Does Darkness equal Depth?
Confession: I grew up in this subculture. The closest I came to being in any social group was a child of Goth. From where I stood, the real difference between goth and emo is that Goths have a 19th century fetish and dress better, and the emos only started wearing black after Kurt Cobain died. Before that, we called them grunge, and they tended to be happy-ish. After that, they co-opted Morrissey (good riddance) and rode off to find more bitter horizons. Even the death of the sun in a million shades of red, flesh and gold is too cheerful for them.
So where did Goth really come from? What was it all about? Well, there is a reason why there’s a 19th century fetish in there, it was a movement back then, too.
Left over from the 18th Century, there has been this idea floating around since some German or other said that reality is not really real, and that our senses are useless. After a while, some philosophers decided that there had to be SOME way to perceive what truly was, so they said, “HA! The EMOTIONS have to give us something! THEY are the true insight into reality!” <sarc> Not too long after that, somebody decided that psychic powers were plausible. </sarc>
This idea captured the popular imagination. The resulting movement was called Romanticism. It helps to know that Romanticism was the birth mother of Modernism. The two share a lot of roots. Basically, Romanticism goes like this. We cannot use reason against monsters. The world sucks, so we may as well enjoy the decline. “Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die,” is the bottom line. It’s basically an overly educated remake of that tired old hedonism. We are all monsters, so we may as well enjoy it.
This is where the idea of “Darkness=Depth” really comes from. You can blame Freud, too. He said that all the monsters of the subconscious were really taboos created to protect the ego from whatever threatened it. So using monsters as a psychopomp into the subconscious.
The theory goes, that they show us what really matters. They argue that fear = power. Emotions are ultimately more useful and deep than our reason. As an added bonus, nobody needs to really learn anything except what you wind up finding during that extended navel gazing session. From personal experience, I’ll give you all the spoilers you need. It’s a combination of wishful thinking and what you want to see. Problem solved, right? Um. No, not really.
Some creative people also borrowed from gnosticism, which explains everything you need to know about social groups in high school. Combine that with the accumulated wisdom of Versailles (substitute Hot Topic for having your own garment manufacturing empire to keep up with the Le Jonses) and the exegesis pretty much writes itself.
After that it was a lot of drivel and nonsense that led to all sorts of exciting ideologies that a little bit of reason would have kaiboshed before their adherents decided to kill off millions of people. The sleep of reason produces monsters, indeed.