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The Tragic Comedy of Jean Paul Zodeaux

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posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:07 AM
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Greetings to all the members of Above Top Secret:

Please allow me to finally introduce myself. I am just an average Joe who one day stumbled upon ATS and liked what I saw so I joined and posted immediately. I didn't think to introduce myself then and even when I saw others introduce them self I still didn't think to make an introduction because I...well, quite honestly, I had no idea what to say. However, I have been in this site now for a little over a month and a half and in that time, I have experienced other members calling me Jean, Jean Paul, JPZ and some one even called me Sarte/Camus. It is strange to me, to be called by a name I invented but now becomes even more real now, than he ever was before.

My name is not really Jean Paul Zodeaux, and I don't suppose many people here thought it was, as we all have tended towards creating a user name being different than that name we go by in "real life". Many of the user names of other members in this site, indeed in many sites across the world wide web, are intriguing and very clever. Compared to many there is nothing special or clever about Jean Paul Zodeaux at all. So, why him? Why choose such a name? Just who the hell is this Jean Paul Zodeaux?

The story of Jean Paul goes back to my days at the university where I double majored in theater and philosophy. I started with just a major in theater, but every time someone asked me what my major was and I told them, the response was invariably; "Theater? You should pick a second major to have something to fall back on." My freshman year I would do my best not to roll my eyes and be as polite as possible in response but by my sophomore year this unsolicited advice was becoming rather annoying. So, mid semester of my sophomore year I declared a second major and chose philosophy. I chose it because I was certain that no one would ever hire a philosopher and I could continue happily with my dreams of pursuing a life in the theater.

I was wrong about that and by my junior year began getting offers for interviews from several corporations because of my philosophy major for their think tanks, but not a single offer for any work in the theater. (Sigh). Undaunted, I would accept those interviews that included a free lunch and politely listen to these corporations offers while knowing in my heart that I was Broadway bound. It was not my experiences, however, in the philosophy department that led to the creation of Jean Paul Zodeaux, it was my experiences in the theater department that led to his birth.

While studying under the tutelage of these academic theater types I was taught much about the art of acting, the art of stagecraft, sound design, makeup and even stage management. What intrigued me the most were my classes in playwrighting. I learned much about structure, plot and character and how to create various forms of dialogue. I learned how the greats crafted well made play's, absurdist plays, surrealistic plays and even Elizabethan plays. While taking these numerous classes I befriended another writer/director who was taking many of these classes along with me. He was just an average Joe also and we got along well.

We would work together, often collaborating, using the techniques we had learned and feeling quite proud of ourselves for realizing how useful these techniques were and how good we were at using them. Even so, there was never a time when anyone of our professors would agree that we had learned the techniques effectively let alone mastered them. This phenomenon went beyond playwrighting and even in our acting and directing classes we experienced, all of us, not just my friend and I, a strange insistence that we were never, none of us, reaching our "full potential". While I made many A's in philosophy and classes outside my major of theater, in theater I was perennially making B's as were most students. After three years of this nonsense, my friend I became suspicious of this phenomenon and decided to put it to a test.

Together we decided to invent an author of whom we would present to our theater of the absurd class as a lost playwright who wrote in the early 1950's in France and was fairly undiscovered only experiencing a brief moment of astonishing success before suddenly disappearing and "committing suicide of the heart and soul" never to write another word again, only to resurface upon his deathbed, broken and destitute years later. That suicide of the heart and soul line we stole straight out of Eddie and the Cruisers as we wanted to be fairly obvious in our deceit, sort of hiding in plain sight. To make it even more obvious that Jean Paul Zodeaux was in fact us, we named him Zodeaux because the both of us, being young Turks with a fair amount of arrogance, had spent the last year or so constantly responding to our friends and even teachers more obvious remarks with the childish phrase: "So Duh!"

My friend and I began furiously working on our Jean Paul Zodeaux plays and I had a friend who was the editor for the school paper, so I asked him if he could print our Zodeaux plays out as if they had been printed in The Evergreen Review a literary magazine founded in 1957 but was no longer in print when we were in college, but has been relaunched since. We chose this magazine for several reasons. First, for the prestige factor as we wanted to ensure that Mr. Zodeaux was given the due respect he deserved. Secondly, the magazine being out of print assured us that anyone who might decide to investigate the matter would have a difficult time doing so. On the one hand we created as many clues as we could think of, particularly in the plays themselves, that would reveal the true authors, but on the other hand we wanted a certain authenticity to this out right fraud.

