If you’ve logged onto social media in the last year, you’re probably familiar with the ‘cottagecore’ aesthetic. Even if you haven’t heard the term, you’ve likely come into contact with the musings of its neutral tone wearing, pie baking, teacup-sipping practitioners. But those twee little forest dwellers can sit down in the shade of a giant mushroom and stay there, because there’s a new building-based aesthetic in town, baby. Here’s why I fantasize about living in an old mine shaft:
Cottagecore has faced criticism for fetishizing farm labor and generally being too into Europe. And rightfully so! My fantasy of living in an old mine shaft, on the other hand, has nothing to do with romanticizing the brutal, exploitative work of mining, and everything to do with secretly journeying into a derelict Shaft Bottom where up is down, morality is mere abstraction, and the conditions are genuinely unlivable. Plus maybe there’s a coal dust covered little mouse who is my very good friend.
Cottagecore has also come under fire for its perpetuation of heteronormative gender roles. Conversely, the very concept of gender would cease to exist when I travel beneath the earth’s surface in my rickety mine cage into the endless night of my tunneling shaft where I run free, breathing fine debris into my lungs (such is the price I pay in my mine; nothing perfect can last!).
In the past when I’ve opened up my heart and world to share my fantasy of living in an old mine shaft, I’ve been met with mixed reactions. Some have claimed that my plan is poorly thought out, in many ways more problematic than cottagecore, and betrays a remarkable lack of mine knowledge: something you’d think I’d look into considering this is sort of my whole thing. I hear these critics, but I have to disagree.
My dilapidated mine shaft would be a world of ghosts, secrets, and grit, which is a word I can’t really define but I know my mine would be full of it. So I invite those of you with an open mind and good night vision to join me in my fantasy, and dare to explore an aesthetic that embodies the simpler yet more meaningful life down in the shaft. And if you still need some clarification about my aesthetic choices, just remember: It’s not fucking steampunk, okay?