Lost in the Shadows
If life gives you lemons, make a clockwork lemonade maker.
Short Description: Escaping the Future by Building the Past.
Dress: The Vu is known as the absolute Doyenne of Design, the Sartorial Supreme, and is famed for being able to describe and analyze any style of dress. So it’s with a slight sense of shame that the Vu has to admit that ou has to just shrug my exquisite shoulders and say “You’ll know it when you see it”. There’s so much variety of dress and accessorizing in the Revival that the only way you can really identify them in costume is a general sense of ‘out of timeness’, but without the patch-work quality that marks the truly clueless and out of date. Craftpunks are about completeness.
Symbols: Craftpunks LOVE symbols, gears with wings, old badges and patches from organizations and nations that no longer exist, or ones designed by the more artistic members of the community. Since they generally got into the Revival movement to express their identity, there’s a tendency towards elaborate, very personal tattoos, often in the style of their adopted cultures.
Lingo: Say what you will, Revivals are nothing if not thorough. Generally they will thoroughly research whatever era/culture they’re studying at the moment and reproduce it as authentically as they can, or is practical in the case of things like Middle English or Late Atlantean. It could be as simple as a few anachronistic words scattered in their speech, or the adoption of a whole different dialect.
- Styles: Steelmill Industrial, neo-Classical, HardPunk
- What’s on Their Playlists?: Astral Lightning, Darkvine, Maria Mercurial
- Local bands: Teleforce, Mead Goggles, The Wenches
At first glance at the Two Great Cities that Taste Great Together’s nocturnal ‘scene’, one might be forgiven for thinking that all the kids one sees in top hats, corsets and buttoned boots are hold-outs who didn’t get the memo about the post-Crash steampunk resurgence being over (silly critics, when will they learn that declaring something dead only gives it power?). But as the Vu lives to remind people, very little, if anything, is ever quite what it appears at first blush. (and the Vu never stops at just the first blush). Because on closer inspection, one would start to see things that don’t add up. Clothing from a wider range of eras, renaissance tights next to three-piece-suits and bowlers next to Eurowar jackets and religiously accurate recreations of any era from just after the fall of the Roman Empire to the Death of Dunkelzahn. Less open machinery and more homespun fabrics. A notable paucity of wireless traffic, far less than the usual workaday drudge and certainly less than the network-addicted club kids. All this tells you, if like the Vu, you’re paying attention that this is more than the superficial steampunk that one venerable old scenester described as “what happens when goth kids discover the color brown”. These are Craftpunks.
Steampunk, like every robust fashion trend, has come in waves (like most of the Vu’s personal favorite steampunks, oh my…). The last big surge (my, my, what a dirty little mind you have ;-P ) was between the Second Crash and the early 70’s. It’s been most tiresomely covered elsewhere, so the Vu is going to leave it to the work of the past.. The deliciously perverse Plan9 has a good overview of it’s rise on Jackpoint. However, with the fading of the mainstream scene, it becomes important to look at it’s influence and shared roots with Craftpunk, as eloquently put by the completely lovely and delightfully dangerous LilimWolf: “The more mainstream aspects of steampunk center around fashion and literature, while the more “punk” side of steampunk is focused on making things using steam technology, reviving some Victorian customs and manners, and embracing self-sufficiency through skills that would have been more commonplace during the Victorian era: sewing, knitting, metalwork, cobbling, leatherwork, clockmaking, cooking, brewing, distilling, apothecary/medical studies, occult studies, etc”
The pieces of the Revival counterculture has been building since at least the Beats began to question the prosperity of post-World War II America (indeed, the Vu holds that Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ is an absolute love-letter to the Depression). But there’s a lot of things, besides the obvious Steampunk roots, that went into the Revival, the remnants of DIY punk after the Punk Implosion of the late 2040’s, various medieval recreationists dating from the pre-Awakening, given new strength by their involvement with the various metahuman pride movements, even the Co-op Movement, with which there’s a unsurprising amount of overlap. What did these various bits of counterculture stew possibly have in common? On an aesthetic, not a lot, I mean, seriously, we’re talking about neo-Victorians, thrift-store chic, medievalists and militant hippies among other things. But on a deeper level, there’s a great deal in common, which can be loosely as a ‘dissatisifaction with the (post)modern world’, often manifested by a rejection of modern interdependence in favor of increased self-sufficiency, recovering skills that they feel have been lost in the modern world. It should be noted here that their ‘revival’, while often meticulously, almost obsessively researched and crafted (preferably by hand, if you can imagine that!), will often take a Craftpunk through several eras/interests/milieus, from which they will begin to assemble a world, their own “Utopian Playland”, that matches their views and the values they wish to emphasize, through a process of bricolage, creating a bit of a time-travel-patchwork effect, emphasizing the Creative in ‘Creative Anachronism’ (the name of the largest of the pre-Awakening medieval recreationist groups).
