A Million Universes – The creativity of steampunk

Guest Blog

Nicole Alexandria

Despite my pleading – using many references and direct quotes to Charles Bukowski’s Post Office – my younger brother is now employed as a United States Postal Worker. He’s been there for a few months now and he loves it. He floats around as a carrier and gets to see different part of the city, gets paid decently and when he leaves work he actually gets to leave it without lingering deadlines, or annoyances permeating his head at night. Every time I make a school loan payment for my useless degree, I’m terribly jealous. I also remember right about then that Bukowski, although possibly a literary genius, was also a bastard drunk, so maybe his account of postal life wasn’t necessarily accurate.

One day while working in a particularly meager section of the city, a gentleman stopped my brother along his trails to inquire about updated pricing. While responding, my brother used the Internet as a reference point, and the gentleman responded saying he didn’t know what he was talking about. He had spent 15 years in prison and the ways of the World Wide Web were completely foreign.

Think about that for a second.

Can you imagine not knowing what the Internet is?

The Internet in a very short time period has completely destroyed the music industry, the newspaper and magazine industries, the entire concept of going to see a travel agent, the movie rental business, Greeting Card publishing and countless others. (You can raise prices all you want Comcast; you’re up next, kiddo! And probably the US postal system while we’re at it, but not as quickly because someone’s going to have to deliver all those packages from online retailers you buy stuff from now.) When you think about it, most people even use the Internet to self diagnose before going to see a doctor in this day in age. I know I’ve at least once I was tired at work, plugged in my symptoms on an online generator and thought I was afflicted with advanced Lyme’s Disease. I don’t even have a checking book anymore because I pay rent online.

No one can really imagine what the future will bring, but my favorite geek trend as of late by far is the Steampunk movement.

Now nerds, please feel free to flair me all you want, but I am one of you. I swear. I don’t dress up and I don’t go to conventions and buy relics of ridiculous crap found in Star Trek or Lord of the Ring movies. I don’t collect bugs or comic books and I may have gotten laid fairly recently, which would otherwise exclude me from your realm altogether. But I will be honest, I do love a good turkey leg and an ale served by a cheeky little wench at the local Renaissance Fair once a year. I’ve even joined the Queen’s Parade after my fifth beer of the day.

Now why I would like to commend you nerds on the steampunk movement in particular is because you’re right for once. I don’t particularly long for a world where I’m sucked dry by a skinny vampire longing for Vitamin D. I don’t care how awesome the shire is or how great the world would be if it were full of fairies. But a world where we fly around on giant Zeppelins and wear top hats and corsets? Where I get to work in a hot air balloon … or even better on my fucking jetpack? The Victorian Era couldn’t have imagined a world with the Internet or a world where things were made cheaply to mass consume as much as possible, but there is an element of class and quality in their imagination that doesn’t exist today.

We all live in a world where music and entertainment is given to us immediately with one touch of a button. A world of knowledge is at your very fingertips at any second. We are given answers from Google and taught to fix things through YouTube. We can purchase anything with a few finger strokes on the right website.

But does anyone actually dream anymore? We gripe about speed – for things to become faster and more cost effective. But does anyone really have any romanticized notions of what it’ll be anymore? Children used to play outside for hours until they were pulled inside, dreaming of different games to play like Cowboys and Indians, but now they play predetermined video games purchased from the local Gamestop.

At least steampunk, if literally nothing else, remembers a time when people still used their imaginations. I know I still for one want a fucking jetpack.

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