identified has been an element of the Gothic.
So, what makes Goth different to the Gothic? I would say - in general terms, with exceptions - that all Goths are Gothic, not all Gothic things (or people) are Goth. The Gothic is the fertile ground from which Goth grew, but Goth is more than just an appreciation for the Gothic, and it has a very specific manifestation.
While Goth is a manifestation of the Gothic, Goth has more elements to it than just the Gothic, and it is something more specific. Most obviously, it has the Goth genre (and it's subgenres/similar enough genres) of music; the stuff that evolved out of '80s post-punk. You can see the influences of the Gothic in the lyric content and imagery of that '80s post-punk ("Bela Lugosi's Dead, Undead..." playing vampires in Gothic horror movies), but there are other visual, philosophical, and musical influences in that genre. Goth as a subculture is an eclectic amalgam of other aspects of primarily Western culture - it's taken from fetish culture, it's got fuzzy borders with the realms of metal (Fields of the Nephilim... ), it's taken horror tropes from outside the Gothic genre of horror (a I know a lot of Goths that are interested in the murderous psychopath sort of horror stories, for example), and it balances nihilism and Romanticism. Goth came about in the '80s, so there's stuff in the Goth fashion/style that's just a darker adaptation of what was popular in the '80s, such as angular makeup and back-combed hair. Goth also grew from punk, so there's aspects of punk thinking, although somewhat less political, in Goth, too, obvious in Goth's emphasis on the resistance of individuality despite external pressures to conform.
For example, while I'm a Goth because I like Goth music, try and make it to gigs when I can, participate in the club scene (as dwindling as it is where I live), have an attitude with roots in those movements outside of the Gothic that influenced Goth, and I take aesthetic cues from Goth fashion as well as Romantic fashion, I'm fundamentally also Gothic because that is the underpinning mind set - which, in me personally manifests itself in a love for the Gothic as originated in Gothic novels; the ruined architecture, the spooky castles, the ghosts and vampires, the cemeteries, the ancient curses and that dramatic, Byronic sort of decadence... 'Gothic' is the broader umbrella under which Goth shelters. It's also probably the term which should replace 'Goth' in terms like 'Pastel-Goth' or 'Cholo-Goth' which seem to have very little to do with the Goth subculture, but do have a connection to the darker things in life and, at least with Pastel Goth, I've seen Gothic elements like vampires, ghosts, bats and zombies as motifs.
I've seen terms like 'Darksider' and 'Schwarz Szene' to describe the broader miasma of dark subcultures (I'd say 'cloud' but we're being spooky here!) including Industrial, Cyber-Goth, and some parts of Metal, and I don't think Gothic can really replace that, because certainly some of the darkness embraced in these subcultures is from quite a different angle than that within the Gothic genre - lots of dystopian, science-fiction inspiration exists in Industrial and Cyber-Goth especially, and again, the sort of horror that explores themes of madness, psychopathy, and a generally more 'clinical' (for lack of a better word) look into why people do terrible things, rather than a philosophical or supernatural/religious angle. There are still elements of the Gothic, however - songs about demons, devils, vampires and ghosts, supernatural motifs and a sort of Gothic-meets-science-fiction reminiscent of things like the 'Doom' gaming franchise, it just seems to be less of a thematic core, and certainly less of a strong underlying principle or aesthetic.
[An aside on Pastel-Goth: I've seen the term 'Creepy-Cute' used for what is known as 'Pastel-Goth'and I know that this is probably related to the play on words in Japanese between 'kawaii' (cute) and 'kowoi' (scary), so maybe that is a better term altogether? I also don't know what this aesthetic is called in Japan, which appears to be where it originated.]
I think the word "Gothic" as a term to describe a person whose personality includes that sort of mind-set, those interests, that sort of aesthetic, is under-utilised, and is the answer for a lot of people who aren't Goth specifically, but want an umbrella to identify with - 'Gothic' is probably the better term. Certainly, it's an adjective rather than a noun, and lot of us are used to rolling our eyes (perhaps discreetly) when asked "so, are you a 'goffik'?" but I think it's the perfect term for people who love spooky things, but aren't so keen on the sound of the genres considered 'Goth' and would rather listen to say, metal or darker classical works, or maybe darker folk or similar, and just can't get into fishnet and backcombed hair, and hate clubbing, and as all Goths are inherently a bit Gothic anyway, we're all under the same spooky umbrella, so it's not excluding anyone by saying they're not a Goth, rather including a wider range of people by saying 'we're all Gothic', and most of the arguments over the term Goth don't really stem form what Goth is or isn't, but whether someone is included or excluded from the category.
Due to the pressures of college and the stress it has been causing me, I have taken an unplanned hiatus for a while, but I'm now back and blogging again. I'm going to try and get a good bit of content uploaded in the next few days. I apologise for having been away from blogging for so long with little explanation. I've been really struggling to manage my college workload, and studying - or rather the 'study skills' aspect of studying - is difficult for me. I'm good at learning, and taking exams, but I'm not so good at time management, understanding coursework expectations, and group work. I'm going to try and keep updating here more often, and I'd also encourage my readers to check out my account @DomesticatedGoth on Instagram. I upload content to that relatively frequently by comparison, and also more varied content (including more Wicca/Witchcraft/Neo-Paganism related stuff.)
I didn't originally plan to write this, but after having recently changed my hair again (I will post about that tomorrow!) a few things have come up in regards to people's expectations of bright hair. As anyone who has been following me on my blog, or on Instagram knows, I have very bright hair. I have got a lot of compliments on my hair, both in person and online, which has included a few people who have said they'd like to get their hair done similar to mine... I also know that a lot of people don't actually know how much work is involved, or that not all hair styles are really suitable for all hair types. As such, I want to write about what actually goes into having hair like mine, and what expectations for bright and creative/artistic hair styles are reasonable.
First of all, my new hair! I now have a multi-green-turquoise transition for the bulk of my hair, with a purple and fuchsia pointed fringe.
Purple fringe was originally cut in by my friend Melody, and I was hoping to get her to trim it back as it had grown long, but I had an issue with my ID card, and needed a new photograph that was up-to-date and was going to reflect what I looked like all term, and I had let my colours fade out and my fringe grow, my roots grow in (sometimes I let my hair rest), etc. so I needed to get my hair done quickly before the start of term. I was going to just re-colour it, and wait until my friend was back at her hair-dressing course to cut my fringe back in, but as I've been basically tying my hair up and wearing bandanas for about 3 weeks I hadn't realised just how in my eyes and scraggly it had got, so made the terrible mistake of cutting it back myself quite harshly, not just merely trimming 5mm of the ends or whatnot, and so it's choppy/uneven and asymmetric. I have managed to fix it quite a bit since this photo, but now my fringe is shorter than I'd like... I will wait for it to grow a couple of centimetres and get Melody to trim it properly (and hope she doesn't crucify me for ruining her work!).
Damaging My Hair
First of all, while my hair looks nice at first glance, it is actually quite fried and unhealthy. I've had the worst of the over-bleached, badly damaged hair trimmed out back in May, and my stylist had to cut out a good 4½ inches more than I'd have liked because of how much was just chemically and heat ruined nastiness. I have done my own hair for years, and to begin with I did a lot of things that really weren't good for my hair - leaving bleach on too long (once FAR too long because an emergency involving my sister occurred in the middle of me bleaching it - that resulted in hair that snapped off and chemical burns!), trying to bleach it too many shades lighter in one go, using too much heat styling on my hair, and things like trying to make a sudden switch from a dark colour to a bright, etc. I have naturally very dark hair, and while (allergies aside) dyeing it black myself for years did it no real harm, wanting bright colours out of my hair probably isn't a long-term sustainable thing, because of the amount of bleaching required to get my hair to a light blonde, and the continued bleaching of my roots - which, when done on my own inevitably gets on already bleached hair, however hard I try to only bleach the roots -involved in the upkeep. In order to get it looking good day-to-day, I do a lot of conditioning treatments, use oils, etc, but once hair is damaged it doesn't repair itself along the existing length, as it is technically dead material, and repairing treatments only really temporarily put smoothing coatings on the hair strands.
If you have naturally light blonde hair, getting bright hair is much easier, and much less damaging for your hair. If it's light enough, it won't need bleaching - especially if you're putting a colour over it that is sympathetic to the undertones (eg. bright green hair dye over pale blonde hair will probably pick up some of the yellows and pale browns to end up leaf green) and if it does need bleaching, it won't need as much bleaching to get it pale. If, like me, you have very dark brown hair, it takes a lot of bleaching to get it pale enough, and honestly I don't think it's a good idea to do that to your hair, having done it myself repeatedly and damaged my hair. I don't bleach my hair to blonde in one session - I do it in two sessions spaced out, which means it doesn't get prolonged exposure to one long cumulative reaction, and I also don't bleach all my hair out at once - that means no sudden colour changes! - I try to only bleach the roots. Getting my hair bleached professionally is out of my budget, but would probably mean greater damage limitation again, but with bleaching all you can really achieve is damage limitation because the colour stripping process is inherently a damaging one. Bleach does not cover your hair a colour the way dye does, it strips colour, natural or otherwise, from hair. It has two main components - an alkali that makes your hair more porous, and a peroxide that chemically reacts with the melanin in hair, and it is a harsh chemical.