Once the plays were printed up, appearing to be Zeroxed from the Evergreen Review, we found some actors and staged these plays to be presented in our theater of the absurd class. The professor who taught that class also taught several of our playwrighting classes and was one of the guiltiest for declaring an inability to reach our full potential. We carefully informed our professor and classmates of the tragic history of this brilliant writer, (we must have used the world brilliant to describe his writing a gazillion times), and then solemnly presented the work.

Continued...




posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:09 AM
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Continuing...

What followed was a series of events and reactions that astounded us and surpassed our wildest imaginations. We were not at all surprised that our professor in this theater of the absurd class admitted to never hearing of Jean Paul Zodeaux but a little surprised that she so willingly agreed he was brilliant and she seemed quite impressed that we discovered this man and understood his profundity as well as we did, and for the first time ever we received A's for our work in the staging of Jean Paul Zodeaux. Our classmates were sufficiently impressed as well and there was a sort of excitement that rippled through that class extending itself outside of the class into the lobby of the theater and other classes where several months were spent in various ways discussing the genius of Jean Paul Zodeaux.

While our professor in the theater of the absurd class was classy enough to admit she had never heard of Zodeaux, not so the rest of the faculty and staff of that department. Without fail every other professor, instructor and even staff members such as the theater secretary had not only heard of Jean Paul Zodeaux, but felt compelled to tell us of other plays, (plays we didn't write ourselves), that Mr. Zodeaux had written. One professor spent the entire hour of one class reminiscing on the time he saw a Jean Paul Zodeaux play on off Broadway called The Moment, and how brilliant it was and what a shame it was this mad genius deprived the world of a the larger body of work worthy of his potential. Always with the potential thing. One professor did not immediately claim to know Zodeaux and it was only after asking for the spelling of his name that he came to recognize the man. "Oh" he said, slightly amused; "Zo-dough! Not Zo-duh, Jean Paul Zo-dough. Of course I've heard of him." He exclaimed with a sort of pffffffttttt.

It was becoming a bit disconcerting for us as we never expected this, and were frankly surprised so many were willing to accept his work as undeniably brilliant let alone know his work intimately. But, the unease my friend and I were beginning to feel only turned to horror as we watched our friends embrace academic snobbery themselves. We witnessed one friend openly declare that our professor in the theater of the absurd class might be going senile, or maybe just out of touch. She was well into her 70's at this point and considered to be a "grande dame of the theater". Surprised at this declaration, my collaborator in all things Zodeaux and I both came to her defense and asked why he thought she was out of touch. He answered that she hadn't even heard of Zodeaux. Another friend in this conversation, upon hearing this, burst out laughing and literally slapped his knee! Slapped his knee for Christ sakes!! Just because this woman was honest enough to admit she had never heard of the man we invented.

Soon there were many students discussing the ability, or lack thereof, to perform Zodeaux, while some believed that no one performed his work as well as a respected student actor in the department, there was one who displayed her own pffffffttt, and announced that she had seen an actor perform the very same piece this respected student actor in our department had, at the Kennedy Center, and "blew him away". This was becoming more than my friend and I could bear, to watch our friends, our respected teachers and professors make such fools of themselves over our invention. Suddenly, Jean Paul Zodeaux went from being our proud creation of a tragic genius, to an all too human icon above reproach, to a horrifying monster while we were the distraught Frankenstein's unsure how to deal with our mistake.

Meanwhile, my friend and I returned to making no higher than a B in our classes because we "just weren't quite there yet" and "just not reaching our full potential". We knew, of course, that if we were to use the pseudonym of Zodeaux, our work would be accepted as undeniable genius and sadly we knew why. Not because we were undeniable geniuses, but because Zodeaux had been effectively marketed as one himself. No one knew this Jean Paul Zodeaux, and what little they knew of him was a fiction invented to curry sympathy for the man. He was not anything like us, two average Joe's with a proclivity for childlike behavior and foolish pranks. No one had to put up with Zodeaux demanding they pull his finger. No one had to witness Zodeaux reveal the human flaws of everyday people, he was iconic and separate from us, he was truly a genius while we were just two dumb ass kids who thought too highly of ourselves.

