An assessment of American culture on the eve of the millennium. Once terrified by Anne Rice or Stephen King, watching "Halloween" or following the O.J. Simpson trial, we can rely on the comfort of our inner child, an angel, or even a crystal. In this book the author asks why people are determined to be haunted, courting the Gothic at every turn, yet at the same time, committed to escape through any new scheme for ready-made transcendence. The book depicts a culture suffused with the Gothic, not just in novels and films, but even in the nonfictive realms of politics and academic theories, TV news and talk shows, various therapies and discourses on AIDS and the environment. Gothic's first wave, in the 1790s, reflected the terrifying events unfolding in the French Revolution. Here the author asks what does the ascendancy of the Gothic in the 1990s tell us about our own day? The author also explores another, seemingly unrelated trend, the widespread belief that recreating oneself is as easy as making a wish. Looking at the world of Forrest Gump, the author aims to show how this parallel culture actually works reciprocally with the Gothic. Finally, using the work of Nietzsche and Shelley, and the recent creations of Toni Morrison and Tony Kushner, he aims to show how the Gothic and the visionary can come together in persuasive and renovating ways.