There's a new pretension in town and it calls itself 'Postfurry.' Join former CYD regular contributor The New Meat on a journey to the heart of one of the most nonsensical sub-subcultures within the furry fandom in this article from mid-2005.
Thursday, May 5. 2005
A Not Very Thorough Look at Postfurry
by The New Meat
I’m really fucking tired of all this. I slave for hours, pouring my heart and soul – my very heart and soul! – into these articles and what do I get? One mention in Xxydex’s livejournal, and he doesn’t even have the decency to get my website affiliation correct, and here, on our very own forums, I’m just some e-famous artist's fiancé, "Whatsisface." You people in the forums all suck. You’re poor, poor excuses for sychophants. In fact, I think I wrote some lackluster articles a while back and someone called me on them. Really, what’s up with that? Where’s the unquestioning, slavering devotion? I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I just what someone to hang on every word I say.
A postfurry (artist's impression)
Everywhere I look, everyone’s got their own little posse of lickspittles. Every comic has a forum full of toadies who live just to boost their cartoonist’s ego. Manawolf has loads of admirers just for taking a stand against the horrible tyrannical injustice of shaving. Jennifer Diane Riaz has admirers because the poor poor dear was incorrectly born with a penis and then blew a fortune on video games. And what about that Alfador guy? He sucks up to EVERYONE. Why isn’t he here, sucking up to me for no readily apparent reason??
But truly the master of consolidating yesmen is Postvixen. (1)
With a name like Postvixen, I’d expect this guy to be delivering my mail. Disappointingly, Postvixen really, has nothing to do with the postal service. Instead, he’s the smuggest man on earth and a big shiny cog in furry fandom, as evidenced by his fifty million livejournals. I’m told he’s also an amazingly convincing transsexual, because I certainly never would have guessed that he used to be a woman. And, Lord almighty, is he popular. I know this because he talks about how popular he is in his livejournal. Why, he’s practically drowning in flunkies, to hear him tell it. Unlike you normal folk, Postvixen struggles under a uniquely tragic burden. You see, it is difficult for Postvixen to dedicate sufficient time to each and every one of his fans so as to keep them all happy, so Postvixen is reduced to frequent pleas of "PLEASE STOP LOVING ME SO MUCH" in his various livejournals. It’s difficult being an internet god.
So Postvixen has more suckups than he knows what to do with, while I languish in complete e-obscurity. Why is it that Postvixen surpasses, for example, me in e-popularity? We’re like two peas in a pod. We both talk a lot on the internet. We both demand unwavering devotion from our fans. We both own fifty million livejournal accounts in order to maintain carefully crafted fictitious internet personas, only posting certain opinions on certain journals, always making sure that no fan will ever see anything that will in any way offend him and cause him to lose faith in the object of his affection. No, wait, I don’t do that, that’s just Posty.
But the real difference is that Postvixen, like a particularly low-shooting internet L. Ron Hubbard, knows that the best way to cultivate devotion amongst the weak-minded populace is to give them a religion. Or, if you’re trying to appeal to the hipster crowd that eschews religions and uses trendy fake words like "eshew," a Godless but nifty-sounding philosophy of life. Same difference.
Postfurry isn’t a support group for recovering furries. Rather it’s Postvixen’s own invention, a contraction for "postmodern furry." "Postmodern," as you might know, is a fancy word used by film doctorate students to describe when something in a movie doesn’t make any sense but they don’t want to admit it. Laypeople tend to think of "postmodernism" as an attitude more than a philosophy, something that combines the ironic detachment of hipsterism with the tragic ennui of goth and then gussies the whole thing up with some well-chosen pseudo-academic jargon. In furry, that translates into a preoccupation with latex, leather, and biomechanical junk. Don’t feel bad if you don’t see the connection, I’m not entirely sure how that works either.
Postfurries are mainly distinguishable from regular furries in that they’re tremendous blowhards who use ten words when one would do. They appear to congregate on Puzzlebox. That’s Postvixen’s private MUCK, which is totally free-spirited and accepting, a place where you can be anybody or anything unconstrained by the petty limitations of our close-minded work-a-day society or even the narrow parameters of physical reality, provided that you meet Postvixen’s criteria for admittance, which are that you be a catgirl-dragon and wear latex.
Puzzlebox takes place in a world where everything is beautiful and there are no problems because everyone has access to an unlimited supply of mind-altering drugs which make everything spiffy. The only problem that exists in the world of Puzzlebox is excessive popularity. Victims (ie. Postvixen) must smile through their tears, because no drug has yet been invented that can solve that one.
