Thursday, July 12, 2007

WHEN is Caledon?

I have been germinating on this post for a longish while, and I hope that it has ripened enough that I can finally put it down.

The use of dates always seems troubling in Caledon. The introduction in our Covenant states, "Caledon is a 19th century Steampunk Victorian nation-state!" So that is the clue right there. 19th Century. Victorian. Well Hmm. The Victorian Era took place from 1837 - 1901, dipping its toe in the the waters of the 20th century. To convert the real date to a Victorian one is not simple math. If we subtract 100 years, we are in the Edwardian Era, 200 years and we are way off. 150 years? Puts us 20 years in the Reign of Victoria, but introduces a lot of anachronisms. Caledon as it exists is a pastiche of the entire Victorian Era, with some bleed over from the Regency as well as Edwardian Eras, with a good sprinkling of a past that never was (but don't we sometimes wish was?). In this humble CodePoet's opinion this is a good thing.

When I first came to Caledon, I soon learned that what we had here was not the Victorian Era as it was, but perhaps, as it SHOULD have been. Many of the attributes of the Victorian era are absent. The misogyny, the bigotry, oppressive colonialism (our version of colonialism is fun!), and lets face it, the sexual repression are all absent in Caledon. Also absent is the Servant Class (except for those that choose it). We have something different, we have taken the best parts of Victorian culture (such as civility -- well everything else derives from THAT doesn't it?) and created something NEW. I hesitate to use to use the term Neo-Victorian, as it has a definition already and it is is not Caledon. Truly, the best word to describe it is CALEDONIAN.

So still, the question remains : when is Caledon? I say Caledon is firmly rooted in the 21st century. It is for all intents and purposes 2007. How I see it, is that Caledon exist in the 21st Century, but the citizens choose to live in such a way that HEARKENS back to the reign of Victoria, but through a 21st century lens, improving on the original. Using the technology of the 21st Century (namely our computers, and Second Life itself) to create this nation, collectivly and create what is a most ENJOYABLE Victorian, Steampunk existance. We use the tools of today to live in an idealized version of the past.

We are able to live out our Caledonian lives however we see fit, yet we restrain ourselves to the mode of the period because it appeals to us (I am sure the actual vicotrians would have raved late at night had it only been invented yet). I like the things best that blend 21st century technology with a Victorian experience. How they would have done it if they only could!

The example that springs to my mind, is the Dance Card system we have used at balls in Carntaigh (though admittedly not all have enjoyed it). There was given to me the task of realizing the very Victorian practice of a dance card, but making it work in Second Life, which I did with a scripted object. A Victorian Experience, realized with 21st Century Technology. Straddling Two Centuries, being in both at once. That is Caledon to me.

But in truth, Caledon has no Queen, though Victoria is enshrined in our hearts, perhaps like Aurthur just sleeping somewhere, and will return to us in our time of need (in the meantime we have a Vicereine to perform the duties of a monarch), and we have created such things as a "working class aristocracy" (which I think I belong to). Being free from our labors, except those we choose to pursue for our own enjoyment, there is no need for oppression. We are all pursuing our dreams, living our (second) lives in an ideal, Victorian Steampunk setting. There is nothing like it (to my knowledge) anywhere else. I love being a 19th. Century Gentleman in 21st Century Caledon.


Abigail Raymaker said...

"When is Caledon?" is a really interesting question Mr. Wormser. First of all - as you correctly mentioned - the reign of Queen Victory spanned a 64-year period. The world changed significantly during the Victorian Age. Considering Caledon simply "Victorian" is inaccurate for many reasons.

One way of dating a picture is to look closely at the clothes people were wearing. If we took a representative snapshot of the people of Caledon, especially of our ladies, we would find styles prevalent in the Regency era as well as those of 100 years later plus everything in between.

I agree, Caledon is very 2007 in many aspects. We take it for granted that women have the same rights as men. However, this was not the case in the Victorian era. Until the "Married Women's Property Act", passed in 1882, a married woman couldn't own property, everthing that was hers fell into the hands of her husband upon marriage. In many countries married women had to wait even longer. Not to mention women's suffrage. It is easy for us to say "If I were alive during those days, I would have been in favour of emancipation". However, had we really lived in the 19th. century, our opinions might have been quite a bit different as we are always children of our time.

In spite of all that, I would date Caledon to late Victorian, that is to say ca. 1890.

Burton Newall, ME, FRCSE said...

Personally, I have chosen 1880, for no other reason than that locomotive technology evolved around that year to something we all recognise as a "modern steam engine". I built steam locomotives, ergo, the year depends upon the locomotives I choose to build.

