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The Spirit of New Babbage

Someone asked me what I thought the spirit of the city was, and how it would be personified, so I wrote this…

The spirit of New Babbage is in two parts, a male and a female.  The male works in a factory.  His hands are rough, his knuckles are scarred, and he chain smokes cigars.  He works hard, and he plays hard.  Despite the fact he comes home at night to his family covered in soot, he goes to work in the morning in a neatly pressed clean shirt and a carefully groomed mustache, because that’s the way proper folks do things.  His parents named him Aristotle, because they wanted him to grow up to be a thinker, but somewhere along the line he started going by ‘Beau’, and after a few scraps behind the schoolhouse the bullies stopped making fun of him.  He has a tattoo on his arm from some place on the Northwest Frontier, and some mornings he walks a bit oddly from sleeping on the ground when he was courting Brown Bess.  He’s a family man, and while the family may argue amongst themselves, he won’t stand for anyone from outside to criticize his own.  His children know he loves them, and they also know that he demands respect.

The female grew up on a farm with all her brothers.  By the time she blossomed into womanhood, she was able to cook, raise a family, maintain a household, reforge a plowshare, cut a straight furrow, and keep a house full of men in line.  She learned to break hearts and noses, and found that being a redhead meant that she could (and would) do both.  She isn’t a spring chicken any more, but she still has many good years left in her.  She still ‘cleans up’ well enough to turn heads, but knows that she doesn’t need to much anymore.  While she loves and dotes on her man, she also is the only one who can keep him in line, and even if he still has an eye for the girlies, she keeps him coming home to her.  She knows the difference between a Stephenson engine and a Walschaerts engine.  She can rebuild a gearbox while balancing a baby on one hip.  Her laughs console, her arms reassure and protect.  She wields a skillet, a wooden spoon, or a pen with equal ferocity.

That’s the way I see the spirit of New Babbage.

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  1. Scottie Melnik Scottie Melnik December 8, 2011

    The fellow sounds like someone I’d like to share a beer with. And the lady simply had to be a redhead. I never doubted that for a moment.

    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse December 8, 2011

      I would love to have a beer with both of them and laugh as the stories become more outlandish as the night progresses.

  2. Sky Melnik Sky Melnik December 8, 2011

    Our Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Teacher, Friend.
    Constant yet ever changing. Challenges those who dare to know it.

  3. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer December 8, 2011

    I like your Babbagers.  Mine are slightly different, but not by much, really – just different surface decoration. A city as solid as New Babbage didn’t come about by accident.  As goes it’s people, so goes progress.

  4. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold December 8, 2011

    I think this is one of those questions that there can’t be a specific right or wrong answer to it.  The Dark Aether storyline has been personifing her as a woman in the dreams and nightmares of the Brothers and through others during the rp, another has added a child to the understanding and I can certaintly see the urchin aspect to it: Freedom from authority and heedless of danger until it’s on you. 

    But outside of that it’s all about perspective in the end I suppose, because I could also find the argument that Babbage could be personified to look and act like Tenk, Maggie, Kaylee, and even the Emperor.  *Imagines Babbage walking down it’s own streets stumbling along to it’s next bar.* …That would explain a lot.

    If I had to say what my perspective on the spirit of Babbage was…I’d say it was also a proud woman, a sailor with asperations to be a scientist as well, who stands tall and sees a giant storm coming and braces herself while muttering to herself she needs to build a device which eliminates bad weather.  She’s obliviously shot a few seagulls along the way (she was hungry), stepped on a few graves (didn’t mean to), poked a badger with a spoon (for science), and broken a few mirrors and plowed through a few ladders.  And then she’ll look at you after all of this and calamity is about to come down on her head and she’ll smile and still say, “You worry too much, what could possibly go wrong?”

    • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk December 8, 2011

      i see malkuth and babbage (the city) as entirely different entities, and it’s malkuth that has been appearing in the dreams, not the city. malkuth was there long before there was even a village.

      • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska December 13, 2011

        Hadda look up malkuth, Clockwinder. It strikes me that this is a very Quakerly notion! Let that Inner Light shine! In this season, of all seasons!

        (sorry, I get a little mushy this time of year…)

        Late to the Steampunk ouvre, I enjoy its egalitarian and satirical view of the Human Condition (my more hep students turned me on to it). And I find New Babbage to distill the essence of that fine movement.