In bigger words than mine, postfurries describe the quintessential Puzzlebox experience as "what happens when you mix the freewheeling identity-play of furry fandom with postmodern sensibilities." That means that Puzzlebox is what those of us in the know call "a hodgepodge," but postfurries get squirmy when you can explain something using a single word. So they give us this multi-paragraph explanation:
Life on Puzzlebox is retrofuturisic.
Postfurry's futuristic streak is about more than just giving your FurryMUCK character cyberimplants and plastic clothes. That might not be a bad start, but Puzzlebox is not just an ordinary sci-fi adventure MUCK. You won't find many space battles there, and you won't need a plasma cannon mounted in your forearm. Postfurry is more interested in the "soft" side of the future, in the way technology shapes people and their societies. It's about unpredictable change, culture shock, self-creation, and alienation. It's about new possibilities, good and bad -- but especially, alien. Postfurry has little to do with Star Wars and Star Trek, and has more in common with the "transhumanist" sci-fi of Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker. Postfurry loves using technology to make furries even weirder.
This section is pretty straight forward, except for the untraditional use of the word "retrofuturistic." It’s a word usually used to imply some sort of anachrotech sci fi genre like steampunk or clockpunk where people fly through space in dirigibles or create internet connections with babbage engines and telegraph wires, but here apparently used to refer to plain old cyberpunk of the bionic-arm-and-implanted-eye-sphincter variety.
For those of you who don't know, postmodernism is a philosophy which believes that all perception of reality is shaped by language, and all value judgements are only meaningful in the context of a given culture. Postmodern art and fashion tend to take ideas from many different eras and cultures and mix them together in ironic, untraditional ways that draw attention to their arbitrariness. This "mix-and-match" attitude is a major part of postfurry. Since Puzzlebox is just a shared textual fantasy, not intended to match up to reality, species can be mixed together without regard to biology, mythology, or geography. Inspirations can be mixed without regard to history or genre. Give your talking koala some tiger stripes and dress him up like a pulp detective from the 1930's. Play a sphinx that's part ocelot and part sugar glider. See what happens when you adapt a Shakespearean plot to a clan of elfin telepaths. It doesn't matter, as long as you do it with sophistication and style.
Postmodernism is apparently both an extreme form of cultural relativism, a world view you may remember as the one adopted by those douchbags in undergrad anthropology courses who would argue that you can’t pass judgment on societies that practice infanticide or female circumcision because that’s their culture, man. Here, it’s used far less offensively to justify gibberish. Look, I’m a giant radioactive bat-slug with two left wings and lumbago. It’s not merely weird. It’s POSTMODERN. Because I say so.
We'd be lying if we said postfurry wasn't influenced by the drug culture. After all, it was founded by a pill-smuggling spacerat and a lava lamp vixen. It's not required that your character be walking around in a blissed-out dreamworld, though Puzzlebox might make more sense if they are... (On Puzzlebox, VR and consciousness-altering technology is so common, it can be hard to draw the line between reality and fantasy.) Like the acidhead and raver subcultures, postfurry is all about the eye candy. Bright glowy colors are favored, though shiny black and chrome are always acceptable -- this goes for the people as well as the clothing. On a deeper level, postfurry is romantic and emotional like psychedelic culture, more interested in experience than in reason. A really good postfurry roleplaying scene should be surreal, shiny, and pretty, like a robot's wet dream. If something you just saw is impossible, don't nitpick it -- just dig it and move on.
A long way of saying that they like drugs. Since many of Postvixen’s journal posts go on at length about the beauty and freedom he experiences while blitzed out of his gourd on candy raver drugs, it should be expected that Puzzlebox would have a very drug-friendly culture. The wording doesn’t say much about the extent of this drug friendliness, but we can assume it extends mostly to E, or, as the kids call it, X, and other drugs favored by rich white suburbanites.
"See what happens when you adapt a Shakespearean plot to a clan of elfin telepaths." Heeheehee. It doesn’t get any less funny!
