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A Girl, a Renaissance, and a Jeep
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A Girl, a Renaissance, and a Jeep
Raising Venture Capital
& Taking Jollyroger.com Public

by Becket Knottingham
I got an MBA while windsurfing,
Wealth's secrets the West wind whispered to me,
Out there I saw a renaissance rising,
I knew where to invest my poetry.
In truth and beauty, in God's greater light,
In quotes never seen on the broker's screens,
In principles beyond the pedant's sight,
That higher calling, to set down what it means.
So stay ashore, money's not much out here,
The better business is philosophy,
For art is only bought by blood and tears,
And the return on Words is eternity.
        All the pomp and circumstance you can keep,
        I'll take the girl, the renaissance, and a jeep.
CLASSICAL MBA
GlobalProvince.com: Marketplace of Business Ideas
Thirteen Great Literary Voyages of The Jolly Roger
(Best Business Books)
1. Macarthur Study Bible
2. Shakespeare
3. Moby Dick
4. Catcher in The Rye
5. American Founding Documents
6. Thoreau
7. Emmerson
8. Plato
9. Aristotle
10. The Great Gatsby
11. Norton Anthology of Poetry
12. C.S. Lewis
13. Drake Raft Field Trip
The Jolly Roger's
Top Rock

(Best Business Rock)
1. Guns 'n' Roses
2. Tom Petty
3. Van Halen
4. Aerosmith
5. Smashing Pumpkins
6. Nirvanna Live
7. Ozzy/ Black Sabbath 8. Pink Floyd
9. Bob Dylan
10. The Beatles
11. Led Zepplin
12. Eric Clapton
13. Van Halen
14. Beethoven's Complete Symphonies
15. James Taylor

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A Girl, a Renaissance, and a Jeep
(On Marrying Art and Commerce @ Businessphilosophy.com)

by Becket Knottingham

All men at one time or another find themselves contemplating how they might turn their contemplation into a business, or make their avocation their vocation, or their passion their profession. 'Tis nothing more than eternity's call, mate. If you've ever aspired to walk this earth as Plato did, or Socrates, or Shakespeare, or Jesus, then ye know what it means to have heard it. I was standing on Kill Devil Hill a few years back when I first felt the undeniable yearning, just a few months before I graduated from Princeton.

With a well-rounded resume complete with cum laude physics, tennis, and the Triangle club, I received my fair share of offers from Wall Street recruiters. I visited a few firms and talked with quite a few bankers and brokers, but it didn't seem like Wall Street was the most appropriate training ground for someone seeking to captain a literary renaissance, and as literature had become the center and circumference of my business philosophy, I turned away. I set sail seeking those greater riches which neither moth nor time may tarnish nor corrupt. I couldn't afford to be anchored behind a desk, subservient to the bottom line, when the youthful winds upon which poetry is blown were rushing on by as fast as time.

I'll admit I gave it some thought, as the prospects of a few million dollars was pretty tempting. But I concluded that I wouldn't really know what to spend it on, and even if I did get a lot of stuff, any hope at a literary renaissance would no longer be mine, as I would have lost those precious hours chasing wealth rather than creating it. All I really wanted was a girl, the www's literary renaissance, and a jeep. And so it was that I was free to go attend graduate school in North Carolina and captain the Great Books renaissance.

As the globe is round, all sailors sooner or later find themselves back on familiar shores, and thus it is no wonder that I found myself back on Wall Street after completing my Ph.D. in physics. My dissertation, which pertained to an artificial retina to help the blind, had won an "innovations" award from a prestigious Wall Street firm. The project represented basic research which could also be of use to people some day, and thus it had commercial potential. There were a few other winners, and we all got a tour of the New York Stock exchange, which was pretty interesting, and our hosts showed us all the trading floors, like the debt trading floors, and the fixed income floors, and like a few others. All the traders were around my age, except they were wearing ties, and they probably payed more in rent than $250 a month. And they probably went running on treadmills rather than in the Duke Forest.

It so happened that I got to attend a few dinners with some very prominent venture capitalists, whereupon I took the opportunity to sell them on my business plan concerning the WWW's literary renaissance. The retinal research also had commercial potential, but it was a little ways on down the road yet, as further basic research still had to be completed. And besides, as far as ownership of the device and royalties and intellectual property and all that, I felt that any artificial retina device should pretty much be owned by the blind, and then if we could get a literary renaissance up and running, it'd enhance their sight, and that we could charge them for.

