See, I told you I was going to get around to making a post about Just Another Fool! It is a few days later than I’d hoped; blame it all on Slender Man. He’s the reason behind everything.
Just Another Fool was the first major blog based Slender Man ARG, and along with Marble Hornets, is one of the stories which really established the current Mythos. However, while MH defined many of the in-universe concepts, most of JAF’s influence is technical and stylistic concepts.
The plot of JAF is surprisingly simple for such an influential work; it’s far shorter than the majority of other Slenderblogs online right now. The creator of the blog is Logan, whose friend Matt just died recently after struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his tour in Iraq. Following Matt’s death, Logan received a notebook which Matt had drawn/written in during his hospital stay. Logan began to post the contents of the notebook online, while also investigating Matt’s death and what happened to him in Iraq. According to the official story, Matt’s squad was killed by a child suicide bomber. According to Matt, they were attacked by Slender Man.
While doing this investigation, Logan goes crazy and disappears. His friend Joshua picks up the blog, although Logan occasionally posts crazy cryptic messages/warnings on it. Eventually deciding that finding out the truth behind the notebook isn’t worth it, Joshua gives the notebook to Dav Flamerock, who posts it on YouTube. Then Logan is found dead; Joshua leaves to identify the body, and there the blog ends, with the implication that Joshua was killed by Slender Man.
Relation to the Mythos
In terms of in-universe content, JAF adds surprisingly little. There isn’t much that wasn’t already covered in Marble Hornets. What it did instead was set up a framework which many other ARGs would follow. To quote TVTropes, ”If there's a written blog that gradually takes on a more insane tone after Slendy gets involved, culminating in the current blogging character being replaced by a friend who is not so deeply entrenched in the madness, you can thank Just Another Fool for that.”, and ”This blog pretty much started the trend of having ARG blogs about Slender Man screwing with people.” Many blogs just skip the second part (the replaced by a friend bit), and end with just the current character going insane, but the influences are still apparent. Many ARGs follow a similar style of descending into madness that JAF did; even the codes used by insane characters in other blogs are similar (such as forming a sentence from the capitalized letters in a seemingly nonsensical phrase). The prominence of Notebooks can also be attributed to JAF, and it’s almost unheard of for someone being stalked by Slender Man to not get a notebook to draw cryptic stuff in (there is now an in-universe explanation for this; those that are being stalked by Slender Man feel a compulsion to write or blog about their experiences, as a side effect of Slendy’s presence.)
Interestingly enough, unlike in many of its imitators, Slender Man has only an implied role in JAF. He’s mentioned, but none of the characters talk about seeing him, which is very different from the “Slender Man is right outside my window!” that you usually get from ARGs. In fact, if you wanted to, it’s possible to interpret the entire story without any involvement from Slendy. Matt was already a fan of the Mythos before the attack in Iraq, so his mind formed the story about Slender Man attacking them as part of his PTSD. Logan got too involved in what Matt believed, until he believed it as well, went insane, and gouged out his eye. Joshua died in a regular motorcycle accident. But that’s not an interpretation many people are likely going to take from it, as it’s far less entertaining than “Slender Man killed them all!”
While there isn’t as much here as there was for MH, some things still need to be mentioned.
First off, the implication of Matt’s death is that Slendy single handedly killed an entire squad of U.S. soldiers. It’s interesting that he would engage in such a violent, confrontational act; while Slendy being physically aggressive isn’t unheard of, it is very rare. It also proves beyond a doubt that bullets don’t mean nothing to Slendy. Slender Man also reportedly gouges Logan’s eye out after his disappearance, making the Slender Man in JAF a much more physically aggressive Slendy than is the norm.
Slender Man has always had a strong association with trees (there are even some theories that he is some kind of sentient, malevolent tree), but this is very strong in JAF. When Matt claimed that Slender Man threw the bodies of his squad mates into a tree, despite the complete lack of a tree in the area where the attack took place. In addition, is a lot of tree-like imagery within the notebook. Most interesting is one of the codes Logan posts after going insane (codes posted below). When you take the capital letters, it creates HEIGDRUASILL. IGDRAUSILL is phonetic for Yggdrasil, so it becomes He Yggdrasil. Now, this could just be a shout out to House of Leaves. However, if it’s actually meaningful, it causes one to think; Slender Man is somehow related to trees. Yggdrasil is the world tree in Norse Mythology, which exists at the center of the cosmology. Little more information on it is given, and sadly, few ARGs have followed up on the Yggdrasil connection.
One final minor detail: Slendy is shown wearing a hat in one of Matt’s drawings. The only other time I have ever seen/heard of him wearing a hat was in someone’s avatar on a forum. It makes him look like the Question, or possibly the hat guy from XKCD, so I’m glad it isn’t commonly used.
Entry: KEY (November 2, 2009)
“you HAve come upon a door.
stop trying the haNDle if it’S not working.
if A dooR is locked, surEly you must first find THE KEY?”
Message: “HANDS ARE THE KEY”
No idea what it means. Doors play a prominent role in other Slenderblogs, especially Seeking Truth. However, these doors tend not to be very good things, so I can’t imagine wanting to open them, even if hands are keys.
Entry: Untitled 1 (December 4, 2009)
“HE dIGs and digs and digs and digs and digs and digs and Digs and digs and digs
the Rain pours and pours and pours and pours and pours and pours and pours and pours and pours
i am crumbling joshUA
staring at the world through this foggy glass
nothing can be [un]made while I lean upon this windowsill”
Related to Yggdrasil. Unsure about rain and digging imagery. Need to do more research into Norse Mythology before I can write more on this; may do an entire post if I can find enough connections to the Mythos.
Just Another Fool: http://jafool.wordpress.com/
Notebook Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWqdfDbZHnk
TVTropes Entry: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JustAnotherFool
That’s all for Just Another Fool. On a closing note, I’ve caught up with Discuss the Findings. Yeah, just one blog; nowhere near my usual huge list of stuff I’ve read. I’ve been busy.
And I contributed to White Elephants (The rc car was my idea). I feel so proud of myself. Now I just need to wait for an angry Slendy to come after me as a result.