Much excitement at the station today: The Flying Scotsman is passing through and all the steam buffs, rail enthusiasts and photographers are out in force. There’s quite a buzz about the place.
I must admit to a geeky fascination with such things – not trainspotters, steam locomotives – they hail from an age when form was every bit as important as function and, no matter how else you may feel about them, you have to admit that they are, in engineering terms, masterpieces of design. That aside, it can’t be denied that there’s a certain majesty and grandeur, and a romanticism about them that is hard to ignore.
However, as I’ve mentioned, it is a bit geeky to be seen as an enthusiast about such things, so my admiration is kept in check; at least it is in the real world. SL however is that place where the inner geek can feel free to express themselves and have fun, which is why you’ll often find my own inworld parcel unashamedly given over to such indulgences.
I suppose the logical extension of the theme is that weird and wonderful world of steampunk – something that, apart from the very occasional foray, I’m not at all caught up in. It’s maybe a little odd but even though the whole steampunk culture is something I completely understand and even admire, somehow I’ve never really bought into it in a big way. Even in SL, where there are whole sims and communities dedicated to the steampunk way, much as I enjoy exploring them, that’s about as far as I tend to go. Perhaps it’s because there is, for me, a clear distinction between ‘proper’ old fashioned engineering and true Heath Robinson style machines, and modern technology wrapped in a veneer of aesthetically pleasing, but otherwise functionless, decoration. I’ll take the authentic over the imitation any day.
I do think that we’ve lost something of value from the past in so many ways. I’ve previously bemoaned the dumbing-down of our architectural heritage, and I feel much the same about other elements of everyday life. Take any car, train or kitchen appliance from the past and put it alongside its modern day equivalent and I know which would hold the most aesthetic appeal to me every time. We seem to live in a world where grey and white, featureless, bland, boxes rule the day, and any attempt at decoration, frivolity or uniqueness is frowned upon and is to be avoided at all cost. No fun at all.
Thank goodness the same complaint can’t be levelled at SL, if there’s one thing that’s true of the virtual world, it’s that individuality, quirkiness and frivolity are very much alive and kicking wherever you look. Maybe steampunk isn’t your thing, but whatever your particular thing might be, there’s almost certainly something that will appeal inworld – and, in the unlikely effect that there isn’t, you can always make it yourself!
I’ve often thought that I was born in the wrong century – but, since there’s nothing I can realistically do about that, I may as well make the best of what I have, and what I have is SL. Which, of course, I wouldn’t have had if I’d been born a century earlier!
Can’t have it all, I guess.
I’ve sat alone and watched her
Steaming through the night
Ninety tons of thunder
Lighting up the sky
Saxon – Princess Of The Night