I adore letters. Next to a big check, the best thing I can see in my mailbox is a handwritten address and stamp from someone I correspond with. Letter writing is in strong decline nowadays, according to the statistics and comments I hear; for some people, I might be the only person that sends them notes anymore. This makes me sad. Sure, the telephone is more convienient. Then there’s the cellphone and the text message in case the phone is too slow. With all of these, but there’s no sense of permanency, no record of what we said. Of course, sometimes that’s good, but not always. Electronic mail, like to my address firstname.lastname@example.org (and if you mail there use a headline like “From MATF”, because that has a strong spam filter), lets one send quickly, but eliminates the touches of imperfection. I can’t draw on the envelope of an email, or point out where I dropped a lettuce piece from my sandwich, or change pen colors. I like letters so much that I even care about signatures, and wrote a short page about that.
I wonder if, in fifty years, people will publish books of emails, like the old books of letters? I doubt it. Email leads itself too quickly to the short four-line reply agreeing or disagreeing, not the lengthy passion of a good paper mail. Although, I really love the ability in email to quote from what the correspondent said, and I wish I had an immediate way to do that with pencil. I’m not a total Luddite. To sit, and take the time to compose for someone (I average one letter page per hour) shows care and friendship, and I enjoy doing that. A twinge of sadness enters occasionally, that I can’t see my friend in person, but generally it’s good.
I probably do my best thinking in letters, because of the time involved. Despite my math abilities, and my speed in schoolwork, I’m really a contemplative in my soul, and need the patience that pen provides. Often, I consider phone calls too quick; I need time to articulate feelings. By focusing, what comes to pencil represents purity, in some way; no intermingling with logistic regression or 2NT overcalls or dinner plans or whatever else is on my mind in a day.
If anyone could ever get my envelope doodles on email, that would be great. Until then, I will hope for the post.