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Author Topic: Steampunk isn't Punk...  (Read 32762 times)
Jake von Slatt
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« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2007, 06:55:01 pm »

I think we must, as gentlemen do, share a glass of port and agree to disagree.

<raises glass>

 "To Steampunk, whatever the hell it is!"

<drinks, throws glass into fireplace>



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Cory
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« Reply #51 on: February 27, 2007, 07:00:25 pm »

Whoa now! I've seen nothing but encouragement and offers of help for the DIYer contingent here,  certainly no elitism!  I don't think any of us are saying that you HAVE to be handy to be Steampunk, but we DO want what we do included!

No worries vonSlatt... I wasn't trying to single out all people who are handy that way. In fact, I find it quite fascinating and wish I had the ability to tinker without electrocuting myself or gluing my fingers together. You guys make great stuff!

I'm just taking exception to the line a couple people have taken up now that somehow, Steampunk is only about DIY aesthetics and that anyone who tries to "buy their way in" is a poser. The comment to that effect in this thread was honestly about the least Steampunk thing I've ever read in relation to the subject... Only DIY? If you can buy it, it isn't Steampunk? It's all about hand crafted and individual pieces of artistic engineering? That doesn't even sound like the Victorian Era, let alone Steampunk.

And there are so many times in these threads about the Steampunk scene that I've been temnpted to let loose with "well back in my day when League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had just come out and there wasn't anything about Steampunk on the internet and blah blah blah", but I haven't wanted to make myself feel any older than I already am ^_Q
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Nadya Lev
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« Reply #52 on: February 27, 2007, 08:56:15 pm »

This reminds me of a debate I had one time about the goth scene.

"Goth is about music!" my opponent declared. "Dressing-up, big hair, makeup, going clubbing... that's all tertiary. Music is at the heart, and that's all that matters."

"What," I said, "so people who are born deaf can never be truly goth? Nonesense"

The truth is that each person relies more heavily on one sense than others - some of us are more visual, some are more tactile, some prefer the written word - and thus we experience life in different ways based on what faculties we use most, which is what shapes us as people. Steampunk is different things to different people, and I appreciate that different people express their passion for it in ways that are totally different than mine (like Mr. Von Slatt through innovative DIY projects, or Vernian Process throug music), and I don't feel that any one method of expression is more valid than another. It would be so boring if we all approached it from the same angle.

Nadya
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Fantômas
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« Reply #53 on: February 27, 2007, 09:59:03 pm »

Quote
Quote

Quote
The term is 'edisonade'.  There were some pretty consistant features of an edisonade novel.  The protagonist was a clean cut, intelligent, but misunderstood young inventor.  He or she (mostly he) worked with technology that was just a bit beyond what was currently available, but was still within the realm of believability.

I like the term Edisonade here. It does fit better to what I see on this forum than steampunk does.

How aboput "Teslarian" instead, many of us are not fans of that Edison fellow.

I would be proud to be called a Teslarian Contraptor.



I would vote yes on "Teslarian" Smiley
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Andy_W
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« Reply #54 on: February 27, 2007, 10:27:30 pm »

One of the reasons I love this genre is that it so eclectic. Even by briefly scanning the board it can be seen that everyone has their own take on it. For me it's the Aesthetics, probably because I am an artist. Our backgrounds are also very assorted, engineers, gamers, photographers, etc. We all have our part to play. When Tinker Girl and myself went about setting this board up I never thought it would explode so fast. I am glad it's taken off as well as it has and with a collection of members so diverse.  Grin

Thanks too you all for making this board what it is.



 
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Jake von Slatt
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« Reply #55 on: February 27, 2007, 10:44:28 pm »

One of the reasons I love this genre is that it so eclectic. Even by briefly scanning the board it can be seen that everyone has their own take on it. For me it's the Aesthetics, probably because I am an artist. Our backgrounds are also very assorted, engineers, gamers, photographers, etc. We all have our part to play. When Tinker Girl and myself went about setting this board up I never thought it would explode so fast. I am glad it's taken off as well as it has and with a collection of members so diverse.  Grin

Thanks too you all for making this board what it is.

Hear! Hear!  More port! I say! and a toast to TinkerGirl and Andy_W (who needs a suitably Steampunk moniker)!
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Fantômas
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« Reply #56 on: February 27, 2007, 10:52:23 pm »

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But look at the stories in Les Voyages Extraordinaire for example, those aren't exactly rebelling against anything.

Exaclty. And it wouldn´t come to my mind to call it steampunk. Look, nothing against such stories, I happen to like them, but I just can´t call it steampunk.

There are plenty of stories with a steam punk edge which are merely tales of wonder or even just flights of fancy.

Quote
As far as steampunk and make it into a lifestyle: I think that´s nonsense. Neo-Victorian maybe, steampunk: no. There is no use in it (whom are we fighting by wearing antiquated fashion?), genres from literature are not meant to be a lifestyle. And if, where are the steampunks? I only see the bad guys around here, those that bully their servants around, the poshy slavekeepers, the doomed upper class.

Look, here is the deal steam punk is now and it’s here, right on this forum we , ARE it at least the subculture of it and it obviously exists as a subculture or there wouldn’t be enough people to occupy this forum…and OH LOOK there are. We don’t seem to be rebelling against anything except perhaps the idea that a sold and manufactured product is necessarily going to be more of what we want than something we can make ourselves.


Quote
It also harkens back to a time when manufacturing was the mainstay of western economies

I don´t agree. Even if steampunk might be considered Victorian, one of the ideas behind steampunk is that modern techniques, and especially mass production, are made common. Cheap industrial clothes from the colonies for all, but mass production can also be chique nouveau.
After all, Steampunk is part of speculative fiction, where the "What, if...?" question is the most important. What, if plastics were common in 1880´s fashion? What, if the transistor or the chip had been developped in 1800? What, if aeroplanes made cheap import and fast traffic from and to the colonies possible?

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Steampunk can't really be punk because really it's pre-punk.
It was invented a decade after punk, so what is your point? That steampunk should be a historical correct reflection of the nineteenth century?

Correction , steam punk was NAMED a decade after punk,  the stuff of which it is made was all around a lot earlier. The idea that a movement doesn’t exist without being named is as absurd as the idea that you don’t exist without a name.

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It's a philosophy centered in the old Greek virtue of Ingenuitas,the human impetus to invent and to innovate which was embodied by the Greek god Mercury
I don´t agree on that either. If (steam) punk is something related to Greek mythology, it has to be about Prometheus, who stole the fire from the gods (and every harm caused by this: see Frankenstein, among many others).

That is a total and complete misinterpretation of my words (it’s so bad I have to wonder if it is deliberate). To correct you Steampunk has to do with “Ingenuitas” a virtue extolled by the Greeks and which also is embodied by the god mercury(for your reference).
Prometheus was punished for Hubris this is a different story, and Icarus was not a god, neither was Daedalus who built his sons wings. (all of which is external to the main point, that being that the idea of a virtue of inventiveness (the name of which is Ingenuitas) .This virtue has a tremendous amount of baring on the genre. This is what I wrote and it is really obvious. Please try to get it correct. If you think the spirit of invention has nothing to do with steampunk you are not looking.


Quote
The term is 'edisonade'.  There were some pretty consistant features of an edisonade novel.  The protagonist was a clean cut, intelligent, but misunderstood young inventor.  He or she (mostly he) worked with technology that was just a bit beyond what was currently available, but was still within the realm of believability.
I like the term Edisonade here. It does fit better to what I see on this forum than steampunk does.

However:
Quote
we're not as attracted to the dystopian punk future as to the victorian past with its warm glowy nostalgia
I don´t know whom you refer to with "we", but the dystopian punk future is something I certainly am attracked to in my art (not as a lifestyle, though). I don´t like the faked nostalgia of the Neo-Victorians either, because it has nothing to do with steampunk, IMHO.
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Jake von Slatt
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« Reply #57 on: February 27, 2007, 10:58:14 pm »

ROTFL! oh how, very, very droll!

