Gothic Futurism: Decopunk, Templexity, and the Shadowlands of Modernity

The strongest counter current in Europe to modernity’s embrace of light, linearity and evolutionary advance was the Gothic Revival. The movement began in England at the heart of the industrial age. Its emergence and subsequent spread posed a dramatic challenge to the ideology of reason and progress that seemed so married to the machine age. The Gothic expressed the dark side of reason, the anti-enlightenment, the unconscious of modernity.

—Anna Greenspan,  Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade

Cities of the future are shaped by intense competition, because tomorrow is a tight, fiercely contested niche.

—Nick Land, Templexity

Michael Lewis cited by Anna Greenspan in her book Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade noting the emergence of Gothic style, says: ‘During its years of greatest influence, it subjected every aspect of art, belief, society and labour to intense intellectual scrutiny, using the Middle Ages as a platform from which to judge the modern world … In the broadest view, [the Gothic Revival] is the story of Western civilisation’s confrontation with modernity.’1

She speaks of Horace Walpole and his gothic novel The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story which emerged from his fright at his own life lived in the haunts of his monstrous gothic mansion, its ‘vast distances and ramblings, deserted or ruined wings, damp corridors, unwholesome hidden catacombs, and galaxy of ghosts and appalling legends’ (SF: 75). As the foundational novel of the weird this emergence of the past in the present with its return of the daemonic and unconscious elements of former epochs would impact the shadows of modernity, and as Greenspan remarks that the Gothic revival with its nostalgic recollection of the past, would like modernity itself, immerse itself not in some return of tradition but seek its identity through a futurist orientation. (SF: 75)

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