Flags and Boxes

Flags become boxes.

That’s the end point of this post. That, and I love people.

So I hang out with this group of people. And the diagram of us/them looks sort of like this. Many of us/them have had a variety of relationships with each other, and things would be what most call “complicated” if not for compersion, Telling It Like It Is, and loving each other enough to call bullshit. Trying to bust out the diagram every time I tried to explain my social structure to others got kind of cumbersome, though, so when someone started using the word “Tribe” to describe the mish-mash, I went for it. “Tribe” was used as a mailing list tag, to make sure I got everyone I usually invited to parties, plus or minus a few on what sort of party/event it was.

The issue is, of course, that having been named, it became an entity to some. Something to belong to or not to belong to, a [set] group of people. The flag which was waved to say “look at how amazing life is, this warm fuzzy feeling!” turned into a box into which some people went (and therefore others didn’t).

You can imagine the drama that unfolded. Or maybe you can’t. Thing is, I don’t give a damn for it. And explaining to someone that they feel excluded because they used a term in a different way is difficult. It means I’m the “cold” one because I refuse to buy into a system which excludes people by default, when they wanted an apology for being excluded. Cue cognitive dissonance. And that’s another “us and them,” isn’t it? Those who get it and those who don’t.

It’s the same issue a friend of mine had, when she was trying to find a lady-friend. She said Seattle has too many lesbians and not enough women. People who wrap themselves up in a Thing To Be end up only expressing one part of themselves. And I’m sorry, but I like the diversity of people. I love how different, sometimes at-odds, aspects of individuals play within themselves. I want to see that unfold. And if you’re not up to it, that’s ok, but you damn well better not assume I will also only be one thing in life. I contain multitudes (, bitches).

So I welcome you all to embrace the messiness of life, and not to be upset when some things don’t work out while others do. There’s enough in the world for everyone to be happy. Insert other phrases of hard-won wisdom here. Just breathe, all else will follow.

Steampunk is Awesome

I had just realized that the new copy of SteamPunk Magazine was on our counter. I opened up the house, sat outside, listening to blues music (of the Guy Davis persuasion), and read the first few pages. The opening quote always sets the tone, and helps me to feel like taking on the world really is worth it today. The letters to the editor are well chosen, showing a wide variety of vested interests in the culture. Margaret is not afraid to speak his/her mind, but also does so with tact.

What really got me (in as far as I’ve gotten) is the Manifesto of Sorts.

Steampunk is the first self-molding subculture that I’ve been privy to. While not personally immersed in it (I’ll stick to my shiny oxygen tech, thank you), I do live with someone who is highly involved and we have fantastic conversations about ethics and online debates and what people are doing and saying. I do agree with a lot of the concerns Steampunks bring to the table – understanding technology, responsible action, DIY, etc.

To me, this manifesto was about not boxing yourself in, not saying what Steampunk is or isn’t. It’s about letting the culture evolve how it will, based on the ideals that it believes in. And that brings me joy. I see our (dare I say) generation as being at a point of major change (just as much as any other was, I’ll admit). Every crossroad determines future paths, and one of the reasons I’m so into Transhumanism is trying to guide those decisions towards the nurturing instead of the destructive. Right now I see Steampunk on the brink of going down the path that so many other subcultures have gone down – being co-opted, capitalized, routinized. But the difference is because of the people involved being self-aware, giving a shit, and being willing to fucking stand up, Steampunk doesn’t have to go down that path. Instead it can form a new sort of system of belonging. A system that can set an example for other emerging subcultures online and IRL.
Can you imagine it? Being accepted in a subculture because of what you’ve contributed instead of what you claim to be interested in, who you know, what clever words you can say, what clothing you can afford? I can. And I believe in it.