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Consumption, Machines and Black Holes

Gothic Literature

I initially chose this topic because the rebel inside of me got really excited
when glancing over this title in particular. Then, the procrastinative part of
me cursed the rebel when it realised how much there was to discuss on the
subject. However, I am going to start with a brief description of what the
concept of Gothic implies. The concept itself was used in its early stages
meaning the Middle Ages, bearing the meaning of barbaric - it was therefore
a pejorative. It was popularised by the artists of the time, who considered
gothic art to be a disorder, a monstruous form of expression.
The book clarifies that the concept had key terms as a literature of Excess,
appearing in the shadows of an age of both Romantic idealism and the
unlikeliness of a Victorian age struggling between realism and decadence; it
was a movement that brought back the past and humorised the horrors of it.
Also, it involves Transgression and I quote The excesses and
ambivalence associated with Gothic figures were seen as distinct signs of
transgression. Aestethically excessive, Gothic productions were considered
unnatural in their undermining of physical laws with marvelous beings and
fantastic events. Transgressing the bounds of reality and possibility, they also
challenged reason through their overindulgence in fanciful ideas and
imaginative flights.. Last but not least, Diffusion is the third characteristic,

meaning that the main themes of the 19th Century Gothic are recurrent to
the 20th Century Gothic, but theyre also diversified: the diffusion of Gothic
traces among the multiplicity of different genres and media: science fiction,
the adventure novel, modernist literature, romantic fiction, and popular
horror writing often resonate with Gothic motifs that have been transformed
and displaced by different cultural anxieties. That is basically the essence of
the Gothic concept, which had spread in all forms of art: literature, painting
(as in frescoes, stained glass and altarpieces for example) but also in
sculpture, both monumental and portable.
However, in direct connection to the title, let us analyse the first term, more
precisely, consumption. Botting mentions that These changing attitudes of
literature were part of wider shifts in mode of literary production and
consumption.. I believe this refers to the fact that people were beginning to
see literature differently, in a modern way. We already learned that this
particular style has a soft spot for the gloomy, sinister side of life. I believe
it is an interesting fact that people started to see the darker corners of what
surrounds us. And not only see them, but observe them and discuss them.
My humble opinion is that everyone needs to see both the good in life and
the bad, such as the Yin Yang concept. Once you agree that people can be
miserable and imperfect, you can begin to see the light shining from them
regardless. Therefore, by underlining the macabre aspects in a work of art,
be it literature or a painting, you can go back to your ordinary life and see
more of how amazing it is precisely because you know it could be much
worse. But its not. The conclusion is that the consumption of Gothic was
triggered by peoples need of comfort and stability.
The next term, respectively machines Is approached by Botting in the
following manner: The monstruous and inhuman opression of one class by
another is starkly presented both in the dominating machines that have the
terrifying sublimity of Gothic architecture and in the manufacture of an
automated anti-heroine as a sign of artificiality and deceptiveness of

ideological manipulation. This refers to quite a successful novel theme, the

opression of the weak. Mentioning the imposing Gothic architecture, it
reminds us of the feeling of irrelevance and futile existence one gets near a
building belonging to the forementioned style. Again, why do people need to
feel like less of a person? Because when one actually makes a difference, the
feeling of success is much better absorbed and much more enjoyed. It is in
the human nature to need fail in order to feel accomplishments at their true
level. The automated antiheroine brings to attention the subtle message
that machines come in control and they are not on our side. It is natural to
return to the roots of humanity and leave society behind in order to find
peace. Machines are our enemy, while nature is part of us, and what keeps
us humans strong.
The third and last term is Black holes. The color black is often met in the
Gothic style. I believe this is because it is the spectrum that best emphasizes
fear, loss, despair, and any other excessively dramatic dark feelings you can
think of. The concept of the black hole refers to a void and unknown space
that absorbs basically everything in proximity and erases the fact that those
things ever existed. No one ever hears of them again, no one knows what is
inside a black hole, no one knows if you die in it or if it takes you to a
alternative dimension, be it religious (a metaphor for dying) or simply
physical (like a giant teleporter to another space or time). Black holes, to my
mind, are the worst fear factor. It is the representative of the ultimate
unknown, and what makes the human mind more terrified than the
unknown? We fear the dark because we dont know what lurks in it, and we
fear change because we dont know what It may bring. And added to this
well.. hole, is the visual image of immense blackness. Black, the colour of
mourning and death. Is this trying to tell us something? Anyway, I cannot
imagine a more terrifying idea for the man than the one that everything he
knows and does will dissapear forever alongside with him in a second of

absorbtion nothing could impede. It is the utter feeling of vulnerability and

fragility of man.
In conclusion, as I mentioned before, I strongly believe that the Gothic style
caught on because of the human need to feel danger so that he could
feel safe. And in the end, feeling safe is what everything comes down to,
isnt it?