As a side note, the Vu, being an integral part of the great mosiac of society ouself can’t really take their noble ambitions on board personally, but can admire their passion from afar, where they can do less damage. The Vu, for one, takes great comfort in interdependence, ah, but that’s a rant for another time and far more absinthe.
It should be noted that this love of all things pre-modern doesn’t mean that the Craftpunks aren’t technological. Au Contraire, while there a few dedicated medievalist Luddites, most of the Craftpunks the Vu knows are absolutely batty for gadgets, the stranger or more (to put it diplomatically) “obscurely useful”. They love gadgets so much they the prefer to build their own. In fact, a great deal of the social credit and status within their community comes from the skill and complexity of the devices they make for themselves.
Which brings up the most central aspect and the origin of the the ‘Craft’ in ‘Craftpunk’. They Make Things. They Make Their Own Things. Think on that one, chicks and chicklets. It’s what truly sets them apart from the rest of us. Seriously, when was the last time you or I made… well, anything, really? We used to have people to do that for us, now we have people to supervise the machines that make the machines to do that for us. Which, for the Vu, is only regrettable in that there aren’t a few more steps between me and the dreary reality, but for the Craftpunk, the closer they can get to the things they use, the better they like it. Craftpunks don’t necessarily want to reinvent the wheel, but they certainly want to carve their own, without being reliant on some big international wheel conglomerate. Which, if it sounds political, the Vu supposes it is, after all in an age as commercial as ours, it is everything that is made is an economic act and thus a political act. It should go without saying, although it won’t, that the overlap between serious “Lifestyle” Craftpunks and anti-corp causes is extremely high. In fact, a fair number of Craftpunks, in common with their Co-op brethren, feel that making one’s own tools and clothes, whenever possible is the most certain act of resistance against the modern, megacorporate world. The 3D printer, an early precursor to nanofaxing, which was a fad early in the century, is alive and well and used for those things that it is impractical to make oneself. Entire Matrix communities of Craftpunks exist to share designs and patterns for making parts and tools they can’t readily obtain or make themselves. While all of this sounds all too drearily like work for the Vu (who knows only one sort of ‘working it’…), one can’t but admire the skill and ingenuity with which they do it.
Obsessive geeks they might be, but the Craftpunk movement’s more political edge provides a good source for off-the-grid equipment for anti-corp militants. A lot of these guys are full-time weapon aficionados and they can recreate pretty much any weapon ever made and spend the kind of free time figuring out modifications that usually puts you on Security Watchlists.
Presumably they’ll also do that kind of work for anyone with the nyiaj for it. Ain’t only anti-corp tsis cia siab sometimes need some off-the-grid weapons mods done, if you hauv.
Some of them, yeah. But a fair number of these guys are true believers. If the money was everything to them, they wouldn’t be out where the drones don’t run, you know? So it’s best if you share some of their values. Or at least if they think you do.
Speaking of politics, the only part of politics that really interests the Vu is the part with the strange bedfellows and the Craftpunks have some fairly strange bedfellows. See, back before the Awakening, one of the major sources of Revival culture was the Society for Creative Anachronism. Again, from my she-wolf on the inside, LilimWolf: “In the SCA, especially, members tended to be highly educated, often with military experience, and many with an interest in self-sufficiency. Assume that any combat scenarios could involve well-organized melee actions – the SCA was half-jokingly referred to as the world’s largest private army.” The SCA spoke to something in veterans trained in the “Warrior Ethos” promoted by the various North American military organizations. After the Night of Rage back in ‘39, it also served as a forum for metahuman military veterans to network and train others of their kind in self-defense, one of the spawning grounds of the various Metahuman Pride movements, Wejoto Or’zet activists, the trollish Ascomanni movement, even the fraternal Sons of Moria lodges. As a result, there are still a lot of ties between the Revival Movement and the Metahuman Pride organizations and there are a lot of Craftpunks that also serve in the neighborhood defense and volunteer militias that help police metahuman neighborhoods. Which plugs some of the most enthusiastic amateur weapons-enthusiasts in the Cities Twain with a fair bit of semi-official paramilitary muscle.
And while that’s not something that particularly interests the Vu, the Vu has a feeling that those of you who run in the shade should take notice…