Secondly, I used to try and do all of my hair on my own. That was a terrible idea - first of all, I am not a hair-stylist, I'm an amateur with unusual tastes, and secondly hair dye is really works best with a second person doing it, to get it nice without patches. If I am bleaching my hair at home, I get Raven to help me by doing the back parts that I can't see clearly even with two mirrors, and when it comes to colouring, I get one of a few friends who are experienced with brightly coloured hair to help me. This means I get an even colour, most of the time. Sometimes even after all that, my hair ends up patchy and I have to go back and fix it. Ombre (or really, 'gradient' because I have transitions between colours, not dark roots and lighter coloured tips) hair usually takes me more than one session of dyeing to get the transitions smooth and even! It is very easy to make mistakes with doing your own hair, even if you research your plans first.
When I first started doing interesting things to my hair, there wasn't the explosion in popularity of bright colours, and brights were generally mostly available as DIY options - I'm sure most professionals could, and probably did, do vibrant colours before then, but your average hair salon didn't advertise that sort of thing as an option and it seemed like the hair salons that did were a bit specialist, and only available in big cities with large alternative communities. Now, as brights have become fashionable, even a small city like Inverness has places that will professionally do bright colours, so I really recommend going to a professional to get your hair coloured if you can afford it. They also tend to use different dyes, including better quality, more permanent ones (although there isn't a great range of permanent brights yet).
Being very visibly alternative and walking into a spaces that were mainstream-fashion centred, and in areas that are in general less accepting of eccentric styles, was somewhat daunting, especially for someone like me who is actually quite shy and socially anxious in person. While I have the confidence to ignore mean comments, and disregard other's opinions on my appearance in general, trying to persuade a hair professional that doesn't like alternative designs that yes, I really do want bright green hair, a pointed fringe, whatever else, is not something I really wanted to have to do. This isn't about ignoring professional advice on what my hair can and can't take (which, to be honest, I wish I had been given a long time ago, when I first started dying my hair vibrant colours!), but specifically about those who just think that the sort of things I want are weird, unfashionable, ugly, etc. Trying to find someone willing to do a pointed fringe was interesting, to say the least - the lassie that currently cuts my hair is an Goth studying hair at the same college building as I study architectural technology, and she put my pointy fringe in (and I couldn't make an appointment with her to get it tidied up before the start of university, so I did it myself this time... I regret it!). However, times have changed, and the availability of people willing to do more creative things has increased - especially if you find someone who likes having the opportunity to do something artistic and different once in a while!
Also, if you do things yourself, remember that there's actually a lot of skills and techniques in styling hair - for many it's the difference between able to do DIY home improvements and being a qualified tradesperson, but for hair. Just as you might be able to fix a ding in a wall with some filler and sandpaper, but maybe not plaster a whole wall in a way that is smooth and even, sometimes more complicated tasks are better left to someone who is trained and practiced, and if you do end up doing yourself, do realise that it might not work out right the first time. I've been regularly dyeing my own hair -with help!- for years (I started as a teenager, and I'm now nearly 30...) and I still can't get it as perfect and amazing as some of the salon-done examples I've seen. I've learned to trim my fringe, but on my fifth time keeping my fringe out of my eyes, I've still got a HUGE skill difference between how much better it looked the first time Melody (my friend who is a hair-dressing student) ever did a pointy fringe, just because Melody had a lot of experience and tutoring in cutting hair and fringes prior to the pointy one.
Internet vs. Reality
Thirdly, there are definitely people who are only exposed to what my hair looks like on Instagram, here, Facebook, etc. and only see it in photographs. Even before the photograph is taken, I'll have probably spent a substantial amount of time getting my hair just right, brushing and combing it, styling my fringe, etc. etc. I also tend to take selfies within a week of my hair having been recoloured, so it is at its most vibrant. When I'm actually taking the photographs for my selfies, I make sure I'm well lit, against a white cloth background (actually a lined curtain turned inside out, so the pretty side is hidden and the shiny white lining cloth is visible behind me!) and in a mixture of natural light, reflected natural light (an array of mirrors out of shot!) and sometimes some artificial light. Usually selfies are a document of my latest make-up, so everything is carefully posed to flatter my face, too! After all that, I then make digital edits to photos to adjust saturation, contrast, colour balance, etc. Sometimes I do more substantial colour corrections - especially if I've not had the opportunity to take a selfie in optimal lighting conditions. What people see in a photograph is my hair at an ideal moment. It does not look like that two weeks after being coloured, when humidity is making it fluffy and weird, when the wind has blown my fringe all out of shape, in some terrible lighting that makes it look blue when it's not, etc. etc. This isn't just me, this is what goes on behind the scenes of a LOT of people who put their hair on Tumblr, Instagram, whatever. It was only recently that Ursula Goth went viral for posting their lovely pink, purple and blue ombre hair before styling for a selfie, and then after styling and ::writing about:: the need for honesty and knowing that there's a difference between social media highlights and real life.
Fourthly, unnatural hair colours take a lot of work to maintain. Solid colour permanent dark dye over unbleached hair is the easiest to maintain. When I dyed my hair black, all I had to do was re-dye my roots when they grew long enough to be obvious (that will depend on how your natural hair colour contrasts with what colour you have dyed it) and every now and again re-tone the whole thing as it started to fade back to brown - which took a very long time compared to bright hair, and with cumulative layers of black it became more and more permanent. Solid colour bright/light colours over bleached hair take more work, as first of all the roots need dyeing before re-colouring, and secondly, depending on the colour and brand of hair-dye, and whether it is permanent or semi-permanent (most bright dyes are semi-permanent), and other factors like sun exposure, how often you wash it, and with what shampoos, etc. it can fade in anything from a mere week and a half to much longer, but they usually fade in a few weeks, and to the point where it is very obvious in about a month. Gradient brights are even more work because of recolouring the length with several, but because it's a smooth gradient, it can be redone in a distribution that isn't an exact match to where the colours where before and still look good. Layered, sectioned, or any other hair colouring that involves lots of different sections of solid colour hair is really difficult to maintain the way it was done.
Sectional multicolour hair, with ombre.
I gave up on multi-colour hair done in layered sections because the upkeep was just too time-consuming. The amount of time I spent trying to section my hair in all the same places as when I first did my multicolour hair, because getting green over purple or whatever would result in muddy colours and browning, was inordinate - I would go through my hair with a rat-tail comb and lots of hair ties and very patiently over about 2 hours, try and part my hair exactly into all the individual locks I had initially put it into, made even more complicated when I re-bleached the roots, because then the first inch-and-a-half to two inches of my hair were blonde, so tracking back to my roots where the sections previously were became much, much harder! It also faded very unevenly, and when I tried to re-colour it it became harder and harder to get it looking good like it had before, especially as some colours fade to quite strong tones - hence why I ended up eventually with mostly turquoise hair with neon green bits that didn't look the best.
Weird green top to blue after fading and ineffective touchups
Some styles are also a lot of upkeep, too, regardless of what colour. A fringe needs to be regularly styled to maintain its shape, especially my pointy one that is easily re-arranged to be oddly asymmetric by the wind! Both V or 'vamp fringes and 'Vintage Pin-Up' fringes, and other fringes that require a crisp style and curving under usually involve fringe straighteners, a hair-dryer, a comb, and hair-spray or product to keep them in place (I am allergic to hair-spray!). Back-combing can go from deliberately ratted to plain ratty and matted if not taken out and re-done at the right frequency - too often and you snap and damage the hair, too infrequently and the build up of product, natural oils, and anything that gets trapped in that sort of style can become a bit gross. Under-cuts need to be re-shorn otherwise they grow out oddly, and anything with styled ringlets or waves also requires work (although I haven't got personal experience with the last two, but I have friends that do). I like my long hair loose, but often put braids in my hair just either side of my face to keep those bits from getting in my way, and those get re-done each morning. If you want to have 'mermaid hair', that usually requires both curling/waves and far more complex braids to get the full effect, etc. and some styles if not re-styled in full just turn into a fluffy explosion or stick up at weird angles, or flop down oddly, etc. so to look nice, you're bound into doing something with it each day that's more than just brushing it and/or tying it back, even if it's not putting it back into the full style.