(Edit: don't you see? he mis-[ Quote ]-ed - eh? no? send the port 'round again won't you, hmrph . . . )
« Last Edit: February 27, 2007, 11:14:15 pm by vonSlatt » Logged
Fantômas
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« Reply #58 on: February 27, 2007, 10:58:51 pm »

There is a definite strand of elitism to the proposition that some kind of rugged, DIY ethos is the sum and substance of Steampunk, on account of not everybody having the ability to cobble things together in a workshop. Accusing others of being posers and insisting that you cannot "buy your way in" to Steampunk is a fundamentally wretched imposition on what is otherwise a perfectly fun and harmless love affair with obsolete technology and fiction about it.   

And it's even funnier because this particular interest is fixated on the time and technology that originated with the Industrial Revolution and the birth of mechanized mass production. Give me a break and leave the elitist Punk nonsense at the door! 



Whoa now! I've seen nothing but encouragement and offers of help for the DIYer contingent here,  certainly no elitism!  I don't think any of us are saying that you HAVE to be handy to be Steampunk, but we DO want what we do included!

got to side with VanSlatt on this one. and as an added point of my own without new ideas and  creativity things die, movements die, subcultures die...like everything that stops moving. And as I said before I don't think it is necessarily contingent upon DIY activities, but upon inventive thinking. Even the guy who can't figure out how to use a wrench can hoist himself up by the bootstraps with some effort and invent an idea. Smiley
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Honky-Tonk Dragon
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« Reply #59 on: February 27, 2007, 11:10:20 pm »

This reminds me of a debate I had one time about the goth scene.

"Goth is about music!" my opponent declared. "Dressing-up, big hair, makeup, going clubbing... that's all tertiary. Music is at the heart, and that's all that matters."

"What," I said, "so people who are born deaf can never be truly goth? Nonesense"

The truth is that each person relies more heavily on one sense than others - some of us are more visual, some are more tactile, some prefer the written word - and thus we experience life in different ways based on what faculties we use most, which is what shapes us as people. Steampunk is different things to different people, and I appreciate that different people express their passion for it in ways that are totally different than mine (like Mr. Von Slatt through innovative DIY projects, or Vernian Process throug music), and I don't feel that any one method of expression is more valid than another. It would be so boring if we all approached it from the same angle.

Nadya
Precisely.

The problem with this debate, is everyone has their own definition, preconception, ideal of what punk is.
I doubt we could ever come to consensus about what punk means.

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« Reply #60 on: February 27, 2007, 11:15:19 pm »

But the debate/discussion isn't really about what "Punk" is... it's about what Steampunk is.

In two words, a simple (even simpler than my previous attempt at a solid definition):

Victorian Anachronism.

That describes the Setting, and the Elements of the media that is being considered for inclusion in the Steampunk realm.

Everything must contain those two things to qualify as Steampunk. There is no debating this. It's the most well known, and accepted definition of Steampunk.

Other genres can be mixed into it and it will still be Steampunk if it retains those two basic elements. You can have Noir, Lovecraft, Conspircay, High Adventure, Fantasy, or whatever as long as it meets these simple guidelines.

It doesn't matter if it takes place in Europe, or Africa, or Asia, or the Americas, under the sea, or even in the outer reaches of space. As long as it is set in a Victorian time frame, and features Anachronisms.
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Tinker
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« Reply #61 on: February 28, 2007, 12:06:52 am »

However:
Quote
we're not as attracted to the dystopian punk future as to the victorian past with its warm glowy nostalgia
I don´t know whom you refer to with "we", but the dystopian punk future is something I certainly am attracked to in my art (not as a lifestyle, though). I don´t like the faked nostalgia of the Neo-Victorians either, because it has nothing to do with steampunk, IMHO.

[/quote]

I see your point.  I'll try not to use the 'we' so often.  My personal problem with dystopian punk futures of victorian technology is that in my mind, they look a lot like 'waterworld' or 'road warrior' with steam.  There's an awful lot of misery and squalor going on...  Not a lot of happy people.  I'm not trying to say that the victorian age didn't have plenty of misery and squalor, but the version of it we recreate doesn't, or at least that isn't the focus of what I've seen.   

