Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Awareness

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Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK

One of the many nice benefits in our community is the ease with which we can meet other people. There are so many options and opportunities available from blogs to social media to forums to events. Each one not only provides us with a bit of information about something going on in the world of steampunk, and a chance to reach out and interact with others, but it also gives us a window into other people.

This small view can show us the skills that someone knows, and other perspectives on a topic. Sometimes, they give us a bit of insight into what life is like for others, and the trials and triumphs they face.

All of this enhances our lives by increasing our awareness, and hopefully our understanding, of the larger world around us. If we are fortunate, we learn a bit more about ourselves, too. We might even enhance those positive traits which could use a little work.

With that awareness, we can see how people are like people everywhere. We have similar wants, needs, and desires. Some people remind us of our younger, less experienced selves, and others are people who we’d like to be when we get older.

We realize that everyone faces trials and hardships, just like we do. Some seem trivial to us, others make us glad it’s not one of our issues. We may see people and think their lives must be so wonderful and exciting, but we don’t see the hardships they face each day.

As we get to know people in the community and are interested in them and their lives, the world can feel much smaller. Events in the news make us reach out to those people, ensuring they are OK.

Hopefully, that awareness of others leads to more awareness of ourselves. What are the good things about us that makes others smile, and which can lift our won spirits when times get rough? What are the challenges we face, and how can we overcome them by learning how others resolve their own trials, and conversely, how might others learn from us? When someone else needs a helping hand, how do we extend it? When someone offers their assistance, how do we accept it?

When we disagree with an opinion or a belief, we can try to see other perspectives, at least to try to understand. When something really gets our dander up, our awareness of other can help us see why we are bothered so much.

And something that may make us yell in anger first, then laugh at ourselves, is when we see something in another person we just cannot stand, only to finally realize that we are just looking in a mirror, with a light cast on ourselves.

Awareness can make us better people, help us see more of the world existing around us, and be part of something larger than ourselves.

 

Follow along each day as new entries are added to the Official Link List and join the discussions on the Facebook event page.

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Published in: on February 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Steampunk is Intellectual

Steampunk encourages intellectualism, valuing independent thinking, questioning, and the pursuit of knowledge, on many fronts and for many reasons. Investigate the unknown. Challenge authoritarian proclamations. Validate speculation and hypothesis. Experience your erudition as a positive and meaningful life for yourself.

Intellectualism is an act of rebellion against the control of fear, falsehoods, and ignorance by basing our actions and beliefs on informed logic and reason combined with curiosity and creativity. It is a fight against immutable ideology, prescribed doctrine, and contradictory precepts. It is a confrontation of infallible authority, conformist truths, and hypcritical perceptions.

Therefore, using information as our flame, inquiry as our sword, and experimentation as our shield, steampunk is rebellion.

Even the most minimal participation in the various forms of steampunk culture and community practically begs for, if not demands, ongoing, open ended, ontological education. We are not content to be told how things are, what we must do, or how we should act. In our steampunk revisions, reinventions and recreations, we seek to understand how things originally work so we can make our own changes and build something new. We seek to analyze in order to know the underlying meaning and significance. We seek to try new experiences so as to expand the boundaries of our lives.

Our stories are not just about literacy but requests the ability to comprehend, understand, and relate to an alternate, if not altogether new, world, to analyze the underlying themes and symbolism, and to interpret the messages beyond the surface plotline.

Our fashions are not just imitations but new creations, not just pulling together disparate elements in a haphazard way but with structure and desire to project a specified image.

Our technology is not just reimagining or reinterpreting but forging something new from reusable materials using a different perspective.

For all of these things, we need to constantly review and deduce how people are, what history is all about, and why things actually work. It goes beyond a desire to merely learn new topics, it is an innate drive to experience and absorb those untried ideas and concepts and then to combine them into something hitherto unforeseen. Much like our symbolic brass, our inventive enlightenment is about the connection and integration of the unrelated, the fusion of contradictions, and the amalgam of diversity.

Writers learn the techniques of their craft but then must also go on to learn about the people and the world around them. Successful steampunk authors aren’t telling a formulaic story with the superficial trappings of the nineteenth century. Their characters aren’t one dimensional caricatures or stereotypes. Their commentary is not shallow. In creating a believable world setting, they must understand cause and effect and real world history in order to present plausible explanations for differences. For characterization, they need to understand the psychology of human behavior and motivations, how people change and why they stay the same. There is an understanding of symbolism and metaphor, of structure and tactics, of the form and impact of the very words themselves.

Designers learn the initial construction process, but then examine history for inspiration. The fantastic outfits we see at conventions and in artwork are not mirrored replicas. They are not even simplistic interpretations of a bygone era. There is thought and planning behind the image to project, the character to be, the attitude to own. The colors and patterns are not splashed together like abstract art, the shapes and functions are not cubist elements brought together as crude building blocks, and the final collection is not just the sum of its parts but is a greater composition with its own substance and meaning.

Makers learn about technology and how things work but then move on to experimentation and pushing the boundaries of mechanics and imagination. In all forms of the arts – technology, sculptures, drawings and more – they create realities out of dreams. They are the ones who bring the tools and toys to life, transforming the potential into the tangible. It is hands-on skill combined with creative vision which creates objects of inspiration and wonder.

All of this is the result of investigation, research, and practice. It is questioning what is and asking “Why not?” It is that inherent drive to take one idea and walk down multiple surprising new paths of study and interest.

Every steampunk is an author, a designer and a maker in their own right. Each of us has those aspects, grown and nurtured in everything we see, read, and do. Each of us writes a story every day in our beliefs, actions, and attitudes, if not actually on paper then on life writ large. Each of us creates images of how society and culture might be, how people could be, and how we as individuals should be. Each of us builds new constructs, if not tangible artwork then as imaginings, discussions and friendships.

You rebellious steampunks think you are so smart.

Thankfully, you are.

Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Steampunk is … Reaction, Rebellion, Resolution

When people are first exposed to steampunk, they may read stories set in an alternative Victorian history, they may see movies filled with creatively designed if not primitive versions of modern technology, and they may see people in the real world wearing stylish if anachronistic clothing and using decoratively modified devices.

They see the resulting resolutions to an individual’s rebellion against a personal situation and a way to make changes a lived reality. Underlying those external expressions and behaviors by others is a guiding philosophy of how one wants to live their life and be fulfilled in it.

While the term ‘steampunk’ is a tongue-in-cheek reference to ‘cyberpunk’, coined by K.W. Jeter in 1987,  and it is not the ‘punk’ of ‘punk rock’, it can be argued that all three have a similar basis of feeling and response.

For some people, the steampunk world, encompassing both the physical aesthetic and the virtual themes, is driven by that ‘punk’ attitude: a refusal to accept the world as presented, with a correlating desire to reshape it, and ultimately action to bring those envisioned changes to reality. Individuals with their independent ways and views, with a more encompassing or outsider attitude, and with a desire for something at least different if not more fulfilling, see how their own status quo is lacking or oppressive and seeks to make a change for themselves in their own lives for their own happiness. Punks test the limits of societal acceptability, confront conformity and complacency, and create jarringly unexpected new forms of expression.

Reaction: an idea evoked by some experience; a response that reveals a person’s feelings or attitude; doing something in opposition to another way of doing it that you don’t like;

Reaction is where everyone begins before making a change. Sometimes, the reaction is positive when we find something pleasant and agreeable, like delicious new foods and fulfilling experiences. Alternatively, the reaction could be negative when something causes tension and discord in our lives, like stifling limitations, disappointment and frustration, and overt or subtle oppression.

The strength and endurance of our reaction determines the next step: yielding to inertia and maintaining a course of action, or making a decision to change. Some people will experience the variety of expressions in the Steampunk community and will walk away unimpressed, uninterested, and apathetic. Other will find it offends their very nature and be completely opposed to any consideration of what it might offer. But there are those who embrace the initial emotional, even sub-conscious, appeal and enticement to explore their newfound interest.

Rebellion: refusal to accept some authority or code or convention; refusal of obedience or order; break with established customs; break an allegiance.

Rebellion often follows a strong negative reaction against something, a visceral feeling or attitude to pull away from something for simple escape, to fulfill an attraction to something else, or even a desire to change one thing into another. As simplistic examples, one might want to leave an unhappy relationship, or move to a better job, or transform one’s physical appearance.

Steampunks may rebel against something in their lives feeling a need to explore new things beyond their experience, or find more visual or tactile fulfillment in the physical things around them, or desire to create or modify something anew. Rebellion may happen against social injustices of the past and present, or current inconsiderate and uncompassionate behaviors, or the effects of monotonous, mass-produced, corporate design.

“Punk in the seventies was a rebellion against contemporary society. We are most definitely rebelling but we are making a stand against: throwaway society, poor manners and antisocial behaviour, homogenisation and commercialism. We are punks who are polite, friendly, care about the environment and the past and encourage creativity.” “What is Steampunk” by John Naylor, The VSS

Resolution. finding or being a solution to a problem; a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner; resolute = firm in purpose or belief.

Resolution is the cathartic action taken to change a situation from a problem to a solution, a liability to an asset, a life-sucking depression to an energetic elation. It is finally doing something after feeling and thinking about a need to change.

Steampunks may find resolution by reading the growing list of literature and sharing their interest with friends. They may want to learn more and add more to their lives by participating in online forums, initiating discussions with others and by attending local meet-ups and regional conventions. They may want to expand their skills by making and building something never seen before.

Steampunks may require more direct and tangible actions. Some will be moved to write their own stories and make their own movies. Others will design and sew their own clothing, and create their own accessories. Some will transform mass produced, commonplace, soul-breaking lackluster objects into unique, hand crafted works of functional art.

Steampunks will find their reaction, rebellion and resolution spanning the spectrum of motivational reasons. Perhaps it’s the desire to learn more, do more and be more, or the need to break free of internal or external imposed limitations, or an inherent revulsion at the excess materialism clothed in a complete lack of style in a commerce-driven society.

Our group resolutions, our common acts of rebellion, take the form of corsets and top hats, of artisanship and intellectualism, of re-creation and re-imagining. Mainstream society may not understand, but then, it usually doesn’t initially comprehend nor accept something perceived as radically different or out of synch with conventional norms. But it is that rebellion which drives us forward as individuals, as a community, and as a society.

Regardless of the reasons for rebellion, the Steampunk community is a collection of journeys of self expression through paths of individualism, creativity, and acceptance. We are inclusive, inquisitive, and always evolving. Our resolutions to our own rebellions are dressed in form and functions of times past, knowledge and skills of times present, and optimism and visions of times future. Paraphrasing Arthur O’Shaughnessy, we are the dreamers of dreams and we are the makers of our reality.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 7:09 am  Comments (16)  
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