Visiting Our Cusp, Limits, Fearlessly

Sometimes during unsettled times when so many around us are disconnected, cold, detached, uncaring, and avoiding simple social kindness to one another, or hyper-charged looking for drama and some type of controversy—perhaps because they’ve been living too long in begrudging routine mediocrity or luxury—we lose sight of what really matters in life as simple human beings. We forget that there is very little difference between all of us. In fact, genetically less than 0.1%. If we would embrace this commonality, this intimate reality, our very fragility and vulnerability with each other in this daunting, life-giving Universe… then we are never alone. Never unwanted or not needed. Never without friend or family. This primal, very basic organic condition we all share will never, EVER change; at least not in the next 100,000 years or more.

Be that as it may, we do sometimes need reminding, refreshers in how very minuscule each of us are in this vast, never-ending, beautifully inhumane Cosmos that completely dictates our quality of life and death. Our time here is but a flash in the bucket in the biggest picture, BUT remarkably impactful for the ‘millisecond’ of life and memories with other loved ones. With so many things uncertain yet ready to experience, its marrow ready to be sucked down to the last molecule of our 80, 70, 50, 20, or 10-years of life, whatever it is to be, makes it… pure gold! Every second, every ounce! How will you spend it? How will others experience you and remember you?

I posted this years ago from Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I want to post it again, as a reminder… that we usually have only one chance to make the most of this short, mortal, beautifully remarkable gift called life really count the most. Oriah knows exactly how to best live and die in it:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

For the rest of Oriah’s powerful, to the bone and straight to the heart realism, go here.

 

If we do not test ourselves when life is good, plush for ourselves, and push our abilities our kind empathy, understanding, and what we can manage and gladly give, then how can we ever truthfully know how much our proactive help matters? How much does our charitable action count? How much does our voice count to help make other’s lives easier, happier in a purely humane way? It takes so much more to join the disadvantaged… raw in person and heart than simply saying words or writing a check. Joining all of humanity, the worst, the most unfortunate is where the most profound, deepest fulfillment of live is discovered. The alternative is a planet of unfeeling, insensitive, self-absorbed, non-humanity, as the song aptly describes…

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Gadgets, Machinery & Hobnobs

Workers Hand Brain intro

At first they dug with picks, and then the great
steam drills were made. The navvies, who had carved
their way through living rock, sickened or starved
or died of bends. The bubbles percolate

to heart or brain; you die. Not soon enough,
The engineers and stokers died as well.
They might as well have tunnelled into Hell.
The bubbles came for them. Not only rough

workers by hand die at those depths; the brains
of scientists who tried to work out why
exploded too. They came back, saw the sky
and felt the pangs of death. These days the trains

are pressurized. Unharmed we make our way
from London to New York in just one day.

Roz Kaveney, Steampunk Sonnets

It has been some time since last I posted about Steampunk, my fond alternative dimension of life. I have neglected the neo-vintage, quirky, dashing artforms, imaginative gadgets, and ingenious bits-n-bobs far too long. For this I present to you today more marvels in Steampunk pageantry.

On this occasion we will read Steam-sonnets by Madame Kaveney, gaze in wonderment over a menagerie of Steampunk instruments, engines, and craftsmanship—in particular a certain renown submarine with a twist. And I’d be amiss should this tour proceed without tunes of revolutionary movements and social reforms upholding neo-Bohemian melodies and harmonies performed by Abney Park and the now retired Doctor Phineas Waldolf Steel. Should you still be unsatisfied a stop at an extraordinary cafè in Cape Town, South Africa that serves-up dreamy crumpets, tea, and java for any who enter craving. With a smile they serve travelers of modern-mediocrity or flamboyant Steampunkers alike. All the same, let’s begin first with the wacky gadgets and mechanized mobilities. The following slideshow are actual, real-life functional Steampunk items and machines:

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Should you be a wine connoisseur extraordinaire, the lover and aficionado of make-the-machines-do-it as gentry Victorians would’ve done, then this contraption is a must in your saloon. Have a look at this thingamajig that does everything except select your wine of choice.

BN_WorldsMostElaborateCorkscrew_02.jpg

Lost your corkscrew? Can’t seem to summon your Sommelier? No worries, here’s how to impress your evening guests with flair, or reveal just how much you cannot be bothered by mundane tasks of bottle-opening and filling glasses. Pfffttt, such behavior is for peasants and servants:

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

The Engine intro

They started him on messages; he’d go
on roller-skates down the long corridor
with windows to the engine. It was more
than he could take in, but he came to know

it first by all its parts—the cogs and gears,
the pistons and the loom that read each card.
It was the computation he found hard
but learned its pounding rhythms down the years.

He’d moved from skates to oil-can, then to run
the simpler programmes, then to write his own,
and then to oversee. He’d sometimes moan
in sleep, as if he felt a throbbing ton

of metal in his brain. He lost his sight
and hearing, as the numbers grew more bright.

