The other day the boyfriend and I were talking about why people like us are drawn to dark things, whether it be creepy movies, artwork, music, clothing, etc. Sometimes my parents stop and wonder how they could spawn a child like myself. Certainly they appreciate the occasional scary movie but don’t understand my preference for black clothing (I’m their one-hued-wonder), gothy makeup, music tastes, macabre literature, and morbid art. If it’s not genetic, where did it come from? There has never been a deeply dark, depressing time in my life where this affinity began. I’m not saying I won’t wear, appreciate or listen to anything that’s not “dark.” There is plenty of music, art, and clothing I enjoy that is light, cheerful, and colorful. But if you give me the choice, 9 times out of 10 I would choose something eerie and twisted. Let me add that I do not enjoy violence, hatred, extreme gore and negativity. I feel I am a positive person and find great joy in making others laugh. I’m nice, polite, and cordial.
Theory One: Admiration for a particular individual shaped my future desires. Let’s go back in time to when this all started. It’s not like I was born and immediately began clamoring for black toys and clothing. I grew up as a normal girl who did have tomboy tendencies but overall, still liked cute and colorful things. I even went through a Hello Kitty phase. I enjoyed listening to dance music, electronic stuff, classic rock, and alternative rock. Actually the first CDs I purchased were Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls. I shopped at Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, and Old Navy. Fast-forward to high school: I encountered an unusual girl who kept to herself in my creative writing class. I really admired this girl, and I don’t even remember her name right now. I was a sophomore, she was a senior. She stood out with her dark clothes, black lipstick, and raven-shaded hair that fell mid-waist. I enjoyed hearing the stories she wrote (of a darker nature, of course). On occasion she would wear a TOOL band t-shirt and I eventually went and checked out the band. At first I hated the music. But it grew on me so much and I believed it to be quite beautiful, so I purchased all the CDs and became obsessed with the band for many years. I went on to check out similar music. After mystery girl graduated from high school, my interest in darker things continued to grow and evolve as I matured and refined my tastes.
Theory Two: Personality type could be the culprit. There is no doubt I am an introvert, although I have random bursts of extrovertedness. I tend to enjoy spending time alone, in quiet solitude. I can keep busy for hours, too. I often daydream about ghoulish matter. I love a gloomy, rainy day. Most often in the past I’ve been described by others as “weird,” “creative” and “quiet.” I like to reflect upon dreams and explore my thoughts and feelings. I take great pleasure in walking and wandering alone outdoors. I’d rather spend time one-on-one or with a small group of friends, versus a large party. I have honestly found that others who I know to embrace darker things tend to have similar personality types, although there are exceptions.
Theory Three: Author Martin Lastrapes, who writes dark fiction, said something which I agree with as someone who enjoys reading and writing dark subject matter: He mentions that people are consumed by death. “The fact that we are mortal, that our time here is finite, haunts us daily.” He goes on to add, “The entertainment is the catharsis involved, the ability to give ourselves over to our greatest fears in a safe environment where we know we’re not going to die. This point, I believe, is also true for why I write dark fiction, as it gives me an active role in working out some of my own deepest, darkest fears, exorcising them on the page and leaving them to haunt the imaginations of my readers. And while I hope to live a long, healthy life, free of brutality and violence, I will continue to watch films by Wes Craven and David Cronenberg, I will continue to read novels by Chuck Palahniuk and Ron Currie, Jr., and I will continue to write stories that explore the darker side of our humanity.”
Theory Four: The turning away from Christianity. I am fascinated by Occultism, specifically anything to do with witchcraft. Although I was raised as a Christian, I stopped going to church long ago and following those beliefs. I felt like an outsider and never was completely comfortable in that environment – and I really and truly tried (church service, church camps, youth group, Confirmation, baptism, and a myriad of other church activities). I’m not interested in becoming a Wiccan, I simply enjoy reading and learning about it. But perhaps being involved in the Christian religion for so long, feeling like an outcast and growing in my skepticism made me want to rebel and turn toward a pagan religion that embraced magick and nature, and all that goes along with it.
Theory Five: Am I angry or sad about something deep inside, and choose to express myself on the outside with these feelings? Kind of like Lydia Deetz, “My whole life is a dark room. One big dark room.” I do find myself sad about many things – and it’s one reason I don’t watch the news. Most of the content is so depressing. I hear about big news through others since word travels fast. When I ponder about our planet and the state of things, there is much to be sad about, but I try not to dwell on it and do what I can to make a positive impact. I have had a few relatives pass away during my lifetime, as have most people my age. Nothing that wasn’t expected, though. I do feel “low” from time to time about health problems and what I’m going to do in the future, especially career-wise. I both fear and fancy the thought of becoming a lonely old spinster who just has cats for company. A quote from Jo March in the book Little Women might sum my future up perfectly: “An old maid, that’s what I’m to be. A literary spinster, with a pen for a spouse, a family of stories for children, and twenty years hence a morsel of fame, perhaps; when like poor Johnson, I’m old, and can’t enjoy it, solitary, and can’t share it, independent, and don’t need it.”
As for anger, I do harbor some. I feel like I could use a break. A break from the health problems, and a break from work. By work I don’t mean working – I mean my current job versus my career aspirations. The motivation to achieve my writing goals is often lost once I get home from my day job. I don’t care to sit in front of the computer and write once I get home, after already staring at a computer screen for 8 hours. My eyes and mind are drained. Perhaps it’s time I physically take a pen and write on paper, although I’m spoiled with the act of typing…letting my thoughts flow out almost instantaneously and being able to quickly delete and edit. Have to keep that money flowing, though – car payments, medical bills, and all that fun growing up stuff. I can’t just quit, move back in with my parents and work entirely on writing. And if I quit and lived off savings while trying to make money with writing, well that would be a big risk and not very smart. So woe is me, and I will continue to suffer and be miserable until I can think of a way to transition fully into writing, and heal myself from various ailments.
Are you drawn to dark things? Why do you think that is? I’m interested to hear from you.