At the awards ceremony dinner, I leaned over and asked a VC from Venture.Capital.com what she thought about a literary revolution which would deliver God's readers and writers to society's cultural helms. On a napkin I explained to her the vast monetary and even greater cultural benefits gained by leading literary revolutions and Creating Art. I drew a graph showing how one of Van Gogh's Sunflower paintings which had sold for $50 shortly following his death recently fetched $50,000,000.

"Now that's a 100,000 bagger!" I said. "In only a hundred years!"

I promised her that such a cultural renaissance would displace the embittered and inept postmodern academics who were giving poetry a bad name by deconstructing everything cool and flooding the market with indecipherable crap. While we were on the subject, I asked her if it was illegal to dump inferior, tax-and-tuition-subsidized poetry on the market to bring down the price and put all independent poets out of business, but she wasn't sure. I emphasized how a literary renaissance would also end the reign of the liberal academic/administrator/economists who place the bottom line over the higher ideals, and who make their livings off of putting a smile on the decline, empowering themselves by serving as fundraisers for the united front of socialist decliners whose tax and tuition-subsidized egoes prevent them from working real jobs, and whose literary talents suggest that they should.

Instead of drowning the children's souls in South Park sewers and the never ending blitz of crassness from the cultural MTV/viacom/Time Warner corporations, the new Literary Leaders would revere the notion of childhood innocence, and we'd hold it high, high above the notion of profits. Captains of virtue would replace the marketers of vice, I told her, and those pagans and idolaters who embrace the corrupting potential of the free market would meet their rapid ends and make way for the glorious subtleties of God's word and the rising generation's renaissance.

I guess she got a kick out of my basic presentation on the napkin, with the way I outlined some basic inventory operations with poetry widgets and everything, because she invited me to present the whole gig to the "big boys" the next day, in their Wall Street office at the very top of one of the World Trade Center buildings. I realized that the napkin was cloth, so I kept it-- hell, when jollyroger.com flies on the first day of its IPO, I'll auction it off at ebay, just so that I can buy more stock at the end of the day.

That night I returned to my hotel room and I set about creating a Powerpoint presentation on my Dell laptop. I knew I'd only have a few short moments to convince them that jollyroger.com will be the first mover in the millenium's renaissance which is destined to bestow us all with infinite cultural and monetary wealth, so I had to focus on the essentials. I entitled the presentation "A Girl, a Renaissance, and a Jeep." I figured that every business needed a place to go, something to drive there in, and somebody to go with. Now I wouldn't mind going there with Drake and Elliot, but it's not like I'm ever going to lay my spoils at their feet, if you know what I mean.

I knew I'd be talking to high-tech visionaries, so I endowed the presentation with a lot of Powerpoint fade-aways and fly-ins-- something I'd never had to do before as a research scientist. I picked it up pretty quickly, though, and it worked pretty well-- a little too well. During the presentation everyone had to duck a few times for my more animated slides which rivaled some of George Lucas's recent work.

I told the room of eminent venture capitalists that many companies on the internet are but middlemen for the distribution of low-margin goods, like books and shaving cream, and that I felt it was time for a business which was a middleman for God's word, and a source for a generation's heart and soul. Retail's kind of boring, I pointed out, just like free email and free web pages, while great art and literature are exciting, and they also have infinite margins, as artists create art for free. Like graduate students and others who pursue the Truth, you don't really have to pay artists. They consider the pursuit of Art to be enough. You can just ride them while waiting for them to come up with something cool, and you can also make them teach and grade all the lower level courses and run the labs, so that professors have time to consult in the corporate world, write treatises on the exploitation of the female proletariate in ancient Greece, and pen grant proposals which will provide for basic office supplies for those postdocs interested in another year of servitude-- those faithful postdocs who're betting that their institution might go public soon because of all the recent MBA hires in the administration. Sometimes it takes awhile for options to vest.

Instead of putting a dot com on an entity that already exists elsewhere, like etoys, just to cash in on an inflated internet IPO, jollyroger.com would seek to present the world with that which could be found nowhere else these days-- rhyming, metered, meaningful poetry. I knew that ivillage already had the market cornered on online sex tips and feminist empowerment, so I was going to have to stick with the subtle and romantic.

My next few slides pertained to the proper order in which the Management Team would pursue the three main pillars of jollyroger.com: 1) the literary renaissance, 2) the jeep, and 3) the girl. My visionary plan was to accomplish the easy things first, and then proceed to tackling the more difficult with later-stage financing, or a second round stock offering, if necessary. I'd start the literary renaissance, use the funds from it to purchase a jeep, and then set out seeking a semi-alternative girl. Alternative enough to read books and paint and drink coffee, but short of doing heroin, implanting metal objects, and having been a groupie of Joey Ramone's, like the one that I almost dated right after high school, after I broke up with my sorority-bound sweetheart. On the first date the x-Joey-Ramone groupie told me that I was ready for a real woman, so I took off to go find one.

