The Story of How the Gothic Came to Be (© Rarignac). Bordeaux, Midnight, Fête de la Victoire, 2012 Echoes Within the autumn wind’s droning summons to the savageries of winter, my mind kept hearing, far, far in the echoing distances, the first of the late Elvis Aaron Presley’s million-sellers. Blowing through the close grey northern skies, just becoming light even as day itself was growing old, oddly brittle sounds foretold what chill winter had in store, and in the Maelstrom’s breath I could just barely make out Floyd Cramer’s phantom piano — notes falling like hail over the muffled rumble of a plaintive voice — as the haunted croon of rock ‘n’ roll’s dead king told of an endless walk down Lonely Street. And still the four winds howled, and the branches of the trees creaked and moaned — if not in sympathy with the winds’ fury then in dutiful subservience to their might —, and I could not help but notice that I was indeed alone…. But lonely? Yes, lonely… definitely, for sure! There was a feeling of groaning loneliness, not necessarily my own, but there could be no doubt about it: Loneliness was with me, verily my sole companion in a world in which there was no one that I knew, and, just as assuredly, no one that knew me. Over the days and nights that were to come, it would be the ever-present, all-encompassing sense of loneliness that struck me, haunted me, as it escorted me to each and every obscure and desolate transient destination that I would fleetingly yet, in memory, indelibly discover in my quest towards the Gothic. Loneliness would in every way be my tour guide, my airy conductress, across the entire span of my voyage. A resolute solitude seemed to envelop, permeate, embrace, and anchor every corner of the Gothic world I had set out to experience; it clung serenely, permanently to all the sites I visited, regardless the terrain, the altitude, the latitude, the climate. This spirit of nostalgic yearning was so prevalent in the scattered miles I trod — burdened not by the heavy load strapped across my shoulders alone — that it would be reasonable to conclude that the Gothic dwells within a world of the forgotten who are nonetheless insistent in reminding us of their absent presence. It is thoroughly unsurprising though equally remarkable that it was the Scot James Macpherson, in his evocation of a vanished godless Homer of the Celtic northland, who through his conjuring and lamentation of vanished warrior kings prefigured the low-pitched warble of the Gothic song. This realisation of loneliness and the sensation of the desolate rarely invested my consciousness more strongly, naggingly, fervently than during my moments in Gotland, that windswept isle that I take to be the spiritual home of the Goth and eternal resting place of the Gothic soul. Despite their priority, these Goths represent the most controversial link in the chain of concordance enumerated towards the end of my previous post, even should they be its key link and myth-weighted anchor. So miserly were they with any investment of their hoarded words that to learn something of them we must seek out the ample imagery — that original expression of the Gothic Imagination — they left behind, for the question rightly comes, was Gotland, is Gotland in fact and indeed the homeland of that inveterate wanderer, destroyer of civilizations, scourge of the gods: the Goth? Round shields and short swords (© Rarignac). When I assert as much many authorities agree with due circumspection while others scratch their heads and express a priori reservations. Marika Grankvist of the Gotland Tourist Bureau cautioned, “As you note, Gotland has a rich and long history ever since the Neolithic era. The inhabitants of the island are called gutar. However I'm not sure if the gutar is the same as the gothic”. To be sure, no one is! Yet not a few historians are convinced that this tiny tear-shaped drop of land — barely (with Bergman’s Faro thrown in) 3000 square kilometres of scrub forest, marsh, arable farmland, and limestone run aground in the Baltic — was indeed the Gothic’s tombal womb. Correspondence between The Gutasaga and Jordane’s Origins and Deeds of the Goth (itself an abridged, Gothicised version of Cassiodorus’s no longer extant History of the Goths), strongly tend to corroborate the identity of the Goth as the Gutar. In Germania, Tacitus refers to the Goths as ‘Gotones’, and describes them as carrying “round shields, short swords and a submissive bearing before their kings” (1958, 324) — indeed these are the very warriors that, figured in stone, stand guard before a museum at Zaragossa, the very warriors seen represented in the phallic-shaped picture-stone whose image is used to introduce this text. Tacitus’s Gotones are the Gutar, the great Goths. So convinced was I that the latter were the former that I set out to notarise the aboriginal Goths’ silent witness. I knew one other thing as well: that somehow this banished tribe was the source of the ceaseless waves of infinite loneliness I could sense washing over me as I traced the Gothic torque to its fused ends. Myth casts Gotland as a bewitched land, place of darkness, that at the primordial instant appeared only at night, setting into the sea (realm of the dead) with the rising of the sun. For this reason the island only became accessible and fixed as an observable presence in the world with the taming of fire and the attendant (apparent) defeat of invisibility. The fire-bringer’s son, Hafthi, given the isle by his father, took the Venus-like Whitestar to be his bride. Together they claimed their island home at marriage. On their wedding night Whitestar dreamt that three serpents had come and coiled in her lap, to then slither away into the boundless obscurity. Soon thereafter, she gave birth to three sons. Due to triple snakes, triplet brothers, and a single island, the land and the world were divided into thirds and an ingrained trinitarian logic was applied to all aspects of governance, tribe, and cult.