Monday, January 02, 2006

Goths On Being Vapor

WARNING: This is a half-formed thought. The author specifically disavows any action that you might take as a result of it. So, while I'm waiting for my computer to finish thinking, I'm looking at Peter Leithart's blog and listening to Lacuna Coil. Odd combination, I know. Specifically, I'm looking at a couple of his posts about Ecclesiastes:
Qohelet, Modernism and Postmodernism Qohelet and the gospel
In particular, this quote (from Qohelet, Modernism and Postmodernism) spoke to me:
Provan points out that for Solomon, the human pursuit, the pursuit that is frustrated by the vaporousness of life, is a pursuit for YITRON, gain (Ecclesiastes 1:3). Provan suggests that YITRON essentially means "surplus," "something left over." When the balance sheet of a life is tallied up, we want to be in the black. Provan suggests that Ecclesiastes 1, without directly answering the question of whether gain is possible in human life, implies that it is not by pointing to the "gainless" round of created cycles. Sunrise today showed no progress over sunrise yesterday; the ocean doesn't show a profit as the rivers flow into it. Why then should we expect human life, which is fleeting, to show gain?
In fact, it got me thinking about the Goth aesthetic. I'm not going to step into the debate about what it means to be Goth or not Goth. I'm not even going to take a position on whether or not I'm a Goth. I will note that it is not a name that I apply to myself. Whether someone else might do so is really of no concern to me. However, I am going to note the names of two Goth-style bands that I have come to enjoy. The first is the aforementioned Lacuna Coil. The second is the once-popular Evanescence. Consider the names. A "lacuna" is an emptiness or void. To be "evanescent" is to vanish like a vapor. Like a vapor. They know. On some level, they get it. Life is just a vapor. This knowledge spills over into the dress. Lots of blacks and greys dominate. It can look pretty depressing, actually. This is one of those areas that I understand. I once wrote a short essay on why I wear black. There were lots of different reasons, some silly and some serious. But here was one that I gave:
I wear black because black is the color of mourning. The more I grow, the more I see the pain that the world holds. Every day is filled with death and pain and sadness and crying. John Donne says, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." Should I not mourn over the broken, fallen world in which we live? And so I wear black.
Vapor. But still, today, as I considered all this, I realized that there are also the notes of hope wedged into the Goth aesthetic. Both the bands that I cited have female leads. This means that, while the heavy music rumbled below, the vocals soar above it like angels. Sometimes, in the midst of the blacks and greys, there is a stark white. In the midst of all the death and pain and confusion, there is a taste of transcendence, of Heaven opening and beaming down life. Leithart goes on:
This eschatological qualification fits with the NT uses of the Ecclesiastes language of vaporousness. The creation was "subjected to futility" until the revelation of the sons of God. Does this mean then that eschatologically, there will be gain, that losses will be recovered? Is this the meaning of the resurrection of the body? Will the lost artefacts of a godly life be raised with the body? Will all our vapor be gathered up and "solidified" along with the gift of a Spiritual body? (Ain't it cool how eschatology came up under point #8?)
This life may be a vapor, but there is more to the story that the evanescence of our mortal coils. Beyond all this awaits something else. In a different post, Leithart states:
Also, another dimension of the idea of vapor. Vapor doesn't last; it burns off in the sun. But vapor is also a veil, a screen. Think of the difficulty of trying to drive along a road in a thick fog. Everything disappears; we know there's a world out there, but the vapor screens it off from you. To say that life is vapor is to say that it's hiding something. And Solomon appears to be suggesting that the vapor of the world screens us from God Himself, who for the time being, "under the sun," remains behind the veil of the vaporous world. As Jordan points out, the world is so constructed as to require us to live by faith.
Beyond the vapor of this far country waits God. As I've thought about it, I wonder if I will want to wear black in the coming age of glory. I think that I will wear white. (Maybe it will be a blackish white.) For in that country, there will no longer be a need to mourn our low estate. In the meantime, I think that I'd like to work towards redeeming the Goth aesthetic. I don't know what exactly that means, but I'll let you know if I figure anything out.


Blogger dlr said... do shew the Lord's death till he come...

If anyone can make it work, my friend, it's you.

1/04/2006 08:19:00 AM  

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