I elaborated on the pitfalls of finding this 3rd and sometimes elusive entity, as I feel that one must always be honest about potential pitfalls in the prospectus. I was pretty sure one of the VC's in the back of the room was already writing one for jollyroger.com. It was better if I let them know that it wasn't going to be easy finding a girl right up front. Hey-- we owe it to the investors. These days, en route to finding a semi-alternative girl, one has to date date their fair share of eventual feminists, advertising agents, corporate communications personnel, anorexics, prozac poppers, and MBAs posing as alternative girls while conducting market research in front of the Post Office in Chapel Hill.

And even if you do find a semi-alternative girl, there's no guarantee she was going to stay that way-- she might pull a Boston Chicken on you, or a theglobe.com, I explained to the VCs. And who could blame her? With the constant, unrelenting influence from the popular culture, the university, and the secular State experts, even the most semi-alternative girl is bound to become an independent thinker one day and join the rank and file feminists. The good news is that things become boring very quickly with these imposters, and thus a life sentence is virtually unheard of, and cleared of the temporary snag, one might continue their search. One of the venture capitalists said that another positive aspect about the contemporary female condition was that the market for novels about unmarried women in their thirties would augment. I smiled and nodded, mostly just to humor him, as that wasn't where I was sailing.

For awhile things were cool with the last girl I dated, I explained to the board of directors of Venture.Capital.com, when I was with her alone, anyway. But when we had to hang out with her friends and all, the www.MBA.com factor always reached critical mass, and she'd tip her hand. I mean all they'd talk about is money and internet stocks, and it kind annoyed me that they didn't know the first thing about Unix, and also that their definition of an entrepreneur was somebody who gets in on an IPO at Wit Capital. They'd pretend to talk about places like France, or DC, or New York, but they were faking it-- they were talking about money. They were talking about France.com. They'd only talk about places if it cost a lot to go there. For instance, they'd never go camping in the Nortch Carolina mountains, nor sleep on the beach so as to catch the sunrise. They didn't realize that sometimes the best way to travel is to stay in one place and pen a poem or paint a picture, to forget oneself in creation, to journey to the edge of one's soul. They thought they were being cultural and all, but I knew them too well. They never read books. They'd spend a whole summer in DC and never visit Lincoln Memorial nor the Jefferson Monument to read the glorious inscriptions on the walls, and to feel the meaning of freedom dancing through their spirits. They'd send you a Van Gogh postcard from France, and yet they'd never read Fitzgerald nor Hemingway, and then they'd return home and completely disregard the living Van Gogh's in their own neighborhood. On my Powerpoint slide pertaining to the benefits inherent in working on a literary renaissance rather than in an investment banking firm, I pointed out that pursuing poetry tends to separate one from the madding crowd, and thus dating postmodern MBAs and lawyers has a pretty high turnover rate for poets, which increases the chance of finding an alternative girl. I had to sell them on the management team-- everybody was always saying that it's all about people. I had to get them to believe in Drake, Elliot, and I. I mean you could probably bottle water sell it, if you assembled the right management team.

"An alternative girl," I cleared my throat, "now there's something that's priceless, and thus an essential element in the poet's portfolio. She understands deep down that all true wealth comes from creative endeavors inspired by God in the individual's heart and soul," I continued, smiling the whole way through, " and she's endowed with the aspect which can distinguish principle of the heart from principle on the loan. Most of all she's free, and she keeps you free. And it's that freedom to follow one's passions, to serve humanity with Truth, which inevitably makes everyone richer. While the MBA chicks always seek to buy culture with money, the alternative girl knows that culture is only truly owned by those who live it, by those who further it, by those who create it. She believes in you, and sometimes when you forget, she reminds you that money isn't everything, just like a child might do. I don't know what I'd hope for any more if it weren't for her."

"She doesn't think she's photogenic," I explained to the entranced partners of Venture.Capital.com, "and she's not just saying it to say it, but she really doesn't think she is, even though she's beautiful. You'll find that her words and her actions are always one and the same, just as those wise old Greeks thought they should be, and that her acute consciousness lends her a sensitivity which would almost be too much to bear, were it not tempered with humor, and a humble trust in God."

