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What we do lyrically is anti-Christian, what we sing about is the opposite of what the church says.

Whilst the anti-Christian message obviously resonated with the Norwegian scene, the suggestion seems to be that they were as ignorant as those who Venom were positioning themselves against, taking on the performative Satanism of their musical heroes and embodying everything that the ignorant associated with it rather than seeing the apparent joke.

I never fulfilled my last promise to write about season one.

Dunwich is a famous ancient site on the east coast of England. Then, following a devastating storm which accelerated an already steady process of coastal erosion, the city was essentially let go.

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura: a masterpiece of German Gothic

By the end of the 19th century, all that remained was the church of St. Misremembering the state of the city today, I expected to see some anonymous structures or even just the odd bit of wall but, looking out on the site from the cliff edge, we saw nothing but an east coast beach like any other.

Looking out over this blank expanse where Dunwich had once thrived, the sight of fishermen on the beach only brought to mind the habitual hauntings of W. He describes a similar sight, seen a little further down the coast, in The Rings of Saturn — and he even has a picture of this beach tribe to boot. From the footpath that runs along the grassy dunes and low cliffs one can see, at any time of day or night and at any time of year, as I have often found, all manner of tent-like shelters made of poles and cordage, sailcloth and oilskin, along the pebble beach.

They are strung out in a long line on the margin of the sea, at regular intervals. It is as if the last stragglers of some nomadic people had settled there, at the outermost limit of the earth, in expectation of the miracle longed for since time immemorial, the miracle which would justify all their erstwhile privations and wanderings. In reality, however, these men camping out under the heavens have not traversed faraway lands and deserts to reach this strand.

Rather, they are from the immediate neighbourhood, and have long been in the habit of fishing there and gazing out to the sea as it changes before their eyes. Having turned their back on the cliffs in favour of the sea, what occurred was inevitable. It is a given that a change in front of you occasions a change behind. The pebbles they camp out on are the detritus from the moments where both sides meet. This is true of any beach, of course, but the memory of Dunwich still lingers down the generations even though its buildings do not. Today, only one sign of this particular settlement remains.

A sign nearby reads:. This is the last surviving gravestone from the churchyard of the medieval church of All Saints, which lay about 40 metres to the east of this spot. Old bones still occasionally weather out of the cliff face. The church was disused from and fell over the eroding cliff between and The last tower buttress was dismantled and rebuilt in the present churchyard of St James Church.

He once wrote:.

Dunwich is not even the ghost of its dead self; almost all you can say is that consists of the mere letters of the old name. The coast, up and down, for miles has been, for more centuries that I presume to count, gnawed away by the sea. All the grossness of its positive life is now at the bottom of the German Ocean, which moves for ever, like a ruminating beast, an insatiable, indefatigable lip. Few things are so melancholy — and so redeemed from mere ugliness by sadness — as this long, artificial straightness that the monster has impartially maintained.

If at low tide you walk on the shore, on the cliffs, of the little height, show you a defence picked bare as a bone; and you can say nothing kinder of the general humility and general sweetness of the land that this sawlike action gives it, for the fancy, an interest, a sort of mystery for there is now no more to show than the empty eye-holes of a skull; and half the effect of the whole thing, half the secret of the impression, and what I may really call, I think, the source of the distinction, is the very visibility of the mutilation.

Such at any rate is the case for the mind that can properly brood. There is a presence in what is missing…. Mark would open a k-punk post with this very quote. He writes:. The fate of Dunwich fascinated the Victorian mind. There were major landmarks yet to disintegrate when James visited in Slow change is a constant at Dunwich.

Gothic definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

When I visited last week it had changed even in the comparatively short time since I was last there. Paths that were once walkable are now fenced off as unsafe. Walking around the remains of Dunwich — and Dunwich is nothing but remains — is not, then, only to contemplate a past disaster. Even without global warming to accelerate the process, visitors can be certain that the land on which they walk will soon be consumed by the sea. Global warming means that oceanic catastrophism confronts us now neither as a possibility that can be quarantined off in Science Fiction, nor one that is unthinkably distant.

Disappeared Dunwich, its churches and cathedrals now lying on the ocean floor, anticipates the near future of the whole county. This description of a kind of Dunwich Gothic is worthy of a bit more emphasis, I think.