I believe the same may fairly be said of those who make clothing, erect buildings, &c. When a lady in a Regency gown sees my late Victorian era locomotive go by, she experiences temporal dissonance. But when a gentlemen wearing steam-powered jet boots streaks overhead, we both experience it.

The combination of these disparate and individual elements makes for an interesting scramble, doesn't it? And you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs, as some German Victorian said (London, 1848, I believe).

In the end, I agree with your observation that our land is purely "Caledonian" - neither fish nor fowl, nor caring which. That was simple, wasn't it?

Tinsel Silvera said...

Thank you for addressing this wonderful question. Being new to the era, living in Babbage while waiting for Caledon, I too have struggled with the question. But one thing is for sure, "I love being a 19th Century Gentleman in 21st Century (Caledon)" is exactly how I feel. With that being said, all else shall fall into its proper place. Good day to you.

Abigail Raymaker said...

I noticed people using the year 1887 when giving a "real date". If we had to settle on a distinct year (I don't think we do...) 1887 could be the way to go.

Storm Chatnoir, Caledon Kittiwickshire said...

A very good question, sir, and an interesting perspective.

Coming from a more strict Roleplaying environment on another service, When and Where are very much the breath of Who, What and Why to me when building a character. I still haven't arrived at a backstory I'm happy with, though for day to day purposes, I assume it's 1887 (1880, plus the '007' portion of our own IRL year) for simplicity's sake in written correspondence, among other things.

However, while my characters do have a number of Victorian attitudes, it's an 'Alternate 1887' that they inhabit, which tends to temper them somewhat.

To my own taste, I try hard to remain as much in character as possible, and avoid the more glaring examples of 20th and 21 century technology and artifacts. As you've said, I much prefer the 'CaleVictorian' versions.

Darien Mason said...

When I first came to Caledon, I soon learned that what we had here was not the Victorian Era as it was, but perhaps, as it SHOULD have been.

If you replace Victorian Era with Middle Ages you have EXACTLY the outlook of the SCA.

Just as they call their shared culture "The Current Middle Ages", I would plant Caledon firmly in "The Current Victorian Era."

Darkling Elytis said...

I quite agree with you, Sir Zen; while Caledon's style and preferred tech is Victorian, too much of who we are is clearly influenced by this early twenty-first century. We cannot extricate ourselves from that, not and still be Caledonian. At least, not all of us can or should.

But where have we got these influences? Travel, or time travel? Many of us speak as having fled the mainland, which is itself quite 21st century. So I think of us as existing at the same time as they, especially because we all of us have at least occasional reason to return. Sometimes they make scrumptious frocks and throw smashing parties o'er yonder across the placid sea.

While time travel is certainly "possible" in our world, (even pleasant, with the good company of a resident Time Lord and retinue), I do not imagine that is how most of us came to be in Caledon. In the inevitable exceptions where it is part of a fellow Aristocrat's story, I will not argue. We all have a right to be who we wish to be here.

Looking at the comments thus far, however, I see a great many of us are seeking to live in the actual Victorian era whilst living here in Caledon. I expect they view the technological and social innovations of the 20th century as being part of the possible future, perhaps some of which was brought back by time travellers.

I am curious how those of you in this category explain such anachronisms in Caledon when you encounter them yourselves.

All this said, we are all of us creating Caledon together. Perhaps some think we should come to an agreement on the date, but I prefer to leave such definitions vague, giving all of us more room in which to be.

(Besides, if we muck about with dates too much, then you may realize that this lady is ~quite~ a bit older than she looks.)

Eladrienne Laval said...

I've always assumed that Caledon was the 1870s-80s given the way that the majority of us dress. Although for women, our ballgowns tend to be 1850s-60s. Ball dresses for women were actually much more streamlined in the 1870s-80s--which are the decades I personally always dress in. Think Renoir and Tissot paintings.

However, I think that Caledon allows for the entire Age from the 1830s onward. I think it is our mix of decades and 2007 attitudes that make us special and "Victorian-esque." We're Neo-Victorians, not actual ones, after all, so a precise date wouldn't be necessary.

emillyorr said...

And I do find it interesting, dragging in Steelhead's ally status...if we assume that somewhen between 1880 and 1890 lies the so-called "official Caledon year" date...well, in Steelhead, it's 1854. (Or perhaps 1855--did we switch up?)

So, whatever else is going on between current and not in that ten-year span...if it truly is a ten-year span...

...y'all are time-traveling when you come to Steelhead. Hee.

Skusting Dagger said...

Indeed, even the flags in Antiquity procalim "est 2007" upon them.
And, sir, your name rings familiar.
Was it you who's yard I trespassed whilst monocycling through Caledon this Sunday past?