"Agrhrghrghr," I said, leaping upon the great big, long, table, and tying on the red bandanna I'd stashed in me pocket. "Land ho maties! Know ye that those who pursue money for money's sake, and honor for honor's sake, oft forfeit the freedom and purity of soul which the pursuit of literature's White Whale requires. Are ye with me maties? If we serve truth for truth's sake come hell or high water; if we serve the good people with those vital, priceless insights which are always in short supply, surely we'll be able to earn our keep! And too, we might just stumble upon the WWW's renaissance! Have faith maties, that if the poetry's fair enough, she'll find her way about the watery globe, as the good people of this earth are constantly seeking literary treasures, and there is nothing that one can do to scuttle a renaissance once it's underway. The universe's most powerful and enduring brands, like Shakespeare, and Jefferson, and Thoreau, and Moses, and Homer, shall endure thousands of years hence, and I'm offering you a chance to sail with them! Advertising shall not be necessary, as a poem's value augments the more it is shared, and thus it becomes the reader's duty to spread the gospel! And can ye think of any better investment than the eternal soul? Raise the anchor and hoist the sails, then! Argrhrgrhrhrhrh!"

That was pretty much the clincher, I felt, and I saw a few of them getting their check books out. I sailed them on home with a couple more slides detailing the nature of the market. Slide templates for the history of market conditions were included in the master Powerpoint 97 template for business presentations to venture capitalists, and I had to fill them out, 'cause otherwise the autoformat wouldn't let me save the document.

I presented a slide which explained why postmodern deconstructionists, postmodern professors, postmodern economists, postmodern parents, postmodern children, postmodern feminists, postmodern liberals, postmodern conservatives, postmodern communists, and postmodern financial advisors all found common ground in the expulsion and dismissal of the Greats. I pointed out that the company's enemy, postmodern liberalism, was not only antagonistic towards a literary renaissance, but that it was also hell-bent on eroding the semi-alternative girl, and anyone could tell that it was only a matter of time until they started legislating against the Jeep. I'd already heard Al Gore talking about something like that.

But anyways, it was pretty simple why the Greats had been shoved by the wayside-- most people tend to enjoy forsaking their eternal souls while enjoying material wealth and physical pleasures, and thus the Deep and the Profound get in the way of a lot of modern customs. However, the wiser and more perceptive men throughout history all agreed that the greater riches were always spiritual, as the spirit is the one entity which marks man as unique in this universe. It is the Spirit which gives him reign over everything material, and which grants him eternity. And the problem in forsaking the spirit is that in the long run, without it, the material shall begin to rule the man. It's like all those raves and dance clubs and free love and everything-- sure it's like a lot of fun when you're seventeen, but then when over 50% of marriages end in divorce, you kind of have to wonder is forsaking pristine honor, integrity, and chastity are really worth it. You think that the freedom to pursue happiness means the freedom to disregard God and seek only material and physical pleasures, but it turns out that seeking those things enslaves one to them. When the Founding Father's spoke of Freedom and the pursuit of Happiness, they were speaking of the Freedom and Happiness defined by God.

I got lucky while preparing the presentation. I set about looking to find Gidgeon's Bible in my hotel room so as to find some of those quotes which advise us to serve God before money-- you know, the stuff about how it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to pass through the gates of heaven, but in the little table beside my bed they'd replaced Gidgeon's with The Forbes Book of Business Quotations. It was cool, though, as I found that not only had the Prophets held honor and truth and God's work in higher regard than the bottom line, but that a lot of the Great Thinkers had too, and so had more than a few business men. It seemed to be a common business philosophy amongst the enduring souls, just as it seemed to be a commonly lacking sentiment amongst the postmodern administrators standing at so many of today's cultural helms. Here are some quotes from the Powerpoint slide I showed the VC partners, which characterized the Spirit of the Company:

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep
Who dare while others fly--
They build a nation's pillars deep,
And lift them to the sky.
-- Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. --Matthew 6:19-6:20

O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, w hich you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this? And if the person with whom I am arguing says: Yes, but I do care; I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the greater, and overvaluing the less. And this I should say to everyone whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For this is the command of God, as I would have you know; and I believe that to this day no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God. --Socrates, The Apology

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
--Matthew 6:24

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
--John 2:15

Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?
--Proverbs 17:16

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
--Matthew 19:24

For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue come money and every other good of man, public as well as private.
--Socrates, The Apology

A great fortune is a great slavery.
--Sceneca

When the anger of the gods is incurred, wealth or power only brings more devastating punishment.
--Epicteus

They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of their Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity.
--EZEIKEL 7:19

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
--Henry David Thoreau

For I am certain, O men of Athens, that if I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago and done no good either to you or to myself. And don't be offended at my telling you the truth: for the truth is that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly struggling against the commission of unrighteousness and wrong in the state, will save his life; he who will really fight for the right, if he would live even for a little while, must have a private station and not a public one.
--Socrates, The Apology

We do not commonly find men of superior sense amongst those of the highest fortune
-- Euripides

'Nantucket market! Hoot! But come closer, Starbuck; thou requirest a little lower layer. If money's to be the measurer, man, and the accountants have computed their great counting-house the globe, by girdling it with guineas, one to every three parts of an inch; then, let me tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great premium here!'
--Captain Ahab

"Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is."
--Benjamin Franklin

Well, needless to say, I got a standing O. Hey-- I'm a physicist, and our graduate advisor kept telling us that even though there weren't any jobs in doing what we'd been trained to do, we'd learned how to think. I couldn't really argue.

