Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gaelic Gothic

Gaelic Gothic: Race, Colonization, and Irish Culture, Luke Gibbons. Arlen House, 2004.

In this challenging, erudite, and wide-ranging study, Luke Gibbons explores the complexities of the Gothic genre, maintaining that, though originally a literary genre known for its popular or sensational appeal, the Gothic grew to become part of everyday life, 'giving rise to a phantom public sphere haunted by fear, terror, and the dark side of civility'. "Gaelic Gothic" is interpreted by Gibbons as a clearly "Irish only" genre, enmeshed in a distinctive aura of political, philosophical, economic and racial traits in an imperially and colonially subdued nineteenth-century Ireland.

Gibbons examines the development of the Enlightenment and the Gothic in Irish culture in relation (i) to "internal" excluded others - Catholics, Gaelic culture, (ii) questions of gender, and, (iii) the diversity of Irish responses, both at home and abroad, towards other excluded peoples: African-Americans, indigenous peoples in America and Australia, and other cultures on the receiving end of Empire. As if affording a culture of consolation, Romanticism and primitivism [the pastoral genre of Primitivism as defined by art historian Erwin Panofsky - "soft primitivism" and "hard primitivism" - from "Et in Arcadia Ego: Poussin and the Elegiac Tradition", in Meaning in the Visual Arts, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1855. Panofsky derived this distinction from A. O. Lovejoy's and G. Boas's pioneering text, Primitivism and Related Ideas in Antiquity, Baltimore, 1935.] became a refuge for many "doomed peoples," (including the Celts), while the Gothic and racial theory provided new modes of countering the threat on the Other under modernity.

Gibbons traces the rise of the Gothic, linking it to questions of cultural nationalism, and the emergence of Irish modernity, concentrating on Joyce, then moving on to an analysis of how these concepts have played out in cinema, especially the Irish-American cinema of John Ford, and depictions of immigration in recent Irish films.

Indeed, the emergence of Gaelic Gothic provided a hyper-fertile basis for the appearance in Dublin, in 1897, of ...

Enter German Idealism and German Expressionism, F. W. Murnau [1922] and Werner Herzog [1978] ...

"Murnau, I consider to be the greatest German director, and Nosferatu the greatest German film ... [] ... My insanity is a direct result of your imagination, without which I would be perfectly sane (yet somewhat more illusionary). " ---Werner Herzog.

And Still Continuing:


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