Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Star Wars - one of the original dieselpunk movies?

I jokingly posted a video a few days ago where someone had scene-by-scene taken the trailer for The Empire Strikes Back and juxtaposed old 50's video clips in their place. But in all seriousness, couldn't Star Wars be considered an example of dieselpunk?

I noticed this article on Wired.com today while I was searching for references for the Wikipedia article, and I got to thinking about it. Lucas did draw heavily on both WWII and pulp iconography when making Star Wars. The swashbuckling, ray-gun toting hero who shoots from the hip, the wise-cracking princess to be saved, the farm boy who makes good, the bigger-than-life villains, the comic "stooge" sidekicks... and the spaceship movements and radio chatter in the final battle were straight out of WWII films.

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I like it too.  I think you should start a forum topic with that heading.  Then members could "Reconfigure" pop culture into Dieselpunk for the rest of us.  On brassgoggles, one guy actually made custom action figures "reconfiguring" Star Wars characters into straight up 19th century Steampunk.
I thought using things from older stories to create something new was just called inspiration. Do we have to keep inventing new words?

Atterton said:
I thought using things from older stories to create something new was just called inspiration. Do we have to keep inventing new words?
In that case, could we call it snuflin?
punk. snuflinpunk. there are rules, you know.

I thought using things from older stories to create something new was just called inspiration


(Tongue in cheek) To quote a Prof of mine from bygone Uni days... "To copy from many sources is 'Research'.... To copy from only one is 'plagarism'..."

Well, I seem to have missed these replies, terribly sorry! I'll try to answer them now.


Well, what's in a word? Certainly little's less certain or constant than language as witnessed by the definition of any word you care to name over the centuries or even decades. Just look at the divergence in the definition of "liberal" between the US and Europe.

Defining your terms is as important in philosphical discussion as anywhere, and as someone from the world of military acquisition the subtle difference between "will" and "shall" can mean the difference of millions of dollars or hundreds of lives. So rather than just flippantly reinventing words I was very specific when I came up with the term "Reconfiguration"

Tome, you are most certainly correct in the similarities to literary revisionism. In some ways Reconfiguration is an aspect of that more generalized term, which IMO would include Deconstruction and Reconstruction. Deconstruction, which would be the type of revisionism inherit in Unforgiven and Blood Meridian, is the deliberate act of looking at a genre or story archetype and taking that to its logical conclusion. Classic example of Deconstruction a lot of us internet geeks know off hand: Watchmen. It asked "what would a world of masked vigilantes really be like?" The answer was not Truth, Justice, and the American Way in Moore's opinion. It literally took apart the tropes of the superhero comic and examined them, revealing the flawed logic and reasoning and showing that the center could not hold. The assumptions behind the "benevolent Ubermensch" from the superhero genre were false for they failed to take into account human foibles or weakness of character...or so Moore told us.

Reconstruction is a reaction to that that seeks to literally "rebuild" all those deconstructed tropes and archetypes and recapture what was beloved about them, sort of that "Sankofa" making new what was old that I mentioned in an Article way back when I had time to post such things. In a reconstruction you can have a superhero that's honest and really does make the world a better place, even though he/she must deal with the limitations and weaknesses of all, including themselves. Many modern reenvisionings of classic golden age superheroes are reconstructions: even SUperman can't stop 9/11 and must face his own human guilt...yet this doesn't automaticaly drive him to try, as Adrian of Watchmen did, a destructive ploy to forcefully impose peace.

Reconfiguration, which is less of a new concept than a new way of looking at eternal concepts through our current visions and limitations, is an attempt to build something that speaks to today from the literary rubble around us. It's deliberately cross-genre, cross-cultural, and and working from the deconstructed remains of earlier works. In this way it's post-modern or possibly pre-post-postmodern in how it's from its very nature submersed in the culture/genre/information overload of the modern digital age. Rather than trying to reconstruct the Diesel Age in a historical setting, for example, Dieselpunk seeks to build something new from the long-since deconstructed remains of the 20th century. We know that Futurism was in the end used as a pillar of Fascism. This has since been exposed ad nauseum. We don't seek to return to Futurism, for we know the dark side of blind progressivism, but we look at the hopes and dreams, the aestetic, and what could be thought of as "positive" aspects of Futurism and grab those aspects as part of a larger Dieselpunk structure that includes some of the aestetic and hope, but rejects the machinelike dehumanisation and disdain for the organic past in Futurism of old.

As an engineer by trade, I chose the name "Reconfiguration" deliberately for it's mechanical connotation. Take the old chassis and make a hot rod out of it. This is a "work in progress", a tinkering, a constant retrofit rather than a one-time build. If a part doesn't work it's time to repair or replace, and constant diagnostics are required in that regard.


But I'm turning a quick reply into a monolog here, so I'll cut it short for now.

Rognvaldr, there actually IS a discussion on this in the Philosophy Group...please check it out there. That goes for everyone, actually, as I've threadjacked this Star Wars discussion long enough. I'm going to repost what I put here there so we can continue the discussion there.


On the Original post, yes, Star Wars is exactly the kind of Reconfiguration I'm talking about: it doesn't just reconstruct old serials but, taking parts from WW2 and Japanese cinema and Asian philosophy makes something new and delightfully original out of it.

Very interesting writing Cap'n. Postmodernism in it's early days centered on Deconstructing of Modernity. I think you're onto something very important about the role of Reconstruction in Dieselpunk and as an indicator of the maturing of Postmodernism. It also further supports what I've longed suspected that Dieselpunk, especially certain trends and flavors of it, are very postmodern. I'm currently working on this as a future blog post.

Thanks, Larry, looking forward to the blog. Stop by the Philosophy and Debate Group and we can discuss this more! I think I've threadjacked JBG's thread long enough!

I tried the search button and other ways of finding this "Philosophy" discussion.  I can't find it.  Link please?
There's a Philosophy and Debate Group. I don't think anyone's started a thread on this yet.
Thanks!  Found it.

Larry said:
There's a Philosophy and Debate Group. I don't think anyone's started a thread on this yet.

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