John Deer loved the presentation, and after the talk he came up to me with a check book in one hand and a pen in the other, and he and asked me how much I needed to get jollyroger.com off the ground, or out to sea, or wherever the hell it was going. I thought about it a bit, and I already kind of knew linux, and I knew where to download it for free, and I also knew how to write poetry, and take pictures, and program in cgi and perl, and how to incorporate and get copyrights and trademarks over the www, and I didn't really want to hire anyone to write my poetry for me, as I've always been particular in that regard, and it's just not something I farm out. An editor might be cool at some point, but when all the writings from the site were compiled somewhere on down the road, I'm sure you'd be able to find a few who'd think it was an honor. Since I didn't really need to hire anyone, and since ad sales had already allowed me to get a couple of private servers, and a jeep, I figured I didn't need all that much. So I said, "Instead of writing me a check, how about writing me a poem."

"A poem?" Mr Deer laughed.

"Yeah, I think I might have found her. She likes poems."

"The girl?"

"Yeah-- her. I mean a lot of people like my poetry, but I want something just for her. I mean just for her and nobody else. You know what I'm talking about?"

He kind of smiled.

"If you're not in the mood to write one for her, I can always use exemplary contemporary poetry on just about any topic. Something which is soft and subtle, which is endowed with that mysterious, unfathomable blend of meter, rhyme, and meaning which marks all my favorite literary profundities. Something which gives people hope in this culturally darkened world, which lets them know that they're not alone in their longing for God's greater meaning. That would be cool."

I took some emails I'd printed out earlier from my pocket, so as to show him what I was talking about.

"I mean check it out. People aren't coming to the site to save money or find good deals, but rather they're coming to find hope. And how much is hope worth, John? What's the price of God-given innovations and the dreamer's dream which grew from a seed in a Great Book? What's it worth to help people see? What's the price of pursuing the Truth, what's the risk, and what's the payback? What, would you estimate, is the return on religion? How much are faith, honor, and duty worth? How much is the two-parent family and honesty worth? How much is a life lived dedicated to passing God's Judgement worth, for does not all Great Art spring from the individual's Judgement? Surely then, a classical community devoted to defending the spiritual treasures is worth as much as free email and free web pages. And plus it'd give my generation something deep and profound to talk about. It'd provide us a rich context within which tomorrow's Great Books could be written. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, we'd strive to be the best to everyone. I mean it's kind of boring talking and reading about TheGlobe.com-- nobody really knows what the hell it is. And surely Shakespeare's worth more than amazon.com."

I showed him the emails:

Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 15:30:04 EDT
From: Smcollie@aol.com
To: becket@jollyroger.com
Subject: Re: JOLLYROGER.COM: AMERICAN GIRLS & HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Becket,

Thank you for what has been the best reading I've had this summer. Thank you. As a mother trying to raise a daughter in this society, and trying to tell her that she doesn't have to do drugs, she doesn't have to have sex, she doesn't need an abortion to fit in with the "in" crowd...this page gave me the spiritual lift I needed.

Thank you, because there are times I'm the only one still telling a daughter that it's just fine to be a mother...

Lynda J. Cox
Collies of Wych

Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 23:35:24 -0700
From: Claire
To: becket@jollyroger.com

Dear Becket,

How do I put this? Your writings put a smile to my face. Not the generic smile used for the many picture taken of me, but the slow creeping ray of light across my face when I come across something truly wonderful.

This crew and site serves I think the greatest function of the WWW: show some of us that *we are not that weird.* I am not that weird for wrinkling a disgusted brow at MTV and what passes for culture among my peers. I am not a misfit for preferring the classics to the latest issue of Seventeen. And for this I thank you all.

I am headed to a small Christian university in an honors program that proudly offers the Western Canon. From there I will continue to wander your fine site. :)

Again, thanks for the reassurance that there is some group out there who is sane.

Claire

Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 10:03:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kristin Park
To: becket@jollyroger.com
Subject: Re: JOLLYROGER.COM: AMERICAN GIRLS & HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

This poem made me want to go home.....you are learning the southern woman well...well done. Young woman, southerner, and Christian

Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 12:02:20 PDT
From: "................" To: becket@jollyroger.com
Subject: great poem!

