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      CommentAuthorTheremina
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008 edited
     (1412.61)
    Weeeheee! The backlash continues!

    You know you're in trendy nonsense territory when a Gawker blog has something to say about you.

    (No offense to Annalee. I actually think she's super rad.)
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      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008
     (1412.62)
    The whole thing reminds me of the virulent anti-goth backlash in the nerd scenes (god let me die if I ever utter the phrase 'nerd scene' in public) a few years back.
    I guess geeks have to have someone to make fun of other than Furries.
    I, for the life of me, can't figure out why. They're really your one-stop shop for all things shameful. Like a 7-11 of mockery.
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      CommentAuthorAdam
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008
     (1412.63)
    That was written on the complete assumption that the Whitechapel board CENTRES on topics of Steampunkery, and that every one of our 3000+ members is a card-carrying marxist back-room inventor. That article reeeeally got on my nerves, if you can't tell }:(

    Plus more than half of it was just direct quotes, maybe two paragraphs of original material. If you're gonna do a commentary on a social phenomena, then actually COMMENT on it. Bah. I am persnickety with rage.
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      CommentAuthornoblelion
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008
     (1412.64)
    I know. I like how they didn't bother linking to the actual thread, so folks could read for themselves what people were saying.

    I usually like io9, but that definitely got my dander up.
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      CommentAuthorTheremina
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008 edited
     (1412.65)
    Really? You're actually enraged? By Gawker mockers? Really?

    May I make a gentle suggestion? Take a deep breath, have a giggle, do a leedle dance in front of the mirror in your underpants and sock garters. Dat's wot I dew.

    Honestly, why does everyone have to take everything So Dreadfully Seriously? My opinion: subcultures aren't nearly as fun once folks get so overly analytical and white-knuckled that they can't laugh at themselves.

    Scroll back and look at some of the content in this thread. Some of it's pretty darn unintentionally hilarious. Which is GOOD! It means you're actually invested. It means we're actually swashbuckling a little bit, if only with our brains. Cogitation instead of regurgitation. Yay!

    However, a certain level of myopic earnestness will basically guarantee that less thoughtful, invested people (on the outside looking in) are occasionally going to point and snicker.

    Don't be mad. Make armpit farts, then build a better blimp. It's going to be okay.
  1.  (1412.66)
    What Mer said. Relax.
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      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008 edited
     (1412.67)
    @Theremina - excellent advice there. I read the io9 post about two hours ago and promptly thought to myself "this is exactly the right time to go for a walk along the railway tracks."

    I have to say that having read back over the thread again I can quite see how it comes across as some sort of "Steampunk apologist group". I'd never thought that My initial post could be interpreted as an attempt to justify Steampunk. That made me laugh!
    I do think that the "Stay in your place! Subcultures aren't allowed to aspire to having a positive roll in the world" vibe is a little sad to see though.
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      CommentAuthorVespers
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2008
     (1412.68)
    Mer's got a point. I don't think I could say some of what I said in here out loud without laughing at myself. Analysis is good, but analysis that leads to laughing at yourself is better.

    I liked the little snipe at the end of that article about common sense, though. Because it really isn't so common at all.

    Also, swashbuckling brains is a hilarious concept. That's going in the ideas file.
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      CommentAuthorAdam
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2008
     (1412.69)
    Well, to be more honest, I was only slightly miffed. I just jump at any opportunity to use the term "persnickety with rage". I forget what its quoted from, but I like it. In fact, thats really the only sense in which I am actively involved in the Steampunk ideal -- recycling the slightly more ridiculous old-timey words. I still call people "blaggards", for example. Apologies for deceiving you. And as for dancing in front of the mirror in my underpants - well, I do that already in between making posts here, so I fail to see why you would consider it a special calm down action o_o
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      CommentAuthornoblelion
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2008
     (1412.70)
    Ditto. I was more disappointed. I tended to enjoy some of the posts on io9 before reading that. Meh. And, I enjoy using the word "dander." I'm on a colloquialism kick right now.
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      CommentAuthormuse hick
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2008
     (1412.71)
    kinda wondering why none of the people annoyed by the article weighed in with a comment, unless you have different user names over there. i have to say that whenever a culture or sub-culture gets so overly self-conscious that it has to turn to some rulebook definition of what it means to belong to said culture to defend itself it's already fossilised for me, and therefore dead.

    i don't believe that steampunk is dead yet though, but like all cultures, especially the ones bastardised out of others, they don't have pure blood, so chasing a definition is like trying to nail down mercury. good luck with that.
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      CommentAuthorAdam
    • CommentTimeApr 11th 2008
     (1412.72)
    Precisely right. The "organiser" type who tries to define exactly what the qualifications are, is really too focused on the small picture parameters to actually fit within the context in any case.