This is probably the most visible difference between furry and postfurry. Postfurry starts with the theme of mixing human and animal characteristics explored by furry fandom and takes it a step further, throwing alien physiologies, mythological beasts, and beings of pure imagination into the mix. Some literal-minded furryfans invest great time and energy in deciding "what's really furry" and what isn't. But postfurries like the borderline cases even better. Insectoids, quasi-sentients, hybrids, centaurs, chimeras, hexipeds, aliens, hermaphrodites, robots, shapeshifters, giant amoebas, angels, demons, drug-induced hallucinations, 12' tall foxes, nine-tailed weasels, plexiglass mice, and all such freaks are welcome. Postfurry breaks furry down into its raw elements: fanciful physiology, the creation of alter egos, and... er... perverted sex.
Some Puzzlebox players roleplay interspecies hybrids or other impossible creatures. This is totally different from regular furries who only roleplay interspecies hybrids and other impossible creatures.
Like the transhumanist science fiction that inspired it, postfurry leans towards left-libertarian and anarchosocialist political themes: acceptance of unconventional lifestyles and economic systems, distrust of authority and tradition, belief in equality, freedom, and social responsibility, and a love of cities and urban environments.
Since MU*'s in general are post-scarcity communities where even violence is usually consensual, they're a good place to explore new ideas about power and economics. Puzzlebox makes these conditions part of the in-game background, too. It takes place in a world where basic necessities like food and shelter are too plentiful to compete over, physical violence is obsolete as a means of getting your way, and hundreds of cultures co-exist fairly peacefully. It's next to impossible to make somebody do something they don't want to, so conflicts are resolved through "art war": a combination of propaganda, hi-tech graffiti, public debate, media manipulation, meme warfare, intrigue, and psychotronic brainwashing to persuade other people of your views. It's an anarchist paradise, but it's got enough problems to make life interesting.
Oh, look at us, we said the word "political," so it must be, like, smart and meaningful! Oh la dee da.
Let's be frank: postfurry was founded by some pretty pretentious people. But online roleplaying is a lot like improvisational theater, so there's no reason it can't be treated like an art form. That doesn't mean everything people do on Puzzlebox is expected to be brilliant, but it will be more interesting in the long run if people at least take it sincerely. We want you to have a sense of humor, but don't just be random and goofy. Try to make your @desc, dialogue, and poses carry some real emotion and imagination behind them. Don't be afraid to get involved. Better yet, don't be afraid to get caught up in what your character is doing. You are not the audience. You are a featured performer. Stand up and perform. We're all just as scared as you are, but it's less scary for everybody if you give us something interesting to play off of!
Typing fake stuff into a computer for random strangers to read is intimidating. Be brave!
By the same token, if roleplaying is an art, the same things that make for good art should make for good roleplaying. Remember, art is not reality, and it's not always obliged to resemble it. (Do you really want to see James Bond stuck in London traffic for an hour on the way to work?) Puzzlebox players are encouraged to treat their RP like a novel or a movie, and take advantage of devices like flashbacks, narration, metaphor, editing tricks, and cultural allusions. Feel free to incorporate the unrealness of the MUCK into your roleplaying. (For instance, my character on TapestriesMUCK believed in the "Playerist" religion, where everybody's actions were manipulated by fallible dieties who could be communicated with, and occasionally bribed. ) Postfurry is about taking the habits and traditions that furry writers, artists, and roleplayers take for granted (e.g. adopting fan names, distinguishing IC and OOC states, creating stereotypes around certain species) and playing with them in imaginative ways.
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. God, it just won’t end.
Like it or not, furry is loaded with sublimated sexuality. Postfurry is no different, except that it finds eroticism in things even further removed from reality. Robophilia, inflation fetishes, unnatural genders, xenophilia, mindplay, transformations, BDSM, costumes -- postfurry looks for sensuality not just in the bio-reproductive act, but in manipulations of the body and mind in general. In the wilds of textual space, there's room for fetishes that could never exist in real life. This doesn't mean Puzzlebox players are obliged to be openly sexual. It just means that sensuality permeates postfurry style and culture -- after all, it's about latent sexuality, anyhow. Hedonism and passion abound, showing through in the shiny clothing, ornamented bodies, and general obsession with style.
Suddenly, it’s become the Latex Blue MUCK. This is the longest rationalization I’ve ever seen for "You can fuck here."