I am not saying this to dissuade people from brightly coloured hair or from having interesting styles, or to try and show off how hard I've worked on my hair, but to give people realistic expectations of what having some of the more colourful and complex styles entail. Also, if you do go to a stylist, and want something done, please be aware that if they're trying to dissuade you on the grounds that it might damage your hair, or inform you it could be quite expensive and take several sessions, they aren't necessarily judging your style, or trying to scam you for unnecessary extra work - as I mentioned above, bleaching dark hair can take several sessions, and dyeing is usually a separate session, not to mention any cuts/styles to be done, and hair-dressing is a skilled trade that requires decent compensation.
I completely forgot about doing the conclusion to my hair adventures, so I'm sorry for not putting this up months ago!
As you may recall from ::Hair Adventures 2: Feeling Blue::, I previously dyed my hair pine green with a violet fringe, and while it was pretty freshly done, it rapidly faded to two-tone blue, which while it wasn't objectively bad, was just not what I actually wanted. The picture on the right shows the colours in my hair when it was done the first time around, and you can click the link above to see what happened when it turned blue.
As I mentioned in that previous blog, I had a plan to turn the blues back to greens and purple - put in very vibrant yellow green over the aqua blue, and neon pink over the royal blue fringe! I used Stargazer UV Green and Stargazer UV Pink over the faded blue hair, but before I did that, I made sure to fade it out as much as possible, to pastel turquoise-blue, and a bright blue for the fringe. To help it fade as quickly as possible, I used original formula dandruff shampoo, which strips temporary dye much quicker than ordinary shampoo, and does help as I can get dandruff in summer.
My hair fixed with lime green and pink!
The bright lime green alone wasn't quite enough to get my hair a colour I wanted, so I put Directions Apple Green (a staple for my hair for ages, my favourite green dye) over it, to get it REALLY green! To keep it green, once every other week or so, I was mixing up some left over green dye (including some of the Crazy Colour Pine, and lots of the Stargazer UV Green) in with some conditioner and leaving it on my hair to deep condition it (it gets pretty fried with all the bleach and styling) and to make the hair more vibrant. I'm not sure this is the best method, but it was recommended to me by a friend, and it seems to be working for me - of course, 'your mileage may vary' as they say, and I am not a professional hair-dresser or stylist, so whether leaving conditioner on for the time it takes my hair-dye to usually set is a good idea or not is not something I am qualified to say.
Slightly more Pine Green in the mix this time!
Putting more of the Crazy Colour Pine green results in a slightly darker green, but it also does fade bluer (I think it is more like a blue dye with yellow dye mixed in, rather than a green dye, and the yellow tones wash out faster). The Stargazer UV Green dye does fade pretty quickly, though, and when I'd run out of Pine and was just using UV Green to touch it up, it was fading to a more minty green. I was using Stargazer UV Pink, mixed with a little of the left over Violette to keep the fringe bright - and still am, as it doesn't take much dye and I still have some of that first bottle of Violette and a third of a bottle of UV pink!
Slightly faded out
If you have my Domesticated Goth account followed on Instagram - viewable in browser ::here:: - you will have already seen the 'Moon Child' makeup picture, and Birthday M.U.O.T.D (make up of the day) picture - I'm more active on Instagram than I am here, and I put content on Instagram that's more about my make-up, fashion, artwork and aesthetics, as I feel that Instagram is a better platform for primarily visual blogging. For wordy blogging, thoughts and even posts that are nearly articles/essays, then I will continue to blog here. I have been busy renovating my house over summer, so hopefully in the near future I will do a room-by-room account of my decorating ideas and inspiration, what still needs to be done, etc. However, I am back at college, so that might take a while!
This isn't actually the conclusion of my hair saga; there's going to be a Hair Adventures 4! On Friday night I stayed up most of the night dyeing my hair a more interesting way... why doing my hair took all night, and what I've done with it will be revealed in the next (and final) instalment of my hair adventures for this year (although those on my FB page will have had a sneak preview yesterday). I'm not changing my hair drastically again until at least next year - which I have a specific plan for, as I am aiming for a rather radically different change in about a year's time.
On the May Bank Holiday (1st May), I went to Spynie Palace Castle with two local Goths and the lady behind ::Superstitchious::, who was there for a rather thorough photo-shoot of herself modelling a new gown design for her shop. You can see the results of that photoshoot ::here::. While the others were working on the photo-shoot, I took the opportunity to explore the castle and learn a bit of history, and generally get rather excited about visiting such a fantastic ruin. As all my long-term readers will know, I love castles. This post is about the castle, I will do another one about the photoshoot, especially as I got photographed too.
Spynie Palace Castle from the approaching driveway.
The first thing I will point out about the castle is its situation. It's on the edge of a hill, just past its crest - and not a particularly high hill - with a steep valley visible on the left of the image above (that curve just gets steeper!). That descent leads to a boggy wooded valley with streams snaking across it and lush ground-cover vegetation, and many hundreds of years ago was actually part of a firth, opening out into the greater Moray Firth near Elgin. The castle guarded a port, with parts of it not quite visible in this image that actually backed straight onto watery bits! However, since then land has both been artificially reclaimed, and the coastline has risen slightly. The whole of Northern Europe was weighed down during the last ice-age by the immense pressure of all those glaciers, and since then, northern places have slowly risen back up! Eventually the valley dried up entirely and is now woods and farmland and does not even remotely resemble an inlet, except for the boggy ground, and the river is now a stream. I am so used to places down in Southern England where the fens are getting wetter, the cliffs are washing out to sea (and ending up as sandbanks in continental Europe), and flood risks seem to be increasing, that for somewhere to dry up - especially in a climate as soggy as the Scottish one - is quite remarkable!
Windows in windows
I can't resist an interesting window (my trips to ::Rait Castle:: and ::Wester Barevan Churchyard:: are testament to that!), and I especially can't resist one in a wall that tells a story like this. The hall it backed onto was repurposed and resized several times. The rectangular apertures of early windows frame both the smaller Gothic window on the left and the tiny rectangular window on the right. Walls like this - where repairs and alteration are even more evident in colour, as different sandstones were used - tell a story, they're a monument to architectural changes - changes in status, purpose, taste and style. Rectangular windows are Baronial, but this was a Bishop's palace, and Gothic arches are ecclesiastical...
A ruined wall with window-holes, tower in the background.
As is clear to see, the castle is in a state of ruin - the tower is still standing, but the rest of it just a collection of ruined walls, window apertures and earthworks. It was apparently rather magnificent in its time, but the waterway dried up, the castle lost its purpose, and eventually it fell into disrepair and then disarray. A roof was put back on the tower to try and halt the process of disintegration, but apparently it caused more problems than it solved and was removed. In some countries, apparently ruined castles get rebuilt, and the (very helpful) information guide was telling me that some tourists complain that the castle hasn't been rebuilt - but I can see the reasoning behind leaving it as a carefully preserved ruin rather than rebuilding.
I have a window obsession.
Photos through windows will always be one of my favourite types of architectural photograph. In this case, I was using the bright spring sky to make the form of the window the focus, with the second thing of interest being the ruined stone wall through which it cuts, and the patch of haze - I think more a camera artefact that any actual dusty or misty air - I need to clean my lens! I think this window has ended up looking Gothic in both the terms of it being a pointed arch window (see the first black and white image) and it having an eerie, almost supernatural quality to it in this picture. I think this is one of my favourite photographs from the trip.
Ruined wall re-imagined as craggy cliff
The picture came about as I saw the tree behind the wall, and was given the idea of the wall as a craggy cliff, now that it is rubbly and jagged, with stones jutting out at dramatic angles. I liked that part of the wall was dressed and neat, and that part was rough and irregular, and waited for the light to catch it just right. I just wish the sky had been a little bit more dramatic, but this isn't the end of the universe.
This blog may contain excessive levels of fenestration.
This is an alcove in what was - I think - a hall or a chapel. I sadly didn't have enough money to buy a guide book, and my search on the internet for a legible floor-plan of the castle hasn't really worked out. There's a nicely visible corbel up in the top left corner, which would have supported a sturdy roof beam. I imagine this part of the castle would have been quite splendid in its heyday. I also like how this image shows the contrast between smooth facing stones, and the more uneven stones on the interior of a wall.
A very tall wall
This is a picture I took to emphasise the verticality. I'm a rural sort of person, and the castle tower is still a legitimately tall building to me! It would probably be quite tall if transported to the city of Inverness, if in comparison to other buildings there - even their tower-blocks are 7 ordinary floors in height, and the hospital 7 extra-height floors with an 8th level of rooms on the roof for services, and this castle is 6 floors above the basement, and then the remains of a roof-space which is another storey, making it quite a tall building even for the modern Highlands. Obviously, quite short if you live in a city with skyscrapers, or even just lots of buildings taller than 10 storeys. (I think I would find actually being in somewhere like New York or Shanghai with lots of tall buildings quite strange! I found myself quite daunted by the taller buildings of Glasgow...)
Interior of tower, with light through window reflecting off floor.
