The Crossroads of the Aether
That's a brilliant way of putting it. my goggles are not very steam-punk at best. but my thing with this stuff is that its so shiny, people dressed as boiler men who spend their entire career getting covered in soot have shiny perfect goggles. is that wrong or just me?
(also try watching the hysteria log from the beginning. convincing proof of goggle-ness.)
In my oppinion goggles are a bit like a badge to make our clique stand apart from other cliques who dress in "funny" clothes. That is to say that it differentiates us from reenactors, goths, lollitas and old dressed-up folk. It therefore serves to say that we aren't outdated by virtue of being left behind the times, but rather that we choose this code of dress. It also provides the lazy, uncreative or financially challenged a quick way to dress up and be included. 20 bucks on a hat and 5 bucks for a set of e-bay goggles and then suddenly your very ordinary jacket, coat or suit is suddenly and outfit.
I realise that in writing this I come accross as being judgmental. Far from it, I do have a set of goggles lying around the house and absolutely nothing else that remotely seems steampunky. It is a safe place to start from.This is my belief as to why goggles are so universially considered steampunk.
As to why they became steampunk, well, I would imagine that since steampunk is a bit of a label applied almost retroactively to a genre that has existed since victorian times, it symbolises the Vernian and futuristic aspects of sci-fi in the late 1800s. You can only have so many people dressed in the costume of the crazed scientist, airship captain, mountaineer, or desert explorer before the clothing becomes a bit of a theme. By far the most common form of headwear worn by Europeans in Africa in the Victorian period was what is considered the cowboy hat. Yet in steampunk we prefer the pith helmet. My belief is that when you dress up, a cowboy hat makes you a cowboy, while a pithhelmet makes you an explorer, and hence, the imagery has been extended to the genre as a whole.
I feel that the same applies to goggles.
My kindest regards