I'm just pleased to see how many different views people have about what this all means.
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Nadya Lev
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« Reply #62 on: February 28, 2007, 12:11:27 am »

Vernian Process: RED TEXT on light brown backgound! My eyes, MY EYES!
OK, you win. Only because I just went blind so I can't argue.

Nadya
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« Reply #63 on: February 28, 2007, 12:31:39 am »

But the debate/discussion isn't really about what "Punk" is... it's about what Steampunk is.

But in a way, it has to be just that by it's nature. You sought to point out (with your original post) the issue of Steampunk not being "punk"

The problem here is, in it's simplest form, that we are seeking to define punk by it's commonly accepted connotations. The term "punk" in it's original and simplest form is just an often derogatory term for one who in some way defies convention. In that sense, Steampunk is VERY punk. In an age where sleek plastic lines rule the shelves, we are showing a deep seated love of things often seen as clunky and cumbersome. When popular fiction is holding high a fantastical vision of the future that will likely never be, we hold high a fantastical vision of the past that never quite was.

VP, despite an earlier post made in an attempt to solidify your stance, your music IS Steampunk. Yes it is a melding of darkwave and industrial, etc... but it is those things in a way that defies "popular" convention to the end of acting as a soundtrack to other aspects of Steampunk as a phenomena (be it cultural or aesthetic.)

DIY puts the "punk" in Steampunk because it seeks to fill a void that pre-purchased items cannot. Not because a bought item is inferior to a DIY project, but simply because there are few premade examples of the Steampunk style in existence. On that note, not being a DIY person does not make one any less Steampunk... it would be tremendously easy to give in to convention and be an Abercrombie or Banana Republic drone, but these individuals seek out and purchase harder to find items that fulfill their need for this Steampunk aesthetic. And that too, is "punk"

The only thing removing "punk" from Steampunk is the fact that it is a growing phenomena that is finding new fans and new levels of acceptance every day. That, however, does not necessitate a re-terming. Rather, it begs that we hold the term high and proud so that people can remember that the anachronistic "Steam" aspect persevered despite the fact that it was seen as a "punk"ish pursuit from the outside.
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Andy_W
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« Reply #64 on: February 28, 2007, 12:42:05 am »

Quote
...and Andy_W (who needs a suitably Steampunk moniker

Hmmm? I will have t ask my friend Quentin Walpole for some advice on that. 

But for now just call me H.B. Flange-Bracket
« Last Edit: February 28, 2007, 12:43:45 am by Andy_W » Logged
Chuzzlewit
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« Reply #65 on: February 28, 2007, 01:01:55 am »

All I can say is... splendidly interesting thread, one and all. Such a fine set of thinkers and tinkerers here. Thanks to VP for starting something that will run for a long time, as we all try to answer the question, "What is the attraction of this thing?". "Victorian Anachronism" will do for me as a definition, but may I also suggest that, as a wise fellow once said, we are dealing with a recognition of unfinished business in that part of history, which raises the period to prominence in our minds. Steampunk is anyone's creative exploration of that feeling, or fantasy - always including the benefit, or course, of modern social attitudes.

 
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« Reply #66 on: February 28, 2007, 01:07:24 am »

Well yes and I generally agree with everything you just said. But I just want everyone to understand that at it's heart Steampunk has to involve Victorian Anachronism. That is the only constant thing that must exist in a Steampunk creation.

I guess you have a good point about my music in particular. Though the problem arises when I claim that my work is Steampunk. Because it creates a comparison for other artists to work around. But someone elese may have a completely different approach to the same theme (i.e. Doctor Steel). I certainly don't want to define the sound of Steampunk (inspire others sure, but not define it).

In a way your general idea that anyone into Steampunk is approaching it in a rebellious way is pretty spot on as well. I still feel it's best that we just acknowledge that as something we mostly have in common, because if we throw that into the definition it will just create more confusion.

