Like theology, popular culture has its lost paradise myths to help it account for the shortcomings of human life and to address the question: What went wrong? This is the role played by covenant/jeremiad cycles and

Gothic plots as they permutate through literature, movies, journalism, fashion and music. Both are highly versatile as templates in the hands of artists who seek to schematize our errant ways. The covenant/jeremiad script is a good one for juxtaposing an ideal order to our boundless imaginations for deviancy. Through it, a stubborn moral faith that persists in the culture continues to have a voice, promoting repentance and invoking a more exalted and inclusive idea of justice than the one that prevails. It offers a proven device for inventorying both a society's sins and the contents of its conscience.

The Gothic script is particularly adept at exploring how the sins of the ancestors are visited upon their heirs. Thus it provides a way to correlate current social pathologies to past transgressions - this is one way of understanding what it means to be haunted. There is not as much allowance in the Gothic for the idea of a benevolent power urging repentance and promising renewal, but there is useful instruction in the spectrum of degradations that predictably follow as a consequence of particular kinds of moral offense.

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