The interior of the tower has been partially restored. I think the patches of white stuff are the remains of lime plastering, and look quite stark against the darker stone. When I've been in castles that are still inhabited, the interiors are often plastered, as are the interiors of many old churches, and the idea that everything was bare stone in the past is something of a misunderstanding - yes, not all spaces were plastered, and yes, a lot of historical remains are no longer plastered, but a lot were. It is like how many old English churches are lime-washed white inside, but many centuries ago, before the Reformation and subsequent move towards Protestantism, they were just as brightly painted as many European churches, and many columns and stone elements that weren't plastered were also painted.
For a change it's a staircase, and not a window!
The picture above is looking back up the stairs that descend into some sort of underground cellar (or possibly dungeon!) beneath the castle. It is a round room, with a domed roof, which I tried desperately to photographs, but I didn't have a tripod or stand, the floor was too uneven to rest the camera upon, and the light-levels necessitated a long exposure... I have a picture that's the least blurry of my efforts, but I'm not sure it warrants being here, nevertheless, the construction method was hypnotically concentric and fascinating, so I have included it as a thumbnail to the side. Anyway, this was the light reflecting off the stone walls, and I thought it really rather interesting. There were lights in the subterranean room, hence why the floor is visible, but it was still quite dingy - but at least it was out of the wind!
Alley to the dried valley.
This alley goes down to a gate, which originally opened out towards where inlet was - I imagine there were once wooden piers or docking areas beyond it, but they are long, long gone. I wish I had taken a photograph that did a better job of demonstrating the three-dimensionality of the other walls and spaces around the alley, but I didn't quite manage. I really wish I could better convey the complexity of the castle spaces, and how the remains still show where rooms and levels once were.
Tree above the wall
Another photograph that shows how ruined the castle has become, and which shows corbels where beams sat and where alcoves and apertures once were. I find it really interesting to look at old buildings and look at how the remains infer what else used to be there. I try and visualise where the floors once were, what sort of doors they once had, whether the windows were glazed, and if so were they just lead-lights, or maybe stained glass? I wonder how tall walls originally were, and what the roof was like - looking for slots and corbels for where beams once rested, wondering about what I can figure out from the spacing, and what's left of any gable ends.
I will finish on another window. Windows are liminal things, between in the indoors and the outdoors, and I find them very interesting. It's a poetic sentiment about perspective that drives my frequent photography of window apertures - thoughts on our viewing things, and the nature of space that I guess are probably a little too much like the architectural-theoretical discourses I read, and which I feel a little overly-abstracted in my thinking, and do wonder if it comes over as pretentious. Perhaps it's enough to just say I like windows!
The Highland Lolita community have become regular visitors at the Botanic Gardens in Inverness. I've written about meets held there, starting with our ::first ever community meet:: when there were only 3 of us and I didn't have a proper Lolita outfit yet, and then a ::summer meet:: in 2015, and the ::Tea Party Club photoshoot::, also in 2015. We went there last year, too, but I didn't get time to write about it. This post is about when went there back in April, but I didn't have time to write about it at the time because of college work.
This was a meet that I organised, but I still ended up hideously late because first one of my shoes broke, and then the bus I was on to Inverness arrived just as the bus to the Botanic Gardens was leaving, so I missed my connection. I ended up meeting a slightly lost lady on the bus, with her young daughter (who had fabulous floral face-paint) trying to get to the nearby Aquadome (municipal swimming pools and gym) for a birthday party, so I showed her how to walk around to where she was heading because currently there is a lot of road-building going on, and the usual entrance to the road down which both the Aquadome and the Botanic Gardens are situated is a construction zone. By the time I got to the Botanic gardens, my friends had already eaten and drunk most of their afternoon tea, so we then went out to the gardens.
Plants & Flowers at the Botanic Gardens. Photos by me.
As often happens we got photographed a bit by other people visiting the gardens, but nobody was too invasive or rude. People often think we're dressing up for a special occasion, but while we're not necessarily daily Lolitas, many of us wear elaborate alternative fashion on a daily basis - whether it's my Romantic and anachronistic Gothic fashion, or fairy-kei and other Japanese street-styles on others, and I do sometimes wear Lolita just because I can - the question "do you dress like this every day?" can be a tricky one. It's a bit easier when I'm on my own and get asked that question - I can answer "this particular outfit and style is for <insert event here> but I do wear elaborate Gothic outfits every day, yes" - a lot of people can't tell Gothic Lolita apart from regular Romantic Goth, to many it's just the same thing but with knee-length skirts. Other Lolita styles, however, are clearly different from any other fashion or subcultural style.
Koi and other fish - picture by Kawaii Keke-Chan
My favourite part of the Botanic Gardens is the cactus house, but we didn't get that far in this visit. My second favourite is the tropical greenhouse. It has a fish-pond with waterfall, but due to an issue with the pump, it no longer goes into the stream under the path, which is sad. I love watching the koi fish and other carp (goldfish?) in the pool. They're very beautiful.
Keke-Chan and H, photo by Koneko
There are steps in the tropical greenhouse leading up to a mezzanine all dripping with climbing plants and beautiful flowers, with fancy railings and even fancier metal furniture.
Koneko, picture is, I think, by me.
As it is in a greenhouse, with a glass roof, it is quite ,bright there! We all sat down and chatted for a while, admiring the full view of the tropical house, and walking up past the waterfall. It's all very beautiful and elegant - and quite warm inside, regardless of the rain outside. One day I will have to take a packed lunch with me (from the café by the entrance), and sit up there to eat it with the sounds of the fountain and the waterfall. The grotto I was photographed in for the ::Tea Party Club photo-shoot:: is beneath the mezzanine.
Koneko infront of the wishing fountain, picture by herself.
Photo of me by Koneko
We then went to the rear of the tropical green-house, which has a wishing-fountain (you throw coins in to make a wish), and the rear of the grotto, which is all neo-classical and completely different from its rocky exterior on the fish-pond. There's even a colourful stained-glass window commemorating something to do with a bank.
One interesting thing is that there is an artificial tree that has been built to grow the sort of rainforest plants that grow secondary on trees. The artificial tree is made from sustainably harvested cork, and rather twisty and fun. It has colourful flowers growing on it, and long strains of silvery, lace-like plants dripping from it. I don't know what the lacy plant is, but I would love to grow some myself as it looks quite magical.
One of the things I like about my local Lolita community is that we're not affraid to be silly now and then, and have a bit of fun. We're quite laid-back, and make sure we don't take ourselves too seriously... like in this photo where Koneko snuck up and photo-bombed me!
Koneko photo-bombing me. I forgot who took this pic!
A few of the younger girls were at the meet, too, but to protect their privacy as they're legally minors in the UK, I haven't featured photographs of them here. Koneko has a facebook page/blog ::here:: andKawaii Keke-Chan's got an account on ::Tumblr::
Photo by Kawaii Keke-Chan
✯ Head-dress: Hand-made by myself
✯ Wig: An online Cosplay shop, but I can't remember which.
✯ Blouse: Spin-Doctor
✯ Dress: second-hand Bodlyine dress
✯ Necklace: Claire's Accessories
✯ Belt: charity shop find
✯ Floral tights: I can't remember, but probably Tesco
✯ Shoes: Demonia shoes bought secondhand on eBay
This outfit was meant to be a simple all-black outfit. I was initially going to wear a black wig, too, but decided to go with this dark green one. The wig has a LOT of volume, so I wore an extra-puffy set of petticoats to balance it. There's no real theme to it, and the design of the dress is just Lolita - not particularly Gothic elements, just lots of ruffles.
In future I want to put together more outfits that aren't just all black and anachronistic, but more Gothic - more elements that tie to the usual motifs - skulls, bats, Gothic architecture, vampires, graveyards, ghosts, etc. as well as cuts that are more Gothic - things with lacing details, big bell sleeves, velvet, using spikes and studs as an accenting detail, etc. I think I need to slowly bing in more of my 'Goth' to my Lolita, making it really Gothic Lolita, not just a 'Goth in Lolita'!
This is a response to my ::previous article:: being discussed in part on the Cemetery Confessions internet radio/podcast, in the most recent episode, ::here::. I suggest you listen to it - both because Cemetery Confessions is an excellent pod-cast, and because otherwise this post won't really make much sense.
I don't intend this as an argument in any personal term, this is just my riposte in the debate, and I don't want anyone to misconstrue this as an attempt on my part to start any drama - I see this as a debate, where I've raised points, the Count and those on the show have given disagreements, and I give counter-arguments in the debating sense of the word - and I hope this conversation keeps going!
The first disagreement discussed is in relation to Romantic Goths. To them, Romanticism is only an underlying tenet of Goth, rather than something that can be considered a separate aspect of it - I agree that Romanticism is indeed a major contributing factor to the Gothic mindset and the Gothic Subculture in general, and it is an underlying tenet indeed - the distinction I was making is that there are some people who gravitate more to that specific aspect of the subculture. All of the things I mention as being apart of a subcategory are not exclusive to the subcategories- and they shouldn't be - and the way I see a subcategory, it is more about from which perspective you approach the subculture, rather than an separate group within Goth that is a bubble divided from the other parts. Everything that I see as a subcategory has to be within Goth already.
