Dedication of Classicgreetings.com
by Drake Raft

Ahoy there mates and welcome to Classicgreetings.com, yet one more portal sighted and settled by the merry crew of The Jolly Roger. Within this port ye may create yer own original greetings by selecting from thousands of combinations of classical art, music, poetry, and literature. We're always fortifying and enhancing our offerings so as to serve ye better, so if ye have any requests or refinements, report them to the captain. 'Tis every sailor's duty to keep a sharp lookout as we sail on towards a renaissance.

I'm no art historian or anything, but I've always been fairly adept at enjoying a good painting. The thing is, I grew up in Ohio, and I was raised with an exalted standard and metric for judging all art. A painting is good as long as it's as beautiful as the September wheat on that last warm day of the year. I don't know if you've ever been to Ohio, but if you have, you'll know that there's always a girl somewhere in the scene, some implicit phantom of natural beauty. It might have been the one from ninth grade who was always dating the seniors, who one night during the summer's last party turned her eyes on you and said that she'd really love to hang out more next year. You barely knew her, which made the comment all the more portentious. And she looked a bit like Axl Rose.

Whenever I come across that pristine field of September wheat, whenever I see its semblance echoed within a work of art, I get that feeling again. Sometimes my best friend Derek and I are driving on by the field with the top down, talking about the eternities and philosophies that brought me so much closer to what Plato had meant than the entirety of my formal postmodernized education. We were on the way to an Aerosmith concert, driving along a road as straight as it was flat, and while the concert rocked, it's the sentiments of the conversation in the car which I shall perpetually yearn for. All was golden, with the setting sun and the wavy wheat indistinguishable in hue. Sometimes I throw in an Aerosmith CD, but it doesn't ever resurrect the depth of feeling. I can only ever feel hints of it when I lose myself in Shakespeare, and then it's not so much that I'm feeling, but it's that I'm thinking. And I say that contemporary art forms which encourage us to Think are few and far between, except for within the ports where the three tall masts of The Jolly Roger are oft sighted.

Perhaps it was this very same field of wheat Shakespeare saw on the day he penned sonnet XVIII which begins with, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" He wrote that one for the girl who's so simply beautiful in overalls and a baseball cap-- so ultimately authentic and sincere. That's what a good painting does for me-- it touches upon these subtler sentiments and reassures me that that the fleeting summer's eve really was immortal. I look at a Monet or Renoir or Rembrandt, and although I don't know much about their religions nor who they married nor who was running their country or hosting the late-night talk-shows or anything, I do know that those sincere sentiments of Truth and the iron bonds of Friendship through Honor, which so many make a living off of denying these days, are tangible, veritable, and permanent. For look closely at the lillies, lines, and lighting, and ye can tell that they weren't making it up.

And that's why it's so perfectly obvious to me that so much of contemporary postmodern art is utterly horrendous. I'm talking about the Norton Anthology of Postmodern Poetry, the Norton Anthology of Postmodern Fiction, the galleries upon galleries of postmodern art, the regiments of postmodern lawyers, professors, and critics, and the postmodern president and his entourage of postmodern pundits, sitcoms, and publicans. Postmodernism's as easy as it is empty, and it bores me. Anyone unburdened by the "conscience that makes cowards of us all" can do it. All that it requires is ambition greater than one's talents and character. Hunger without vision, feelings without thought, existence without essence, and bureaucracy without belief. And I know it when I see it because of its hallmark pomposity and presumptuousness. None of it fathoms my spirit nor soul, and yet it always assumes the pretense that it knows me. But like the people who worship it and believe themselves to profit by it, it is fleeting. Shakespeare, who has endured because of his superb insight into human nature, had a lot to say about the Kings and Fools who valued power over honor, who placed selfish gain over righteous action, whose fate it shall ever be to tragically grasp the meaninglessness of their lives. It was Shakespeare who penned the postmodernist's epitaph.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. --Macbeth

Classical art is inspired by the vast power of a sense of something greater than the self. Because it rides on the rails of thought towards this distant destination, it always ends up going much further and enduring far longer than wild feelings on their own. Postmodern art is the result of the artist believing there is nothing greater than the self. Classical art transcends politics, reminding leaders that there are those perfect forms by which we must navigate, while postmodern art assaults those wondrous beacons, allowing pure politics to fill the void and pedants to reign supreme. Classical art sets out seeking not to be appreciated nor admired, but rather it seeks to express, whereas postmodern art, with only nihilism to express, merely seeks to be talked about. Classical art speaks the words on the tip of your tongue, it suddenly crystalizes the vague forms which you were attempting to discern, it replaces the senses with a symphony, it answers the questions of faith, and it beckons you to its level, where you're always sure to gain a majestic view after having worked hard to scale the peaks of its meaning. Postmodern art seeks to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator, it seeks to appear deep by muddying the waters and distorting all true reflections, it denies faith while forever beckoning you on down to its level, and it denies the very meaning of those wistful words you were about to speak. And thus, it is always seeking to deprive ye of hope.

In contemporary society there is not so much a divide between the republicans and democrats, nor conservatives and liberals, but there is a far more profound battle between the classicists and the postmodernists, between the creators and the administrators, between the honorable and the opportunists, between the rising renaissance and the fading farce. Have faith, me merry maties, that we continually border upon something glorious and grand when we hold a Great Book in our hand, and that by reading it our souls shall match all that is worth remembering. These are the things I learned of as a teenager in a small town in Ohio, before I went a seafaring to find firsthand these verities for meself. These are the things taught to me by my English teacher Mr. Smith, who my mom used to substitute teach for when she went back to teaching after having raised two children.

Now my mom's an artist, and maybe I gained a lot of these predispositions from her. You can see how she rendered the feeling in the first painting at the top of this page, which was inspired by the photograph below. Look closely and ye'll notice the subtle differences between the photograph and the painting itself. For when my mom looked at the photograph, in the background she saw that September field of wheat I was talking about earlier, and so she had to include it. So it is that true art does not merely present things as they are, but it's forever reaching for the way things ought to be.

Anyways, I think my mom's pretty good, and one of her favorite stories is how she practically flunked out of an art course at Columbia. She had to write a term paper on some painting hanging at the Met of all these naked chicks, painted by Rembrandt or somebody, and so she basically wrote that some guy saw a bunch of naked chicks and decided to paint them. And I kind of agree with her-- it probably did happen that way. I think the professor flunked her, but he raised the grade to a D when my mom showed him some of her paintings. Such is the eternal paradox of education, which Socrates first set down in words, and which shall always momentarily raise collections of critics over the contemporary creator.

Anyway mom, as I could never quite find the right Valentine's day card for you in the store, I'd like to dedicate this site to you. Somehow I sense all the symmetries and schemes throughout all these sites are but echoes of your spirit. For you taught me of the simple beauty in the fields and the skies, and the subtle details in the leaves of grass, and in doing so you taught me the vast importance of the simple things-- the poetry which makes the philosophy profound. You taught me that art resides not within paintings nor objects, but that like God, it pervades all.

I know that you loved to paint, and yet you gave up a career to raise two children, for you are the true artist, who considers all of life a moral work of art, who valued truth and God far more than canvas and paints. For is not the mother who raises the newborn to the toddler to the ten-year-old to the teen the greatest of all artists? Ahoy matie-- 'tis but one more classical art form which has been all but usurped and undercut by the postmodernists.

And this, to me, is what the classics are all about. The simple things. Listen to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and ye'll perceive that the major theme is tied to the first five notes of the C-major scale that you might learn during your first piano lesson. It could only have been written by a deaf man. Listen to Shakespeare's "To be or not to be," soliloquy, which begins with the most quoted phrase in the world, and ye will recognize that it contains nothing more than the infinitive form of the first, fundamental verb that ye learn in studying a foreign language-- to be. Look at the people in Bruegel's Harvest, and witness the humility and simplicity of their form, and the resplendent beauty of the wheat. It's that same September wheat which my mom, a New Yorker, grew to love in Ohio, and which she taught me to appreciate. I always knew that a vast philosophy was implied in this simple lesson of hers, and I sense that ye, who have read this far, know what I mean. And may this site aide ye in transporting a bit of that ubiquitous, common, classic philosophy about this watery globe. For though ubiquitous, common, and eternal in nature, it yet would not be so were it not reflected in yer hearts and souls. God bless ye, mates.

Yers in words,

Drake Raft, Febuary 1999


The Crew Reports For Duty
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 11:37:52 EST
From: Schmitt@
To: drake@jollyroger.com, captain@jollyroger.com, becket@jollyroger.com, mcgucken@jollyroger.com
Subject: Have Finished Reading Your Stuff

Gentlemen:

I have spent the last 2 weeks (my private time allowing) reading your "literature" posted on your WWW site. Fair-to-middling applies to some of the long verse. Albeit, the recurring themes carry it to the end. Becket's stuff has the most impact when it comes to the descant and treatise. Raft's narratives are fine and close to perfect. All in all, the writing is passionate. Gutsy reach, my fellows. Gutsy reach. As for the rambling, banner-waving and antheming, well, such are leapings of the flames of a young man's ideology. Strive to do it with eloquence.

In the end I realize you guys are a triumvirate of ditto-heads. That's fine and good. As are most of Limbaugh's points of light. Any great thinker would agree. Nothing refreshing, however, does the puddingy fellow seem to come up with that hasn't been said before by my own Dad. I already know what the problems are. Tell me HOW to make it better. Duh.

As for the feminism horrors -- well, like you guys said, it's hard to find too many women who even consider themselves a feminist these days. For the most part, women need a lord and master onto whose raiment to cling. Someone to shepherd them through this life and tell them when to fetch their tea. And that goes back to my mother-in-law's line "if you act as a pancake, you shall be eaten as one."

The Captain Responds: Ahoy there mate! Thanks for the kind words!


From: Joseph_A_Starbuck/DET_C/MAG-42/FOURTH_MAW@marforres.usmc.mil
To: becket@jollyroger.com
Subject: The Paradigm Shift

You are a genius. Amidst the hail of incoming rounds from all directions, you have found a safe foxhole whereby thoughts can be directed to the internal, and then transmitted in SOS to God's Kingdom. It's obvious you made the connection; it shows in your work. Don't know how you did it, or how you found the time to do it, but you accomplished it still.

I'm Starbuck, and ironically my name is, too - your website piqued my curiosity. My father and brother suffered fates similar to Starbuck, albeit in the hands of today's world. In search of the meaning behind all this, I found God, His Son, my identity and purpose. I found him at home! Indeed, "home is where the heart is!" Now that this has been gently placed in your hands, you may ponder over it until you too discover its glorious miracle, by today's definition.

You are in my prayers. Your pain runs deep, but the oak have grown is glorious and beautiful! You are blessed!

Joe

THE CAPTAIN RESPONDS: Ahoy there matey! Yer in our prayers too! Avast!


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 16:56:09 -0500 (EST)
From: becket@jollyroger.com
To: "Virginia A. Mason-Schuman"
Subject: Re: Thanks from an "old" gal...

...who has always seen the white whale. Keep the magic going, or we're all goin' nowhere fast. The revolution of ideas has never really died, it has simply been "pinin' for the fjords". Best, Gin.


To: becket@jollyroger.com
From: Sarah

Ahoy dear friends,
It does my soul good to hear reverence for the blessed things in life without the perpetual obfuscation of truth. May the creator treat you well. If your interested in clearing out the postmodern fog with even greater tenacity I recommend the Stand To Reason web site by Christian apologetics speaker Greg Koukl, he deals with relativism and similar issues in a classical way at www.str.org, unfortunately I think your out of the range of these west coast air waves so you can't catch the radio program.

Oh, how tired we grow of the one dimensional soulless mediocrity that is peddled by the mainstream media. I hope the crew inspires the the bright ones of our generation to seek vengeance on the liberal establishment (but not with the weapons of this world) nay, but with those of the written word and the spirit.

Peace be with you!


To: drake@jollyroger.com
From: Jennifer

I really really hope you can respond to this. I don't want to sound... sketched, but I think I'm swimming in dark waters. I read your letter to Rolling Stone, and it could not have come at a more perfect time. You leave me feeling inarticulate and uncertain and I love you for that. Just when I was beginning to think that Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" was the only literary index to reality, when I was ready to swallow another overgenerous helping of mediocrity by surfing the web looking for Derridian anti-pages, I happen on your ship. I just felt my heart swell, you know? I thought I'd never feel that for a written word again, thought I'd never see my human side as anything other than an absurd distortion of a scavenger's instinct, seeking emotional gratification to feed the void inside of me. You've reminded me of my quest and even hinted that I might find... can it be?? friends of like mind! BLESS YOU!

BUT WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW??? I apologize for sounding desperate, but I am terrified, alone, OUT TO SEA BUT HOMEWARD BOUND

THE CAPTAIN RESPONDS: Ahoy then mate! We'll see ye back in port! Avast!


From: becket@jollyroger.com
To: Susann Pearson
Subject: Re: Bravo!

Way to go, Maties!

It's about time some present-day young folk busted out and became somebody. You may never FATHOM the depth of my disgust for the X-Generation slacker-bunch who coucheds at endless, commercial-riddled MTV with their "hot-pockets" from Mom's microwave. You may never fully comprehend my sickness with the whole, pointless push of them. Why are they here? What have they ever felt? If they do feel, how would we know? -- they never write about it. And surely they don't seem to read. Shelley is turning over in his Mediterranean grave. MTV. That's the norm. Oh yeah, and commercials. Ugh! Keelhaul 'em. Make them kiss the gunner's daughter. Aye?! Or better yet, toss them overboard as feed for the tigers... the long ones. Arrrrgggggghh. Now there ye be.


Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 21:12:49 -0500 (EST)
From: becket@jollyroger.com
To: Stephanie Kennedy
Subject: Re: ADMIRATION

I enjoyed reading your work. You write with great strength and will. I would love to read more of them.

Angel

THE CAPTAIN RESPONDS: And we'd love to write more!