Friday, February 10, 2006

Creatures Of The Night

I once had an idea for a shop. It would be called Black. It would sell only black things. It would open at dusk and close at dawn. Some of the things it would sell: licorice, burnt toast, beetles, Doc Martens (black only), little black dresses, stuffed ravens, vinyl LPs (mainly Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Leontyne Price), black tulip bulbs, letters sent by soldiers and prisoners (heavily censored with black markers). Someone asked me how anyone would ever buy anything, since in the dark store the black items would be hard to see. "All the customers would be blind," I said. Not exactly a fabulous business plan. I regretfully put it aside. But I am delighted to discover that Tate Britain in London has gone ahead and opened my little shop of blackness for me: Gothic Nightmares, which features the work of Henry Fuseli, William Blake and their contemporaries.

The essence of the Gothic is darkness and impracticality, warped logic coupled with desire. Few people are able to sustain a true Gothic sensibility into their grown-up years (rock singer Marilyn Manson being the exception who proves the rule), and a love of darkness is often associated with people hovering between childhood, when night's terrors are too real, and adulthood, when we banish such things along with our other unreasonable pleasures. Lately, though, modern adults have been embracing the dark and irrational side of things with enthusiasm... Full Story

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