We never revealed Zodeaux's true identity until a few years later when one friend began looking for a Zodeaux play so that he could use it for auditions. Of course, no matter how many issues of The Evergreen Review he scoured, he couldn't find any evidence of Jean Paul Zodeaux and being our friend and knowing us all too well he finally, like a light bulb illuminating his mind, realized what had happened. At first he felt betrayed, then slowly that betrayal turned to horror as he started to remember his own academic snobbery in possessing that special knowledge of the genius of Jean Paul Zodeaux. He was understandably embarrassed and agreed to keep the revelation to himself to spare others of the embarrassment of this silly fraud.

This is the tragic comedy of the tragic hero who was a man that became a brilliant writer then stopped writing to spite the world and left his legacy for two clowns to exploit and turn him into a monster with a plague he spread to one soul after another, causing an incurable insanity to all infected. Thankfully it was not terminal and by the next semester most forgot about Jean Paul Zodeaux and went back to praising Mamet or Sheppard, occasionally paying homage to Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams, and always speaking with great deference to Shakespeare. Zodeaux was but a flash in the pan not worthy of the memorable, except for my friend who created him along with me, and our friend who discovered our fraud and now shared the burden of knowing just how stupid we can be at times. For both my collaborator and myself, just because we didn't act so stupid at that time was only due to the fact that we invented the man and we could never be sure ourselves if had this fraud been perpetuated by another, if the two of us would have been as willing to pretend we knew of a man we never heard of.



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:10 AM
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Continuing...

In some ways Jean Paul Zodeaux only made us more arrogant and in other ways he humbled us in the most profound way. I owe much to this ridiculous fraud of an artist and this is why I pay homage to him now. Jean Paul Zodeaux is no more than a user name, an invention designed to convince people I am someone I am not. A persona presented to assure people I aspire towards genius, all the while comfortably hiding behind a curtain. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, let the great and powerful Zodeaux entertain you and astound you and...well, even Zodeaux is due his comeuppance. For in the end, one mans art is another mans boredom. I know of no greater criticism of art than the simple phrase; "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." For some that is David, others it is Gericault and for others it is the four dogs sitting at a table playing poker. Why not? Art is a matter of taste, and for me, most of my taste is in my mouth.

Thanks for allowing me to join this group, I have had fun and look forward to a long and wondrous journey here in ATS.



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:12 AM
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Allow me to formally welcome you to ats. I've already enjoyed seeing your posts, and your thread on double speak was well written.

You have already proven to be a valuable member of this forum in my opinion and I thank you for adding to it's value.

I of course look forward to more that you will bring us in the future.



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:23 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Wow, that's quite a comprehensive introduction!

I'll be honest, my T.V. induced short attention span resulted in me wandering off after the first couple of paragraphs but welcome nonetheless!!!

Zou-deaux, Zou-deaux. Say it Frenchie! Alright, you asked for it, I'mm gunna enjoy this......

[edit on 19-12-2009 by OZtracized]



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:40 AM
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[edit on 19-12-2009 by OZtracized]



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 03:46 AM
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SWEET! Another decent writer. I read your posts and thought it was both awesome and disheartening at the same time. I am starting college this next month and expect to deal with this same sort of behavior you describe.

It's a sad day when one cannot admit ignorance, but must lie his way through life and fake his knowledge.

Welcome man.



posted on Dec, 19 2009 @ 08:50 AM
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Welcome aboard Jean Paul! I also have found your previous posts very well written. What a great intro story! It could actually be made into a good play about academic snobbery!
You are making me wonder if I shouldnt write an intro for myself even though I've been here for 6 months. I'm looking forward to more of your writing, it's always a pleasure to read. Glad you're here!



posted on Dec, 28 2009 @ 01:07 AM
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Welcome JPZ. I am sure you will add to the knowledge that has led us up to this point.



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 02:12 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 

That was a wonderful read my friend and what an object lesson in human nature. It really does highlight the absurdity that can sometimes manifest through peer pressure.

The sense of superiority some adopt when they feel that they belong to an elite group that knows something that others don't.

You created your very own monster, well done!

So welcome to the boards, I am still new here also but hopefully you will discover that most people here want to share there knowledge. Don't be surprised though, if you come across a few that wear there exclusive knowledge as a badge to elevate themselves.

