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  1.  (1412.1)
    Very interesting topic. Has it dawned on any of us that if this DID become mainstream, we may just grow to hate it for being mainstream? We usually do that.
  2.  (1412.2)
    Speaking of Steampunk, whatever happened to that Joe Kelly/Chris Bachalo comic?
  3.  (1412.3)
    @Thom B~ what would you call the Steampunk version of Burning Man? Steamed Man? ;-)
  4.  (1412.4)
    Poached Man.
  5.  (1412.5)
    Blanched Man?
      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2008
    Scalding Man
      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2008
    Has it dawned on any of us that if this DID become mainstream, we may just grow to hate it for being mainstream?

    That was kind of my point in starting this thread, to explore what aspects of the culture had value that would outlast "trend".
  6.  (1412.8)
    I really don't mind when subcultures go mainstream. Besides, by then, I'd probably would be interested in something else. I expect that I'm going to change, and while I'll still like and try to live by the main themes (respectful of others and self, inventiveness, making things, taking old things and making them new again), there will probably be another approach to explore. Steampunk is a Victorian approach. What comes next? I'll find out when I get there.

    Granted, I never really do become part of a subculture. At least I don't think I've done that yet. I tend to mingle with too many different kinds of groups for that to happen.
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008
    Granted, I never really do become part of a subculture. At least I don't think I've done that yet. I tend to mingle with too many different kinds of groups for that to happen.

    I get this too. I dress on the edges of goth, just cos I'm too poor to go it full, and also because I refuse to be associated with the goths in my city, as they are a bunch of infighting poohead ugly shiteaters. But I hang out with the punk/bogan crowd on occassion, with the geekiest of geeks often, with the reenactors (a lot of overlap there), with hippies, with my fellow art students who are really a class all of their own, at least the interesting ones, and hopefully the boring ones will get the fuck out eventually... And then there's all the random people I've met gods know how and hang out with at random. Being part of a single subculture would be limiting. Boring.

    As for Steampunk.. heh. The look is.. well, I could be accused of it myself when I throw on my Victorian gear without bothering to go the whole authentic way, but It annoys me slightly, as I believe straight Victoriana in fact looks better. Much more elegant.. Steampunk is *not* a look for elegance. While some manage it, it to me seems often to involve taking something pure and elegant and accessorizing far more than necessary because "OMG yay goggles and superfluous gears and nonfunctional rayguns make everything better!" And then you end up with something that had potential but has all this distracting bleck. This is of course personal taste, so obviously ignore me if you like.

    The movement itself.. Well. Steampunk Magazine is an awesome thing full of win and sex. To me, the Steampunk movement is really currently a mask for something deeper, the culture of people who want to get to the roots of being and actually do it properly, 'it' being... everything.

    This is, I think, part of what you were getting at originally, Thom. This is the aspect of Steampunk that we really need. The Magazine is a good example of it. It has roots in things like the Scouts too, even though saying the Scouts were good for anything is something one hates to admit. Being self-sufficient is part of it. Being less fucking stupid about things is a part of it. Doing things in a better way.

    And doing it with style. That's what we need to take away from Steampunk.. You can do life right, do it yourself, don't waste everything, but you don't have to be a grubby.. thing.

    Aaand that's my bullshit for the day. Pick apart and tell me I'ma moron at will. And I *know* I phrased it poorly. I'll try again later if need be.
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008
    That was surprisingly lucid, actually. You raised some excellent points there. And even swayed my own beliefs.

    I've never actually been exposed to a Steampunk "culture", I must unfortunately say, so I can't offer any insights beyond my extrapolations from what the rest of you say. But from what you're describing, the Steampunk scene in terms of fashion seems little more than cosplay. Which is fine in and of itself, but thats just not a viable social style - its not every-day wear, and could never be accepted as such. So unless such unnecessary frippery were weeded out, Steampunk could never exactly become a culture.
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008 edited
    Yes. It is much like cosplay. Not that some of what people make isn't nice.. those Etsy stores selling 'Steampunk' gear-and-cog jewelery are fine, but about as Steampunk as a knife. They're just pretty things jumping on the bandwagon to get sales. I'm not knocking that either; I'm an artist myself, making money off it is good. The goggles and shit are the same. It's just dress-up. And there *are* people who dress Steampunky daily, Robert of Abney Park comes to mind. However, his Steampunk is Victoriana+goggles+anachronistic hairdo. Abney Park (who are good musically and put on a good show onstage, mark you) are a good example of Streampunk-as-trappings... they just dress up and talk about airship pirates to theme their music and because they like the style.. it's lacking much of the stuff, the creative urge in a way deeper than just throwing some gears on a eleccy guitar and calling it Steampunk behind the Steampunk that I'm thinking we need. Although he makes some nice *looking* stuff...

