Thirteen Great Literary Voyages of The Jolly
(Best Business Books)
in The Rye
Anthology of Poetry
13. Drake Raft Field
The Jolly Roger's
(Best Business Rock)
Guns 'n' Roses
Ozzy/ Black Sabbath
13. Van Halen
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
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.
well-rounded resume complete with cum laude physics, tennis, and the
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
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
dissertation, which pertained to an artificial retina to help
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
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
showing how one of Van Gogh's Sunflower paintings which had sold for $50
following his death recently fetched $50,000,000.
"Now that's a
100,000 bagger!" I said. "In only a hundred years!"
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
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
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
presentation on my
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
en route to finding a semi-alternative girl, one has to date date their
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
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?
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
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
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
But when we had to hang out with her friends and all, the www.MBA.com
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
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.
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.
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
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
of Venture.Capital.com, "and she's not just saying it
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
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
truth for truth's sake come hell or high water; if we serve the good
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Not gold but only men can make
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?
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.
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.
When the anger of
the gods is incurred, wealth or power only brings more devastating
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.
A man is
rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let
--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
'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!'
"Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is."
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
"A poem?" Mr Deer laughed.
"Yeah, I think I might have found her.
She likes poems."
"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
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
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:
29 Jun 1999 15:30:04 EDT
Subject: Re: JOLLYROGER.COM: AMERICAN GIRLS &
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
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
Thank you, because there are times I'm the only one still
telling a daughter that it's just fine to be a mother...
Collies of Wych
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 23:35:24 -0700
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
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
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 10:03:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kristin Park
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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