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30 August 2011

The Asylum.

So one of my curiosities is medical history. And one of my favourite artists is the wonderful Emilie Autumn. Therefore, you may understand why I find the subject of asylum's interesting.

Emilie Autumn's book is a semi-autobiographical novel called "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls". The reason for the 'semi-autobiographical' approach to the story is that Emilie Autumn herself is a sufferer of bi-polar disorder. As well as this background illness, after a tour with Courtney Love in 2004, Emilie discovered she was pregnant. Due to an extreme phobia of childbirth, she took the decision to terminate the pregnancy - which triggered a huge breakdown where she tried to commit suicide. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. At some point in her stay, a nurse allowed her to have a crayon and so Emilie started to write a diary. The tattoo you see on her arm is in fact her patient cell number from this stay. Emilie says her novel is based on this diary, but in writing the novel also wanted to give a message that Victorian inmates at an Asylum were not "insane" and that mental illness was, and still is to a large degree, misunderstood.

So with this in mind, what was an asylum in the Victorian era? We must always remember that the attitude towards mental illness has been guided by frequent misconceptions, misunderstandings and medical progresses steered by trial and error. We must always remember too, that on the receiving end of such preconceptions are human beings.

The first recorded asylum in England was that of The Priory of St Mary of Bethlehem, founded in 1247 in London. The first mentally ill patients were admitted in 1407. By the Victorian era, it was known as the infamous "Bedlam hospital", due to its' awful treatment of its' patients. Although the Victorian's revolutionised the idea that these ill people were not prisoners, but patients, they also decreed by law in 1845 that as patients, they lost the right to access the courts and (more chillingly) to protest their incarceration.

Such a law meant that it was popular for people who were not necessarily mentally ill to be admitted by unscrupulous relatives or others. There can be no doubt about the horror these people would have encountered.

To be admitted to a Victorian asylum, an examination would be carried out. People were admitted for many reasons, and unfortunately, women were not treated terribly fairly. Conditions that resulted in being admitted ranged from stress, trauma, ''childbearing'' (now known and recognised as Post Natal Depression), or even hormonal problems, lack of marital duty (read: not wanting to sleep with one's husband! Or, more likely, not wanting to get pregnant again - remember it was common for Victorian women to have upward of 4 children), alcoholism and other addictions, or in some cases, epilepsy or sometimes just being eccentric. It is notable that wards in an asylum were strictly male/female, there was no mixing of the sexes.

Contrary to popular opinion, it would seem that widespread use of physical restraints on patients was withdrawn largely by the 1830's. Only patients that posed a risk to others and themselves were restrained by the straight-jackets and padded cells. Of course, sadly there are cases of asylum workers terribly abusing their position of power and severely mistreating patients. There are recorded cases of patients being kept restrained, muzzled, some female patients being subject to sexual abuse, some accounts of experimental medical practise also.

All of the ''horror stories'' of asylums actually stem from before the Victorian time, or actually from our modern times. For example, at the Bedlam hospital in the 1700's you could pay to see the ''prisoners'' in the hospital - as a kind of freak show. Lobotomies were in fact, not "invented" until the 1930's and indeed, not widely practised until the 1950's.

So why does the darkness of the asylum capture people's imaginations? Perhaps it stems from that Victorian law where you cannot protest your admittance from the asylum. Can you imagine being admitted when there is nothing wrong with you, yet you cannot speak out about it? Or perhaps it comes from the fascination with the macabre aspects of treatment of patients?

Of course, this is just a brief little bit on the history of the Asylum. Depending on your thoughts I may write more on this :)

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26 August 2011

Clan Of Xymox - "the founding fathers of goth"



The band Clan of Xymox, also known as Xymox, formed in the Netherlands in 1981. They gained success in the 1980s, releasing their first two albums on a prestigious independent UK label, a third and fourth album on a major US label and scoring a hit single in the United States. Early pioneers of the dark and moody electronic music known as darkwave, their 1980s releases included synthpop/electronic dance music.

In the 1990s, their music turned increasingly goth (they have since been referred to as the "founding fathers of goth.") Though the band is still active and continues to tour and release records, of the original members (Ronny Moorings, Pieter Nooten, Frank Weyzig, and Anke Wolbert), only Moorings remains in the band today.