The second is that I think my take on the Megan Balanck stereotypes has been misconstrued - I don't actually agree with the way Goth is broken into subcategories by Megan Balanck, and I don't think I am all those labels that I fit according to her list - as my original article explained. I know they had to cut down from my original article because I do write a LOT, but I feel like at this point is was cut down in a way that lost my original point - listing all the subcategories I would fit under according to her was meant to be an example of how I find her framework overly labels things. I think labels are something that, like many things, are good in moderation. I don't think her 'Goth Stereotypes' accurately describe how Goth works (and I don't really think it was intended to), so I tried to give my own take on how things do work - and how many of things that Ms Balanck gave are making subcategories out of things I wouldn't consider to be subcategories as how I would define that - things that are hybrids with other subcultures, that are just an aesthetic, etc. I didn't really want to write an extended critique of the 'Goth Stereotypes' in my original article, but there are quite a few things I disagree with her on, especially her treating hybrids and other subcultures as part of Goth - 'Rivethead'/Industrial and Steampunk may have ties to Goth, but they are their own subcultures!
[Tangent: One particular thing I didn't like in her 'Goth Stereotypes' was her including 'mopey' and 'perky' Goth, because I think that someone's personality, or mood, aren't really subcategory at all, especially when these things are often subject to fluctuations, and especially when the idea of us being 'mopey' or depressed is an externally imposed derogatory stereotype, and I have never seen it reflected from within Goth, and feel like that unlike the others, which even if they aren't necessarily about Goths (Lolitas, Rivetheads and Steampunks aren't Goth!) do at least have a grain of truth, and some level of "it's funny because it's true" - they do at least reflect the world a little, and people can see themselves or people they know in them. The idea of 'mopey' Goths, or 'perky Goths' (usually with the latter as a deliberate contrast to the expected former stereotype) just doesn't seem true to human nature, let alone Goths.]
I think that labels can definitely be too "sticky" as The Count said, and that they shouldn't be used to box people in, or compel people to box themselves in. I've been a Romantic Goth for nearly as long as I've been Goth, and I've been Romantic for a lot longer - and I have never personally found it limiting or something which has become stale for me. The label shouldn't be something you act to fill - it should just be a description for how you already are - one thing I will always maintain about life is that it is more important to be yourself than to live up to the expectations of a label.
I actually prefer the term "Classic Goth" that was proffered in the podcast to the term "Trad Goth". I didn't coin the term "Trad Goth", and I too am no fan of 'traditional' being contracted to 'Trad', but I just presumed it was an Americanism in this instance. I was using the term as it is the one I see most frequently used to describe people who are more interested in Goth from a perspective that is closer to its origins in music, club-culture and '80s creativity, rather than from a Romantic perspective, or from a perspective that is more ingrained with a different culture. I also think it is very important that all Goths understand their history, and the roots of the subculture - I just think that for some, both people who were there the first time around, and people who are Post-Punk revivalists of a sort, they find themselves drawn more to those aspects of Goth, and to looking at it from that perspective. I know that Goth had an ideological shift from its punk roots, and I would agree that perhaps my notion that "Classic" or "Trad" Goths are more into being deliberately subversive is more a reflection of the ones I know personally than of people who are interested in that era of Goth and that perspective on Goth in general.
One criticism I would give of myself is that instead of trying to define what I see as subcategories, I tried to give examples of aspects -both in relation to aesthetics and in relation to music and perspective - of what sorts of things can come under that umbrella, and perhaps I would have done better to set actual parameters, even if nebulous ones. What I wanted to do was give examples of how it is more than just clothes, but what I think I actually did was further confuse the issue.
I am not a sociologist - dilettante or academic - so I do not really know enough on that to argue the sociological framework of whether Goth is a culture or subculture, and whether Goth is influenced by its parent culture, or not. I think it's only right that I acknowledge that I'd be out of my depth there.
I think the part where I disagree most is in relation to Japanese Goth and I will give my opinion as the author of the original article, and as someone interested in that aspect of the scene, but I really feel it would be better handled by a different blogger, someone like ::La Carmina:: who is more intimately connected with the scene (and has already written about how the scene is different there, and how yes, it can be more aesthetic in many ways, but that doesn't make it less sincere), or even better, someone in Japan from the Japanese Goth scene itself. I know that Cemetery Confessions has been interviewing Goths from around the world, as I was part of that, and perhaps this could open up an opportunity for the show to interview a Japanese Goth in Japan on this topic! I really don't want to talk for Japanese Goths here, because I'm a 'Franglais' person who has an interest in Japanese culture and as a Goth, an interest in how Goth is there, not someone living there, but I still feel like I ought to explain my reasoning, however.
If you're a Goth in Japan or another person with an interest in J-Goth who knows more than me, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong - I'm not the font of all knowledge, and I certainly know that my perspective has limitations, plus I love to be educated!
I think that part of the reason that Goth is fairly consistent in many places is because that there are a lot of similarities between the parent cultures - there, obviously, are differences between American, and say, British culture, but there are also a LOT of similarities, especially in our pop-cultures. Japanese culture has its similarities too, but it also has more marked differences. I don't think that I did a very good job of describing what I meant in my original article - the comment about manga, anime, etc. was more to indicate that Westerners into that part of Goth a) often come to be interested in how Goth is in Japan through depictions of Gothic themes in those media, and b) that they're into aspects of Japanese pop-culture other than just Goth in Japan, rather than this being all it takes to make someone a J-Goth (and anime and manga are examples that I expect my readers to be familiar with).
I do think there are fads in Japanese subcultures and street-fashions (just as there are here! I see hipsters walking around in dressed in fashion that borrows a lot from the Goth aesthetic!) but I don't think that all Japanese pop-culture is all inherently faddish - just like anywhere else, if someone finds something to be a thing that they genuinely connect with and enjoy, they are likely to retain it. Yes, Japanese Goths have taken inspiration from Goths in Europe and the US, but I don't think it's a cartoonish pastiche, I think it is Goth seen through the lens of Japanese pop-culture and culture - and this makes it Goth approached from that perspective, and with its own distinctiveness. I think the "ideological influences, pop-culture influences.. ...purely aesthetic influences, moral normative type claims being either subverted or embraced in alternative way", from both directions, are precisely why Goth from Japan has evolved a little differently, and noticeably so.
If it was just limited to Goths in Japan, I probably wouldn't call it a subcategory, more a regional distinctiveness that's a little more marked than others (and perhaps, as I mentioned, Deathrock is like that, different in its own distinct way from Post-Punk in the UK, or in Europe, because it developed in a different culture), but because it has produced a lot of tangible culture that gets consumed by, and influences a lot of Goths outside of Japan, many of whom have become very interested in Goth from a Japanese perspective because they have an interest in Japanese culture and pop-culture in general, I feel that it probably does deserve to be termed a subcategory - I can certainly see the ways in which my friends like ::K:: approach the subculture than from how I do, or my friends who could be described as 'Trad' or 'Classic' Goth do. I also acknowledge that a Goth outside of Japan approaching the Goth in Japan from their own culture and subcultural framework, and then ingesting a Japanese interpretation of Goth that in turn has been inspired by Western Goth is going to be a different perspective again to someone who is part of the Japanese scene itself. Also, aspects of Goth from a Japanese perspective have filtered into Goth in general - taking inspiration from Lolita fashion, listening to 13th Moon, discussing shinigami as psychopomps, or blending kawaii and kowai aren't limited to Japanese Goths or Goths elsewhere who have a big interested in Japanese Goth.
I have definitely observed that there are both differences and a LOT of similarities - there has to be, otherwise it wouldn't still be Goth! Goth does have its own culture which does transcend national boundaries, but that does not mean that the culture you come from doesn't have any influence on how you interact with Goth - otherwise, using my local scene as an example, Goths here wouldn't be talking about bean sìth, the Cailleach of winter and kelpies as well as vampires, witches and werewolves, or incorporating the local folklore and history into how they interact with Goth, and wearing black kilts to club nights - for the obvious examples - although it's often far more complex than that, and harder to tease out, and I think the same applies to Goth in Japan, it's just that its more pronounced than with the differences between Goths in the US and the UK, or Goths in different parts of Europe, etc. (although I would say there definitely is a difference between continental Goths, and US and UK Goths) because the parent culture, especially in terms of pop-culture, is a little more different.
