Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Scripted on March 2, 2010 by Tome Wilson.
Offered to this forum to promote discussion and unity within the dieselpunk community.

The tenets of dieselpunk culture can be understood as follows:


Dieselpunk is not a new and spurious trend.

It grew legs and walked upright as soon as the Greatest Generation returned from the front. It merges our grandfathers' dreams with the freedoms of the ages that came after it. Unrestricted by class, gender or prejudice, we are free to build our own vision of the future and are limited only by our own ambition.

"A guy walks up to me and asks 'What's Punk?'. So I kick over a garbage can and say 'That's punk!'. So he kicks over a garbage can and says 'That's Punk?', and I say 'No that's trendy!"
- Billie Joe Armstrong


Dieselpunks are not interested in historical purity.

Rather than sealing oneself in the dusty coffins of a long dead past, a dieselpunk should adopt the orphan zeitgeist of earlier days and raise it in the modern age. By fusing the past with today, he builds something new that would be unexpected in any age.

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see."
- Winston Churchill


The Greatest Generation is an inspiration for dieselpunks, not a goal.

A dieselpunk must learn the past, but should be wary not to chain himself to it in the process. We strive to create a future that not only meets the achievements of our grandfathers, but surpasses it with achievements of our own. It is not enough to live in the shadow of another generation; we must find our own path, achieve greatness and inspire others to do the same.

"We decided to start our own group because we were bored with everything we heard ... Everything was 10th-generation Led Zeppelin ... overproduced, or just junk. We missed music like it used to be."
- Joey Ramone

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso."
- Pablo Picasso


Dieselpunk art desires monumentality.

The hands of our grandfathers were not busy creating fragile trinkets; things meant to expire before the tides changed. They did not lay their foundations on beams of light and hope that others would be there to support it when the darkness came. Like a good parent, the Greatest Generation created objects and ideas that outlived their creators to be loved by future generations. Our reliance on the digital world cannot be trusted to carry our dreams into the future. Our own progress has raced ahead of our need for permanence, and only those that truly realize this will be remembered by tomorrow's generation.

"History is written by the victors."
- Winston Churchill


Dieselpunk art balances form with function.

A dieselpunk does not strive to create the absurd. Instead, his creation blends the desirability and craftsmanship born of years of expert labor with the technological marvels of today. It is not enough to create a wonder in itself. That wonder must excite the lust of the artist while also fulfilling its desired function.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
- Pablo Picasso


Every dieselpunk is responsible for himself and his community.

A dieselpunk community will form when like-minded people learn to respect the freedoms and works of one another. The community is formed to bolster the efforts of the individual, and to strengthen the foundations of the community as a whole. Like a skyscraper, a dieselpunk should reach for the greatest heights imaginable knowing that he is supported by the experience of those around him, but he should not rely on others to push him upwards.

"My attitude is if somebody blunders into the level of popularity; at least remember the human factor. These guys are still human beings and hopefully still have hearts and if you keep in touch with them rather than vilify them you may be able to encourage them to go in the right direction. What I'm hoping will eventually happen is that they will grasp the amount of power and financial clout that is now at their fingertips and use those as tools to help real people with real things the way punk politics was always designed to do before, but nobody had any money."
- Jello Biafra

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
- Teddy Roosevelt


A dieselpunk does not seek to gather armies for the purpose of war.

As each dieselpunk is responsible for himself and his community, deterring another from their artistic goals should not be tolerated unless those goals rot the foundations of the whole. A dieselpunk will choose what is best for themselves using experience, rationale and his own code of morals, not by being rallied or prosthelytized.

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
- Winston Churchill

"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
- Eleanor Roosevelt


The greatest crime a dieselpunk can commit is not contributing to their own vision of the future.

Dieselpunks are not stagnant consumers. The dieselpunk mentality demands dynamism in thinking and expression. It is not enough to consume the fruits of our father's labor and suckle the milk of our corporate mothers. In order to grow in mind and spirit, dieselpunks and their communities must strive to create a vision of the future using whatever tools they are armed with: the brush, the pen, the camera, or the wrench.

"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."
- Pablo Picasso

"Better to fight for something than live for nothing."
- George S. Patton

"It's no good being nice and young and naive. There's no good in that at all. You've got to do it all yourself, and you've gotta learn quick. And you can't look for sympathy either."
- Johnny Rotten

"I never worry about action, but only inaction."
- Winston Churchill

"What you don't do can be a destructive force."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"To reach a port, we must sail - sail, not tie at anchor - sail, not drift."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Well stated.

Caerulctor said:
Just thinking about the rivalry of form and function. It seems to me that prior to the First World War, form was privileged over function: functional apparatus was encrusted with aesthetic design on wholly different principles. After the War, perhaps as a result of the austerity it demanded, form was integrated with function; it was not ignored, but function and form mutually reinforced each other, creating simple, functional shapes that were at the same time beautifully streamlined works of art. In the Second World War, form had to give way to function yet again; in the aftermath, form became fanciful, alienated once again from function. Then function turned around and annihilated form: all disguise was cast aside, and only the functional was left. Finally, in our solid-state era, function ceases to have an associated form altogether, and we return to the beginning, with form and function evolving along separate tracks.
I see that the web site io9 has posted the tenants.
http://io9.com/5599924/the-tenets-of-dieselpunk-culture

Oh, but if you read the comments people left it's depressing.
I'm doing my best to clarify.