Both the Dionysian Scream and Puzzlebox were founded on the principle that the average fan, when you get right down to it, isn't all that interesting, especially in a large and noisy room. The bad manners, powergaming, pick-up lines, atrocious spelling, video-game chatter, and all-around lack of effort made it really hard to do the sort of crazy high-concept RP we wanted to do in public. We noticed the really cool people, the sexy, smart, mature ones, tended to hide out alone in private rooms while the public areas were left to the Unwashed Masses. It's the explicit purpose of postfurry to be a sort of underground for those who want to push the envelope of furry fandom and expand its artistic and intellectual boundaries. Anybody is welcome to participate -- as long as they show emotional depth, a sense of humor, empathy, imagination, and intellectual curiosity. There's no single piece of knowledge needed to be a postfurry, or to play on Puzzlebox, as long as you're willing to learn. If you don't understand some of the concepts in this article, that doesn't mean you're not welcome -- but it might be in your best interests to ask someone to explain them.
Translation: WE ARE GREAT. You might not be able to understand us because we’re so great, but you’re welcome to come and bask in our glory. Maybe some of it will rub off on you. Someday you, too, may be as great as us. Hooray for us.
That’s enough about postfurry the idea. Let’s look again at the smug man behind the curtain, Postvixen:
1) He talks a lot.
2) He favors ridiculously pompous language to dress up pedestrian ideas as something shocking or original. He’s very smug.
3) He has several unusual fetishes like might shock someone with very little exposure to the wider world.
4) He communicates with people via the internet.
Postvixen is thus very much like Captain Howdy (2), the crazy tattooed sadist played by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider in the seminal 1994 interweb horror flick "Strangeland."
For those of you unfamiliar with "Strangeland," in 1994 Dee Snider learned of this strange new-fangled device called "The Internet" and decided to make a movie about it. This crazy future technology must have been riveting back then, because half the movie consists of characters explaining the subtle nuances of "chat rooms," (3), like the fact that if you click on someone’s username their profile will pop onto the screen. Anyway, internet psycho Captain Howdy lures kids to his dungeon of pain (His House) via the internet and kills them. Among his victims is Linda Cardellini (Best known for playing fetching geekette Lindsey Weir in "Freaks and Geeks," fetching geekette Velma in "Scooby Doo," and fetching geekette Linda Cardellini in my erotic fantasies), daughter of the local police chief. He sews her mouth shut, throws her naked ass into a birdcage and sticks her on a catheter, so you know she must be really proud of this role on her resume. Cops bust him and rescue Linda. After a few years of therapy and drugs, (4) Howdy has become a nerd. But the townspeople prove unforgiving of the ex-murderer, so when the state releases him, local intolerant Christians, led by Robert Englund (Still milking the whole Freddy Kruegger thing after all these years) unsuccessfully lynch him. Howdy returns with a vengence and the rest of the movie involves him sticking needles into various unfortunate teenagers while babbling about "rites of passage" and "modern primitives." Here's some of his immortal dialogue:
Captain Howdy, while slicing up random Christian soccer mom:
"We must all go through a right of passage,and it must be physical, it must be painful,and it must leave a mark. The act of slow piercing is a transcendent spiritual event. There is no pain, just sensation. You observe the body, experiencing the sensation, surrender to the experience, feel the endorphall rush as the surgical steel slices through you."
Captain Howdy tortures Robert Englund by hanging him from many many tiny hooks:
"Stop crying! You're not a child. You stopped being a child the second you knew you were going to die."
Captain Howdy gets mad at the cop trying to stop him:
"I'm one of those who find the superfluous essential. But you, I could do without."
Captain Howdy explains his motivation for kidnapping teens and performing unneccessary surgery with this completely unenightening yet delightfully angsty statement:
"You know why I'm not afraid of dying? Because I wish I was already dead."
Captain Howdy gets philosphical, dude:
"We live in a world full of people wearing middle aged bodies. Yet they stumble to a crawl in their minds."
That's very similar to the pseudo-intellectual blather on display in most of Posty's work. Except that Posty likes to talk about himself more, so instead of lines like "The Yanomamo ritualistically pierce their genitals" you’ll get more lines like "I feel that I am the only person in the entire world who can truly appreciate the rare and subtle beauty of the Yanomamo’s genital piercings."
It’s hard to get the full flavor of Postvixen, even though his every waking thought is recorded in those above mentioned fifty million livejournals. Reading Postvixen’s journals is tough and unrewarding work, because he writes in the style of a very smug Andy Rooney. Imagine that the last two minutes of "60 Minutes" were stretched out to two hours, and Andy demands he be sanctified for being the first person to wonder what those little plastic things at the end of shoelaces are called (5).
