It’s February, the month of Steampunk Hands Around The World. The theme this year is ‘Favourite Things’ – cute little puppy dogs swimming in gin and all that. I’m going to use it as an opportunity to enthuse about some of my favourite Steampunk people, and to talk more broadly about things I love. Alongside this, there will be a fair amount of the usual blog mix as well.
Steampunk is something serious people find it hard to take seriously. It’s all about dressing up and messing about and pretending – not the proper business of reasonable adults. I’ve watched people sneer about Steampunk fiction whilst being perfectly willing to write one if they think there’s money in it. The thing is that Steampunk *is* incredibly and deliberately silly, and this is a big part of why I like it.
Life is hard for too many of us, too much of the time. The rest of the world can be terrifying, and we’re bombarded every day with more misery than we can hope to make sense of. The news is largely soul destroying. Our governments want us to work harder for less while they strip away the services we depend on. Tired people spend their leisure time resting if they can. That makes us socially isolated. It reduces our support networks and sucks the joy out of life.
We all need things that make us happy. I like Steampunk in no small part because it’s a way of people getting together and hanging out and having a laugh. You don’t have to be wealthy – some disposable income tends to help, but that’s pretty much always the case. You don’t have to spend a fortune on gear. If you can get something out of a skip and add it to something from a charity shop and something that used to belong to your Gran – you’re on the right lines.
At events there’s an emphasis on participation. You don’t go to a Steampunk gathering to be a passive consumer, and I think that’s really important.
Of course it’s not all perfect – nothing involving people is all perfect because some people are assholes and the assholes get everywhere. But on the whole, it’s a good, friendly space providing a wondrous antidote to the rest of life.
Working ourselves to death, activist martyrdom, tireless campaigning, endless fighting for rights, all out full on everything I do today has to be about saving the world… is not a sustainable way to live. Emotional collapse is inevitable. If all you do is fight, then it’s not long before you lose sight of what you were fighting for. It’s hard to keep fighting when all you do is fight against what’s wrong. It is necessary to have something to fight for.
This is why we need frivolity. We need playful spaces and community spaces, and the scope to be peacefully human with each other. We need opportunities to be happy, to be carefree, to forget all the awful stuff in the world. It’s very hard work fixing anything from a place of being broken yourself. If all we do is worthy and purposeful, we lose part of what it is to be alive, because it is human to play. We need music, and dance and stories and theatre, we need silly hats and clothes we enjoy and things that make us laugh. We need to stop trying to buy these from commercial producers and start trying to find them collectively. Having a good time without buying it off the peg is just as revolutionary as anything else you can commit to.
More about Steampunk Hands Around The World here – https://airshipambassador.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/announce-hands-2016/