    And frankly, if you tune down the Steampunk style until could be accepted as mainstream in the way corp-goth is, it'd be just a bit of funny tailoring and some cute earrings. But the style doesn't matter. At all. Not to the movement behind the culture. So Steampunk as a look/culture is likely to die out or get integrated into the multi-stream hulking monstrosity that the Goth culture has become, but the movement, which.. I keep trying to say what it is, but I said it best already and I don't want to ruin that by saying it wrong now... but whatever it is, it'll survive.

    EDITED TO SAY: Re-reading Thom's post at the beginning.. this movement is about coming up from individuals and working your way out and though rather than down and into. A distributed delivery and creation system. A system that doesn't rely so much on the top, organizations and businesses and government, but on the people and their networks. That's how Steampunk and especially the creations of it are spreading, up and out. Again, the Magazine is a good example.

    I'm getting less and less sure of what I'm saying here. Oh well. My point comes through, perhaps.
  7.  (1412.12)
    Being part of a single subculture would be limiting. Boring. Yeah, it would be boring.

    It just occurred to me that something steampunk was in Stardust. And that Neil used that idea how long ago in the book?

    Yeah, I suspect the people who are only into steampunk for the looks will be stuck in that look. The rest will move on to a different look when the time comes.
      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008 edited
    I had been about to ask the question "What does it mean to be a part of a movement?"
    But I think Vespers pre-empted me with what I was about to get at...
    A distributed delivery and creation system. A system that doesn't rely so much on the top, organizations and businesses and government, but on the people and their networks. That's how Steampunk and especially the creations of it are spreading, up and out.

    For myself, I see my connection to Steampunk to be more one of methodology than of style. People have called some of Lastwear's designs Steampunk but I often think that's more because of my top hat than anything else :)
    When my designs are influenced by the goggles and rayguns vibe that's just fine but that's not generally where I'm coming from.
    The Cosplay side of steampunk (or any genre for that matter) is something I find curious. My real area of interest is in cultural narrative and I've been having a tough time feeling where Cosplay fits in with that. I think that the general awareness of individual and group stories and how they affect our lives and behavior is starting to come to the fore but hasn't crystallized in many peoples minds yet. I don't think it's something that many Cosplayers think about but I suspect that the recent widespread emergence of Cosplay is symptomatic of a desire to change our culture's narrative.
      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008 edited
    Question here, does anyone know much about Cosplay's history? When it emerged and if there are any historical corollaries?
  8.  (1412.15)
    I think there is a longing for a place where there can be a structured formality - a place where the cultural rules call for respect, manners and a sense of grace.


    almost everyone i've ever met who claims to be a "steampunk" (on line or IRL) has been the exact opposite of what you've just described here.

    on every steampunk lj group there's always countless people making rude comments to their fellow "steampunks" about how their outfit isn't really "steamy enough" or they're busy chastising people for not writing as if they're some 2 dimensional character from a shit postmodern jules verne ripoff novel. a lot of these people may feel as if they've got a refined sense of manners that are generally seen as unusual by our current generation's standards, but from what i've noticed, this merely comes off as another typically pretentious and condescending form of scenester posturing.

    i've only met one of these folks who could handle criticism...any type of criticism, be it of the garden variety rude type or of the non-nasty constructive variety. take for instance, jake von slatt's recent video response to merlin mann's light hearted poke at steampunk culture. his humorless response caused a few waves on between the "true believers" and the generally apathetic non-steam members of aforementioned site. the post that seemed to sum up this feeling best came from "Maddy" stating "I love BB, but everytime I see a Steampunk post, I feel the same way when I saw another Spelling relative show up on Beverly Hills 90210 ..."
    ...or perhaps it was
    "Original video: You have no sense of humor
    Retort: Yes I do. Here’s a 32 slide PowerPoint presentation proving I do."

