Monday, January 07, 2013

Re-Post: what's your favourite teenage sub-culture?

Mine was Goths...

As I indicated below, I recently had occasion to re-take the old 4 Temperaments personality test and came up with what I usually come up with. But this time there was a difference that rather surprised me.

I wonder if I might be mellowing in my old age but I as somewhat surprised to see that my spread was 85% Melancholic and only 15% Choleric.

Good grief! I thought, what has happened to my cheeful, bloody-minded fightyness? Am I depressed or something? Is it the weather? The short daylight hours at this time of year? It's been stormy and windy and rainy out in the last few weeks, unusually so for this part of Italy, getting pretty dark and gloomy by 4 o'clock. Is this putting me into a Gormenghast sort of mood?

I admit that I did attend a Hallowe'en party a few weeks ago dressed entirely (and quite elegantly I might add) in black. People asked me what I was dressed up as. I managed to resist the temptation to reply, "my mood".

But being professionally Emo is just sooo 1980s. Didn't that guy from the Cure actually have the eyeliner tattooed onto his eyelids? Or was that just a rumour?

I have to admit to having admired the Goths when I was a teenager. I would have gone in for it myself, but I thought to do the thing properly you really had to be wraith-thin. We've all seen it done badly, but I thought I could do it justice. I think I just had too much of a sense of sense of personal irony to go for it though.... But really, deep down inside, I always wanted to be Morticia Addams.

A while ago, a friend was talking about her ideal wedding. The usual thing really. White fluffy dress, orange blossom, one of Rome's gorgeous Baroque churches... I will cherish the look I got when I said I'd always dreamed of an Addams Family wedding. "All the bridesmaids can wear black satin, I'll carry a bouquet of rose stems with the flowers cut off...We can have Faure's Libera Me for the processional..." She thought I was joking. (People often do.)

I can't help but think there's something more fun about the Goth subculture than we usually give them credit for. John Zmirak recently delighted me when he wrote that the appeal of the Addams Family was that they were really Goth Trad Catholics, afloat in a sea of suburban banality.

It's our very comfort with the queerness and creepiness of the whole soul-body mystery that marks the Catholic faith off from its closest competitors. I grew up loving The Addams Family, without knowing quite why, until one day as an adult I realized: These people are an aristocratic, trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb! Shunning the utilitarianism and conformity that surrounds them, they face the Grim Reaper with rueful good cheer, in a Gothic home stock full of relics. Indeed, I think I might have spotted several Addamses at the indult parish in New York City...

I thought he hit on something there. Goths are outsiders, like us, and they are people who know instinctively that they have been robbed in the sterile materialist "real world" of something that we all have a rightful claim to.

Beauty, mystery, transcendent Reality filtering down through the sacraments, through painting and music and sculpture, into our banal little material world.

Why do we think everyone went mad for Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code?

We need secret meaning. And we have a right to the sadness that permeates life in this world.

And what's not Goth about the mummified incorrupt head of St. Catherine displayed in a silver reliquary? In fact, I'm surprised there aren't armies of Goths coming into the Church since Summorum Pontificum just for the Requiem Masses. Memento Mori and black velvet and gold thread vestments with banks of candles and skulls and crossbones everywhere? They should be like ants at a picnic.

Anyway, maybe the solution to being mildly depressed, (or maybe even seriously depressed) is to embrace it and laugh at it a bit.

Finally, we know that such things are not of The Real anyway.

To paraphrase Aristotle, if you can't get out of it, get into it.



Anonymous said...

Yes, goth is a reaction to aesthetic impoverishment. I spotted this about goths back when I was a wee Karen in the early 90s. WHEN THERE WAS NO EMO HILARY. THERE CERTAINLY WAS NONE IN THE 80s. - Karen

Teresa B. said...

I will have to reread the 4 Temperments to see what I am now with 2 teenagers.

I was New Wave-ish/Punk.

But then I started out with Disco then switched to New Wave & Punk and then to Pop.
Like a Cafeteria Catholic, I changed what I liked depending on the clothes and music and clubs.
But I always wanted to look like Blondie or one of the ladies in the B-52's.

I agree relics are very Goth - I remember going to the Martyr Shrine for some special occasion and they had the skull of Brebeuf. There was a crack in the centre of the head. It really was two halves. So after the "showing" - one half of the head went back to the Ursuline Sisters of Quebec.

Anonymous said...

John Zmirak is hilarious, Rico approves.

-Rico S.

Louise said...

Thank you for the Chopin. What a lovely interlude in the day. The Nocturne reminded me of the scene in "The Pianist" in which the two soldier-chauffeurs of the Nazi officer stand idle in the empty street, smoking their cigarettes, surrounded by bombed out, empty buildings, while the music of a Chopin "Ballade" fills the empty air.

I love Chopin, but I always thought of his music as sublime rather than melancholy. Maybe both, now that I think more of it.

Louise said...

Boy, do I feel dumb. It was this Nocturne that played in that scene in "The Pianist:. How embarrassing.

Dymphna said...

I thought I was neo Victorian in high school but looking back on it I looked a lot like a gothic Lolita.