An Aesthetic Religion of Shadows and the Cult of the Dark

An Aesthetic Religion of Shadows and the Cult of the Dark
© Photograph by Alexandra Bochkareva

Dark culture does not love science. Its favourite way of knowledge is some form of magical thinking. The dark ideology is rooted in the aesthetic culture of dark romanticism, which was a backlash against the new world opened by the Age of Enlightenment.

Since its inception, the artistic culture of shadows was a rebellion against the light of reason and scientific knowledge. The resistance to disappear of a traditional form of wisdom based in faith, dogma and belief in an eternal true that dominated the human thought of a dying feudal theocracy. The nostalgia for a way of thinking so magical and powerful that could not be questioned. Under penalty of death.

Since Plato, Idealism is a philosophical school of thought that privileges the perfect world of ideas over the imperfect world of matter, which often leads it to postulate some form of totalitarianism of thought disconnected from reality.

A metaphysical philosophy not far from the traditional metaphysics of religious thought that for millennia has colonized the thinking of the human brain. This desire for ideal perfection has often led to contempt for reality, always so random and imperfect. Therefore, the innovative proposal of scientific thinking that true knowledge must necessarily dialogue with reality to confirm its veracity can be considered as a blasphemy by those who believe they are in possession of a revealed and absolute truth.

This infantilism of magical thinking that is believed to have a system of unquestionable certainties, bequeathed by tradition or by some form of mystical revelation, is not just an innocent game of the brain. History is full of religious wars that show that for a fanatical mind that puts the idea before the facts, the discrepancy is paid with death. Knowledge as a form of war of ideas won by blood and are.

Death is one of the main characters of this cult to the darkness turned into a religion of obscurity. In fact, all religion is a reflection on death: the painful awareness of our own mortality and the desperate longing to heal this narcissistic wound with some metaphysical fantasy about a postmortem survival.

The science of reality is an useless knowledge for those who can not bear the anguish generated by the consciousness of their own death. The sacrifice of reality is the first and main cult ritual for those who conceive no more truth than his own desire. And at the deep heart of all religious emotion, the desire to deny the reality of our death is always omnipresent.

The peculiarity of dark religion is that the path to that healing of the anguish of the consciousness of death does not follow the trace of light but that of darkness. It is a monotheism of shades: a dark counter-reform against the rational and illustrated reform of knowledge. The will to power understood as the will to desire.

The ritual origin of the tattoo practice inscribed his cult in the field of spiritual beliefs. However, while that form of writing with indelible ink on the flesh disappears with the decomposition of the body, the metaphysical tattoo of the soul on mortal flesh aspires to survive its putrefaction eternally.

The preference of the duration over the ephemeral is in the centre so much of the fascination for the tattoo as in the fascination for spirituality. The durability of the tattoo is a rebellion of the spirit against the metamorphosis of matter. In front of the ephemeral of reality, the eternal of spirit.

The metaphysical tattoo versus the physical morph. While the morph is the symbol of the celebration of ephemeral, unique and unrepeatable, the tattoo is the symbol of the celebration of identical, fixed and immutable — two distinct and contrasting domains: identity versus fluency, rock versus water, eternity versus metamorphosis.

In the religion of the shadows, sexual desire often presents a sadomasochistic structure. The dark object of desire is configured around a set of erotic fantasies related to the sexual practice of BDSM.

Although it is usually considered an alternative sexual activity (with all the prestige that comes with the countercultural and what challenges established norms), BDSM is actually a very traditional and normative sexual ideology, although dressed with the paraphernalia of an extreme theatricalization.

A conception of the sexual relationship staged as a war of bodies where there are only two possible roles: dominator and dominated, executioner and victim, master and slave. The erotic imaginary of dark sexuality expresses the ideology of a feudal regime of pleasure based on manichean opposition of human relations around power: someone who holds absolute power and someone who offers absolute submission.

An absolutist ideology of pleasure that rejects the possibility of establishing a sexual exchange between equals. And as in this erotic imagery of dark desire most of the dominant roles are represented by men and most of the submissive roles are represented by women, the staging of the sexual interaction always represents the same argument: men dominating women in an erotic cult centred on the ritual of sexual torture.

Pure misogynism dressed as if it were a countercultural and alternative form of sexuality, when it really is the same machista and patriarchal conception of sexuality and relationship between sexes that has prevailed for millennia.

For all these reasons, it is not surprising that this ancient regime of desire, masquerading as alternative modernity, constantly resort to forms of representation related to absolutist and undemocratic regimes of power: slavery fetishism, instruments of medieval torture, sacrificial rituals of inquisition, nazi kit, hatred and contempt toward women of religious monotheisms, fascist symbology.

An absolutist form of expression of sexuality (erotic torture) that cannot hide its affinity with an absolutist form of knowledge (religious dogmatism) and an absolutist form of exercise of power (theocracy, feudalism, tyranny, dictatorship).

When to this peculiar intercourse between sexual pleasure and terror is added the fascination for the union between art and fear, it becomes an artistic expression of the erotic terror. If we add to this an irresistible attraction for the most varied forms of paranormal terror, supernatural fear and satanic violence, the result is the bloody heart of the dark ideology of the shadows: an aesthetic religion of panic.