There are definitely people in Japan who don't just put Goth on as a club costume, or just to be photographed on the Jingu Bashi bridge, garnering attention and ending up in street-snaps of Fruits or the Gothic & Lolita Bible (those things actually have become less popular with time, and the Goths there remain). I think it does Japanese Goths who are committed to their scene a disservice to see Goths in Japan all being likened to kids in the late '90s and early '00s getting into Marilyn Manson because he was different, darker and edgier, and it was cool and rebellious - especially when within western Goth we've seen plenty of people join the subculture because they think it's cool and edgy as teens or young adults, and then stuck with it for the long haul - all the 'mall-Goths' who grew into the subculture rather than out of it! Although I do think there may be more pressure in Japan for people to 'grow out of it' than in other places, that doesn't mean that everyone does, or that it is just something that is momentarily popular with some more rebellious cool kids and then vanishes again.
Bands like 13th Moon, Neurotic Doll, and Madame Edwarda, are what I meant by 'Gothic bands from Japan' - I think there's a little more hybridisation going on when it comes to Visual Kei bands, etc. but that the influence of Visual Kei bands needs to be considered too. I do think that aesthetically, and musically, there's a lot of referencing Deathrock rather than UK Post-Punk and Goth bands (eg. Phaida has a lot of similarities with Christian Death), but that doesn't make it a pastiche of Deathrock, it just shows the path through which inspiration has flowed.
The Part There Wasn't Time To Discuss
I really wish there had been time to discuss the last part of my article, as I think it relates more to what the actual problem is with labels - whether or not they are limiting and divisive.
I think the way people approach labels is probably where a lot of the contention arises from. People don't want labels because they think they are innately harmful. People are, and with legitimate cause, worried that it will cause people to box themselves into narrow definitions that eventually lead to them feeling trapped, or that the way that hybrids and other subcultures (especially Steampunk, Industrial and Emo) get mislabelled as 'Goth subcategories' will confuse people, or that newcomers to the subculture feel like they have to pick a bunch of terms. All of these things do happen, but I personally don't think they have to happen.
I think a lot of the issue is that people see the labels not as a description for how perspective, tastes in music, aesthetics and interests come together, but as bubbles, and fragile ones, that only encompass a narrow set of things, and that if you expand beyond that, the bubble will burst and it will be terrible - there should be no real consequences to outgrowing a label, or to finding that with time you better fit a different one, if you don't get cliquish about them in the first place. If you start of primarily interested in the Gothic and Romantic, but later come to be more interested in '80s revival, find you've more general interests, or in any way change how you approach Goth, then all that happens is you change a few words to describe your interests - it's no betrayal to whatever way you identified before, and unless you live somewhere with an unfortunately cliqueish scene, shouldn't have any real-world repercussions. People changing and growing is natural, and no label should seen as a boundary, just a description.
As I keep coming back to - it's more important to be true to yourself than to create expectations based around a label. You should never pick a category and then decide to best fulfil it - you should be yourself and just describe yourself with the terms that are most accurate.
It is human nature to try and categorise things in order to understand them, and I don't think we can ever escape that with time, and as things become more diverse and distinctive, labels will arise - what we have to do is be responsible with them. Over-labelling becomes counter-productive, as things become too specific - and similar terms used in too many different ways - to really be meaningful; overly rigid categories leads to people boxing themselves in, feeling like they have to conform to an expectation of what a category should entail; not enough labels mean that people don't have a vocabulary to express precisely what they mean without giving lengthy descriptions. A balance needs to be struck, and I think the key is moderation.
I also think that a true subcategory - originating from within Goth, and being about how one approaches various aspects of what is Goth - will always be authentically Goth. I know that the hybrid subcultures, such as Cybergoth, Gothic Lolita, etc. will always be contentious because they're always going to be a mixture of things, in varying proportions, and because there's this external element it will never really be wholly Goth - and the debate is to whether that should be embraced alongside what is Goth, and see it as a positive diversifying influence, or whether it risks overly diluting the subculture to the point where the term 'Goth' just ends up meaning 'darkly alternative'. Those debates seem to answer themselves with time, as time either confirms or denies the possible consequences, and as people hash it out until eventually an approximate consensus is reached - it happened with the Marilyn Manson influx, it happened with the Cybergoths and the rise in popularity of Industrial, and it's happening with Pastel Goth and Nu-Goth, and I'm sure it happened with other things before my experience of the subculture and will continue to happen in the future as things change and new things arrive.
I also don't think that subcategories should translate into social cliques. I have been in places where this has happened - those into the '80s way of seeing Goth acting like those with a Romantic sensibility were just misguided LARPers with a fondness for vampires and not 'real' Goths, people into Cybergoth refusing to even talk to people who weren't clad in goggles, PVC and neon, and people saying that those who like metal as well as Goth have no musical taste and aren't proper Goths either, just 'Mansonites' - and I thought that all these cliquish attitudes were terribly immature, even moreso when I joined the Highland Goth scene, because the scene here - especially as it is so small - has just become a refuge for people who like the Gothic, the Goth and generally dark, and has welcomed all the hybridisation and the unique perspectives of each individual as a positive attribute rather than a reason for division - something I hope to to illustrate aesthetically with my photography project (especially as I photograph the same people again in future, in ways that show different facets of them, using fashion, location and photography to try and convey something that is more than aesthetic through a visual medium). I've seen first-hand that it doesn't have to be a scene where people only talk to those who have identical interests to them, and that it's healthy and keeps things interesting when they talk to a variety of Goths and people with interests outside Goth, people who blend and hybridise subcultures, etc.
As I concluded the first time around: You do not need to pick a category, you do not need to fit a category, and it is far more important to be true to yourself than to be as Goth as possible, or as <insert specific type of Goth here> as possible. It is healthy - and good for the subculture- for us to be diverse people with diverse interests, and to not just be clone-like and striving to fit in to some social group as neatly as possible.
Goth has often, in recent years, been divided into 'subcategories', and some of them relate to fashion taxonomies - descriptions of what kinds of clothes someone wears - but I think that some of them are more than that. I will open with saying that this is just my opinion on the matter; it is not absolute fact, and this is based off my personal experiences with the scene rather than any concrete research. Whether or not there actually are subcategories, and whether there should be, has been a topic I've seen debated recently, so I thought I'd break down how I have observed this playing out.
The first question is, however, are they all more than just fashion styles? For some people, of course, they are all just fashions, different ways of aesthetically expressing their Goth tastes, and they might dress Trad Goth one day, and Romantic the next, choosing outfits based on the events they're going to, or their mood that day, and they like a lot of different styles of Goth fashion, and those fashion styles might not reflect anything of what aspects of Goth culture they're into at all. There are, of course, plenty of Goths that are into a an eclectic collection of non-fashion aspects of Goth, too, and there are those that switch their aesthetics to express all of those aspects in turn. However, I think in many cases the fashion taxonomy reflects more than just what clothes they felt like wearing that day, but reflects visually what aspects of Goth culture they are into.
I will have to say I am a little biased in this case - I identify as a Romantic Goth, and was into Romanticism before I was into Goth, and am firmly based in Romanticism, Sturm-und-Drang, Gothic Revivalism, and other related artistic and literary movements such as Gothic Literature, the Pre-Raphaelites, etc. I came to the Gothic before I came to Goth, and my fashion reflects my interests [I wrote about why I wear Romantic Goth ::here:: a few years back, and while my situation has changed since then, my fashion is similar]. I am also the sort of Goth that loves the atmospheric and ethereal branches of darkwave: music like Dead Can Dance, The Cocteau Twins, Sopor Æternus and the Ensemble of Shadows, and This Mortal Coil - plus a lot of classical music of the atmospheric and passionate sort! I have an extensive collection of Requiem Masses, my favourite being Faure's... [I have written about my love of choral music ::here:: ] My interests lean towards the Romantic and the Gothic and I spend a lot of time in nature, seeking an experience of the wilder, more awesome places of our planet, I find my peace and quiet in graveyards [why I spend so much time in them is something I wrote about ::here::] or wandering around ancient ruins and decrepit castles. My engagement with Goth is primarily with its Gothic and Romantic aspects in the art-history sense of the word. For me, 'Romantic Goth' is describing far more than my fashion taxonomy; it's describing my mindset, the literature I read, the music I listen to, and generally the perspective from which I interact with the subculture.
I know, however, that the plural of anecdote is not data, and that my own life is just the experiences of only one person - however, it does at least seem that this is often a more general phenomenon, and that people describing themselves as a 'Trad Goth' and a 'Romantic Goth' as more than a description for their outfit of the day is a valid description. I'm sure it's something that could probably be actually studied, but I've enough work to do figuring out how to attach a water-tower to an eco-friendly moveable classroom for my uni project, and I'm not a sociologist, so all I am going on are my experiences and my observations, so I'm not presenting this as any sort of definitive truth on the matter (and I'm fully up for debating this).
