THE TRAGEDY OF DRAKERAFT.COM
Back to poetry's first principles.
"What I'll have to do is,
I'll have to read that play."
-Holden Caufield on Hamlet
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THE TRAGEDY OF DRAKERAFT.COM
by Ranger McCoy
The First Novel of The WWW Renaissance
& Jollyroger.com in Boone, North Carolina
by Drake Raft
They told us there was nothing left to tell,
But yet, eternity this poet knew,
So I found the words to ignite their hell.
And should they tell ye that darkness shall reign,
With naught above, but everything below,
For forty days and forty nights it'll rain,
But buoyed by faith, the rainbow ye shall know.
(Best Business Books)
3. Moby Dick
4. Catcher in The Rye
5. American Founding Documents
10. The Great Gatsby
11. Norton Anthology of Poetry
12. C.S. Lewis
13. The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com
(Best Business Rock)
2. Tom Petty
3. Van Halen
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
By Drake Raft
Back From the Dead for a Renaissance.
How my name ended up in the title The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com, and how my semblance ended up as a character in the book is a good story in itself. During the heights of the fleeting grunge era, our obligatory Chapel Hill band was called Drake's Raft. Around that time, Elliot wrote a story about the Great-Books secret society that we three Midwesterners from fly-over country had founded at Princeton, and he kind of infused the narrative with some cool events from a summer's East-coast tour which landed us back on the Princeton campus, where we played our final gig in McCarter Theater. During the tour I started writing sonnets--I could get a lot more down in fourteen lines of iambic pentameter than I could in a typical grunge ballad, and I found the sonnet to offer a far more profound vessel for a poet's thoughts--it made people think, whereas our songs had only ever made them feel or something. And there's no quicker way to a girl's heart than through her mind.
One night in Vermont, Elliot came across the notebook with the sonnets that I had been keeping to myself, all four hundred of which are published here. At first glance he had thought they were song lyrics. Then, while reading them, he got this idea for a plot centered about a Princeton student who is called upon to avenge the Greats. The story was called The Drake Raft Field Trip, and it eventually evolved into an epic based on Hamlet, wherein the Great Books had been murdered and villainous kings in the form of fringe feminists and duplicitous postmodernists had come to inhabit Princeton's cultural thrones. And it was I, Drake Raft, who had been called upon to avenge the brutal murder of the Greats. Elliot had probably chosen me because I'd been lead singer in Drake's Raft.
As a cultural flagship of the greater society, and with a rich scholarly heritage and great gothic architecture haunted by reputable ghosts including those of Fitzgerald, Einstein, Feynman, Joseph Henry, "T.S. Eliot", "Salinger," and Madison, Princeton provided an ideal setting for such a novel. A major battle in the revolutionary war had been fought just down the road from the main campus, and an American canon ball is lodged in the stone walls of Nassau Hall--it was fired by the rebel troops when the Redcoats had temporarily occupied the building during the battle of Princeton, just like the postmodernists are now temporarily occupying it. Couple the rich heritage with the pristine campus and all the majestic spires and sinister gargoyles, and Princeton becomes the ideal stage for a contemporary tragedy, as tragedy must always have a most noble backdrop.
To personify the murder of the Great Books, the character of Uncle Walt was brought in. Uncle Walt is based upon a distinguished, traditional scholar who was ousted while we were at Princeton--he was more of a soldier than a philosopher, and Princeton's postmodernists defeated him and his noble vision via their typical underhanded demagoguery, aided by their anonymous accomplices in the postmodern press. In the novel, the Nobel-prize winning, villainous Elizabeth Sycorax has murdered Uncle Walt and replaced him at the helm of Princeton's English department, which she has transformed into the Cultural Studies and Creative Writing department. My character, Drake Raft, is a senior at Princeton, and he is called upon by Uncle Walt's ghost to avenge his murder. Knowing that the Princeton establishment would be watching my every move, I feigned suicide and set up a website, drakeraft.com, while contemplating the method and motivation of my vengeance. This is the simple premise that lights the blazing glory of the book, and Elliot's tome proceeds to encompass the center and circumference of the eternal verities in the language of our generation-- a generation which the boomer marketing elite have branded generation-x and generation-y or whatever, but which I prefer to call the renaissance generation.
It would be difficult to compose a classic within the ever-shifting context offered by the popular culture which is relentlessly dumbed-down, idolaterized, and commodified by the dominant postmodern media and academic institutions. All the fleeting brands trumpeted by the "savvy" postmodern lawyers, accountants, vulture capitalists, and marketing executives would already be long gone by the time the book was published--at least ten blockbuster movies would have been raved about and forgotten by the time it made it into print. Thus Elliot took care to root The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com in the eternal context that we are today building at jollyroger.com. This deeper context, defined by the likes of Shakespeare, Jefferson, Moses, Salinger, and Twain, shall always form the popular culture of the community of eternal souls, and those who wish to join it must begin by honoring it. As a dead poet myself, I have overheard a few truths spoken in this heretofore undiscovered country--those poets who honor the Greats shall in turn be honored by them, and those who forget the Greats shall be forgotten.
As jollyroger.com's noble context naturally alienated the aging literary elite who momentarily benefited in the wake of the Great's desecration and deconstruction, we are fortunate to have the internet. For without the WWW, it would have taken a much longer time to circumnavigate the postmodern literati's waterlogged fleet so as to sign aboard a vast, global audience. Even now, the elites' postmodern disciples of opinionated mediocrity, who received their basic training in the debilitating creative writing workshops, are blindly rushing forth to become the officers aboard the sinking publishing houses and within the government ministries of literature. And they would rather continue sinking into the void of their vapid popular-porn-culture while publishing their own profitless, meaningless, esoteric literature than honestly profit by publishing and promoting our exalting words--for the postmodernist truly believes that God is dead, and that there are no higher laws, and that all is politics, and thus that their nihilism can be equal to classical literature, just as long as they party with the appropriate critics. But as Huckleberry Finn once said, you can't pray a lie.
Because they saw no beauty in Shakespeare, because they were blind to God's greater glory, it was easy for them to adopt their pseudo- scientific view that literature is a political and economic entity rather than an aesthetic one. In their debased, vitiated arena, where they prophesized that all is politics and that words could hold no intrinsic meaning, it became true for their own literature. And thus there is no reason for us, nor for our children, to read their fading fads. Instead, from this day forth, we shall take care to point the kids towards Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn.
As an artistic rendering of contemporary truths, The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com pays full homage to the wild romance of lighting a fire in postmodernism's infinite night. It's been an awesome rush launching jollyroger.com and building the Classicals Cafes, while Windy and her friends in architecture school up at MIT decorate them with all the cool nautical stuff--personally I'm more into literature than furniture. But just when it's getting dark out in the mountains on these late November evenings, and I'm left alone with some old copies of Shakespeare and Aristotle and Plato and some makeshift tables and second-hand lamps in this run-down mountain mill, all of a sudden all the old, mismatched furniture and rusty anchors and frayed ropes transform themselves into classical antiques, and I find myself within a castle. We just got our first shipment of coffee, and the aroma has enhanced the late-night, lonely mystique, which haunts these words as I set them down on my laptop, my fingers numb from the lack of heat. As the shop is yet to open, she now exists in the perfect silent splendor of a dream. This is the quiet before the show, and I almost fear to touch it, but touch it we must. For we fall into love--we never rise into it. If ye would like to run a Classicals Café of yer own, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! We have been called upon to avenge the deaths of our proverbial fathers embodied by the Great Books, and our most wicked vengeance shall be a renaissance.
But as is often the case, for a fire to be lit, the match itself must be spent. History hath shown that a cultural renaissance is never born without revolutionary thinkers, and revolutionaries run great risks as they go up against the aging power structure which cares nothing for right nor wrong, but only for power itself. And thus there's the darker side to all our lofty pursuits, but the most sublime romance hath always been tinged with inherent danger. And that's why I, Drake Raft, must meet my death within The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com. For I had set out following those ultimate truths which lie somewhere beyond the entrepreneur's commerce and the soldier's duty. I had set out for the White Whale.
I've always thought that perhaps the word tragedy in the title of Elliot's novel refers to a generation being denied its classical heritage and a literature of its own--a heritage and literature censored not by physical force, but by subtle postmodern subterfuge and desecration. Censorship may be accomplished by refraining from publishing a work, and too, it may be accomplished by desecrating the context that would surround the work, by which the work would take root in and grow, and too, as the postmodern elite have shown, both methods might be employed. For they removed the classics from the elementary schools and high schools while appointing their nihilistic officers at the cultural helms, and in the glare of PowerPoint presentations on the merits of raising the bottom line by lowering the higher ideals, a most effective censorship followed, wherein many of the children who have become this generation don't even notice that the deeper, classical context is missing. And the infrastructure that would have once published and promoted meaningful literature, like the New Yorker and the publishing houses, hath been demolished and replaced with feminized magazines and content websites that exist primarily follow TV's superficial lead, and make some bankers wealthy during an ponzi-IPO.
So many have grown accustomed to defining rebellion as agreeing with aging marketing executives. We're all familiar with abortions, and cynicism, and divorce, and the duplicitous artistic lies that the secular boomers excuse as mere irony--what yesterday would have been a moral atrocity is today commonly accepted when it is not honored and revered. The leaders of Silicon Valley are blind to vast wealth to be made by passing eternity's judgement, and thus the wealth shall belong to those on Poetry Mountain. The postmodernists often sanctify decline by allowing and encouraging women to participate in it--pure politics and base profiteering at the expense of ideals is fine as long as it can be demonstrated that a woman benefits monetarily. They make a show about skirts in the courtroom, and then idiots are allowed to believe themselves to be refined and enlightened by embracing the trite plot--pretending to hold it in higher regard than the crucial sex, and should ye criticize the general vapidness, it is because you're intimidated by intelligent women. Children are denied their innocence, and having lost their soul, adults are allowed to stay adolescents forever. Postmodernists have a way of reducing everything to sex and politics, and then when you criticize their methods and means, they accuse you of only talking about sex and politics. As Hamlet said, "They make their ignorance their wantonness." And the only way to defeat them is not to argue with them, but to defund them while exalting in the Greatest that has ever been thought and written. Let them come for me, Drake Raft, as I am already dead--I shall teach them things about their place in eternity that they should fear to know.
Without the Greats' context within the institutions that were built for the sole purpose of transferring the Greats' context from one generation to the next, so many of my peers pass through both the church and the university without even knowing that there is a nobler way. So it is that in a Godless context, a generation may be denied its literature in the name of free speech as the First Amendment might be used to defend pornography, Southpark might be considered "savvy" and "intelligent," and Good Will Hunting might become the peak of intellectual achievement, just short of Dogma. Those who grow up never knowing what the true source of light is shall forever believe the shadows to be the reality. And as shadows are layered upon shadows and the fog rolls in, it becomes dark--so dark that the blind don't even know they're blind, and forgive them we must, for the blind know not what they do. They'll pass through this world without ever having seen God's greater light--they'll live without ever having lived at all. It would be prudent to fear a generation with no sense of the eternal Word, and even more prudent to take every opportunity to introduce them to it. For I, Drake Raft, am dead, and too many in this generation don't even know it. But they shall soon find out, within the pages of The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com.
Basic research in physics had lead to quantum mechanics, which when applied to the silicon lattice lead to the engineering of the fundamental component of the modern economy--the transistor. The organization of transistors lead to the integrated circuit, the grouping of integrated circuits led to computers, and the need to govern computer operations ushered in the development of software. As local computers were networked together via standardized hardware and software, the internet was born. Then came the whole development of content and commerce sites, including internet portals and shopping destinations, and behold, jollyroger.com entered its own unique time and place in the entrepreneurial progression of technology, as the flagship of the WWW RenaissanceTM. And now the center of innovation has progressed beyond the software and to the soul, and the latest innovation is a classical oasis wherein the timeless aesthetic truths are buoyed by science and technology. The internet is the ocean, our serve is our hull, we stand at the helm with our programming abilities, but that higher purpose is governed by our vision, and we fly the flag of classical poetry. Innovation hath moved from Sand Hill Road in San Franscisco to Boone, North Carolina--from the medium to the message, from Silicon Valley to Poetry Mountain.
From physics, which has its roots in philosophy and religion, to quantum mechanics, to the transistor, to the integrated circuit, to hardware, to software, to the internet, to culture, to poetry. And all of a sudden, the "New New" thing, the latest innovation in technology, is the world's classical portal. For the first time in all of history, there exists a corner upon this watery globe, accessible from all latitudes, devoted to the higher ideals and eternal truths that keep us free. The eternal is forever new, and thus while so often forgotten or obscured in humanity's daily pursuits, the eternal marks both the beginning and end of all innovations. Religion, science, then technology, and on the web poetry's been set free.
And what better time than this for technology to allow traditional poets to triumph in the literary arena? The infrastructure to support contemporary classical literature had been eroded by the postmodern ideology and its diverse manifestations throughout the greater culture. Science and technology, which enabled the mass media based on sound and video, amplified the more superficial, Dionysian, idolatrous aspects of mankind, and when coupled with the postmodern theories which were fostered by the misapplication of science to the soul, the written Word was assaulted on all fronts. People read less in the popular culture, and reading meant less within the academy. And yet, they still had this marvelous potential and will to know their eternal soul. Hence the cynicism and irony and apathy which afflicts this generation, which shall never be satiated by the fleeting Dionysian alone--we long for the eternal, and eternity is only known by thoughts, and thoughts are only known by words. The deconstruction and desecration hath cleared the field of our imaginations for a renaissance.
At first glance, it may seem ironic that as creative writing workshops proliferated, the quality and profundity of the literature declined, but upon closer scrutiny, this makes sense. To begin with, creative writing cannot be taught, and thus the classes were most often lead by dishonest hucksters and politicians. And the students who majored in it, who were by definition blind to the irony, went on to become the postmodern agents, editors, and literary government officials so as to subsidize their ambitions. For it was generally the narrow-minded and dull-witted who actually believed that creative writing was to be learned from a fringe feminist rather than divinely inspired upon the open ocean of human endeavor, and thus the postmodern conformers flattered the feminist politician-poets, and they received the key recommendations which landed them jobs in the presently sinking literary industry.
While modern marketing gurus are promoting the fragmentation of literary demographics and publishing and promoting more superficial, celebrity-oriented work, we have shoved off in the opposite direction with the vision of serving everyone with the timeless truths. Our goal has never been to be all things to all people--but it has been to be the best to everyone.
Throughout jollyroger.com's formative years, we gave agents and editors ample opportunities to join us in venturing forth aboard the flagship of the WWW Renaissance, and while some stated that they were delighted in what we were doing, and while we signed with a couple prominent agencies, we could find no editors at prominent houses who had the courage, nor foresight, to sign their souls aboard. Many of them are just now learning how to check their email. Because of indifference, ignorance, and arrogance, they simply refused to believe that the good people were ready for a renaissance, and as technophobe humanists, they failed to see the vast potential of the internet to deliver this cultural commodity. Because they sought to serve their egos rather than the people, they foresook both their duty and their profitability. And they left the WWW Renaissance for the physicists and poets.
It is no secret that a rather large contingent had boarded postmodernism's sinking literary ships believing that God was dead, and it has always been the tyrannical tendency of the postmodernist to project their prejudices upon all things. Fresh out of creative writing class, with their ambitions overshadowing their talents, many had gone into the literary business for the sole purpose of negation--to tear down that which was greater than themselves, for that was the trade that they had been taught in postmodern academia. They were interested in neither art nor commerce, but only in power, nihilism, and empty prestige. And while the latter traits may work fine on a college campus, where nobody takes anything too seriously except for their own opinions, but out here, where eternity's wind blows, opinions do not matter. Only the Truth can survive. Petty politics is no match for honesty married to technology, and for "Oak planks of reason, riveted with rhyme, designed to voyage across all of time."
There is a just symmetry underlying all existence, and the result of the postmodern establishment's prejudices and apprehensions has been that they have missed the boat--the WWW RenaissanceTM has been ours to define and defend, to build and promote upon this wondrous new medium. As is so often the case, the postmodernists' prejudices became their prison. Only in their degraded, deconstructed context could they pretend to be poets, but a poet is only as good as the higher Truths that they pen. Neither wit, wisdom, nor poetry can be bought by politics, nor pedantry, nor money.
In a free country, freedom belongs to the open minds and the free spirits. The nihilism and pedantical politics, which is substituted for the rhyming truth in the modern academy, cannot survive in the free market. Only words which serve the noble heart and soul--the sublime sentiments of the good, honest people of the world--ever survive in the form of classics.
Reflecting upon the nature of our classical portal, it is easy to see what the internet has done. It has removed the middlemen from standing in-between the Greats and the people. And by middlemen I mean the postmodern agents, editors, professors, reviewers, critics, and MBA's who are taught to focus on the bottom line while ignoring the higher ideals. As Chuck D. of Public Enemy said,
The majors are going to have to share the marketplace with the public and with the artist. The Internet won't wipe them out, but no longer will the majors make a 300 percent profit on CDs; no longer will middlemen determine what the price of a CD will be or how the public will view an artist. Because of the Internet, artists will bypass retail, marketing, and promotional outlets and go directly to the public. The middlemen and retail outfits will have to adjust.For the Greats were the world's greatest communicators, and as J.D. Salinger said about The Catcher in The Rye, they need no middlemen critics--they market themselves, they publish themselves, they promote themselves, and they signify themselves. There is nothing more intimate than reading words, for when ye pick up a Great Book, nobody and nothing stand between yer soul and the author's. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were that they were written for the people, and one doesn't have to go to Princeton, nor Harvard, nor Yale to understand their sublime eloquence. One doesn't have to become a lawyer nor earn a Ph.D. in public policy. All one has to do is read them, think about them, and talk about them. A republic's freedom is staked upon an educated people; and what better way to educate oneself than to read the Greats, and what better way to inspire others to read them than a renaissance?
There are few greater sins than standing between children and their potential, and that is what the aging postmodernists are best at. For only in a darkened context can they reign supreme, and thus they delight in popularizing a thousand, thousand temptations while deconstructing the context within which we are even able to define temptation so as to defend the better angels of our nature. But now, with the internet and the new millennium, their stonewalling, and tenure, and petty power pyramids are fading fast in the cultural context. In the deconstructed cultural context they attempted to foist upon us, some might have lost the ability to judge their degraded culture as offensive, but there is no denying that it is boring. And I say that this rising generation refuses to be bored.
The Tragedy of Drakeraft.com can be read on its own, in the contemporary pop- culture context, but unlike Dawson's Creek, it shall offer the reader far greater enjoyment and profundity if it is read within a classical context. We hope that the book becomes a portal out to greater things. I would advise ye to read Hamlet, then read The Catcher in The Rye, and then read Hamlet again. Read Moby Dick, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the Gospels, and Revelations. Read the Founding Father's letters and their noble documents of State, and then come back and read these words again. For the literature of the WWW Renaissance must be read in the greater context of the Great Books. And I promise ye this--within that noble context, life's greater, eternal riches do reside, which neither time may tarnish nor moth corrupt. Aye, aye then, me merry maties: as the postmodern fog clears, we'll be navigating by God's greater beacons as we sail this renaissance on home.
Drake Raft, The End of The Millenium, 1999
Just another poet back from the dead for a renaissance.
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Tragedy of Drakeraft.com: