culture Philosophy

Gothic Beauty

The enigmas of human psychology and culture are writ large in the domain of Gothic fascination with darkness and death.

I am fascinated by the association of beauty and life with darkness and mystery from film noir through contemporary Gothic culture. Observe how the inflation of that symbolic and gestural space between those two polar opposites of creation (as fertility, attractiveness, beauty and desire) and destruction (as death, morbidity, decay and mystery) provides a psychological framework upon which to build narratives of identity and self that individuals can then inhabit. All cultural systems or sub-cultural entities provide similar matrices of information or conceptual symmetry within which we are then free to choose from the available menu of options and to create new forms of existence, experience and being – this recombinatory activity is the base method through which cultures, minds and (indeed) civilisations change and undergo metamorphosis.

An honest analysis of gestalt cultural information processing systems would probably have to arrive at a conclusion that not only do we live and inhabit those systems, but through our unwitting provision of useful energy and entropy to those systems (derivable from the sum total of our choices) – there is an essential functional inversion occurring by which those systems live through and inhabit us.

2 replies on “Gothic Beauty”

It is the Other that possesses beauty, not the Self (Subject) unless by reflection, and as the Other grows in the space of the Self/Subject, the S/S diminishes until it disappears out of existence. The inordinate desire to possess the beauty of the Other leads ultimately to the death of the Subject. This is my paraphrasing of the theories of Lacan.

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We are dealt a losing hand by logic as much as by psychology. It is only a loss, or an extinction, from within that Cartesian coordinate system of Knowledge that we all inhabit in so many diverse ways. I am more interested in the hyperbolic, non-linear phase spaces or curved planes of abstraction and higher-dimensionality. At this level, our understanding ratchets up, as would our self, subjectivity and object relations if we were able to suspend disbelief long enough to cultivate these new cognitive methods and frameworks.

But yes, desire leads to extinction which is precisely why desire can never be fully consummated, and why we are bound to unwittingly problematise both our basal and our refined or more sophisticated aspirations. This is a symmetry that is holistic, globally-distributed. It is in one perspective of logic why we can never possess resolute certainty and this perhaps allows us some solace in the futility of all our strivings towards unity, peace, love – we can never fully achieve these things because they are impossible from within the coordinate systems of linear, narrative and logical cognition. From a viewpoint of pre-linguistic (can there also be post-linguistic?) sentience, there may yet be other optimal solutions to all of this.

The impossibility and emptiness of unity is precisely also why it is possible. That, however, is a distributed fact (always) located elsewhere.


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