How do you think your country/state/city has shaped your views on Steampunk?

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How do you think your country/state/city has shaped your views on Steampunk?

Post  Mr. Tower on Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:44 pm

We are all to some degree the product of not only our times but of our location. Each of us is shaped by the country we live in, the city or valley we call home, the places we have been. These effects often manifest in interesting an unique ways and importantly, in ways we are often not even aware of.

So what is it about your location that you think has shaped your particular view of steampunk or anything else for that matter?

To start us off, I'll attempt to answer my own question.

As an American who has lived most of my life in a very rural, western area I think that my approach to steampunk comes from a more individualist, functional point of view than most of what I see in the mainstream. Although some areas of the american west are very clannish and restrictive the area that I live in has a more diverse range of political and social standards than you would expect from a rural area. In my part of state much of the population as moved here from 'the outside' not to farm or ranch the land but to enjoy nature and to get away from other people. There are farmers to be sure but they live shoulder to shoulder (as much as anyone can in such a wide open area) with hippies, ranchers and american indians.

All these means is that walking though town you can expect to see just about anybody from any socia-econmic group you can imagine and we mostly get along. What this means to me personally is I never had any fear of standing out or not fitting in. Sure, people here are judgmental just like anywhere else but there are so many different groups you never feel any more of an outsider than anyone else. Steampunk is just another costume much like the cowboys you see everyday or the minks from the large Buddhist center nearby built on an old farmsite.

One thing that most people here have in common is a general distrust of government, cities and anyone from california, perhaps uniquely, these views cross normal political boundaries and give both republicans and democrats something they can agree on, and despite the fact that all of our local jokes involve californians in unfortunate circumstances we actually have quite a few of them living here.

This generally anarchist trend as become a part of how I view the world and admit, I often find people who like rules and regulations to be slightly offensive, even if the rules are ones that I agree with.

On the more practical side there are certain realties of rural life that have probably had a great deal to do with my take on steampunk. In order to live any kind of life here you need to have at least basic mechanical skills. Not everyone can field strip a tractor but pretty much everyone can fix a flat tire, start a fire or shoot a gun. Most people keep a sleeping bag and boots in their car in case of a winter break down.

Cars, something that urbanites or europeans may be surprised at is the sheer number of cars and trucks here. Even for america it is high. They are an absolute necessity here if you want to do anything. With no public transportation and bad roads half of the year if you don't have a reliable vehicle you can't so much as drive into town to see a movie let along buy groceries or have job. Most people have two if they can afford it, a all wheel drive truck and a smaller, generally nicer car for summer driving and to save on gas milage. A simple road trip to visit friends is often a two hundred mile drive and pedestrians are those annoying things that keep getting hit by trucks and making the city put in more street lights.

If I where to guess at the most common type of vehicle I would have to say its a four wheel drive Subaru station wagon.

What all this means I don't know but for me steampunk is more of a problem solving tool than a social club or form of art.


Last edited by Mr. Tower on Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: How do you think your country/state/city has shaped your views on Steampunk?

Post  The Lady Branwyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:12 am

I'm certain that growing up in the western half of the US, the western style of Steampunk has heavily influenced my tastes. I rarely even think of the distinction between Steampunk and "Steamwestern" as others would call it. I wonder if those in Europe see more difference between the two.
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Re: How do you think your country/state/city has shaped your views on Steampunk?

Post  W. S. Marble on Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:21 am

What an excellent notion, that geographic past makes the punk. I find it interesting that you are both from the west, and that it has had such a definite influence on you both. My past has definitely had such an influence, as well...

1956-1968 New Jersey
1968-1972 Florida
1972-1978 Arizona
1978-1979 Virginia
1979-1987 Germany
1987-1990 Japan
1990-1994 Pennsylvania
1994-1999 Virginia
1999-2012 West Virginia

I have visited Canada, Mexico, Tunisia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and every state except Michigan. The single common element to the places I have lived has been the prominence of trains, usually on the same block as I lived. When I was a kid in New Jersey, these were steam locomotives of Erie Lackawana. I once jumped off a moving train, though much less gracefully than is done in the movies. But not just any train--this was Express l'Orient. For me, Steampunk is a fulfillment of nostalgia, and my craving for the return of such beloved elements. But it is more, of course. Transportation has been such an element of importance to me, that I am obsessed with it (to the patient dismay of my wife and family). I cannot imagine recreating the refinement of petroleum in any dystopian scenario. I can easily however imagine the recreation of less technological solutions. Finally, I adore the aesthetics, in fashion and in all other items, that you all continue to hone to such a high art form. There are no folks more imaginative, more enjoyable in conversation, nor more delightful in manner, than you of the Steampunk community.
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