In a brilliant cap to his series "A History of Steampunk" Cory Gross over at Voyages Extraordinaires has posted this cogent analysis of the coming course of Steampunk sub-culture. Boy that guy can write!
I am immensely flattered that he’s credited me with initiating the controversy on the Brass Goggles Forum (I always thought it had been Johnny Payphone myself.) that set Steampunk on it’s present course. He quotes a portion of a 2007 Wired interview I did where I said that DIY wasn’t originally a quality of Steampunk and he responds:
This admitted co-option led to a debate between older and newer fans over the extent to which a DIY and Punk ethos was necessary, required or even wanted of Steampunk. The view that they were, championed by "makers" such as Jake von Slatt and Datamancer and media such as Steampunk Magazine, won out in short order and the dynamics of Steampunk as a subcultural movement were regimented.
Cory goes on to quote the eloquent manifesto written by the Catastrophone Orchestra and Arts Collective in the premier issue of Steampunk Magazine as further sealing Steampunk sub-culture’s fate.
Steampunk may indeed progress exactly as Cory predicts. However, the important thing (and this is clearly true with respect to music and subculture) is not so much the style but the underlying ideas and ideals that people who are attracted to the style are ultimately exposed to. Steampunk will introduce a whole new generation to DIY and Punk political thought. I know for a fact that it has me re-visiting the music and philosophies of my youth.
I fear Cory will not be pleased at all with some of the conclusions I’ve come to with respect to the direction the sub-culture should take as I’ve recently become quite enamored of the books I acquired from the the folks at CrimethInc.
Regardless, those of us who love Steampunk so will still be wearing our top hats long after the trend is dead.