"Dark academia"

480Dark academia has a nice ring to it. It's an internet aesthetic and subculture concerned with higher education, the arts, and literature, or an idealised version thereof. Think Donna Tartt's novel "The Secret History" in Harry Potterish outfits. Dark academia emerged on social media in 2015. It centres on classical educational ideals in university settings. Dark academia has been described as "boarding school meets goth enthusiast". Maybe I was a part of a precursor to dark academia in the 1980s? This is my claim to fame. I was fortunate to be accepted as a student at the prestigious Uppsala university (founded in 1477). You felt that you were part of something timeless and exclusive. I joined the oldest and most conservative of the 13 student nations (geography-based and more sophisticated fraternity/sorority). The student nation resided in a castle-like house. I entered a new (or old) world of traditions, incomprehensible customs and ceremonies, protocol and manners, hierarchial corps, secret societies, banquets, songs in elderly Swedish and all activities between heaven and earth. Still, I was on student loan like everybody else. I wore a black formal dress, a white dress shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons, white vest, bow tie and cuff links at banquets. This was later extended to an order cross and ribbons (ornated like a sacrificial bull). I had the right disposition and went all in. Later in working life, I received the evaluative judgment "easy to subordinate himself in hierarchical organizations". It was free and undemanding. Nobody talked about career or jobs. It was academic, erudite and studentesque. However, you could be stuck in twilight zone. There was a fear lingering: to become a perpetual student. Despite all distractions, I managed to complete my studies with average degrees. I have always aimed at mediocrity. When I compare dark academia to its precursor, there are some notable differences. Modern dark academia is individual and introvert (reading, writing and longing), while its precursor was collective and extrovert (socializing and partying). Formality and depravity were separated by a thin line. Formal banquets could turn into hedonistic parties (think Animal House with John Belushi). Another difference is that modern dark academia is a 24/7 committment, while you could go in and out of roles in the 1980s. With a few conspicuous exceptions you were only a part time dark academian. Finally, modern dark academia is darker and more melancholic than its precursor. The 1980s was a carefree decade. But, that's not the whole story. Wherever there is light, there is also shadow. 

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