ALBUMS:

Clan of Xymox (1985)
Medusa (1986)
Twist of Shadows (1989)
Phoenix (1991)
Metamorphosis (1992)
Headclouds (1993)
Hidden Faces (1997)
Creatures (2006)
Farewell (2007)
Breaking Point (2006)
Notes from the Underground, (2007)
In Love We Trust, (2009)
Darkest Hour, (2011)

official site: www.clanofxymox.com

24 August 2011

HUG A GOTH DAY..A tribute to Sophie Lancaster

Today is the International "Hug-a-goth" day. After the Hug a metalhead and hug a punk day, it was time to create a day for the goth community. The initiative is said to have been organized via Facebook. I actually found out about it by luck..! :P 

but, why today 24th August?

Today is the recurrence of the death of a fellow english Goth, Sophie Lancaster.  In 2007, she and her boyfriend were attacked by two teenagers for the only reason that they were dressed gothic. Sophie was beaten so hard that she fell into a coma and sadly never woke up.


This crime has been perceived badly not only by goths, who considered it an extreme example of social intolerance, but also by the overall alternative community including metalheads, punks etc.

Really, how SICK must you be to kill a person just because of a different fashion style? What MENTAL ISSUES do you have?!?! and we Goths are the freak sickos?? C'mon!


(Goths at Sophie Lancaster's Memorial during Whitby Gothic weekend)

Sentencing in the case was set for 28 April 2008. Both Harris and Herbert (the murderers) were sentenced to life imprisonment with the trial judge recommending that Harris should serve at least eighteen years and Herbert at least sixteen years and three months.

In his closing remarks the judge described the attack as "feral thuggery" which raised serious questions about the "sort of society which exists in this country". He added: "This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself." 




23 August 2011

Gothic Novels - Dracula by Bram Stoker


Dracula is an 1897 epistolary novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, featuring as its primary antagonist the vampire Count Dracula.

Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Structurally it is anepistolary novel, that is, told as a series of letters, diary entries, ships' logs, etc. Literary critics have examined many themes in the novel, such as the role of women in Victorian culture, conventional and conservative sexuality, immigration, colonialism, postcolonialism and folklore. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, the novel's influence on the popularity of vampires has been singularly responsible for many theatrical, film and television interpretations since its publication.

The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina and Moldavia). The purpose of his mission is to provide legal support to Dracula for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker's employer, Peter Hawkins, of Exeter in England. At first enticed by Dracula's gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. He also begins to see disquieting facets of Dracula's nocturnal life. One night while searching for a way out of the castle, and against Dracula's strict admonition not to venture outside his room at night, Harker falls under the spell of threewanton female vampires, the Brides of Dracula. He is saved at the last second by the Count, because he wants to keep Harker alive just long enough to obtain needed legal advice and teachings about England and London (Dracula's planned travel destination was to be among the "teeming millions"). Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life... (keep reading the rest of the plot HERE)



FILM ADAPTATIONS:

The story of Dracula has been the basis for countless films and plays. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre under the title Dracula, or The Undead shortly before the novel's publication and performed only once. Popular films include Dracula (1931), Dracula (alternative title: The Horror of Dracula) (1958), and Dracula (also known as Bram Stoker's Dracula) (1992). Dracula was also adapted as Nosferatu (1922), a film directed by the German director F.W. Murnau, without permission from Stoker's widow; the filmmakers' attempted to avoid copyright problems by changing many of the details. (Go to the topic about The Silent Era Movies to know more about this adaptation!)

The character of Count Dracula has remained popular over the years, and many films have used the character as a villain, while others have named him in their titles, such as Dracula's Daughter, The Brides of Dracula, and Zoltan, Hound of Dracula. As of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes (223 films).

Most adaptations do not include all the major characters from the novel. The Count is always present, and Jonathan and Mina Harker, Dr. Seward, Dr. Van Helsing, and Renfield usually appear as well. The characters of Mina and Lucy are often combined into a single female role. Jonathan Harker and Renfield are also sometimes reversed or combined. Quincey Morris and Arthur Holmwood are usually omitted entirely.