When the (controversial, and originally intended as humorous!) ::'Goth Stereotypes':: (which I am mentioning because a lot of people feel like these pseudo-infographics inspired a generation of younger Goths to start labelling or even pigeon-holing themselves) by Megan Balanck at Black Waterfall (and I think originally on DeviantArt) were written, they all included a lot more than just what clothes were worn; they included interests, attitude and music - even if they aren't necessarily accurate, and with the graphics being deliberate stereotypes, they are intentionally narrow. The 'stereotypes' described also include a lot hybridisation and diversion from what seems to play out in real life - according to them, I'm a mixture of Victorian, Romantic, Medieval, Vampire and Faerie! The stereotypes Megan Balanck wrote and drew were intended as more than just fashion taxonomy, and this came about for a reason - there really are people who are more into some aspects of Goth culture than others, and for a good few people, what aspects they are into form a fairly cohesive set of related interests. I'm not going to say that her stereotypes are definitive categories or necessarily accurately reflect how subcategories work in my observation of the scene, however, because I could critique them.
The Subcategories of Goth From what I have observed in the scene, there is often more to these labels than just clothes; these are the subcategories which are about which aspects of the subculture you primarily engage with, what sort of attitude to Goth you have, and perhaps what sorts of music you listen to, too. To be a subcategory of Goth, something has to originate from, and stay within that which is Goth - the music, attitudes, the aesthetics which in combination make Goth, and just be a direction from which those things are approached or an alignment of which things within Goth someone likes, and it has to be more than just an aesthetic.
Romantic Goth is definitely a nice black parasol under which many adjectives gather; we're the ones that, like my little self-description includes, are interested in a more Romantic aspect of Goth; we like the Gothic - we're often the ones reading 18thC Gothic novels, appreciating ruins and cemeteries, and combining morbid fascination with a touch of decadence, and living a life of rich experience, and thoroughly appreciating things. We tend to like the memento mori lockets, the gravestones with rich symbolism; we're the ones who go through the bother of having an absinthe fountain with the glasses and spoons, or drink red-wine from elaborate goblets; we're the ones fantasising about living in a period home that's something like 'Crimson Peak'...
Trad Goths. People who call themselves Trad Goths, or are referred to as so by others tend to be very music focused, especially following the original '80s bands, and the subsequent musicians that work with a very '80s post-punk, cold wave or similar sound, having more of a focus on club culture, and also coming with a distinct fashion style, as I described above. A lot of Trad Goths seem a bit closer to Goth's punk roots in their fashion - more spikes, more Post-Punk music where the sound is closer to Punk, and sometimes more of an attitude of rebellion, or at leat defiance of the norms imposed. J-Goth or Japanese Goth is certainly its own subcategory, too. Non-Japanese J-Goths tend to be into more of contemporary Japanese culture and the Japanese take on Goth than only wearing the street-styles, and often have an interest in anime and manga - especially those with darker, Gothic and morbid themes - and also Japanese bands that either have a Gothic aesthetic with a metal sound or are outright Goth bands from Japan. There's obviously Goths in Japan, and they invented this; they've been doing Goth with their own twist for decades, as Goth is always a subculture and Japan has its own culture to be the 'parent' culture, and through cross-cultural pollination (for example Westerners reading 'Fruits' 'Gothic Lolita Bible' and seeing blogs from East Asian and Japanese Goths, reading manga or seeing anime with Japanese takes on the Gothic, as well as Goths physically travelling) it has spread to influence Goths outside of Japan. There are other things, however that don't seem, in my opinion reasonable as a sub-category.
Deathrock is something I am not sure whether to classify as a subcategory of Goth or its own thing. It formed America in a parallel evolution to Goth forming in the UK, and is closer to its punk roots. I am not familiar enough with Deathrock to classify it - I don't know whether, like J-Goth, it is a geographically based approach to the same core thing as Goth, or whether it is a separate entity, and I think such a classification is probably better made by someone more familiar with it than I am.
Some things get categorised as 'subcategories' of Goth, when they're not. Some of them, like Emo, are other subcultures, and some, like Cyber-Goth, are hybrids, and others are just aesthetic descriptions.
Other Subcultures There are a few subcultures that often get mixed up with Goth. Rivetheads (fans of Industrial music), Steampunks, Metalheads and Emos are all members of separate subcultures, and while many of those subcultures have cultural and aesthetic similarities, they are distinct entities unto themselves, and not subcategories of Goth.
Goth-Hybrids Some kind of thing aren't really a subcategory of Goth itself, they're more what happens when elements of Goth is hybridised with elements of a different subculture.
Vampire fan(g)dom Goths are pretty common, and there is significant overlap between passionate fans of all things vampiric and Goth, but there is a vampire fandom subculture that is its own thing, and members of it who aren't Goths. Most Goths (but not all!) seem to like vampires in varying degrees, but not all of them partake in the fandom as a subculture/community. Going for a 'vampire' lifestyle such as having a coffin to use as a bed, getting permanent fangs as veneers or implants/crowns, wearing theatrical contact lenses everyday, and even being nocturnal are not things all Goths do, and they are also things that some non-Goth members of the vampire fandom/subculture do.
Cyber-Goth is a hybrid of Industrial, Rave and Goth and probably actually owes far more to the Industrial music subculture than the Goth subculture.
Gothic Lolita is a hybridisation of Goth and Lolita, and often just Gothic fashion and Lolita, as while there are plenty of Gothic Lolitas that are also interested in the rest of Goth culture, there are also plenty who are only interested in it as a wardrobe option and are themselves primarily Lolitas or into other forms of J-fashion. Goth culture is certainly pretty strong in Japan, and there is a local cultural difference in how Goth is in Japan, but Gothic Lolita isn't 'Japanese Goth'; that is a different thing, and while designers like Mana of Moi-Meme-Moitie are both, and there is definitely a blurry area of overlap, they are still different things.
Goth-Metalheads are those, like my partner Raven, and several members of my local scene who like both Metal and Goth, and often especially like Symphonic Metal bands that go for Gothic imagery and lyrical content, or the genres of metal that borrow from Goth rock musically. There's a lot of aesthetic similarity between the two subcultures, and lot of overlap in terms of subject matter for lyrical content, so it's no surprise that a lot of people like both. Hippie-Goth is a hybridisation of Hippie and Goth, not a subcategory of Goth; these are often people whose musical tastes are a lot more diverse and include folk, psychedellia, stoner rock, prog-rock, etc. as well as Goth genres, and whose interests are equally a mixture of both.
Gothabilly, Psychobilly, etc. all seem to be more about a mixture of Rockabilly and Goth, sometimes with other influences, and are again more hybrid than subcategory. It is something else that I don't have much experience with either, so for those who do, feel free to educate me.
In my opinion, hybridisation is great for Goth is it introduces ideas from other subcultures into Goth and keeps things fresh and interesting. I know some people see it as 'diluting', but the thing is that as long as the core of Goth remains strong, it can be mixed with as many things as imaginable without vanishing; the only time things become muddy is when things are improperly labeled so it becomes unclear where things have come from, and in what direction they are going. One does not have to be subculturally 'monogamous' - you can be interested in more than one thing without it being somehow disloyal to either subculture, or being somehow not truly part of either.
Fashion Taxonomy Some things are probably just a fashion taxonomy, and are primarily an aesthetic rather than a reflection of how a person approaches the subculture, and therefore aren't subcategories, but aesthetic desciptions:
Victorian Goth, Medieval Goth (or any other specific period). I would say that 'Victorian Goth' is a fashion taxonomy (one often misused to refer to people in historical attire from other periods, too!), and for the people themselves, "historically inspired" or "anachronistic" would be a better description than only 'Victorian', as most of the Goths I know that like Victoriana and the 19thC are also interested in other periods of history, and that historically-minded Goths tend to have interests that overlap, and like mixing periods as well as sometimes going quite intently with historically accurate period garb and re-enactment. You also get people whose period is not Victorian, but also not Medieval - they like, for example, the Baroque, the Georgian, the Belle Epoque or Regency. There are also historically minded Goths whose culture or interests aren't European; I've seen pictures of Japanese Goths who dress in the mourning clothes of their culture with sombre black mofuku kimono with the only adornment being the silver of the family crests, rather than the veils and crepe and black gown of Victorian mourning. I would also see it as related to Romantic Goth rather than necessarily a completely new 'sub category'.
Nu-Goth seems to be both worn by hipsters who just like the aesthetic, and regular Goths seeking a more modern and minimalist aesthetic - perhaps a little more practical and comfortable for the day-to-day. It seems to mostly describe fashion, and while some associate it with 'Witch House' music, I'm not sure if this is really apt, as I haven't seen that connection play out in practice.
Pastel-Goth is an aesthetic, and while some people who wear it are into Goth culture and the contrast between the sweet, cute things and the dark, macabre iconography (and this is something that has existed in Goth for a while; '90s kindergoth used it in a 'ruined innocence' aesthetic, and I've met plenty of Goths over the years who like cute things as well as dark things, plus the influences of Emily Autumn, Tim Burton and Kerli have all brought aspects of cuteness, cartoonishness, childishness and pastel colours to the Goth aesthetic, as has the influence of Adora Batbrat), some people just like it as an aesthetic with no connection to Goth culture; they're just into 'creepy-cute'. The fashion seems to be based of J-fashion/Japanese street styles like fairy-kei, and the mix of 'kawaii' and 'kowai' (cute and creepy), but as it's not something I am into, I can't really say if it's actually a subsection or hybrid of Japanese street fashion or not.
