Monday, March 2, 2009

don't walk away, oh when the world is burning

Play dress-up. Steampunk style. (Tip o' the hat to Edward, thanks for finding that!) Though to be honest, it's less "steampunk" and more "geared Flapper"; even so, it's nicely done.

And this from Roleplay Secrets may be the heart and soul of my objection to kids on SL. I hate to admit it, but they're dead-on for this one. They're absolutely right. Typical children may mess up the letter order, or not get every single sound right--that happens. Children lisp, they wander in telling stories, they can get confused--but that whole demi-babytalk angle? I didn't speak like that when I was five, so it really gets under my skin when purported adults, playing children on SL, play them so badly.

I want to talk a little bit about steampunk culture, and evolving foundations. Part of our struggle to properly identify steampunk music is the same problem that goth music struggled with at first: as a culture predominantly based upon the look, and not an evolving musical tradition, it was tricky at first--hells, it's still difficult now, on occasion--to define exactly what goth music is.

Marilyn Manson, for example; he's gothic to some, metal to others, dark industrial to still more, and where does his music slot him? He goes back and forth on the issue, as does Trent Reznor, which is ironic as they've worked together, off and on, as the years go by. The touches of fascism in image and lyric Manson toys with, he does out of political motivation; but even that is seen by some as core to the goth oeuvre.

The lead singer of Sisters of Mercy, Andrew Eldritch, denies to this very day the Sisters are gothic; and Sisters, they're almost the band (Sisters, Siouxsie, and Bauhaus) people point to to answer the question: "Just what is goth music?"


So. Steampunk means many things to many different people. For most it's still a fashion thing, the new ideal; in world or out of world, toss gears on something for no reason, it becomes steampunk. While I disagree with this interpretation (I want even the broken machinery to have worked once), it has become largely the symbol: the gear, gleaming or rusted, shattered or whole.

Russia had the hammer. And some of the same spirit of industry moves through steampunk, in literature and in expression. But what does it mean, when the parties are over, when the airships are safely in their bays, when everyone goes home for the night to tea and conversation?

I think we can safely turn to the Russians to tell us how this alternate future may have evolved.

I would point to César Cui (music for the salons where inspirations are thrown like confetti into charged air), Modest Mussorgsky (for those stirring moments where we are convinced we can be more, reach higher, than we think we can), Sergei Taneyev (the music for every skulking evildoer, every mad scientist climbing to the clock tower cackling), Alexander Scriabin (the music for every airship disaster, every experiment gone awry, every shambling horror unleashed into the clockwork world because a scientist had tampered with Things Man was Not Meant to Know), Reinhold Glière (stirring background for all moments where nationalistic ferver matches rhetoric) and Sergei Prokofiev (railway music, sound of the engines working, propelling travel and national dreams) to start, though there are so many others, I can't even remember to name them all.

Keep in mind, that for our retro-futuristic sensibilities, none of these composers would be considered "classical" ones: these were the new kids. These were the shining, rising stars of music, the ones with fresh outlooks and ideas, the ones that the people always looking forward, experimenting, tinkering, would have found fresh, bright, and relevant.

This becomes our foundation, then. From my perspective, this is the music the steampunk population would have turned to, to power the dreams that fueled the engines. This would have been the songs that set the tone of national innovation. From here, then, I'll try to wander forward, and see where it goes.

Other brief news. Though I'd had minor hints before this point, this was the moment I knew the Twisted hunt had fallen far, far from its aspirations. We had such hopes going into it, that this grid-wide would be different, because of who chose to enter into it. But so far, it's been...just pathetic, and depressing. There are so many stops where we pause, and wonder: what does any of this have to do with the 'darker side' of the grid?

I have to finally shake my head and give in: this is not a "hunt for the rest of us", this is the same exact hunt we've been doing for the past six months.

I now declare--unless the prizes, or the stores participating, are amazing--NO MORE GRID-WIDE HUNTS. There is no joy in it, it's arduous, unfun, boring, tedious, and disappointing in the end. I have more than enough tedious things to do and quite enough disappointment. No. More.


Rhianon Jameson said...

Andrew Eldritch is dead? Dear oh dear, Miss Orr, this is how rumors get started. :)

Emilly Orr said...

Do you know, until you mentioned this, I had the strongest and most vivid memory of mourning him when he died.

I am very very wrong.

I might be confusing Eldritch with Ian Curtis, though I have my doubts; on the other hand, the very much alive Eldritch is still denying goth associations for Sisters.

Emilly Orr said...

And the passage has been changed, considering new information. :)