On another note... I can't believe what a nerd I am. Posting like 50 times to debate a genre of Science-Fiction.  Grin

But the debate/discussion isn't really about what "Punk" is... it's about what Steampunk is.

But in a way, it has to be just that by it's nature. You sought to point out (with your original post) the issue of Steampunk not being "punk"

{SNIP}

The only thing removing "punk" from Steampunk is the fact that it is a growing phenomena that is finding new fans and new levels of acceptance every day. That, however, does not necessitate a re-terming. Rather, it begs that we hold the term high and proud so that people can remember that the anachronistic "Steam" aspect persevered despite the fact that it was seen as a "punk"ish pursuit from the outside.
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Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #67 on: February 28, 2007, 01:10:47 am »

Thank you sir, and welcome to the forum.

As for your comment that Steampunk is unfinished business in that part of history. Well yes that's exactly what is so appealing about it. There really isn't any limit to what can be steampunk as long as it meets those two simple guidelines. I certainly encourage adding a modern flair as well. After all any modern idea set in a Victorian setting is automatically an anachronism. So it really makes it very easy to define this way.

All I can say is... splendidly interesting thread, one and all. Such a fine set of thinkers and tinkerers here. Thanks to VP for starting something that will run for a long time, as we all try to answer the question, "What is the attraction of this thing?". "Victorian Anachronism" will do for me as a definition, but may I also suggest that, as a wise fellow once said, we are dealing with a recognition of unfinished business in that part of history, which raises the period to prominence in our minds. Steampunk is anyone's creative exploration of that feeling, or fantasy - always including the benefit, or course, of modern social attitudes.

 

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Andy_W
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« Reply #68 on: February 28, 2007, 01:21:41 am »

We are all nerds here!

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Honky-Tonk Dragon
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« Reply #69 on: February 28, 2007, 01:31:41 am »

Chuzzlewit -- Yes, that is part of what I am saying.

VernianProcess -- Absolutely, Steampunk must involve Victorian Anachronism. In my mind that is the "steam," the "punk" is a transgressive post-modern aesthetic X-factor. That's what I was trying to say in an earlier post.

I think the punk aspect does also imply DIY. But the DIY is much broader than just tinkering, it is not the culture of DIY, but a DIY culture. Even if one is just purchasing replica items, and assembling them in ways they find fits their idea of steampunk, they are stepping away from following spoon-fed culture, they are participating in Steampunk subculture... 'zounds, there's yet another debate.

Steampunk is most assuredly more than a science fiction sub-genre at this point.

VP -- sorry, looking at your last post, I think I might have misunderstood your position, initially.
Perhaps you are defining Steam-punk as: steam = Victorian; punk = ananchronism.
But you are utilizing a much more liberal interpretation of anachronism then I was imagining.
My initial reaction to Victorian Anachronism, was pure Victorian Historical recreation.

Still, this is an invigorating debate.
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Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #70 on: February 28, 2007, 01:57:59 am »

Well yes when I use the word Anachronism, that can cover a huge range of things. From some of the more common Steampunk elements as long distance submersibles, advanced airships, and space travel, to simply spiked chokers, computers, modern slang, atomic/nuclear power, electric guitars, motorcycles, etc. Even modern philosopies, and ideas would be anachronisms.

This is all as long as these elements have a (preferably plausible) reason to exist in the setting, and are presented with a Victorian style. I mean if you're going to go and add the internet to a Victorian story, you'd better have a good explanation for how it works, and how it got there.

Another problem I see is that if you add too many modern elements, it can easily start blurring the lines of Steampunk. A few is always fine, but going overboard just doesn't work (or at least will not be as appealing).

Now to add yet another layer... take something like Arcanum, or Rise of Legends, or even Skies of Arcadia... these aren't set in an actual historical setting. But fantasy worlds that resemble a Victorian era (or in the case of RoL, a Rennaisance era). Yet we all call them Steampunk right?

I guess there is a difference between an actual Steampunk setting, and elements of Steampunk in a fantasy setting (i.e. World of Warcraft, Warhammer, etc.)

So with all this in mind, I suppose I should change my definition to reflect this new revelation...