    if you have must have a crude and snooty form of anti-social "manners" and no sense of humor you should at least change your subcultural descriptor from "steampunk" to "steamcultured class...but i doubt you'd say that because "punk" just makes what you're doing seem so edgy, doesn't it?

    particularly in light of the fact that it's about to step over the line of subculture and into trendy nonsense that will inevitably bring with it hoards of pipe clogging band waggoneers.

    honestly, i can't help but chuckle at this statement.
    having seen this style on the net for over 10 years now, i think the steamwagon is pushing full capacity.
    enjoy the clogged pipes, thom.

    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    Heh. Rather.. but as someone pointed out before, this is the difference between what we're calling Steampunks and Steampunk fans. What they call themselves is immaterial.

    The Steampunk fans are as you described. The Steampunkers who are hiding in the depths of that dross building the cultural artifacts that we're noticing, they're not. It takes manners... of the sort you may have noticed this board (in general, slipping oh so slightly as the numbers grow) to build a network from the ground up. And it takes manners to work together to create and build things you couldn't make on your own. These manners may not all be the perfect refined manners of a better time, but they exist, in the right people. And the manners of the group in general move more towards that respect and sense of grace as more people are educated in the ways their peers are adopting, which they in turn have picked up from others, and from in some ways the Victorian culture some parts of Steampunk are built on.

    I assure you it's there. You're just allowing the surface of the aforementioned bandwagoneers (and I agree that it really has pushed over into the trendy nonsense area, that's where this Cosplay shit comes from) to clog you up and stop you from seeing some of the smaller, more realistic group underneath.
    • CommentAuthorbecky c
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    I could give less of a damn about cosplay. To me, steampunk has nothing to do with whether or not your buttons are brassy enough. While I do love the visual aesthetics that steampunk has to offer, the reason I love it is because it hearkens back to a time when everything is brand new. In a wired world where you've seen all kinds of horrors and wonders thanks to your friends emailing you the most mindblowing links they can find, nothing is actually horrific or wonderful any longer. It's all expected, dumbed down. We expect to be shocked and wowed, which I find pretty sad. Steampunk represents the idea that anything is possible, and there should be joy in that.

    Also, on a less preachy note, I think there's also something to be said about the love of tech. With steampunk, gadgets are an art form again. On a daily basis, I carry more computing power in my pockets than it took to land on the moon, and it's all covered in plastic and smudgy fingerprints. I say hooray for time-machines, ray guns, and anything powered with aether. It's about time we started truly loving our machines again.
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    Steampunk represents the idea that anything is possible

    Yes! This is another big part of it that I maybe wasn't getting across enough. There IS joy in it. And everything should be an art form.
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    What a fascinating thread!
    I've flitted around on the edges of steampunk (knowingly/unknowingly) not fully realising the actual aesthetic behind it and I see that it embodies a great deal of my own aspirations. The whole nitty-gritty aspect of it appeals to me - 'never trust a man who doesn't work with his hands'...a Genesis lyric from way back I think.
    As far as how it can be seen as 'helping' developing nations, here in South Africa for example, I see a huge need of a change of vision. The entire mindset here (and perhaps elsewhere?) is geared towards education for educations sake- people being goaded into chasing degrees and other bits of paper over actually working. Brick-laying, plumbing, all those skills are looked down on as being lower, lesser..rather concentrate on becoming that high paid lawyer, my son/daughter. And yet, especially in a country like ours, its those very skills that are in chronic short supply as we jostle for housing and services. I cannot remember when I've seen a piece of furniture (unless antique) with dove-tail joints fer chrissakes!! Its all quick fix/instant satisfaction with no understanding of the nuts and bolts.

    Even in fashion/fad/whatever, the do-it-yourself ethic is gone, wanna be a punk? Go get it off the shelf..blaaaagh......
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008
    This thread got some publicity on io9, a sci-fi blog... pretty interesting. Some of the comments are entertaining.

    Does Steampunk Smell Better than Other Subcultures?