Most of Posty’s posts are just him congratulating himself for skillful countertrolling, or congratulating himself for not getting searched for drugs by the highway patrol when they pull him over for speeding, or congratulating himself for successfully taking E. In other posts, he chuckles at the irritability of his real life co-workers, while congratulating himself for staying so calm and collected. Posty really likes himself. That’s nice, because a healthy self-image is important in life.
Around these parts, Postvixen is most famous for his theory of "Moronic Cynicism." A moronic cynic is what we used to call a "jerk." Unsatisfied with such an inexact label, Postvixen set out to explain exactly what makes one a jerk. The answer apparently has something to do with complaining about The Man and stealing office supplies from work when they fire you. I don’t know why swiping sticky pads so offends Postvixen, but I assume it’s because he is the high-powered CEO of his own fortune 500 company and the loss of sticky pads to him is a very real business liability. It’s the only logical explanation.
Let’s end with this beautiful letter from Posty, where he reacted with characteristic smugness to his mention on our very own forums. He projects an air of aloofness, because obviously his mention doesn’t bother him at all. Not one iota. But he still deigns to descend from the heavens to examine us with his terrible regard, much as a scientist might regard a microbe on the other end of a microscope. I don’t think much commentary is necessary. Editor's Note: This previously linked to a thread the aforementioned Postvixen had launched in the CYD forums, which has since been lost to the ages.
We've been discovered! To borrow a phrase from the eminent mash-up artist John Oswald (how pretentious!), "I am pleased to do nothing about this."
John who? Okay, I lied. I have to interject here: I love Posty’s coy little aside. I know some people believe that announcing that they know they’re being pretentious somehow makes them unpretentious, but it doesn’t work. You’re still a pompous jackass, no matter how much you giggle behind your hand and say "I’m soooo naughty, tee hee!"
I guess I'm some kind of spokesmodel for postfurry, and feeling considerably saner after my trip, so our official position on this is "Leave them to their fun. If they come looking for us, let's be disturbingly nice and sincere to them." After all, we've converted most of our detractors.
While I don't mind their disapproval for its own sake, my only concern is that they might try to disrupt things like Puzzlebox or people's journals in order to get a reaction. I wonder how they'll react when (or if) they acknowledge we're not doing all this convoluted metatextual stuff because we like it, not because we give a postrodent's ass (sorry, Rik, I do love your ass) if it's "justified" or impressive.
I mean, Jesus, haven't I been admitting for years that I've studied only enough litcrit to be a danger to myself and others?! -:)
On the other hand, "who knows what drama uber-elitist Puzzlebox fags have wrought?" There's some mischievous part of me (that survived this weekend's holographic beating) that wants to feed them really fake drama. If I look like I'm about to even try, please tell the enameled ponygirls they missed a few spots. -:) I'm not unwilling to engage these people, but I think it's gonna be with a "Yeah? So? We're not doing this to impress anybody. We've been rolling our eyes and giggling at our pretentious crap for years, but it's FUN."
I'd do nothing at all about it, since I really do need to learn it doesn't matter if nasty people are talking about us behind our backs. But I'm still afraid they'll try to disrupt real things, that are really worth caring about. They've already threatened to delve into personal matters we'd probably prefer they don't go into. Any advice? I'm tempted to just ignore them for a change, but I think they will try to bring the battle to us, and I don't know if we can all bite our tongues.
One thing they miss totally about the Puzzlebox community is that we resolve most of our drama maturely, by our own damn selves. I'm sure they'll still strain at gnat-sized drama and congratulate themselves on what they've found. But let's surprise them by not giving them the reaction they want... and please flying tackle me if my temper gets hold of me and I begin to!
I still reserve the right to write about their points, such as they are -- perfunctory and simplistic as they are, they still reveal things that I find interesting.
I'd like to write more about postfurry, and this gives me something to push against. I might keep it friends-locked, or I might make it public and just try to avoid direct reference to them. The temptation is there to post it just because I know it will annoy them by being wordy and cerebral, but I'll really try to be good.
Oh, Posty, you’re so modest! And with so much to be modest about.
1. Who should be snickering smugly about his mention here just about now.
2. Yesyes, I am aware of the Exorcist reference there, thankyouverymuch.
3. It’s very important to the tone of this synopsis that you imagine I’m making air quotation marks here.
4. Drugs to the rescue, another favorite Postvixen, as Postvixen would say, meme.
5. For the record, they’re called anglets. Not that I’m being pretentious here…