Roz Kaveney, Steampunk Sonnets

‘He envisions a world where the only obligation of the people is to have fun… It all comes down to having fun. We spend our lives trapped,’ voices zany Dr. Steel, ‘when all we really want to do is play. So, let the people play! Let us build a Utopian Playland.’

Rudyard Kipling in 1915 wrote “The Fringes of the Fleet” and a year later composer Edward Elgar penned musical songs about the Tin Fish, or submarines. It goes:

They bear, in place of classic names,
Letters and numbers on their skin.
They play their grisly blindfold games
In little boxes made of tin.

However, engineers at Five Ton Crane Arts along with Christopher Bently and Sean Orlando had a different vessel in mind:  The Nautilus Terra-firma Submarine Car. She weighs in at 11,000 lbs. dry and has a top-speed of 13 mph. From bow to stern she’s 25-feet and 100-inches from port to starboard, and stands a proud 11-feet 6-inches without canopy (see below slideshow). Aboard ship she’s fully equipped with:

  • Harpoon gun water cannon (13 gallons per minute)
  • Hydraulic drive controls
  • GPS navigation and Pro-audio sound
  • LED RGB programmable lighting system
  • Library
  • Specimen lab
  • Navigation room
  • Night vision periscope
  • Poop deck with custom shade canopy… and yes,
  • Air conditioning

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Though some may carry doubts that the Age of Steampunk has seen its last days and appeal, yet there are far many who yell Nah! Surviving musicians of the HMS Ophelia, a clockwork guitarist, two belly dancers, a flintlock bassist, a Middle-Eastern percussionist, a contorting violent violinist, and a Tesla-powered keyboardist sing and perform:

Your subculture shops at the mall
We build ours with blowtorch, needle, thread, and leather awl
With our antique clock parts we’ve taken all arts, fine art to fashion
And now we’re spreading worldwide to circle the globe with a furious passion

Out with the new
In with the old
Out with the new
In with the old
Steampunk Revolution by Abney Park

Should your zeppelin or land-craft malfunction, snap a cog, or run aground in the southern most portion of the African continent, make haste to Cape Town, South Africa. There you will detect friends, dazzling decor, smells and nourishment that comes only from the realm, the timeless culture of exquisite Steampunkery at Truth Cafè. If you care to peruse their daytime Brasserie Menu or curious of their After Dark menu, click-on said links.

Truth - Coffee Contraptions - Cape Town_SA

Truth Coffee & Cafe – Cape Town, SA

One online media agency reported on Cape Town’s most radically themed shop and cafè writing:

Every inch of the coffee shop is packed with visual candy from large saw-blade tabletops to beautiful overstuffed booths and an ornate array of coffee making equipment that looks absurdly complex, almost like interior of a World War 2 submarine. If that wasn’t enough, Martin also crammed the space with vintage typewriters, Singer sewing machines, and old candlestick telephones. The design even extends to the restrooms which have exposed copper pipes, old extending mirrors and Victorian tap levers.
“Step Inside ‘Truth,’ a Steampunk Coffee Shop,” ThisIsColossal.com accessed Dec. 10, 2019

Being a romantic of retro-futuristic steam-powered gadgets and aesthetics myself, feast your eyes and appetite upon Truth Cafè’s surreal interior in Steampunk design. See if you agree—Haldane-Martin Designs, photos – Micky Hoyle.

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∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Happiness intro

The stokeress had washed her sooty face
And wore her best bandana round a neck
Scrubbed almost white. She took a turn on deck,
Chatted to a lieutenant. Knew her place

But flirted anyway. He took her to
The magic lantern show and kissed her hand
On parting. And she dreamed how he would stand
Outside her cabin door, and bring the shoe

She had not left behind. Awoke to spend
Her days in shovelling, and dust, and grime,
Her nights exhausted. Found her life sublime
To serve the great machine, and sometimes mend

Rips in the fabric of its bag, look down
At Delhi, Boston, Prague and London Town.

Roz Kaveney, Steampunk Sonnets

If you have not yet journeyed to my other Steampunk blog-posts, below is a quick list of links. There’s also a dedicated Menu up top along my green-barred header. You can’t miss it.

victorian-line-break_1

Steampunkery Marvels The park of magical zoological encounters from the imaginations of Jules Verne intertwined with the mechanized creations of Leonardo da Vinci is the Les Machines de L’ile.

The A-C of Steampunk A look forward and backward at the contraptions of today’s Steampunk sub-culture.

Living Steampunk Modern urban living meets Jules Verne and Captain Nemo — see the Chelsea apartment in NYC.

Through the Monocles A photomontage to satisfy the most curious with music by KK and The Steampunk Orchestra.

