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Author Topic: Is steampunk a sort of new Renaissance  (Read 730 times)
rovingjack
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« on: June 06, 2016, 06:17:16 am »

The Renaissance is often referred to as being a sense of Nostalgia and rebirth of values and ideas from Antiquity, in part to what was in some ways seen as the faults and failing of the culture, art and natural philosophies of the time.

That's a bit of an over simplification of the topic for the sake of time and space, but you get the gist.

It occurs to me today that Steampunk is also a sort of a nostalgic reembracing of art, cultural practices and manners, and philosophies (including natural philosophies, aka sciences) from a time a few movements back; not just a lifetime ago or the previous movement but legitimately jumping back a couple of steps in search of something left behind on the course to where we've ended up.

It's anachronistic, it's somewhat faddish, and it can be sort of fuzzy on what does and doesn't count. But at the heart of it there is a cal back to the idea of values and ideas that people could contribute to a world of wonder and amazement like in all the stories of a time before now.

I'm actually curious as to whether there will be an equally interesting advancement in thinking, politics, trade, thought and technology. A cultural boom in which the world reinvents itself through vibrant thought processes.
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Atterton
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 09:03:35 pm »

What would make it more of a renaissance than for example rockabilly?
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Kensington Locke
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 10:01:18 pm »

I'd say no.

The actual Renaissance was a re-awakening of invention, discovery new thoughts, etc.  Europe had stagnated with the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages sucked, and knowledge had been lost.

Then, came a renewed vigor to learning, discovering new things, new lands, etc.

Right now, we're not coming out of a dark age where we actually regressed and lost knowledge.  Last time I checked, since toilet paper was invented, we've all had plenty of it.  Pretty much since the Renaissance, we've not gone truly backwards.

note that going backwards is not the same as nostalgia. vinyl records are back as a thing that is cool.  that's because they are cool, not because that's all we have.  If we lost our ability to host servers and run networks and make chips to make devices that can play audio files and records were now the only way to share music, that would be going backwards.  Otherwise, it is just Nostalgia.

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cossoft
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 11:48:35 pm »

I'd say no 2.

Which bit of  thinking, politics, trade, thought and technology do you think has not advanced?

 I would suggest that on balance politics hasn't as to me it's just history rehashed.  I'm a keen student of politics, and honestly I can't see any contemporary aspects of politics that haven't always been there.  The players change but the plays remain the same.  Surely technology advances exponentially though...
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2016, 01:13:31 am »

I'd say no 2.

Which bit of  thinking, politics, trade, thought and technology do you think has not advanced?

 I would suggest that on balance politics hasn't as to me it's just history rehashed.  I'm a keen student of politics, and honestly I can't see any contemporary aspects of politics that haven't always been there.  The players change but the plays remain the same.  Surely technology advances exponentially though...

 politics is after all, the oldest profession
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Colonel Hawthorne
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2016, 08:10:38 am »

No, the oldest profession is advertising.  The other oldest professions couldn't have existed without it.

But to the topic at hand: I think we could call steampunk more a revival (of an aesthetic, if nothing else) than a renaissance.  As has already been ably pointed out, the renaissance involved a throwing off of old values and technologies; we're bringing some back.
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Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne
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Whatever did we do before retro-futurism?
SolarCenturion
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2016, 07:38:17 pm »



Right now, we're not coming out of a dark age where we actually regressed and lost knowledge. 



Not trying to start a political flamewar but I may have to disagree on this point. Not so long ago we, as a society, knew that all people were created equal. Sure there were die-hard racists and sexists, and religious fanatics but that wasn't at all mainstream.

I feel like we've lost some of that knowledge.  Racism is socially acceptable now, even in presidential candidates. Refusing rights and services to anyone who is "different" is now ok. Many are not even trying to hide their bigotry anymore.  Yes, we're not coming out of a dark age, we're smack in the middle of one. And things have been lost...
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"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because
rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell
rovingjack
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 04:12:18 am »

The dark ages were not as dark as many would have you believe:

http://listverse.com/2008/06/09/top-10-reasons-the-dark-ages-were-not-dark/

and

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/crashcourse-worldhistory/whats-god-got-to-do-with-it-2/v/crash-course-world-history-14

and

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/our-voices/battle-of-ideas/the-dark-ages-were-a-lot-brighter-than-we-give-them-credit-for-8215395.html


I would say that in some social and national aspects we have seen a fair bit of regressive tactics being applied to countries and the world overall.

Looking just at economics shows disparities backsliding toward things that gave us the great depression. In other areas there is a rise in things like fascism, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, even eugenics is seeing support in some regions and by some groups.

but all that aside, the supposed regression is not even the point or needed. In general Renaissance was coined to describe a philosophy of 'rebirth' of a previous time of technological, philisophical and humanistic values, in the original case from classical greek culture. It was a revisiting a time in the past to pick up things that were left behind and seeing if we can give them another chance to take root and enrich modern life.

For steampunk, instead of dipping into classical greece, we dip into Victorian times. a time of geographic explorations by land sea and air, scientific explorations done in home laboritories, wider spread literacy bringing works that Dickens novels and Wuthering Heights, Jayne Eyre, Tennysons Arthurian works, and the plays of Wilde.

The nature reverance of Thoreau. Gothic literature, holmesian mysteries, and the foundations of sciencefiction.

Through it all an appreciation of hand crafted tools and objects, fascination with things from 'the orient', and a sort of scientific/technologic optimism.

The renaissance got some of it wrong in it's anachronistic nostalgia for a past golden age, as do steampunks with their nostalgia for a golden age. But it's less about being right and more about romanticism inspiring a purposeful rebooting of older thoughts on how we experience the human condition that cherry picks from the old and weaves it into our current cultural progresses (I'm fairly certain nobody here advocates some of the class, race, and gender brutalities of the past).
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