Contemporary Gothic (Reaktion Books - Focus on Contemporary by Catherine Spooner

By Catherine Spooner

Glossy Gothic tradition alternately fascinates, horrifies, or bewilders many people. We draw back at images of Marilyn Manson, cheer for Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and take a look at to not stare on the pierced and tattooed young people we move at the streets. yet what's it approximately this darkish and morbidly morose aesthetic that fascinates us this day? In modern Gothic, Catherine Spooner probes the explanations at the back of the superiority of the Gothic in pop culture and the way it has encouraged leading edge new paintings in movie, literature, track, and art. Spooner lines the emergence of the Gothic culture over the last few many years and examines many of the features of up to date society that revolve round the gruesome, abject, and synthetic. The Gothic is consistently resituated in several spheres of tradition, she finds, as she explores the transplantation of the “street” Goth type to high fashion runway appears through type designers. The Gothic additionally looks in a couple of strangely varied representations, and Spooner considers all of them, from the inventive excesses of Jake and Dinos Chapman to the models of Alexander McQueen, and from the mind-bending movies of David Lynch to the irregular postmodern topics of Joel-Peter Witkin’s images. In a fascinating approach, modern Gothic argues that this variety eventually balances a few contradictions—the ugly and incorporeal, genuine self-expression and campiness, mass reputation and cult attraction, convenience and outrage—and those contradictions make the Gothic a very important expression of latest cultural currents. even if trying to comprehend the tales in the back of the television express Supernatural or to extract deeper meanings from smooth literature, modern Gothic is a full of life and nearly unprecedented examine of the trendy Gothic sensibility that pervades pop culture this present day. (20070106)

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This is a debt the text acknowledges even as it denies (in a footnote, of course). However, the book is also in the tradition of metatextual fictions, particularly those of Jorge Luis Borges, but also of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. In its self-reflexivity, House of Leaves is an exemplary postmodern text. It is also an exemplary Gothic one. In this text the two coincide with consummate precision. Spaces of Absence The space described by the Navidson house of House of Leaves is an uncanny space, a paradoxical space, but also a space of absence.

The vampire lives in a kind of hyper-real environment in which the sign has become more present than the landscape it represents. Similarly, the location of Lucy’s and Jim’s home in Greenwich Village is only indicated by a literal sign: the name of the 24-hour copy-shop, the Village Copier. Ironically, this one concession to the specificity of place is a shop dedicated to the continual production of simulacra. Furthermore, this label ironically undercuts Nadja’s own description of Europe as a ‘village’, with America in contrast as an adrenalin-fuelled metropolis, again pointing to the interchangeability of spaces in the ‘global village’.

While this manoeuvre adds further levels to the fictionality of the text (a fictionalized version of the real King grasps the ‘reality’ of Danielewski’s fictional film), it also perhaps indicates a degree of respect and acknowledgement of genre-belonging further indicated elsewhere. It is impossible not to place House of Leaves in the tradition of Charles Maturin, James Hogg, Nathanial Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe: all the generic features are present and correct, from the revenant histories of the characters’ childhood traumas to the dizzying enclosure of the house itself, and the increasing disintegration of both the text itself and the individual subjects within it.

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