Steampunk = "Anachronisms within a Victorian Aesthetic"

Wow this a crazy topic!


Chuzzlewit -- Yes, that is part of what I am saying.

VernianProcess -- Absolutely, Steampunk must involve Victorian Anachronism. In my mind that is the "steam," the "punk" is a transgressive post-modern aesthetic X-factor. That's what I was trying to say in an earlier post.

I think the punk aspect does also imply DIY. But the DIY is much broader than just tinkering, it is not the culture of DIY, but a DIY culture. Even if one is just purchasing replica items, and assembling them in ways they find fits their idea of steampunk, they are stepping away from following spoon-fed culture, they are participating in Steampunk subculture... 'zounds, there's yet another debate.

Steampunk is most assuredly more than a science fiction sub-genre at this point.

VP -- sorry, looking at your last post, I think I might have misunderstood your position, initially.
Perhaps you are defining Steam-punk as: steam = Victorian; punk = ananchronism.
But you are utilizing a much more liberal interpretation of anachronism then I was imagining.
My initial reaction to Victorian Anachronism, was pure Victorian Historical recreation.

Still, this is an invigorating debate.
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Fantômas
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« Reply #71 on: February 28, 2007, 04:31:15 am »

But the debate/discussion isn't really about what "Punk" is... it's about what Steampunk is.

In two words, a simple (even simpler than my previous attempt at a solid definition):

Victorian Anachronism.
 There is no debating this.


there is no debating that Victorian anachronism must be included to a degree, but that doesn't mean that anything which isn't Victorian is automatically not steampunk. the two are not mutually exclusive. There are for instance many examples of aesthetic elements which may be viewed as steam punk in contexts which for the most part are only slightly steampunk that doesn't invalidate those things.
these two fact are simply not mutually exclusive. I think it's too complex a genre and subculture to box it up under a single criteria. would anyone even be interested in it if it were so symmetrical and uninteresting a conceptual construct?

On the other hand if your aim is to resolve the conflict in opinion using Victorian reasoning, than I say the entire dilemma may be resolved by saying "steampunk is the next great invention designed to wash your clothes make you breakfast and get you to the office on time! Invest now while stocks are dirt cheap!"
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« Reply #72 on: February 28, 2007, 05:11:28 am »

Now wait, why does the building of Steampunk things not qualify as Steampunk?  While I couldn't agree more that it is nothing more than a small fraction of SP as a whole, I think it does deserve said portion.  Isn't the writing of a rock song considered "rock"?  Doesn't it make said writer a rocker (assuming he/she exhibits other rock-friendly qualities)?  If you ask me, the answer is "yes"--the act of writing the song is just as much "rock" as is  the song itself, belting it out on stage, choosing to play its recording on one's radio program, or simply air-guitaring along in the back...

That being said, I ultimately agree with the following more than anything:
<raises glass>

 "To Steampunk, whatever the hell it is!"

<drinks, throws glass into fireplace>

Here here.
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« Reply #73 on: February 28, 2007, 05:11:55 am »

I don't know why I didn't think of this before... There is one absolute, iron-clad proof that Steampunk isn't Punk: as yet, you can't get Steampunk stuff at Hot Topic.
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« Reply #74 on: February 28, 2007, 05:28:07 am »

This thread has gotten me thinking.

My portal into the steampunk world is by way of diy tinkering, and building. I am never happier then if my fingernails are stained with grease, or my hands spotted with pain. That's just my way of living in a nutshell. I have also held a long love affair with metal rivets, brass, and steel. Exposed gear works make me swoon.

I don't limit myself the Victoriana, nor to any artificial boundaries of what is, or is not, a specific subculture. I just make things I find aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps it's because I am old and slow these days, but I care very little about what the edges of a subculture are. I just happen to like things that are commonly classified as Steampunk, and it works out that a lot of my projects end up that way.

With that said, the growing web presence of other like minded tinkerers is definitely an epiphanious moment for me. I just never realized there were other folks out there with my predilections. I had already been somewhat ecstatic to find Makezine, and it's Instructables site, and this whole emerging Steampunk

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