At the risk of sounding like Taylor Swift circa 2017, I’m afraid I deleted the post titled “Who Is Jack Trades, Master of Arts?” from May or so of this year.
“I’m sorry, but Jack can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh. Because he’s dead.”
One is reminded of Lady Gaga killing her boyfriend in the “Paparazzi” music video, or leaving her “former” in a trunk on Highway 10, as I lay to rest my nom de plume. It isn’t just that “Jack Trades, MA” makes for a pithier social media bio than it does a stage name (though that has a lot to do with it) – it’s also that the promises I made in this post proved themselves unsustainable, between my master’s degree program and my full-time day job.
No, “Hunter Goddard” is already on my byline. It is what appears next to the titles I’m proudest to call mine. It is full of meaning and history, an identity I reclaim for myself from the abusers who made it so I dreaded the sound of my own name. I adopted the spelling “Godard” in my Twitter and Instagram handles because that is the Norman French translation of the Anglicized “Goddard,” from the days before my ancestors crossed the Channel with William the Conqueror; if a certain aforementioned Lady can feign “Eurotrash” with her “Haus of Gaga,” then so can I with this oldest incarnation of my name.
(Not to mention that Jean-Luc Godard is one of the French New Wave directors I revere most).
“Jack Trades,” meanwhile, is the dying gasp of a months-long and life-threatening manic episode. It was as impulsive as it was peculiar to refresh my brand around a joke from someone who is decidedly not a comedian.
Suspension of Disbelief, however, will continue to serve as my personal pop artistic experiment, a Warholian writing studio where I endeavor to elevate the mundanity of our broken world into the sublimity and transcendence of creative nonfiction. Similar to the Italian neo-realistic filmmaking style which, in many ways, saw postmodernism in the cards, I will still juxtapose my lived experiences as a gay man against the post-Cold War ruination that traumatized me into mental illness, until a whole greater than the sum of its parts rises out of the collision like sparks from a flint.
Or a phoenix born again from the ashes of its latest self-immolation.