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Buffy Lives

Hi guys, been a while since I did a real post. Things are hoppin' around here.

Do you realize it's been 19 years since Buffy premiered? That means there are grownups walking around who weren't born when Welcome to the Hellmouth first aired. One wonders what they would think of Buffy if they watched it. Actually, one does not have to wonder. I recently heard from an 18-year-old fan who visited my website:

Hello, Masq.

I knew that AtPO was a part of me when I was holding the 79-page collection of manwitch's, “Buffy's Spiritual Journey.” It was for a friend who is slowly being introduced to (or indoctrinated in) BtVS, and I think it speaks to the staying power of the wonderful community that you created and oversaw that an 18 year old was moved to print something out in 2016. fl.ux is good for your eyes, but not that good.

With time, those pages will fade into musty goodness on his shelf, and he can think of Giles. “All you will get from me is my support. And my respect.”

I'm a philosophy major, in my first year of college, and I can tell you that your site and board archives helped kindle my fire for the field. I watched BtVS for the first time two years ago. It reached me at an important part of my life—one where I could almost think like an adult, but was still totally unaware about what being an adult meant, and equally wracked with confusion about how to get there. I was struggling to make sense of what being alive meant at all. The same circular thought loops kept cropping up. Why am I here? Why do I have this body? Is there a way out of Hume's critique of induction? BtVS, I guess, became a conduit out of my head and back into the world.

I believe the show's (the whole Buffyverse's) greatest strength, philosophically or otherwise, was its richly populated moral universe. To cite a few, quickly: Buffy seemed to follow Sartre. Angel, Kant. Spike was Nietzschean. Giles and Wes were consequentialists. Xander seemed to speak to the primordial ethics of family and loyalty to one's own. Anya didn't know what any of it meant.

Too often with other shows, even the others in Buffy's tier, the writers' own moral views erode the possibility of a populated moral universe in the vein of BtVS' or AtS'. The Sopranos, our other great existentialist drama, was marked by the idea that, while we can choose, we will all always choose the path of unenlightened self-furthering. Every character, save one, drilled this idea into our heads over and over, directly from David Chase. Mad Men says more or less the same thing, with perhaps slightly more variation. The West Wing clusters everyone on the opposite side, rarely questioning our innate goodness and civic responsibility. The Wire said we're all rats trapped in the maze, causally bound to be crushed by the social institutions we create. Breaking Bad is a one-act Greek tragedy, The Shield a three-act one; while both shows hold unwaveringly to the consequences of actions above all else, and in this way are morally powerful, they still cannot compare to the breadth or dynamism of BtVS or AtS.

Watching BtVS was one part of the equation, but Sophist's blog and AtPO played an equally important role. I lost days poring through the board's archives. I imagined what it would have been like to be there in 2003, debating Lies My Parents Told Me & Chosen as they were fresh. I became accustomed to the cadences of the regular posters, and felt I grasped slivers of their minds, slivers that they had elected to share with an unsuspecting world.

There is a gentle sweetness in inhabiting a fading community; the phrase “mono no aware” comes to mind. The deep empathy felt when you realize that there is no way around entropy and transience. It's like walking around in Tokyo without any people. Their marks, their passion and insight, what they cared about and what moved them, are omnipresent, but they already fade and grow hazy with time and distance.

Maybe this is naïve nostalgia or historical revisionism, but AtPO also took me back to a time when the Web and the promise of the radical liberation of information felt—radical. Exciting. Open. There was an egalitarian, decentralized ethos to that Internet, it seems.

It's late, and I have rambled extensively. I guess all I'm trying to say is thank you. Thank you for the insight, from you and your board. They continue to move people today. May they resist entropy for awhile yet.

[Name Withheld]



( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
It really is interesting to see how a newer batch of young people took to Buffy. I subscribe to some nerdy 20-somethings on Youtube. They obviously were too young to have experienced Buffy first run, obviously saw it in later reruns and maybe on DVD. But they'll talk on their channels to somebody their own age they've barely met with their same current general interests, Buffy will come up as a comparison or reference and unfailingly they all immediately understand. Maybe it's not Star Trek devotion to old TV, but it's still interesting.