Fun Facts: The character of Count Dracula has been used also for a brand of cereals that Goths love called Count Chocula! :P


21 August 2011

Goths in Cartoons

Our follower Flora-Fairy, made me aware of a cool site, a blog, that talks exclusively of all the goth or goth looking charachters in cartoons and other related media!

popgothica.blogspot.com is the link!! Here are some of the cool characters you'll find!

Lenore from Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl. Created by Roman Dirge, Lenore was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem.Lenore died young of pneumonia but she came back to life to play and kill. She lives in an eerie mansion in the town of Nevermore with her creepy friends, like the cursed vampire ragdoll, Ragamuffin. Lenore gives dark macabre twists to cute innocent themes, like nursery rhymes, and most of the humor is very graphic and gruesome. While Lenore's actions often result in chaos and death to those around her, she is not a malicious character and is quite naive, especially when killing her many pets. But on some instances, she hurts/murders people not by accident, but out of spite or revenge. That is creepy cute fun!




Monster High (dolls). This is the most popular Mattel fashion dolls liked by goths. Who wouldn't like monster-inspired dolls with goth chic fashion? Though they have that Bratzy look and preppy attitude, their character designs and the plot setting are indeed gruesomely awesome. The main characters are Frankie Stein (the "fragile" new girl/monster), Draculaura (a hemophobic perky vampire), andClawdeen Wolf (the werewolf fashion diva). There's also Lagoona Blue(sporty daughter of the Gill-Man) and Ghoulia Yelps (the nerdy zombie girl). Their main mean girl is none other than the mummified Egyptian princess, Cleo De Nile. There are many more scary characters from Monster High in their webtoons, books and film. Check them out here:http://www.monsterhigh.com/


Emelia from Emelia, the Five Year Old Goth Girl. It's an animated short film about a little goth girl and her views of everyday life. Of course, the cartoon is definitely full of dark comedy as it shows the life and culture of stereotypical baby goths. She has a pet bat, eats Count Chocula cereal, listens to Marilyn Manson and enjoys Halloween. Emelia is very much lovable and creepy. Her voice as the narrator is really freaky and the music is like a "magical" metal genre. The cartoon won a lot of awards as best animation and best short film, leveling its self to Pixar. 




Henrietta from South Park. She’s one of the Goth Kids at school, but the episode where they starred isThe Ungroundables. Henrietta is the only goth gal, and the only goth whose name is known. She’s always seen smoking. She’s also overweight like Debbie. Her gloomy room is a hangout for the Goth Kids. Her mom says nice things about her, though Henrietta’s a conformist, especially towards her.


You will find many others in the blog! From Emilie The Strange to Ruby Gloom! I even found out that Lisa Simpson from The Simpson became a goth for one episode! :P


19 August 2011

Gothic Idols - Robert Smith



Robert James Smith, born in England on 21 april 1959, is a songwriter, lead singer and guitarist for the band The Cure. 
His intricate guitar playing and innovative use of flanging, chorusing and phasing effects has led him to be considered a pioneer guitarist in the goth and new wave genres. He also played in the band Siouxsie and the Banshees. Besides guitar, Smith plays the 6-string bass and keyboards.

He is also known for his appearance - teased hair, black clothes, pale skin, smudged red lipstick and black eyeliner - as well as his distinctive voice.

Smith was raised as a Catholic and went to Notre Dame Middle School and St. Wilfrid's Comprehensive School in Crawley. He was an accomplished student who maintained high marks, but after he began playing guitar at the age of 11 his primary focus quickly became his music. He was influenced by The Beatles, Nick Drake,Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, The Stranglers, Wire, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ink Spots, The Statler Brothers, Syd Barrett, Joy Division and David Bowie.


Smith began sporting his trademark style of smeared red lipstick, eye-liner, pale complexion, artfully dishevelled black hair, black clothes, and trainers in the early 1980's, around the same time as the Goth subculture got its start. However, Smith denies any link and claims it's a coincidence that the styles are similar, stating that he has worn make-up since he was young and saying, "It's so pitiful when 'goth' is still tagged onto the name The Cure."

(Robert Smith wedding in 1988 with his childhood sweetheart)

His song writing for the band's early albums centered around themes of depression, loneliness, and isolation. The sombre mood of these early albums, along with Smith's on-stage persona, cemented the band's "gothic" image.


(the look of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhand was inspired by Robert Smith)

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