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It is wonderfully xenogothic in its ostentatious non-existence; xenogothic in that Dunwich offers up the opportunity not to explore a graveyard, that stereotypical Gothic environ, but a graveyard that once was — a graveyard folded in on itself and infrequently spat out of the landscape unceremoniously. It is Gothic not for its ostentatious architecture and grotesque ornaments but for its emptiness.

It is xenogothic in the way that the Gothic lingers absently. There is an affinity here in that this point on the coast of East Anglia, that great protrusion, serves as a painful reminder of so much of that coastline. Sebald emphasises this point in his own globe-trotting account. He notes how the residents of Dunwich who lost their homes and sought refuge elsewhere would move westwards.

West was the direction of new hope. He points out that this is true around the world for so many displaced communities. In Brazil, to this day, whole provinces die down like fires when the land is exhausted by overcropping and new areas to the west are opened up. In North American, too, countless settlements of various kinds, complete with gas stations, motels and shopping malls, move west along the turnpikes, and along that axis of affluence and squalor are unfailingly polarized.

I was put in mind of this phenomenon of flight by Dunwich. After the first serious disaster [the storm of ], building began on the westernmost fringe of the town, but even of the Grey Friars monastery that dates from that time only a few fragments now remain.


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Dunwich, with its towers and many thousand souls, has dissolved into water, sand and thin air. The monastery that Sebald speaks of feels wholly distinct from the city of Dunwich that is now lost to the sea but it is an intriguingly well-preserved monument, appearing behind the woods that line the cliff edge as a small building — although archeological excavations suggest there were many others — in the middle of an abnormally broad expanse of land.

The Grey Friars monastery is a case in point, reenforced at every opportunity to appear more like Victorian folly than original mediaeval structure. Dipping into the local museum, it seems as if the village is now torn between god-fearing citizens and part-time archaeologists. James that Sunday afternoon. In the museum, there is documentary evidence of various Catholic pilgrimages taking place in the name of St Felix in particular. He lived and died there and his remains no doubt ended up at the bottom of the ocean. Still, why so many churches? Was it just a sign of the times? Or are the residents of this town who continually face their own doom more god-fearing than most?

These are places in far more need of theodicy than most, we might argue. Land continues, in what is probably my favourite passage from his Thirst for Annihilation :. A longing for the open ocean gnaws at us, as the land is gnawed by the sea. A dark fluidity at the roots of our nature rebels against the security of terra firma , provoking a wave of anxiety in which we are submerged, until we feel ourselves drowning, with representation draining away.

Nihil ulterius. We are not amphibians, but belong upon solid earth. Let us renounce all strange voyages. The age of desire is past. The new humanity I anticipate has no use for enigmatic horizons; it knows the ocean is madness and disease. Let me still your ancient tremors, and replace them with dreams of an iron shore. It is a fortified boundary, sealing out everything uncertain, irresolvable, dissolvant, a sea-wall against the unknown, against death.

Serendipitously, on our way back from Dunwich and London bound, we passed a second-hand bookshop in an old church in the village of Westleton. Alongside the usual vintage sex romps was an enormous edition of works by the Marquis de Sade. In particular, I bought it for an introductory essay by Pierre Klossowski which resonated with these thoughts already had on the beach at Dunwich.

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Here the excessive religiosity of Dunwich truly does feel like a sea-wall for a conscience ravaged by the sea. Klossowski writes that, for Sade,. Here we can detect the Nietschean theme which opposes to the sufferings of the innocent a consciousness which agrees to endure its guilt because the guilt is the price of feeling alive.

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This is the hidden sense of the atheism which differentiates Sade so clearly from his contemporaries. To admit matter considered as perpetual motion as the one and only universal agent is equivalent to agreeing to live as an individual in a state of perpetual motion. The absence of God leads to a becoming-sea of consciousness and undoubtedly the religiosity of Dunwich represents an over-compensation for this tempting lack, or for their own guilt at having turned their back on a Christian city of blessed land, polishing ruins to placate themselves.

Further down the coast, in Felixstowe, this relationship to the sea seems wholly different. The humans remain out of sight, in cabs, in cranes, in offices.

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We were unable to find a good vantage point at which to stop and get out of the car, instead driving around the bare roads of industrial dockland and the grid-like Victorian lanes by the seafront. Tired, we elect to try again another time, but my impression from the car is enough to satisfy a curiosity. Mark is right, of course — the container port is a striking addition to what is otherwise your bog-standard east coast seaside town.

Driving along the seafront we see that familiar sight of penny arcades, casinos, pubs and amusements.