09 May 2011

The Steampunk Bible

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer and S J Chambers is great fun.

I reviewed it over at Goodreads, so I don't feel this has to be a sensible review. But nor am I going to descend into simply squee'ing over the great photos -- though I easily could.

I thought I'd have a little ramble about one of the points brought up in the book, the idea that Steampunk celebrates an elimination of obsolescene and a return to creativity and craftsmanship.

I detest the built-in obsolescence of mass produced junk. Not only is it wasteful, it fails to respect how I interact with inanimate objects -- I build relationships.

If we interact with something on a daily basis -- like the toaster (evil stainless steel genius), the computer, the car -- we wrap it into our animate life. I really think that's how the human brain works. That's why, at distracted moments, I thank a vending machine for a chocolate bar.

Built-in obsolescence destroys those relationships, makes them insecure, forces us to re-learn our habits (oh, how I detest upgrades).

Steampunk, on the other hand, celebrates the inclusion of the inanimate into our lives. I think de Chardin was the first person I read who said something like "we are everything we affect in our lives".

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