Ice-Goth/Reverse-Goth, or whatever else you want to call Goth in an inverse, all-white colour scheme. I think this has always been done, right since the '80s. Some people have always worn Goth in all-white instead of all-black. I'm pretty sure this just an aesthetic choice. It's a fun one, and I'm sewing an outfit like this right now, but I don't see it tying into any specific aspect or aspects of the subculture.
There are plenty of things that clearly are primarily an aesthetic based on perhaps a musician or a film - 'Burtonesque' as an aesthetic derived from the stop-motion animations of Tim Burton and his illustrataions, Emily Autumn's fans emulating her stage costumes with the white and crimson and stripes (she even sells tights or leggings based on her set designs, I think... I'm not a fan of hers, but I remember seeing something like this.), all the horns, purple and green being worn after the Maleficient film came out, etc.
One thing I'm not sure how to really classify is the witch aesthetic and the surrounding the current popularity of the intersection of the popularity of modern Witchcraft and Goth. While Nu-Goth could be linked to the 'occult trend' and perhaps Witch-house' music, I'd say that the popularity of all things 'witchy' is perhaps its own thing, rather an aspect of Nu-Goth. It's also referred to as the 'Occult Trend' and the fashion dominated by the use of white graphics taken from Neo-Paganism, Satanism and the Occult and printed onto clothes, often black and of a fairly mainstream cut/design (hoodies, tank-tops, leggings), harnesses that form pentagrams, and silver jewellery with occult motifs. and while some people just co-opt the symbols for the aesthetic, a lot of people, especially young women and teenage girls, are getting into practising actual Witchcraft, which I think is good as long as they're respectful of the traditions they are entering. Some people who are into it also like Witch House' music, and I think it could be bordering on being its own thing, perhaps a subcategory, or perhaps a hybridisation of Goth and Witchcraft/Occult culture. There has always been a higher percentage of Goths interested in the occult than of the general population, too, and an embracing of occult, supernatural and witchcraft-relatd themes. With witchcraft and the occult being a central theme in a lot of recently popular television series and films, it appears to be having something of a trendy moment - similar to when The Craft came out! [I think that its more commercialised aspects, and the aspects that play on how 'edgy' witchcraft is supposed to be according to popular misconception (but isn't) is mis-appropriative, as are those that try and conflate disparate religious traditions such as Wicca, Satanism, Hermeticism, etc. and plays into negative stereotypes that many Witches, Occultists, Wiccans and Neo-Pagans face, something I wrote about ::here:: ]
Now I've done what the subcategories might be, and what is not a subcategory, I'm going to tackle the other question, and probably the more important one. Are these categories limiting?
Don't Box Yourself In The important thing is not to feel like you have to pick a specific category of Goth, and then limit yourself to what is in that category. I think you should not do that with Goth as a whole, either - you don't have to disavow anything that isn't jet black and spooky to be a Goth. Being a Goth, a subcultural hybrid, or a specific subcategory of Goth shouldn't come with any value judgement, either [something I wrote about ::here::]. These subcategories aren't concrete, they are just descriptions to either indicate what things you might like within Goth, or maybe for what your outfit is like. A lot of people are into a broad variety of different aspects of Goth, and that is great. Some of us happen to like certain aspects more than others, and that is also fine.
One of the things with the 'subcategories' is that some of them are rather heavily commercially marketed - the most recent trends of the occult trend, pastel Goth and nu-Goth have coincided with a real increase in marketing via social media - I'll admit that every sponsored post I do is part of that! - but it does mean that what hashtags and labels things are given has become even more important to those who are commercially minded when it relates to page views, search terms, and internet marketability. Sometimes this leads to people mislabelling things (just search "Goth" on any retail or auction platform and see how much Grunge, Metal, Emo and "celebrities dabbling with a dark aesthetic" turn up...) and sometimes it also leads to adjectives and descriptions appearing to be rigid concrete categories, and the appearance that these categories are essential, that everything needs to be labelled - but this isn't the case! The only reason they are labelled and tagged so much online is to make sure relevant items appear on people's feeds and search algorithms as intended; offline the labels are a lot less necessary.
These are also not concretely defined terms. There's often a lot of fuzziness as to how to categorise things, especially things that fit into more than one category or which borrow aesthetics, musical style, etc. from many sources. Most Goths tend to like things that can be described in a wide range of ways, and have at least some eclecticism to how they approach Goth. Even, I who self-identify as a Romantic Goth, like things outside of that, and also outside of Goth entirely (like the classical music!).
You do not need to pick a category, you do not need to fit a category, and it is far more important to be true to yourself than to be as Goth as possible, or as <insert specific type of Goth here> as possible. It is healthy - and good for the subculture- for us to be diverse people with diverse interests, and to not just be clone-like and striving to fit in to some social group as neatly as possible.
For New Year's/Hogmanay, I went to stay with some friends in Dundee. I think it was either New Year's Day or 2nd January, but one of the days of the trip, Raven and I went for a wander around the city. There's a lot of very pretty architecture there, and an interesting cemetery in the city centre. Raven and I were on a quest to find a specific restaurant, so most of the pictures were just snapshots, and I didn't get a chance to look at what they actually were, and with this being exam season (and with me having been generally extremely busy with college this spring) so there's not my usual historical and architectural context.
Quiet Dundee Streets
The one place I have some context on is the Howff Burial Ground. It is urban, bordered on two sides by walls and roads, and on the other two by the rear walls - and windows - of tall Victorian buildings, including the former newspaper offices. There's a windowed tourelle on one of the old newspaper offices that seems to be firstly an afterthought, and both leaking and leaning precariously, which seemed expected - the whole cemetery seemed like a bubble within the city that was in a different time and a little bit like a different world. Even the trees there were tangled, winding and strangely shaped! The burial ground was originally part of the grounds of a Franciscan monastery, and I think the wall with the arches dates from 1601!
I don't know if this is is a specific species of tree that grows like this, or the result of some kind of pruning technique, but this tree just grew in knots and tangles and lumps and snags. I've never seen a tree like it, but there were at least two in Howff Cemetery. There were no leaves or flowers on it so I, who am no expert on trees, didn't even have that to go on to identify them.
It is possible to do a virtual cemetery tour if you look up 'The Howff' in Dundee, Scotland, on Google StreetView. Apparently it was uploaded by a Google user (a Kevin Reid) - I didn't even know that was possible! It looks like it was done with one of those 360° image cameras or something, as a series of "image spheres" at locations all around the cemetery paths. I don't know how you link to a specific place in Google StreetView, so I won't add the link here, but I do recommend looking it up.
Near the cemetery was this rather large and fancy Neoclassical building - I didn't catch what it actually was, as I was walking within the cemetery walls, not without, and didn't actually walk past the exterior of whatever it was to see a sign or anything. Whatever it is, it's a very ornate and grand building, and the light on that wintry day caught it beautifully. I looked it up on Google StreetView, and it looks like a concert hall or theatre.
Church tower, one of a pair
I liked this church, but it was hard to get a god photograph of it because there is a bus stop right in front of it. It is on Panmore Street and has two of these towers and a charming rose window. I thought I'd take one of its 'witches' hat' roofed spire. I love the vents - possibly to help the sound of bells escape.
I had a walk around the McManus Galleries - an amazing Gothic Revival building. I didn't get to go inside them as they were shut, but I took several photographs of the exterior. I would love to do a photo-shoot on the fabulous steps - I wonder if that could be arranged! I also think the steps - in Baroque swirling design - work really well with this otherwise very Gothic design. It's an altogether fabulous, magical-looking building...
Steeple under rainy skies
This is the steeple on a rather interesting building. In the centre of Dundee is a building that, at first glance, would look like a cathedral. It is huge, old, and Gothic and very definitely the size and shape of the average cathedral. However, it is not a single-purpose building. It has been subdivided, and done so historically. There is the steeple, shown above, which I think is a municipally run clock tower, and at least two churches and a youth group using the rest of the building, with the spaces subdivided for these uses. Apparently subdividing the building became a necessity centuries ago, as there have been several serious fires in the building. The history of the site is very long with the earliest church on the site being from 1192 - a time-line of history of the building can be read ::here::. It's currently surrounded by a shopping mall!
The observant will have noticed that some of the photographs -specifically the ones of buildings and monuments - are watermarked 'Architecturally Gothic'. This is one of the two Tumblr accounts I run. ::Architecturally Gothic:: is my architectural photography Tumblr. It's mostly my own work, but I reblog a lot of other people's architectural photography too.
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