It is human nature after all.



[edit on 29-12-2009 by kennyb72]



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 02:51 AM
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reply to post by Happyfeet
 


Thank you for the kind words and warm welcome. Have a great time in college, it is a place of learning no doubt, but it is imperative you have fun while doing so!



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 02:53 AM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Thanks for taking the time to read this post Asktheanimals and thanks for your kind words and encouragement. I am glad to be a part of this site and it is people like you who make have made it so.



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 02:55 AM
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reply to post by Conclusion
 


Thanks Conclusion for your welcome and for the great support you've shown me, I am proud to have you as a friend.



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 03:01 AM
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reply to post by kennyb72
 


I was reading your post and wondering why your user name meant something to me as I couldn't remember any thread you and I had shared or anything you had posted, so I went into your profile page and was snooping around and lo and behold, I discovered the thread that makes your name mean something to me! It was your own introduction thread titled: Looking for others who have had their rose colored glasses knocked off.

I enjoyed your introduction and didn't myself reply because I thought I was too new myself to join such threads issuing words of welcome. Obviously silly of me, since you've had no problem in doing so for me. Anyway, you may be pleased to know it was after reading your introduction that I began wondering why I hadn't written one and if I were to what in heavens name would I say?

About a week later it occurred to me what to say, and I suppose I have you to thank for getting me started down that road. Welcome to you as well and thank-you.



posted on Dec, 29 2009 @ 03:48 AM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 




from post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
About a week later it occurred to me what to say, and I suppose I have you to thank for getting me started down that road. Welcome to you as well and thank-you.


That is actually very gratifying to know, and thank YOU for sharing that with me. I hope enough members get to read your thread.

It certainly raises the bar for introductions.



posted on Dec, 30 2009 @ 12:37 PM
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You scoundrel! I loved the story. You should write a short story for the members stories forum. I like the way you think.

Welcome to ATS. I hope you don't get your wrist slapped anymore today.
(me either!). Sigh. It's hard to be good sometimes.

liw



posted on Dec, 30 2009 @ 12:55 PM
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Originally posted by ladyinwaiting
You scoundrel! I loved the story. You should write a short story for the members stories forum. I like the way you think.

Welcome to ATS. I hope you don't get your wrist slapped anymore today.
(me either!). Sigh. It's hard to be good sometimes.

liw


Yep. But, its good to be bad sometimes too! Thanks for the warm welcome.



posted on Dec, 30 2009 @ 01:06 PM
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It's Fun To Do Bad Things!!!!!!

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posted on Dec, 30 2009 @ 01:13 PM
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Originally posted by Signals
It's Fun To Do Bad Things!!!!!!

------------------------------------------


Yeah but you do really nice things and try to present them as being bad things. Your little signature trick was inherently and truly an act of kindness regardless of your motives and regardless of any ones insecurities due to that act, but then you took that act of kindness and presented it as some Machiavellian gambit, in essence, turning good into bad, just to have fun being bad. Wow! It's cool to have complex friends like you, bud.



posted on Jan, 22 2010 @ 03:02 PM
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reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux
 


Alright Jean Paul, I had some time today to peruse the ether and decided to visit one of my friend's homepages.

The shock I have found to this OP, is both patently bizarre and frelling enlightening.

Let me explain.

In high school we had these short classes to introduce us to technology related fields of study. They were 7 weeks in length and varied from electronics to agriculture. One day a friend and I were discussing grades being arbitrarily given based upon numerous factors such as ones appearance and the like. We decided to switch names in one of these courses.


We did not let anyone of our fellow classmates know about it beforehand. The looks of dismay and fear they showed, when I gave my friends name and he gave mine was pure joy to me. After that class, they said we were going to get in a lot of trouble for what we were doing.

To not go into it too much, it was probably kind of immature but the experiment into the absurd, had been very enlightening. When we were given our final grade both my friend and I talked to the teacher after class and told him what we had done. His look of shock and then humor was terrific. He stated that he wish he had more people that walked the path we were on.

Thanks for this OP. It is great knowing that the imagination and ingenuity of people is thriving, given the boxes we have been put in.

Recently I have ventured into possibly writing a book of my life and intertwining it with fiction. I believe when writing one must write what one knows, for we are all but players in the theater of life.




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