I think what most people aren't getting is that this is not meant to be a static piece. It's meant to grow with the input of others.

Larry said:
I see that the web site io9 has posted the tenants.
http://io9.com/5599924/the-tenets-of-dieselpunk-culture

Oh, but if you read the comments people left it's depressing.
Strange. All of my replies at io9 disappeared.

Hopefully, they're just waiting for approval. I replied to almost everyone.
'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"
It's just a usual bunch of arrogant clowns who cannot tell a Ford T from a Sherman tank. They are aggressive but pointless. Like some climacteric person from Brooklyn that accused me of Fascist sympathies and closet S/M just because I happen to like a certain style in architecture.
To hell will them. Let us build our own future.

Larry said:
I see that the web site io9 has posted the tenants.
http://io9.com/5599924/the-tenets-of-dieselpunk-culture Oh, but if you read the comments people left it's depressing.
I agree with Dr. Atomic, The thing I like about this era was the sense of solidarity. Something that is sorely laking in this hyper individualistic age. Its a ballance between personal needs and community, public and private. The Greatest Generation almost pushed this ballance to hyperconformity (1950s early 60s) but now we are threatening the opposite extreme. I propose Woody Guthrie and Dorothy Day and C.S. Lewis as Diesel Punk icons as well. That people worked together when times were tough, is the greatest thing of all.
Also what was great wasn't always monumental in the conventional sense. Im thinking of "those Damned Engineers" that stopped Hitler's advance during the Battle of the Bulge for example, or the numerous works of solidarity and compassion towards the poor, unemployed, hobos and eachother.
Great points Timothy. And Woody Guthrie and Dorothy Day are both fantastic choices!


Timothy W. Nieberding said:
I agree with Dr. Atomic, The thing I like about this era was the sense of solidarity. Something that is sorely laking in this hyper individualistic age. Its a ballance between personal needs and community, public and private. The Greatest Generation almost pushed this ballance to hyperconformity (1950s early 60s) but now we are threatening the opposite extreme. I propose Woody Guthrie and Dorothy Day and C.S. Lewis as Diesel Punk icons as well. That people worked together when times were tough, is the greatest thing of all.
Also what was great wasn't always monumental in the conventional sense. Im thinking of "those Damned Engineers" that stopped Hitler's advance during the Battle of the Bulge for example, or the numerous works of solidarity and compassion towards the poor, unemployed, hobos and eachother.
I admit, I am responding to some of the writer(s) of the Gazzette, who champion Ayn Rand. That is fine for them, but I find her ideas a bit disturbing. Actually, I tried to watch "Fountainhead" but it was too bizarre. I don't think people, even the elites of the time thought that way and, Gary Cooper in the lead role was a bit surreal, especially as it contrasted so heavily with his wonderful roles in Frank Capra films.

As should be evident by now I am Center Left and proud of it!
As Peter Maurin said (paraphrasing Churchill) "He who is not socialist at 20 has no heart. He who is still socialist at 30 has no head".
Ayn Rand views don't appeal to me either. And they sure weren't the only ones of that era, as you pointed out.
~ Larry
PS I guess I have no head because I'm 47 and I'm a socialist. :)


Timothy W. Nieberding said:
I admit, I am responding to some of the writer(s) of the Gazzette, who champion Ayn Rand. That is fine for them, but I find her ideas a bit disturbing. Actually, I tried to watch "Fountainhead" but it was too bizarre. I don't think people, even the elites of the time thought that way and, Gary Cooper in the lead role was a bit surreal, especially as it contrasted so heavily with his wonderful roles in Frank Capra films.

As should be evident by now I am Center Left and proud of it!
As Peter Maurin said (paraphrasing Churchill) "He who is not socialist at 20 has no heart. He who is still socialist at 30 has no head".
I just re-read these tenets that Tome posted as I was getting ready to write a post for my blog. It's really struck me how good those really are.
I am probably what is called a "Personalist".
~ Larry
PS I guess I have no head because I'm 47 and I'm a socialist. :)


Timothy W. Nieberding said:
I admit, I am responding to some of the writer(s) of the Gazzette, who champion Ayn Rand. That is fine for them, but I find her ideas a bit disturbing. Actually, I tried to watch "Fountainhead" but it was too bizarre. I don't think people, even the elites of the time thought that way and, Gary Cooper in the lead role was a bit surreal, especially as it contrasted so heavily with his wonderful roles in Frank Capra films.

As should be evident by now I am Center Left and proud of it!
As Peter Maurin said (paraphrasing Churchill) "He who is not socialist at 20 has no heart. He who is still socialist at 30 has no head".
Elaborating on my above discussion and responding to Adam's comments. I am in agreement with pro-environment and possibly even pro-business as long as we also throw in pro-people. The key is not to fall into the trap of focussing just on the collective aspect "the masses" or the personal "the individual". Both must be respected in a dynamic manner with admission that there is a truth not opposed to or seperated from logic or our ideas of good but transends it in some way. This could be God as in Paul Tillich's "Ground of All Being" or some inexplicable deep notion of truth that agnostics and athiests may aspire to. You could call it "Communitarianism" or, in my religious tradition "Personalism".

The current discussion in environmental circles about "sustainability" seems to be in this direction, also the Focolare Movement and (possibly) Mondragon. Farm cooperatives, popular in the US upper midwest and plains states with farmers as a pragmatic sollution to competition with agrabusiness, may be another.

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