The Crossroads of the Aether
I am interested in knowing the origins on why an octopus is sorta the "unofficial" animal of Steampunk?
It's interesting that each sub culture has an animal that is used to represent itself. For example, Goths have been associated with bats and hip-hop with dogs. This is not in anyway trying to sterotype a particular subcuture, nor am I suggesting that a subcuture has to have an animal or more than one (so please don't take offense to my examples). However, the octopus does seem to be the "unofficial" animal. Anyone care to explain or provide an answer? I am interested in hearing people's opinions.
I think it goes back to Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, where his writing was ahead of it's time. Submarines, air travel, advanced mechanical machinery etc... and since he was around during the Victorian era most of the technology he wrote about would fit well within the steampunk world.
BUT more so when I look at the Octopus it just has a great visual. Looks like it's wearing a helmet, goggles, and the tentacles remind me of the mechanics of gears etc.. many individual items working in unison. No idea if any of it's true but that's why I associate it.
I haven't a clue as to the origins of the octopus due to my noobness to Steampunk, but I am willing to offer my opinion as to why it stuck or why it seems so appropriate. First let us take a look at it's skin, one might think that the tentacles with their versatile sucky cups are the relevant elements of this creature, but the skin is where it's at. It's important to note that the organ we know as skin is actually a bit of brain tissue that envelopes the body, accounting for the density of nerve endings.
So basically skin=brain...
Back to the point, the skin of the octopus has some unique abilities including the ability to alter it's color AND texture on a detail level that we would consider pixelated. The common consensus is that this evolutionary trait is for camouflage... But there is a school of thought that this change of color and texture (and sometimes bio-illumination) is LANGUAGE.
A language which may be a purer form of communication than our own because they "wear their mind on their skin"... Or they "wear their heart on their sleeves" so to speak, which is perfectly applicable because the first organ to be created by cell division is a tiny brain which is enveloped by heart tissue and so on.
Now, why is this relevant to Steampunk? Because we wear our culture (which includes cultural artifacts like technology) like a skin, and in a unique subculture like Steampunk we tend to be more in touch with our inner workings, our passions, our soul... And we incorporate all those expressions into our Steampunk persona's and worlds.
It may have been unintentional or subconscious, but the Octopus is the animal that embodies the Steampunk spirit perfectly... IMHO
Not octopodes. Kraken. Tiny cute little baby kraken riding on your shoulder, giant air kraken, rogue cave kraken, and of course your traditional kraken that threaten our undersea commerce.
And I agree with Justi Miazo, with the added influence of H.G. Wells' tentacled Martian invaders and H. P. Lovecraft's outlandish horrors.
But since we're talking about it, I would like to throw my tortoise's hat into the ring for steam punk mascot:
If you think about it the Tortoise is one of the only land creatures that have a lifespan long enough to have lived through (and met people from) the era synonymous with steampunk and modern times. And cuz he's DAPPER!
RELEASE THE KRRRRAKEN!!!! sorry.
Krakens are very funny in my extended family dating back to a single Thanksgiving dinner where we discussed trashy sci-fi movies one watched on Saturday afternoons.
Octopi are also cool because they are TOOL USING INVERTEBRATES!!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW_AeF-54f8
The story is that people have been throwing coconut husks into the ocean and they don't decompose. The octopi have come up with a use for them. There's debate as to whether or not this is actual tool use, but I'm not sure where the debate lies. Not only are they manipulating the husk for protection, they are picking up the damn things and carrying them around for future use. It's a gadget loving cephalopod!
I'm particularly fond of the way the octopus tires of the paparrazi and decides to eat the camera. :)