Aesthetics in Travel: Dark Academia

.What is an Aesthetic?

In this context, an aesthetic refers to a subculture with specific visual motifs. Just as in 70s-90s, there were the hippies, the goths, the preps, the jocks, the punks, etc. Aesthetics represent not only the visuals – fashion, interior decor, architecture, etc. but also consumption of music, literature, visual media and developing hobbies, interests and lifestyle around it.

Some of the major modern Aesthetics are Cottage Core, Dark Academia, Synth Wave, Bohemian & Kawaii Core.

Dark Academia is an offshoot of the Gothic movement, expressed through Academia. Unlike Preps, here, Academia isn’t a means to make connections and get ahead in life, but rather a place for introspection and studying for the sake of studying and finding fulfillment in pursuit of knowledge.

Think of old dusty libraries, quill pens and typewriters, leather satchels and oxford shoes, statues and skulls as paperweight, cemeteries and sinking ships, spires and ghostly trees, ink blots on fingers, tea-stains on unopened envelopes and the smell of old books read by candlelight while a storm rages outside.

The most obvious place to find Dark Academia are university campuses with historic architecture. Here in the US, I have visited some of them – Harvard, Stanford and University of Washington. Another place to find this are preserved historic homes. They often have large library rooms, with beautiful study desks and charming shelves full of old sweet-smelling books.

Speaking of books, I always make it a point to visit used-book stores. I had found one in Gloucester which had very large colonial-era maps and globes, all hundreds of years old. Museums are also a good place to find out collections of books.

Any place with a gothic atmosphere will also do – this includes old cathedrals, castles and cemeteries. While this has historically been Eurocentric, I have found Dark Academia atmosphere in old shrines in Japan, with prayer books, Chinese tea houses with large collections of tea, herbs and literatures, and Native-American weaves of pottery and basket-making in New Mexico.

Hope you all liked it too.

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