The Dark Fantastic

Daily Mail (London), August 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Dark Fantastic


QUESTION Is there a link between the Goths, the Germanic people who sacked Rome circa AD 400, Gothic architecture, the Gothic novel and modern Goths who dress in black and listen to morose music?

THE names of some of the barbarian tribes who demolished the Roman empire have survived as insults, eg Hun and Vandal.

The use of 'Gothic' to describe the richly decorated mediaeval architecture style was similarly used as an insult, coined during the Renaissance by those seeking to revive classical Graeco-Roman architecture.

Gothic architecture referred to that which did not follow the selfimposed rules of the classical period, but produced instinctive and vital buildings, though its detractors would have called it fantastical and licentious.

In Victorian times, this style came back into fashion as 'Neo-Gothic' or 'Strawberry Hill Gothic'.

The term came to mean anything that was dark and flamboyant with a touch of the grotesque, and so was naturally applied to literature such as that of Bram Stoker and Edgar Allen Poe.

When Washington Irving, in 1809, made up an imaginary early history for New York, he called the city 'Gotham', and the buildings in the Batman films are splendid examples of a modern Gothic style.

Modern Goths who wear black are therefore being dark, flamboyant and a little grotesque.

Russell Vallance, London SE16.

QUESTION Is it possible to cover my car with stealth technology so as to be 'unseen' by automotive radar and cameras? How much would it cost?

THERE are two methods by which one could remain unseen by radar: deflection and absorption.

Deflection, the cheaper method, would involve having triangular chevrons embossed at a depth of 5mm on to every large exterior surface. This would make the radar's radio wave emissions deflect off-vector rather than back to the receiver- but it would also adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

The absorption method, much more expensive, would mean replacing all the metal on the car with a radar absorbent material akin to that used on the the U.S. B2 stealth bomber.

Vince Corani, Ealing, West London.

QUESTION In the unlikely event of the Russian monarchy being restored, who is in line to become Czar of Russia?

THIS is the basis of a long-running row that has split the Romanov clan, who have largely resettled in Europe and the U. …

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