        Jed’s characterization is well thought out, but I think it give a little short shrift to the menfolks. I would fold in (for women as well) the Quest for Knowledge , the idea that science is a noble pursuit, and engineering knows no bounds; that the world is knowable, and the human mind is completely unfettered by superstitious limits and we can reflect it even in our arts!

  5. Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg December 8, 2011

    New Babbage is the sum of its parts and then some.  Every person who has ever stepped foot in the city has changed it in some way, starting from its founding all the way down to the present day.  Sometimes it’s been for the better, sometimes for the worse.  That’s how it goes.

    New Babbagers fight, they cry, they love, they dance, they get drunk, shoot things, trigger explosions, build snowmen and launch cows.  They argue and bicker and plan for the future.  Sometimes they run away, sometimes they duke it out.  They’re individuals and they’re a community. Whatever the case, they aren’t standing still.

    Somewhere along the line New Babbage took on a life of its own, and the bond between it and its inhabitants shifted.  I saw this with crystal clarity after leaving the city for a number of years and returning.  When I left it was a backwater town struggling to grow.  When I returned it was the center of the Steamlands with a thriving culture and populace.  That doesn’t happen to a broken city.

    One thing I’ve learned since coming back is that we are moulded by New Babbage as much as it is moulded by us.  Perhaps even moreso. This is why I’m proud to call it my home.  Not because I was here at the beginning and saw what New Babbage was then, but because of what New Babbage is now.

    *raises her glass and toasts the spirit of New Babbage*  It’s a tough old bird; one I wouldn’t presume to cage.

    • Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska December 13, 2011

      You could’n’t cage it! Why, it would sidle up to the bars, bend the back with its beak, a vooom! With or without 20,000 volts!

  6. Cyan Rayna Cyan Rayna December 8, 2011

    Even though the RP is quite fun, I would hate to say I don’t ever thing Babbage would be a woman who is looking for protection no matter what form it takes. The Babbage I know would not be scared but would face danger to the bitter end with a weapon (even if that weapon is a frying pan, a squid, or the new dapper zapper) in hand.

    As for my personification of the city I could definitely see it as an urchin. Lets face it New Babbage is a dirty city but still filled with wonder and to me that describes perfectly what the Babbage urchins is like. Sooty and dirt covered but still running around and having a blast, getting into trouble, having things blow up in their face only to be happy and running about a few moments later.

    But as Arnold said we can personify Babbage as anything we like because it’s all personal.

    But I have to say I like my version ;3 Mainly because that’s why I like the city so much and why it feels like home to me :3

  7. Blackberry Harvey Blackberry Harvey December 9, 2011

    So, New Babbage is the steampunk Lake Wobegon?

    • Odnar Halberstadt Odnar Halberstadt December 9, 2011

      Spews coffee all over the place in horror. Victor is right, you are “Evil”.

    • Kimika Ying Kimika Ying December 9, 2011

      Then the CocoaJava is the Chatterbox Cafe?   

      “What?”  *points* “He started it.”


      ((seriously, I’m really liking this topic – we live in a brawling, busy, pragmatic, silly, serious, dangerous, industrious, inventive, fascinating, curious kind of place.  “Its not wise, its Babbage!”))

  8. Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo December 9, 2011

    The Spirit of the city to me is two drunk monkeys in a knife fight…wait…what? No the monkeys are not wearing Brass goggles and Top hats…WHAT? NO! THEY ARE NOT RIDING PENNY-FARTHINGS!

  9. Phaedra Underby Phaedra Underby December 9, 2011

    The Spirit of the city is definately a woman. Selfish, quick to anger and slow to forgiveness. Dark, dirty hair, dirty skin. A penchant for saying “Screw it!” and doing whatever strikes her as best. When you’re at your highest she will strike you down, when you’re at your lowest she will inexplicably raise you up. 

    When she is in trouble, she doesn’t wait for a rescue: she raises an army. You, my dears, are that army. She’s just the General you’ve never laid eyes on. 

