Friday, July 23, 2010


old letter!Image via Wikipedia

Dear You-- 

I've been thinking about letters recently - not business correspondence  which is the antithesis of what letters should be - but the sort of missive where one friend writes frankly, openly, and possibly a little indiscreetly, to another. It was the kind of exercise one felt free to indulge in in the days when privacy was regarded as fundamental to social intercourse. 
There used to be a great tradition of such letter-writing, and letters were – and remain – one of the favorite prime sources of biographers. How can one argue with the original words and thoughts of the subject – especially when inscribed in his or her own hand?  There, all is revealed.

In truth, I wouldn’t go that far; an individual letter can be as self-serving as human nature is ingenious and duplicitous – but I think it is fair to say that it is hard not to demonstrate more than a little of one’s real nature when a series of letters is involved over time; and written when the author is in different moods and experiencing differing circumstances. Then something of one’s true character tends to be revealed no matter how well guarded by caution, expertise, and – not infrequently - guile.  

That’s a risk I’m willing to take because I’m a real admirer of the traditional letter, and have endeavored to keep up its length and intimacy even when writing e-mails which can cause recipients, who aren’t used to my quaint little ways, to reel back in shock when an eight page missive (probably one of my shorter efforts) pops up on the computer. “Thank god for Twitter,” they mutter as paramedics administer smelling salts.  

Part of what I like about letters is both the commitment they imply, and the risks involved. The spoken word has a habit of vanishing into the ether, easy to forget, misunderstand or deny – but a letter is as permanent a document as this entropic society of ours allows. That means, if you pause to think about it, that a good letter-writer must not only have a mastery of both style and substance, but must also be willing to accept risk. He or she must have the soul of an adventurer.

It’s in that spirit that I’m commencing to blog again after too long an interval; but I'm not going to blog; I'm going to write letters. But before I end, even though I know that you know what entropy is, let me quote Wikipedia on the subject: “Entropy is a measure of the uncertainty associated with a random variable.”
I couldn’t describe my decades long correspondence, with a woman I have loved for many years, any more accurately.

Farewell for the moment. Write soon. I miss your wit and your company.


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1 comment:

  1. In a word, my writing "SUCKS", because of the email, texting, and various other "time saving" (?) internet-worked forms of way too simple communication. ?"Miss U, C U 2night", has a certain charm. Unfortunately one (apparently) good habit can destroy another, like the ability to write coherently. I applaud your efforts.