    As for not leaving a comment over there, I'm not yet registered and don't believe I'll bother. In any case, leaving a "Whitechapel Members' Rebuttal" would look a little desperate and just play into the hands of the article, proving its point further...
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      CommentAuthorThom B.
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2008
     (1412.73)
    Hmmm, reading through io9 more, and thinking about the relentless abuse that most subcultures come under these days just made me think about how previous groups (I''m thinking principally of artistic movements here as they're what I'm most familiar with) have been viewed by the contemporary society of the time. I seem to recall that the Dadaism, Cubism, impressionism and more recently Graffiti received terrible reviews from the art establishment at the time they were most active. Graffiti is possibly the most interesting example here as we are familiar with how it's adoption into the main stream has occurred. What's interesting now is how critique of a cultural movement is no longer restricted (in terms of air time) to a small group of professional critics, who are mostly ignored by the plebs for being even more pretentious than the artists they critique.

    What are the consequences of a society in which no new mode of thought can reach any level of maturity without the attentions of the masses being focused upon it?

    Time for me to go and learn about the history of public criticism.
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      CommentAuthorAdam
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2008
     (1412.74)
    What are the consequences of a society in which no new mode of thought can reach any level of maturity without the attentions of the masses being focused upon it?


    An intriguing direction you've just taken. My gut feeling is that the outcome would not be positive. These things need time to germinate in a little pond before being thrust out into the big sea of public consciousness to stand tall, despite the mixed metaphor robbing that last sentence of all meaning. However I don't believe we are yet at that stage, thankfully. Graffiti art has been around for many many long years, and its only just within the last decade that its started to get any form of positive feedback from the more "official" echelons of public society. Pretty much the same with most of the sustained art movements I believe, though feel free to disprove that with fancy big city book-learnin'.
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      CommentAuthorTheremina
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2008
     (1412.75)
    What are the consequences of a society in which no new mode of thought can reach any level of maturity without the attentions of the masses being focused upon it?


    I'm definitely fascinated by how this huge sea change is effecting everyone.

    Maybe more and more folks will go "off the grid" in response to the over-exposure and sudden speed increase? In two separate and distinct, very actively artsy and thoughtful circles of friends I know, there's been talk about relocating, creative people wanting to build intentional communities out in the woods where they can do their thing away from scrutiny, with a prolonged gestation period. Actually, not just talk. Some of them are already gone. (It's not a new phenomenon, by any means.) Extreme times call for extreme changes, I guess.

    But it's also important to keep in mind that Steampunk 2: Electric Boogaloo probably would not exist as this... uh... cultural movement (sorry, still having trouble saying that with a straight face) without the web. There's a big link between everything we're discussing in this thread and the massive changes occurring in how we process information, present and perceive ourselves online.

    ;)

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      CommentAuthoriangil
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2008
     (1412.76)
    As long as we're talking "going mainstream", here's the IHT on steampunk, from the style section, naturally. And here's the IHT's steampunk gallery.

    Whatever the "real" steampunks' aspirations and values, the fashion/cosplay aspect of steampunk is what catches the public eye and thus becomes the public perception of steampunk. You can fault L.A. for only knowing fans and generalizing steampunk as a whole based on them, but I'd venture that L.A.'s dug deeper than most people will. You could bastardize Baudrillard and say that the steampunk that the public is coming to know "does not exist"...and you wouldn't be far off. Look at what the word "hacker" means to hacker culture, and then what it means to everyone else.

    Verily, enough of that. I just think the world needs some improbably huge airships.
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      CommentAuthorEithin
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2008
     (1412.77)
    Steampunk is the new gothic. It's basically the same cultural phenomenon - the immanent spirits of our environment, rising up from the collective unconscious to trouble us and lurk in the corners of our eyes and produce REALLY COOL SHIT which is also scary and manic and out of control.
  2.  (1412.78)
    Something I will never understand is how small, weak subcultures reviled or misinterpreted by the mainstream insist upon attacking other small subcultures reviled by the mainstream. Shouldn't all the outsiders band together?

    I think of steampunk as being an aspect of a larger cultural movement away from corporate mass production and towards an original aesthetic created either by each individual, or small creative groups. I think it's a mistake to deride the crafters and cosplayers. Unlike goth, which unfortunately now has mainstream stores all over, steampunk doesn't have any big corporate chains taking over the culture yet. Not that I know of, anyway. To me, steampunk is an opportunity still for people to take an aesthetic and really play with it. Vespers earlier said, "There IS joy in it. And everything should be an art form." I wholeheartedly agree. I don't think you need to build a Babbage engine to be steampunk. If anything from this culture is retained, it should be that sense that we don't need to buy into the styles of the day, that we can create our own culture however we want to, and that our very existance can be artistic.