  10. Henri Metier Henri Metier December 9, 2011

    I knew this would be a volatile issue full of differing ideas, so I followed Loki’s instructions and suggestions as closely as possible when dealing with it and it’s purposes within the current storyline.  While I have a much different view of what Babbage’s spirit would be, Henri would have no doubt thought of it as a damsel in distress considering the facts that had been at his disposal, despite any evidence to the contrary so take that as you will.

    • Cyan Rayna Cyan Rayna December 9, 2011

      I wouldn’t consider this volatile, just a fun discussion. In the end Babbage is different to every individual, or even every character (one alt to another). To have so many altering opinions of the same subject is great, and to be able to discuss it in this fashion (no fisticuffs) is even better.

      • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer December 9, 2011

        Precisely.  Every typist behind every New Babbager comes from a different mindset, with different expectations, desires, needs.  If this were not so, I’d be worried. No one needs Stepford Babbage.  My own viewpoint will be different than others, personal to the way my eyes and mind view the city.

        I should write it I suppose. 

        The Spirit of New Babbage transcends gender and species.  I will just call it the Engineer for lack of a better all-encompassing word.  The Engineer holds true to strong visions and expectations. The Engineer knows the future depends on what’s accomplished *now*.   The Engineer strives to find ways to improve the quality of life by any means possible, and is willing to brave peril and danger to hit the goal.  What Could Possibly Go Wrong? is not so much a flippant slogan, but rather a cocky dare to the universe. 

        The Engineer is passionate about science, mechanics, architecture, astronomy and more, knowing Knowledge is Power and a means to the dreams.  The Engineer is familiar with foibles of the mind, and the seductive power of vices – and will make use of strong drink as easily as a spanner, in the neverending quest to grasp mysteries in a leather-gloved grip. The Engineer MUST create or die, whether this comes out in building new machines, cobbling together a social structure (i.e. bars, of which Babbage has many) where minds can meet and share, providing entertainment as a release valve for pent up energies, quietly documenting the wonders of the age, or writing fantastic tales of the future that shall come.

        The Engineer is their own paradox.  And their own explaination.  The drive to discover and invent is very strong, from a very young age. Many Engineers have fled ‘normal’ society, being round pegs in square holes, and found New Babbage to be the roundest peg of all, a place they fit squarely in.

        Above all, the Engineer refuses to settle for second best.  Why walk when you can fly? Why limp when you can replace a limb? Why drown when you can ply the deep waters in metal-clad comfort?  Why not reach for the stars? Or better yet, fly to them?





        • Cyan Rayna Cyan Rayna December 9, 2011

          … You know Now I believe there needs to be a church of the Engineer as he’d have many followers in Babbage… Or maybe a bar in his honor heh.

  11. THE Dredd Pirate Bob THE Dredd Pirate Bob December 10, 2011

    my threepenneth worth, and listen up good! things that represent babbage: idiots, shoes, pomposity, girly, rubbish, boring, prancing, flowery but mainly unpleasently and WRONGFULLY judgemental of their OBVIOUS superiors who are always getting blamed for things they have never done.

    and OBSESSED by baths! i mean! what is the deal with you lot and baths?! are you all that dirty all the time?! it’s like the number one topic of conversation! everywhere i go its bath bath bath bath bath bath bath. it’s just weird!

  12. Loki Eliot Loki Eliot December 10, 2011

    Oh my what an interesting thread. In a sense this shows an interesting aspect, the need to pin point down a solid fact about something that lacks facts. We’ve seen a history unfold around Babbage, and now we are seeing an organic process of religious belief, it absolutely fascinates me XD.

    Wether this will lead to an internal holy war of sorts over whos idea of the Spirit of New Babbage is correct, is yet to be seen hehe. XP

    • Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein December 11, 2011

      I find it beautiful indeed. Though I don’t see it leading to conflict, but spirited and positive discussions, tales around the pubs, a rise of belief perhaps, but variety rather than difference.

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer December 11, 2011

      Ah, Loki, but Babbage HAS facts. They happen to be internal, personal, and subjective but oh they are so VERY solid and real…. to those that dream them.

      Your own Personal-Babbage is one that is blessed to be able to be expressed through mechanima and roleplay, and that is a citywide treat! Thank you. :) 



  13. Jonathon Spires Jonathon Spires December 11, 2011

    ..queue the commodores


    New Babbage is a BRICK HOUUUUSE

    she’s mighty mighty.. lettin it all hang out

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