Dear Becket, great poem you wrote! I always enjoy your insightful and delightfully human perspective. What a talent do you plan on writing any books or getting it published? I'd definitely buy it.

A Fellow Poet, Zach

And the rest is jollyroger.com history.

So there you have it-- that's the jollyroger.com business philosophy. When it came right down to it, all I really wanted was a jeep, a literary renaissance, and a semi-alternative girl or something, and the great thing about this country is that I've been granted the freedom to pursue it. In fact, I celebrated the 4th of July by writing this, and even though fireworks and cookouts are a lot of fun, I'm going to celebrate every 4th of July in the future by writing something, as isn't that how Jefferson did it? And as the far more valuable entities of this operation, like the renaissance and the girl, are as free as poetry herself, I figured a modest internet business and a career in academia would be enough, and thus jollyroger.com has already succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. And as we've been read in every corner of the watery globe, I guess you'd say it's already a public company.

And let me just say one more time, mates, that I never forget that if it weren't for all ye fearless privateers out there, jollyroger.com wouldn't be. Avast!

At yer service
Captain Becket Knottingham,
July, 1999


On The Financial State of the Millenium's Renaissance
By Elliot McGucken

Amazon.com and yahoo.com are wise long-term investments, but there are better yet-- yer eternal soul. And that is the profound investment ye make when ye begin voyaging aboard the Great Books. Although there are millions of books available for purchase online, there are only but a few which are Great. It are these bedrock books which are capable of exalting the soul to the very pinnacles of existence, from where Jefferson pondered freedom's destiny, to where Lincoln so eloquently piloted the ship of state, to where Thoreau retreated to the woods with Plato to better acquaint himself with society, to where I stand today, looking out from the masthead of The Jolly Roger.

The business of writing books and the business of selling books have ever been distinct and sometimes opposing pursuits. And as the creation of the World's Classical portal has more in common with writing books than it does with selling books, we understand that we can take our time. There is little need to rush to be a "first mover" in composing a classic, as all classics wait until they are finished to become first movers. Great Art, although replete with elements common and known to all, is yet inimitable, and thus the true artist need not fear competition, but only flattery in the form of attempted imitation. The plot, shape, and general form of the work may be copied, but it is the individual's unique stamp on the art which lends the work everlasting life. Advertising and hype will often do more harm than good, as those who seek the subtle truths shall find them best in their subtlety, and sometimes the glare from the same beacon erected to draw a larger crowd obscures the art's better nature. As all profound art is blown freely upon the winds of Truth, advertising could only ever anchor it. Market share is of little matter, for art is never determined by the number of eyeballs staring at it, but rather it is marked by the thoughts which occur behind the eyes. Market research is insignificant, for neither Socrates nor Moses took any numerical data before espousing their eternal wisdom. Indeed, had any Poet, Prophet, Philosopher, or Thinker merely given the people what they'd wanted-- had Melville written to please the contemporary critics rather than his profound judgement-- they might have been glorified in their day, but their words would've perished alongside their critics. By definition, a Writer cannot conduct market research-- one cannot ask people if they want that which they have never before apprehended.

And while so many are today traveling to the center of Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley to make the requisite contacts necessary for the immediate furthering of commerce, we have remained just offshore, assembling a fleet of eternal souls. North Carolina has provided a beautiful, undiscovered harbor for our spirits, from her majestic mountains to the untamed shores of the Outer Banks overlooking the Graveyard of the Atlantic, to the girls of red-bricked Chapel Hill, who have ever been the most beautiful in the world.

The concept of corporate shareownership has its roots in sixteenth-century merchant shipping. A ship was expensive to build, and as there was no payoff until "the ship came in," there was always an element of risk involved. A crew and supplies had to be financed for the duration of the voyage, and somebody had to bare the risk that all would be lost at sea. Thus "shares" were sold in these seafaring enterprises, and laws and courts developed to deal with issues of ownership. To encourage hard work and frugality, the crew would be paid in stock options, rather than a set salary, analogous to many of today's startups. In literature, however, the ultimate payment is never in stocks nor money, but it is in rendering the Immortal Truth in one's soul. In valuing Classicals & jollyroger.com LLC, we often ask ourselves, "how much is a renaissance worth?" In Moby Dick, Ishmael states,

