| print this
"The Professor and the Paradox"
P., Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
336 in 2nd edition.)
he, 'We A.A.s surrender to win; we give away to keep;
we suffer to get well; and we die to live.'"
to a talk John gave on Founders Day 1978 in Akron, he entered
A.A. in February of 1949.
was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and had a thick southern accent.
He described himself as having always been shy, sensitive,
fearful, envious, and resentful, which in turn lead him
to be arrogantly independent, a defiant personality. He
believed he got his Ph.D. degree principally because he
wanted to either outdo or defy everybody else. He published
a great deal of scholarly research, perhaps for the same
finished graduate school at the age of 30, and taught English
at the University of Alabama for 21 years. That is where
he was working when he entered A.A. He later taught at Kent
State University in Ohio. (He joked in a talk he gave in
1978 about teaching Shakespeare with a southern accent,
and having taught freshman English to Jim Nabors, television's
Gomer Pyle. Had he known Nabors was going to make so much
money, he would have sat in Nabors' seat and let Nabors
teach the class.)
began as a social drinker, in his early twenties, and did
not experience any problems with drinking until well after
he finished graduate school. But as the tensions and anxieties
of his life mounted, and the set-backs from perfection began
to increase, he "slipped over the line between moderate
drinking and alcoholism."
said "there are all kinds of drunks: melancholy drunks,
weeping drunks, traveling drunks, slap-happy and stupid
drunks, and a number of other varieties." He was a self-aggrandizing
and occasionally violent drunk.
crises came when, during a drunk, he became "violently insane"
and landed in the City Jail. Soon after he was ready for
gave very humorous talks. For example, he said in his 1978
talk that he did not know why his story was removed from
the third edition, perhaps the New York office thought he
also joked about how having your story in the Big Book could
sometimes cause problems. He told how after he had talked
at a state A.A. convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, he
overheard a man say that he was a fake, a liar, and a thief.
The man thought he had stolen every word of his story out
of a story in the Big Book which the man had just read the
discusses four paradoxes in his story. (A paradox, he explains,
is a statement seemingly self-contradictory; a statement
which appears to be false, but which, upon careful examination,
in certain instances proves to be true.) The four paradoxes
are, (1) we surrender to win, (2) we give away to keep,
(3) we suffer to get well and (4) we die to live.
updated his story for the January 1968 A.A. Grapevine. In
the update he said that in A.A. we don't just quit drinking.
"We learn to change our self-centeredness, to stop running
away from things we don't like, and to remove or at least
adjust our emotional shortcomings. We do these things by
taking seriously and honestly our Twelve Steps, the nearest
thing to a 'cure' for alcoholism that anybody has yet discovered.
We learn to do these things not by just memorizing the Steps
(though that is a good idea), but by attempting to live
and act them each day of our lives. And eventually, often
when we least expect it, we discover that as a result of
all this we are happy and contented and full of thanksgiving
-- something I once knew (or thought I knew) I could never
be, without drinking."
thanks to Charles K. of California for some of the information
on John P.