    For the record, I think the same thing about subcultures like the Goths and Cyberpunks. They can all be taken as a way towards self expression despite what the mainstream has turned its eyes towards. I guess the difference is that neither of those had quite the same level of mad-science creativity that seems to be a staple of steampunk.

    Really, what I would most like to see is an intersection of all the underground cultures. A merging of ideas. There is common ground between most movements of this sort. Think of the customization tendancies of steampunk merged with the technological expertise of the hacker culture and the gothic love of the dark and ominous.
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      CommentAuthorTheremina
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008 edited
     (1412.79)
    Forgive me, but what is so "scary and manic and out of control " about any of this? (Or goth, for that matter? A notoriously passive subculture.) For the most part, the movement seems overly regimented and benign. (I say for the most part because there are always exceptions, and of course it's genuinely exciting that a small handful of folks are experimenting with alternative fuels and technology.) Far more often than not, Steampunk II reads like regressive cultural cosmetic surgery with fancy brass band aids.

    If anything from this culture is retained, it should be that sense that we don't need to buy into the styles of the day, that we can create our own culture however we want to, and that our very existance can be artistic.

    With all my heart, I agree that it's wonderful to see people being crafty, taking initiative, remaining active. But doesn't it seem to you like this may have become just another style to buy into at this point? The zeitgeist we're discussing has already been commodified quite a bit, hasn't it? And why the need to slap labels all over this existence? Why are intelligent and vibrant people so eager to define themselves by a subculture they subscribe to, especially when said subculture requires adherence to so many aesthetic rules? Isn't that just another form of samey-ness? Another box? Don't you think that might be a hindrance to truly creative and forward-thinking invention, rather than a help?

    Really, what I would most like to see is an intersection of all the underground cultures. A merging of ideas.

    Thanks to the confusion and uncertainty brought on by relatively sudden and extreme changes in how we communicate and process information, not to mention our collective fear of facing a frightening future, this has already happened. I would agree that the resulting gentlemanly clusterfuck is best exemplified by Steampunk. :)
    • CommentAuthorrobb
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
     (1412.80)
    just read through the entire thread, much to think about. most interesting, a lot silly, some bothersome. forgive any ignorance, i don't claim any steampunk cred or history. i ended up writing two big posts worth, apologies in advance.

    for steampunk 2 (to use theremina's term) to grow, it needs to expand, or invite other kids to the workbench.

    use victorian amateur scientist approach to better mankind (paraphrased)
    "approach," yes. but, what would Tesla say if he saw you still using the same scrap tools he had? push steampunk's aesthetic forward, be agnostic about materials or dwindle to fad. punk is no longer only Sex Pistols safety pins or Ramones chucks. embrace recycling existing materials like plastic and polymers as well.(some last longer, don't be proud and overlook it. how can steampunk interract with found object hackery of ReadyMade? it seems steampunk was actually an adaptive reuse culture, not an inventing one (spinning off what Porkshanks hinted at).

    so, amateur scientist doesn't feel right. yet. people rooting away in their workshops is heartening, the results are gorgeous. but, has any steampunk(er?) group or "inventor" invented anything? what better mouse trap has been built, rather than converted to function the same with vaccuum tube applique? there's nothing wrong with a new disco ball, but big scrapyard party favors don't better mankind. to get away from the cosplay stigma, stop focussing on fashion and computer cases and build a better loom or computer.

    thom b.: loss of aesthetic in most of today's goods in face of astronomical R&D and Ad costs... garage inventor works with nicer matierals... have to be best to compete
    it's more a difference in manufacturing for masses versus cottage industry with local buyers. if you're married to material, quality cherry wood and polished brass are affordable in small quantity only. therefore, steampunk is a local movement, human-scaled. the basement show punk factor. to advance craftsman steampunk as a culture producing quality physical goods, look local. what do your actual neighbors need improved, specific to their area and life (which would look good with brass and cogs)? invent that. then, move on to air ships. Tesla and Eddison are role models, cool. but, be more realistic in functional figureheads to further movement and ethics. alice waters turned craftsmanly growing and cooking local food into a national phenomenon. what can steampunk learn from the slow food movement? Ian McKaye, DC hardcore, and straightedge. both pushed ideals/ethics moreso than their aesthetic.