I was already aware that in the whaling business they paid no wages; but all hands, including the captain, received certain shares of the profits called lays, and that these lays were proportioned to the degree of importance pertaining to the respective duties of the ship's company. I was also aware that being a green hand at whaling, my own lay would not be very large; but considering that I was used to the sea, could steer a ship, splice a rope, and all that, I made no doubt that from all I had heard I should be offered at least the 275th lay- that is, the 275th part of the clear net proceeds of the voyage, whatever that might eventually amount to. And though the 275th lay was what they call a rather long lay, yet it was better than nothing; and if we had a lucky voyage, might pretty nearly pay for the clothing I would wear out on it, not to speak of my three years' beef and board, for which I would not have to pay one stiver. Moby Dick, Chapter 16, The Ship

Ishmael, the narrator and chronicler and thus the metaphorical writer of Moby Dick, goes on to characterize his own personal monetary ambitions as an author:

It might be thought that this was a poor way to accumulate a princely fortune- and so it was, a very poor way indeed. But I am one of those who never take on about princely fortunes, and am quite content if the world is ready to board and lodge me, while I am putting up at this grim sign of the Thunder Cloud. Upon the whole, I thought the 275th lay would be about the fair thing, but would not have been surprised had I been offered the 200th, considering I was of a broad-shouldered make.
It is this same fundamental humility and morality which resounds throughout the creation of all Great Literature, where the broad-shouldered freeman seeks not Princely fortunes, but only honest work, come what may. This fundamental morality is the primary mark of all classic writers, who navigate by forms instead of finances and seek to serve God before mammon. A profound sense of Honor and Integrity are intertwined with words penned in this spirit, as they flow from a noble soul onto a paper, where they find eternity as the ink dries. Here again we see the principle of Honor before Money. And is it any mystery that when appointed commander in chief at the onset of the revolutionary war, George Washington refused the monthly salary that the congress had voted for him? Contemplating the immensity of the risk, Washington wrote, "For a while I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its prospect and from whence, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found."

Melville returns to this noble theme of art for art's sake time and again in Moby Dick. At one point towards the end, Captain Ahab explains the payment he is seeking for apprehending the White Whale, while Starbuck, his first mate (and soon to become a coffee store), questions the pursuit of art over the pursuit of commerce.

Starbuck, upon hearing of Captain Ahab's intention of hunting the White Whale while already out to sea, says, 'I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander's vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market.'

Whereupon Ahab replies: 'Nantucket market! Hoot! But come closer, Starbuck; thou requirest a little lower layer. If money's to be the measurer, man, and the accountants have computed their great counting-house the globe, by girdling it with guineas, one to every three parts of an inch; then, let me tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great premium here!'

And that, there, me merry maties, is the very same premium that art pays to the artist. We felt that a classical portal devoted to art would best be inspired, funded, and guided by art on all levels. So we set out creating rather than to hiring. No art was ever created by hiring a team of experts-that is how ads are created. Art must be completely loyal to the artist's vision. So it is that our portal did not seek shareholders-not because this work 'He smites his chest,' whispered Stubb, what's that for? methinks it rings most vast, but hollow.'

Ahab had purposely sailed upon the present voyage with the one only and all-engrossing object of hunting the White Whale. Had any one of his old acquaintances on shore but half dreamed of what was lurking in him then, how soon would their aghast and righteous souls have wrenched the ship from such a fiendish man! They were bent on profitable cruises, the profit to be counted down in dollars from the mint. He was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge.

We understand that we're a bit ahead of our good peers who're so diligently managing the postmodern/slackademic marketing campaigns and conforming to the stringent MBA/artistic rules of yesteryear. In the short term this means that our masts shall remain out of site of the daily news (except for the New York Times and the L.A. Times), but as our words alter and affect the context, furthering it in its foreordained natural direction as much as the foreordained natural direction guides our words, our true colors shall come into view. All Authors must be prepared to navigate for years by faith alone, but O' the infinite treasures to be gained! Pick up a Great Book, mate, and feel its weight in yer hand. 'Tis far more eternal than a certificate of stock, and far denser than gold! For an ounce of gold cannot grow, but a book is but a seed of a mighty Oak. It is a majestic tree waiting to grow within yer soul the moment the words are planted in yer mind and watered with thought. Like an acorn, it's willing to wait through the darkest cultural winters until a renaissance's spring. And the branches of the great Oak shall reach out across the lofty Laws of all society, while the roots shall intertwine with all men's souls, binding ye to humanity's greater significance. With only but one life, should we not live it as best we can?

Books can exist without being read, but men could not exist without reading books, and too, meaning can be born in the absence of money, but money cannot exist without meaning. Know ye that the market shall wait for all who are willing to grant this world a bold new vision. Take yer time mate, and maintain yer course through the postmodern fog and the stormy, volatile seas of small minds' opinions. In the marriage of art and commerce, if the art is as sincere as she is pretty, commerce shall honor and cherish her throughout eternity.

