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Encomium For Rake and/or Herald

The Rake & Herald has officially ceased publication. Well, I don’t think of posting online as publishing, but they will no longer be posting online. Suffice to say, this news comes as a blow for the sort of people I like to drink with.

Elsewhen, highfalutin’ scientists at CERN seem to be amusing themselves with new data confirming how not one of them can yet say why the universe did not destroy itself during the Big Bang.

Evidently the great masses of anti-matter that was, as well as matters of all that might ever be, would just never have managed to share the backseat of the station wagon for the family road trip, being more likely to instead pull at each other’s hair while saying cross things and licking the elephant animal crackers and completely disregarding the distinct vinyl boundaries.

From the Independent article on the matter:

“The most elite scientists in the world are still struggling to find why exactly our universe didn’t destroy itself as soon as it came into existence. That’s what science says should have happened – but it clearly hasn’t, since you’re here reading this, as far as we know.

At the beginning of the universe, according to the standard model, there [were] equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. The trouble with that is that they would each have annihilated each other, leaving none of the matter that surrounds us today.”

So it would appear that, much like the love affairs between avatars and proxies online, the universe should not exist.

Which of course is a prospect that most people would silently nod in agreement with, even should they vocally express otherwise to their restroom mirror every morning, struggling with remembering how to look hard for the newest day.

Of course, none of this should exist.

Yet here we are.

This actually takes us back to a thing known as Stapp’s ironical paradox.

It was conceived by Colonel John Paul Stapp, a man who Wikipedia describes as “an American career US Air Force officer, flight surgeon, physician, biophysicist and pioneer in studying the effects of acceleration and deceleration forces on humans”.

He was also “a colleague and contemporary of Chuck Yeager and became known as ‘the fastest man on earth'”.

This ironical paradox of his states that: “The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle.”

That is to say, if the universe by design is self-defeating, and we mere mortal humans by all accounts are fundamentally self-defeating, then we and the universe are one, our shared reality is universal and life is futile.

Except that throughout both eastern and western philosophies is a trail of thought considered the dream argument.

The premise is that as dreams serve as mysterious-though-constant examples for how reality defined by the senses is not always real, then all the rest of reality must be weighed and determined as real or not as well.

Because it could all just be a dream.

An awful, no good, bad, bad dream.

I first came across the Rake & Herald while editing another site, called New Comics Day, which was like the Onion of comic book news, a verifiable niche within a niche within a niche. NCD had been around for perhaps a couple of years before I joined up, and I immediately increased its productivity single-handedly from monthly posts to maybe a couple per week. Generally we spoofed the self-perceived legitimate comic book blogs, although we could be quite artful in our approach. I oversaw NCD for its owner Torkild Hackerson for 2 or 3 years altogether, building its readership and roster of contributors with made-up stories, many of which would later strangely become true. This actually happened so often that we encountered rumors that Torkild and/or myself were actually comic book industry insiders, leaking information to this small fake news portal. During our zenith, I had begun a side-task of sniffing out like-minded ventures, fellow funny news outlets online. And, the Rake & Herald put all the rest to shame.

I reached out to its owner, Ignatius X Rake, for a homepage link-swap as well as a standing offer to share content, under the conditions of source articles cited and hyperlinked to upfront. I thought they were brilliant. Even as NCD met its own premature demise, stemming from a twitter conversation over the current interpretations for the term “retarded”, I followed the Rake & Herald for inspiration and analysis and feel-good vibes all around. And eventually I attempted my first submission for them, my gonzo coverage of a pie-eating contest. Which led to an ongoing, hands-on relationship where, over the next 3 years or so, I would contribute some 33 articles for their label, along with consulting on other articles, and even having quotes of my own cited in other articles, and proofreading select articles for others as well. I tried to recruit on their behalf in slimmer days, to mixed but usually poor results because most self-professed writers only talk about writing rather than actually write. Iggy proved to be the most capable and polished (as well as Polish) editor I have ever worked with, bar none. That alone was refreshing, as having edited a bushel and a peck myself in the past I am the first to acknowledge how the trade is the only socially-acceptable form of sadomasochism. Iggy liked my writing quite well, even asking permission to reuse essays under his label, although he never followed through. I wouldn’t understand why until far more recently.

Iggy had his own circles, of friends and contributors, though there were times when it was just him and myself running the show. He’d take prolonged absences from the digital world from time to time, once for over a year, which I perfectly understood even though it would always end with a reshuffling of feet and chairs alike. I was never paid, not for NCD either while we’re on the topic but anything I do is for the love of it anyway as employers without exception lie by default, although it was understood that once ad sales surpassed hosting fees I’d get a generous cut for all the back-breaking labors. When he opened the subsidiary online shop, I was gifted a troika of t-shirts however, with the one featuring their logo remaining still my very favorite in my well-traveled army bag. But there were several articles of mine lost in the shuffle of his vacancies, a few of which were repurposed for the nilskidoo. And, beginning maybe earlier last year, alongside Brexit and other far-right selfishness, things began to slow down unlike any previous slowing downer.

Two of his contributors separately let me know personally that they would no longer be contributing for as long as my name was anywhere in the credits for the site. Some of the throwaway one-liners from my content was triggering the inner snowflakes of red-pillers, evidently, or whatever their jargon is supposed to mean. I suspect this was a big reason for Iggy pulling back, feeling caught in the middle between content he appreciated, and his friends who were not as open-minded as me where concerns varying viewpoints. He stopped communicating with me entirely, earlier this year, no longer initiating contact or responding to contact, or even submissions. When telling others how I play Contributing Editor for a website that hasn’t updated in months, it unfairly makes me look like the lazy party, when apparently I was the one and only person always with packaged materials ready, willing and able. Likewise, none of the others were helping with the site any longer. I saw that much in effect, and began repeatedly by assorted means to prompt Iggy into removing my archives from his portal, so that his friends could restart anew without having to suffer sharing a website with some Yankee-doodling dandy big on the idea that asserting one’s will over others is kinda the root of all evils in the world. These efforts went on for months. I was fine with my content vanishing completely from the web, aside from a handful that could be fleshed out for the nilskidoo. They had one and all served their purpose, and nothing online is permanent either which way regardless.

This isn’t me airing dirty laundry, but rather me providing some semblance of truth. Aesop was our patron saint at the Rake & Herald, and though fictitious his storytelling remains a doorway to truth. And I remain passionate about there having been quite enough spoonfuls of medicine to help the sugar go down in this modern age.

Finally, abruptly days ago Iggy at long last obliged, removing each one of my many articles from the Rake & Herald, And, less than 24 hours later, he emailed me again to announce the closure of his now skinny website that once served as the prime source for all competitive-eating news on both sides of the pond. I still respect Iggy. I empathize considerably with his distaste for the internet, and his need to both downsize and personalize his online presence. The end of the Rake & Herald is as much my fault as his, but it reaffirms for me that absolutely nobody can be trusted through the proxy separating their real selves from this pocket dimension. And that the best jokes, as with friendships, are better off kept private.