On a random day, it’s fun to don the ridiculous costume of the previous times, now far enough back into history to be intriguing, rather than embarrassing. This is the main appeal of the Renfaire phenomenon, and now, steampunk.
While people of the most recent century snickered at the values of their grandparents (mine were born just past 1900), generations before that are exotic and interesting.
Steampunk explores the technological side of the industrial revolution with the entrepreneurial spirit and the inventive imagination of the time mixed in with often rose-colored hindsight, to create a history that never was. It’s all very Romantic, as the era when the age of Reason gave way to the split of the mind between business and culture.
At AnachroCon last year, I listened to a panel of women who work in male-dominated fields of computer tech and engineering. They said how much fun it was to get dolled up, draping frippery and cinching into corsets with their leather and brass weaponry. Most of them would find this garb uncomfortable, even dangerous, in their daily lives, but where else does the average person have a chance to get dressed up and sashay?
Steampunk is really not about gears, but about making a different world, a world of many possibilities and different perspectives, when it seemed that all the mysteries could be solved and that with only spunk and intelligence, one could win the day.
I’m not sure that we are not re-cycling to that mindset, that a persona with intelligence and spunk can come up with a new idea, a new business model, a different way to solve the day’s problems. I know that I’m all for a world that at least once in a while does not mind my having a substantial ass.