The Greats are Great for a reason, and upon the level playing field which the internet affords, where all words are an equidistant mouseclick away, the Greats and their glorious context shall resound. In our present society many pernicious forces have aligned themselves in opposition to the Greats, for administrative convenience as well as deconstructionist revenge. With the amplification of the Dionysian afforded by technological mediums ranging from FM radio to film to TV, and the subsequent fading of the more subtle Apollonian, the passing postmodern movement favored the united front of the more superficial politicians and pedants. It is as easy to unite bureaucrats around shallow entities, as it is to divide them the moment cracks appear, but the eternal souls who unite around the fundamentals are wedded for eternity. Postmodernists greatly benefited from the inherited moral context created by traditions of the printed word, but rather than passing it on to their children, they capitalized on its deconstruction and decline, and now, they have run their course. For in a free country watched over by God, one cannot for very long replace the law with lawyers, nor poetry with postmodern professors, nor literature with litigation, nor culture with commerce.

The internet is primarily a medium of the printed word, where ideas are favored over ideology. Thus the WWW provides a unique opportunity for elegant, exalting words to precipitate a literary sea change. But this is not to say that the Truth always propagates naturally, without that vital struggle and acumen of consciousness which marks all intellectual revolutions. Although words penned in the spirit of inspired truth provide beacons marking honor and defining duty, it is yet up to us to navigate by them. And because some men have always been successful in benefiting by forsaking honor and duty, these precious beacons must be constantly and assiduously defended. Liberty, it has oft been remarked, requires eternal vigilance, and like Becket, I too wish Admiral Drake Raft the best of luck aboard the USSCONSTITUTIONS.COM.

And that is the spirit in which the Carolina Navy has been assembled. It all began about four years ago with the literary flagship, The Jolly Roger. Captained by the spirit of rebellion in a postmodern era, the Good Ship sought to avenge the Greats, unbury the cultural treasures which had been concealed underneath so many of the contemporary "isms", strike terror into the hearts of unrepentant administrators, and rescue shipwrecked seafarers in the postmodern fog. But now that we have won the hearts and minds of so many upon the glorious WWW, now that we have found the solid ground we once only glimpsed in the mind's eye, we have altered the context of the very sea we sail in. And thus our initial direction of youthful rebellion has been transformed into a constant course of conventional conviction. Each day our sites host, exalt, and entertain more visitors than Princeton, our postmodern alma mater, has students.

With the proliferation of portals upon the WWW, so many which seem to strive to be all things to all people, we felt that it was time to create a portal which sought to be the best to everyone. There are two fundamental elements of this era which should be differentiated. One is the dawn of the internet, with free web pages and global directories and search engines and online trading and banner ads and commerce, and then there's the dawn of a renaissance afforded by the perfect freedom of the web, combined with a rising generation's subtle sentiments. Only on the internet could a global classical community come into existence, and only those with a deep reverence for the Greats could lead it. A medium to match our motives hath been presented to us.

Though it is easy to sign aboard The Carolina Navy, it shall yet be a challenge to serve, just as though it's easy to read a book, it is far more difficult to understand it. In order to serve, all that we ask is that you honor and respect the vast beauty of the spiritual truths embodied in the works of Great Literature. Now of course many of you might wonder, "What makes a great book great? How shall I know what a great book is?" And the answer to this is simple. The Great Books all pay tribute to man's moral dimension. All great literature is written in an attempt to express, "What is the right thing to do?" Virtue and vice are what come alive as the characters contemplate and attempt to perform the correct action, and comedy and tragedy provide the backdrop to the lone, reasoning soul which is always the hallmark of the strongest of protagonists.

Were I ye, I would start enriching yer experience with the greatest that has ever been spoken and written, not for mere erudition, but for exaltation. The Great Books were not written to be read at arm's length, but they were written to be embraced by yer soul. This simple reality reflects the manner in which Classicals & jollyroger.com were built-via hard work, inspiration, and the will to serve, exalt, and entertain. Be it forever known that this literary fleet sailed beyond the postmodern fog by the grace of technology, just as all technology arose from literature. For all science arose from traditions rooted in the pursuit of Truth, which in turn arose from a deep, profound respect for the written word. So it is that these words are born by the spirit of those deep, profound words of the original prophets, which sprang from naught and which are the source of all.

Nobody has time to read everything, and sadly enough, many believe they have no time to read anything at all, beyond the magazines, the dailies, and the stock message boards. Well, we suggest trying the eternities.


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