Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Violent Collision of My Interests

When it comes to subcultures and styles, I've never fallen into one perfectly. Too gypsy for the preppy set, not hardcore enough for the punks, not quite intense enough to join the goths, too pragmatic for the bohemian types...

And yet, I think I may just have found a subculture/movement/aesthetic that neatly sums up my interests. It is Steampunk.

Most simply, Steampunk is a type of science fiction set in the Victorian era (when steam power was still prevalent -- hence the first half of the name). More broadly, it's corsets and goggles, fine calligraphy and spaceships, classy manners and fighting with rayguns. What appeals to me most is the embrace of new technology along with the historical setting of Victoriana and a certain attention to beauty. Why use an ugly plain brick for computing when you can enjoy a machine of elegance and style?
I always thought that being interested in the archaic disqualified me from being interested in new technologies; surely I couldn't hold a PDA in one hand and an antique classic book in the other? With steampunk, I'm learning how those two are not mutually exclusive.

Besides the excellent Wikipedia article, I also recommend the forums at Brass Goggles, where everyone has been solicitous and helpful. One of the best parts of steampunk is that there is a wide range of interests: some people use steam power for their creations, but dress in a normal fashion. Others wear cravats day in and day out, but may spend more time tailoring their clothes than welding in a workshop. Overall the community seems reluctant to set boundaries to declare what counts as steampunk and what doesn't; instead, people embrace the idea of a spectrum. That is vastly more apppealing than an over-policed group of elitists, laying down the law.

1 comment:

Jman said...


Nice. I dig the whole modern past/future feel of technology and architechture (sp?). I'm working on modding my Nerfgun to further replicate a raygun-esque look. Talk to you later!