Pure Steampunk Art Donovan and his lighting company have given the Steampunk movement another electric jolt of popularity!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

This past weekend and some days this week I have been keenly interested in heroes. Whether modern or older I have wanted to know a bit more and pay personal homage to ordinary people who through acts of selflessness and the highest valor and courage, sacrificed unquestionably their own self-benefit for others, for a greater good, for a greater number in the future. Some of these remarkable stories included many war heroes, men who willing put themselves in lethal danger in order to protect their Brothers in Arms, their squad, platoon, or battalion. Their acts of sacrifice are legendary and should never be lost to time.

But there are also other heroes who never fought in any war, or armed conflict, but the risks and dangers they willingly faced were just as daunting, just as consequential as a soldier faces in combat. Many of them are women of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their fight for equal rights, equal treatment, pay, and opportunities in patriarchal dominated societies across the globe deserve just as much awe, respect, and homage as any man’s stories of gallantry, valor, and sacrifice in war! Agreed? Of course you do if you are a fair and reasonable human being.

Some of the immediate names of female heroes that come to my mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Malala Yousafzai, and a big one for birth-control Margaret Sanger who eventually laid the groundwork for America’s badly needed Planned Parenthood. However, the one specific woman I was reminded of this past Sunday and Monday was Emily Wilding Davison. If you are unfamiliar with Emily’s unwavering commitment to eliminating injustice and gender inequality, then watch this following 15-second clip of her public statement:

As part of my remembrance to many ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes for the betterment of humanity, I watched the 2015 film Suffragette with Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, Natalie Press, and Meryl Streep. The film is pretty accurate historically regarding Women’s Suffrage in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s England. From the Smithsonian Magazine web-page:

The filmmakers deliberately modeled [fictional character] Maud [Watts] on the stories of working class suffragettes, whose activism put their jobs, marriages and even custody of their children, at risk. “I think what was interesting for us was to create a rich ensemble of composite characters who we felt would carry the voices of these women who hadn’t been heard and allow them to segue and intersect with these extraordinary moments of history,” says Morgan.

Horse Racing - The Derby Stakes - Epsom - Suffragette Protest - 1913Many parts of the film were real historical events and characters.

…the bombing of Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George’s empty country house, and Davison’s fatal protest at the Epsom Derby – were real. After decades of peaceful protest with no result, suffragettes, particularly those in Emmeline Pankhurst’s (Meryl Streep in a brief cameo) Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), followed the motto “Deeds Not Words.” Taking pains not to hurt people, they created mayhem by attacking property – including slashing a Velázquez in the National Gallery  – and disrupting government meetings.

Emily Davison’s protest, whether to attach a scarf of her Movement’s colors to King George V’s horse or to sacrifice herself by death or maiming is unknown to this day. What happened in decades and a century later was unprecedented.

Today, Davison’s gravesite in Morpeth, Northumberland, is a feminist shrine that attracts visitors from around the world. […]

“What is extraordinary about that footage is you can see that this wasn’t a small movement of ladies who meet for tea in Kensington,” says Suffragette’s screenwriter Abi Morgan.  “This was a national and international movement.

Emily Davison closeup

Emily Davison’s entire story is quite remarkable for the time-period. She like most women of the time had very few options outside of the home and birthing then raising children. As a well-educated woman she taught as a teacher and live-in governess as well as attaining two college degrees from the University of London.

Davison was tireless and ingenious. She was arrested nine times for offenses ranging from breaking windows at Parliament to firebombing letterboxes. One of her more creative stunts was sneaking into a closet in the House of Commons one night in 1911 so she could claim Parliament as her place of residence on the official census. It was a subversive double protest. In one act, she could – as many suffragettes were attempting – avoid being counted as a citizen by a government that didn’t recognize her right to vote while if she were counted, it would be at the address of the center of that same discriminatory body.

After her first arrest she wrote gleefully to a friend. “Did you read about it? We went outside Lloyd George’s Budget meeting at Limehouse, and protested at women being kept out, etc. I was busy haranguing the crowd when the police came up and arrested me.” She describes breaking windows in her jail cells and adds “What do you think of me?” before signing off “your loving and rebellious friend.”

If you’re interested in more heroic details of the Suffrage Movement—which later fueled our modern-day Women’s March and activism for more women’s social, workforce, and legal equalities—then click here for the Smithsonian’s article. It is well worth the time.

As I finished Suffragette, I then moved on to another well-directed, acclaimed cast and historically accurate feminine hero 2009 film called Agora starring Rachel Weisz. If you are unfamiliar with the great female philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician named Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, during the late 4th-century CE inside a Christianizing and increasingly patriarchal Roman Empire, then I suggest you study her and watch this outstanding film. Hypatia was perhaps one of the very earliest suffragette’s in human history.

Nevertheless, let’s never forget that extraordinary heroes come in all sizes, all races and ethnicities, and certainly all genders and sexual-orientations. They’re all human. That is no debate whatsoever.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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