I don't interact with these younger fans, but I often wonder if I met one in person and if I mentioned the name Masq or the ATPo site, would they know what I was talking about.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think a certain class of younger fan might have heard of my site, the ones who naturally think too much deep thoughts about popular culture.☺.
Mar. 11th, 2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
What a great testament not just to the show but to ATPO--and I remember the manwitch analysis! I really like what they say about "the gentle sweetness of a fading community"--wish too that this writer had been around to write in 2003.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
Makes you feel a bit like some historical figure too, though.
Mar. 12th, 2016 01:08 am (UTC)
That is really fantastic (and yes I'm teaching people who weren't born when Buffy premiered)
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:22 pm (UTC)
The young are always with us. And they keep making more of them every year.
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Mar. 12th, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2016 01:59 am (UTC)
That is beautiful!
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:22 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ponygirl2000 - Mar. 13th, 2016 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2016 02:20 am (UTC)
That made me both tear up and smile. Thanks for sharing.

Mar. 12th, 2016 05:23 pm (UTC)
I was a bit stunned to get it after all this time.
Mar. 12th, 2016 02:44 am (UTC)
Echoing from my cave to the non-void to say, "Wow."

I often reflect on those days, the focused diversity of opinion. But to give a number to the years, to read such a letter, "Wow."

Now managed as a comment not a message.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC)
Having to get used to this LJ thing again myself. A bit out of practice.
(no subject) - fresne - Mar. 19th, 2016 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Wow. This was very nice. If you do correspond with the writer, many of us are so pleased to see value coming from these older discussions.

It's good to see ATPO didn't get lost in the emphemera of the web.

That really is a well written, interesting letter. Brightens the day.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:25 pm (UTC)
I made a conscious decision to keep paying for that URL and keep it up on the web. Not sure how long I will continue to do that, but right now it still gets visitors.
Mar. 12th, 2016 07:41 am (UTC)
Also, just looked at the main ATPO site again for the first time in a very long time, and boy does it look like websites in the late 1990s looked. Nostalgia!
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC)
I also made a conscious decision to never have that website redesigned, and believe me I got plenty of offers. Even a few years after it was created it was obsolete.
(no subject) - dlgood - Mar. 13th, 2016 05:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Mar. 13th, 2016 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2016 01:45 pm (UTC)
Wow. That was....revelatory.

Listen, I always knew that ATPO was special... to us. I knew we had a wonderful community where we could feel absolutely free to express our wide diversity of opinions in an atmosphere of love and mutual respect.

But to find out--over a decade later--that young philosophers are poring over our posts like a Buffy version of the Federalist Papers is simply mind-boggling to me.

I went back and read the debate on LMPTM. It got really emotional (not nasty, just emotional), especially when Rahael nearly left the board. It was both fascinating, intelligent commentary and human drama, and I could see how your newbie would have been drawn in. (Damn thing was like its own miniseries.)

Oh crap. Am I going to get all misty and say, "Wasn't that a time?" with a lump in my throat?

Well, yeah. And no. I'm not going to wallow in nostalgia too much. Even though we're not all together on ATPO anymore, I'm not finished posting online. I think we all still have a lot to say.

To sum it up: hail to our queen, baby! You done good, Masq. You done good.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
CJL!!! Long time no see! Are you around now more and I just haven't been?
(no subject) - cjlasky - Mar. 12th, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Mar. 12th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cjlasky - Mar. 12th, 2016 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Mar. 12th, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cjlasky - Mar. 12th, 2016 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Mar. 12th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fresne - Mar. 19th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2016 03:35 pm (UTC)
What a great letter. You should feel justifiably proud for creating ATPO.

My older daughter called me on Thursday to remind me of the anniversary and to tell me how old it made her feel. It is kind of hard to believe.
Mar. 12th, 2016 05:31 pm (UTC)
I trust she's over 19? 😉
(no subject) - sophist - Mar. 12th, 2016 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 17th, 2016 02:23 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks for sharing! It's wonderful that your site can elicit such a response so many years down the line. Makes me feel downright hopeful, it does. :)

Mar. 17th, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC)
I was a bit stunned by it. :)
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )