KILL DEVIL HILL
A new website dedicated to
Conserving The Great Books and The Great Outdoors
by Becket Knottingham
On a bright blue, blustery February day, I'm standing on top of Kill Devil Hill, looking out over towards Cape Point, Hatteras, witnessing from afar the eternal battle being performed by two opposing oceans. Just off Cape Point the northbound Gulf Stream and the cold currents hailing from the Arctic meet head on, sending white spray over one-hundred feet into the air. Over the years these conflicting currents have been depositing sand off Hatteras, and the resulting diamond-shaped sand bar has come to be known as the Diamond Shoals, it's fang-like shifting sand bars pushing seaward to snare the unwary mariner. While the shoals are the largest and most formidable hazard, the entire Carolina coast is marked by such eternally shifting, submerged features, and thus long ago sailors were inspired to call it, "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." And as I look out over the clashing currents, which are indiscernible but for the mist they throw one-hundred feet into the air, I am reminded of how it are those invisible inner conflicts between the polar opposites of our souls from which the visible art departs, aspiring towards the heavens. Art is the eternal piece of us striving to be free, and thus all generations seek a renaissance, so as to join Edmund Burke's community of eternal souls.
I found out about Cape Point from a book my girlfriend gave me for Christmas entitled, THE GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC. The book narrates the stories of the numerous shipwrecks off the Carolina coast. She'd also given me a poetry anthology, which is a cool one, because it's small and there aren't any of those tedious introductions to the poems-- there're only the poet's words. In it I finally found that one Robert Frost poem about making your avocation your vocation, and that's exactly what the WWW's allowing us to do-- to make our passion our profession.
This past Christmas Eve day, I arrived back home in Northern snowbound Ohio, and I unwrapped the present. Books make awesome presents, as they're great to read when you find yourself missing the person who gave them to you. My folks and my sister and her husband had all gone to sleep, and I stayed up alone, sitting infront of the fading fire, going back and forth between the two books in the blinking of the Christmas-tree lights, reading Frost and Longfellow, then about the North Carolina pirates, then Emerson and Shakespeare, and then about the brave Carolina coast guards, one of whom had had inscribed on his tombstone, "Today the sea and sky are contending to see who's the mightiest-- there will certainly be ships in distress. A voice shall beckon us forth, and her name is duty. We must venture out, and pray that we hear her sister calling us back." And late that night, staring into the dying coals, I by and by became aware of the link between the two books-- the poetry anthology and THE GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC, that existed within my soul. For out upon the ocean, in my mind's eye, I perceived a three-masted frigate. Her cargo was the poetry of the Great Books, and she was sailing through a treacherous era which was fast becoming a graveyard for the Western intellect. And in the stark silence that is the hallmark of Christmas Eve, I discerned the forgotten Truth's call of distress.
And he who hears that beckoning voice finds he must respond. He must voyage out against the pounding surf of the popular press's opinion, against the raging wind of the bureaucracy's judgment, and pen the contemporary living Truth so as to ensure the continuity of souls. Alone the writer must leave the well-worn and secure professional paths, and he must venture forth with the tacit prayer that there will be a second voice, back on land, calling for that truth to come on home. Woe to the writer who pauses upon the shore to ponder the possibility that the second voice should not sound. Woe to the writer who hesitates, considering commercial prospects, who lingers on the material shore while the ship with the ultimate cargo sinks, and then ventures out, too late, into the newborn void, to offer impotent criticism. Woe to the writer who discerns the decline of culture without passing judgment, who seeks to appease when the nobler side of his soul feels to appall. For the true writer should possess Faith, and with the wisdom granted by history, he should see that those who lead are those who begin by walking alone. Woe to the administrative bureaucrats who hold the suits and trappings of honor in higher esteem than the substance, who prefer to dumb down the people in educational institutions so that they'll conform to the liberal elitist socialist agenda, who bolster their amoral, mediocre literary comrades with government funds while taxing the brave entrepreneur. For by doing so they dishonor free society's fundamental element-- the moral creator. For if none had ever ventured out on their own, against the pounding surf of popular opinion, against the raging wind of the bureaucracy's judgment, had not Jefferson and the Founding Fathers pledged their sacred honor and risked their lives to pen the rebellious documents which yet define our freedom, had not Socrates grasped onto the truth as his soul's life preserver when facing death, had not the Prophets of antiquity spoken out with the authority of God against the corrupt Kings, had not Jesus walked upon the water to pass supreme judgment before offering supreme forgiveness, what would there be to read? Language was created by God, and woe to those teachers and Pharisees who say it means nothing. In the beginning there was the Word, and by the Word we know of the beginning when God created the earth, and "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." The Truth is the most fundamental form of private property, and to destroy the Word, the device by which we mark the Truth's boundaries, is to destroy the World...
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