“With ideas it is like with dizzy heights you climb: At first they cause you discomfort and you are anxious to get down, distrustful of your own powers; but soon the remoteness of the turmoil of life and the inspiring influence of the altitude calm your blood; your step gets firm and sure and you begin to look – for dizzier heights.”
It’s odd to me that I sometimes write about the Old Days of Steampunk as we know it – way back, what, eight or nine years ago. (But Steampunk is Alternate History and Time Travel; every year of Steampunk is like ten regular years; that’s how much change and magic we fit into a single spin ’round the sun).
Most movements look with a sort of nostalgia or fondness to the old days, when their culture belonged to just a few deeply dedicated people. And it IS true that those people invented all manner of things that we still do today.
But there was a vehement group, back then, who wanted to keep Steampunk Pure. Who wanted to give strict rules for who and what could be Steampunk–and what was absolutely, certainly NOT Steampunk.
It seemed to make sense at the time–how would we have a movement if we didn’t keep out the gatecrashers? How would we have a coherent idea if just ANYBODY could throw their thoughts into that big Steampunk-shaped hole in the Multiverse?
And the answer to that was: With absolute joy and creative abandon!
There are few Steampunk purists these days, and those who exist are there to say, “Now THAT is a particularly splendid example of Steampunk”. The gatekeepers? The ones who said, “Stay out?”
It’s like the scene in some movie, some stuffy room full of suit-wearing cigar-smokers (I love suits and I love cigars; but man, I hate stuffy rooms where A Small Group Of People Tell Everyone Else What To Do)–when suddenly, everyone gets their courage up, they storm the castle, and the hoist the pirate flag.
That’s us, bucko!
We’re the ones who said, “No! We don’t want your locked-up ideas of Steampunk! We don’t want to lock up ANY part of Steampunk! We want to let it out, free, into the world, to mutate and grow and fill us all with joy!”
We are the Steampunk pirates, storming the castle, seizing Steampunk, and hurling it, like ten thousand gold coins, over the walls, for everyone to enjoy.
And now–no one person owns Steampunk. Not that guy who owns The Steampunk World’s Fair (that’s me) – not Nikola Tesla, not the biggest band or the most famous maker or anybody.
Whether or not YOU were there for those days, if you’re part of Steampunk now, you are complicit in that legacy. Steampunk CAN be for everyone, because it has its own gate: Very few people are willing to do silly things, to pretend and envision imaginary worlds, and do the hard work of making them a part of Reality. That’s the only gate we need–are you willing to participate in the silly, the magical, the wondrous, and the whimsical?
It seems you are. Because Steampunk keeps growing, and it fills us all with joy.
Thank you for that.