for those who are in or around sane

Tuesday, September 6

Letters, words, jargon...

A friend and i have been chatting about the importance/relevance of letter writing. the new york times posted an article about this recently.

i love typing. i will never give it up as my personal preference for writing. i have carpral tunnel in my wrists, which makes long hand a bit overwhelming when i'm on a roll. plus, the delete key is amazing.

i also love emails. and i happen to save emails. in this nyt article, they talk about the importance of saving emails to document lives. i agree with this to a certain extent. i've had some really great banters with people via email, and i dont save each email. i only save the last one, which includes all responses, in order. i delete boring day-to-day stuff. i dont see this as bad (for one, i dont think i'm going to have anyone documenting my life or rooting through my emails after i die and become famous). sure, i plan on being famous one day. or at least have my stuff read by someone other than loved ones. but to subject a biographer to a multitute of gigs of emails is asinine.

people write more letters now than ever before b/c of email. it is easier for a reason. but my friend had a lot of good arguments for the snail mail. it's quite a pleasure to recieve a REAL letter amongst the bills. it's also satisfying to create a letter. to take a blank piece of paper and put your personality on it. it's even more satisfying to see someone else's personality take shape on paper. there is a lot to be said for handwriting analysis.

its a romantic form of communication. an ideal. i'll never give it up, but i really dont think it's going to be "revitalized" anytime soon. so, if you want to write me, please do, i wont knock you for an impersonal email, and i wont knock you for wasting a shred of tree & a stamp.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always delete the emails that mean the most to me. It might seem counterintuitive, but reminiscing about the past usually makes me dissapointed with the present and I'd rather not have the temptation. The same goes for photographs.

No matter how much we try to hang onto the good things, they still slip away. welcome to my world of cynicism!

9:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I save letters and emails for a time, but I have too many email accounts so they always end up getting deleted when I don't log in after X number of days.

I print emails from time to time if they say something important. When you think about it as "documenting lives" then emails are better because all the correspondence is in both boxes, so you can go back and look at what you wrote. What I wouldn't pay to have some of the letters I've written in my lifetime back.

7:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree that letters are so romantic, there is something about sitting down and writing your thoughts out that is carthagic. However it is also a pain because I can type faster than I write.

I have all my notes from high school that my friends used to pass around, it still brings back memories. Most of them are filled with the silly junk that makes high school interesting, and sometimes it brings me back to an event I had almost forgotten.

I do delete emails I don't want anymore, and I don't often keep emails for any purpose other than I don't have a reason to delete it.


11:24 AM

Blogger dr gonzo said...

Rhett, i used to think i knew the world's biggest cynic. She's also one of the most negative people i know. but i do believe that your masochistic intitiatives on top of your cynicism put you in a higher class than her. congrats! one consolation - you are a good natured person. contradictory? maybe. fun? definitely! dont let NY kick your arse too much!

10- i totaly have notes from high school. i was going to throw them out when my mom moved, but i opened one, when betsy was right next to me, and it practically made me cry - it was a note from her, all decorated, with a gushy "you're my bff" message. 10 years later, i still get gushy emails of the same token from her. those are the kinds of things i save. i'm a sap. i know.

12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'll give you an example of why I do what I do.

Many years ago, when I was just about to start high school, I was cleaning and I discovered an old letter. It was written from a girl to another girl who lived across the street from me. The three of us all went to the same middle school, and the letter had been written when we were all in 5th grade.

This girl who lived across the street from me was pretty. Very pretty. Obviously, I had a bit of a crush on her. We hung out a bit, but nothing romantic ever developed (this was middle school, remember). In any case, I was mentioned in this note! It said something of the effect of "I hope your summer isn't too boring, maybe you can spend some more time with Rhett Butler (ha ha)". I honestly don't have any idea how I came in possesion of this letter (The best I can imagine is that I came upon it while visiting her house and, seeing that I was mentioned, stole it to find out what she was saying). In any case, the letter posed an interesting problem because it could have been that my neighbor actually did enjoy spending time with me, but her friend didn't like me and was giving her shit about her attraction. Or possibly both of them didn't like me and were having a laugh at my expense. In either case, she had moved away a few years earlier, so it was something of an unanswerable question.

Now, if I were a believer of maintaining storehouses of memorabilia that reflected my personal history, this should have been a centerpiece, because nothing brought back the confusion and self-image issues of my pubescence better than that letter. But people don't keep things that are negative and distrubing, they keep the photographs of people who are always happy, dignified, athletic, intelligent and funny.

If posterity is your goal, than it seems to me you should be dedicated to including everything and not just the good stuff. Since I decided not to keep the letter, or anything else that evokes unpleasant memories, I don't keep the other stuff either, because that presents a distorted, pleasant, record of your history.

I do keep a few things (a photograph of my father and I when I was a very small child, the photograph of a woman I love, a summercamp songbook), but they are less hisotrical memorabilia and more about what I find sacred. Mostly I find it better to live in the present and leave the historians to reconstruct my life on the way i lived rather than what I kept around.

10:22 AM

Blogger dr gonzo said...

so, all or nothing?

i keep it all. its weird too, cuz sometimes i want to throw it all away. or sometimes i feel like its evidence against me. i keep all my old journals too. some of them are rather embarasing. some of them are truely insightful. most of them are drivel. but i keep them all. when i want to revisit a particular time in my life, i take out a journal, or a photo album, or a scrapbook.

for the past 2 years, i have not written in any journal. and the only pictures i have are from other people. i find that ironic. like somewhere in the back of my head, i knew that i wouldnt want to remember the good or the bad of this time in my life.

1:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope that I am not the most cynical person you know.

I mostly keep the good stuff because I have enough memories of bad stuff. I don't want to be surprised by ickiness when I open boxes and cupboards. In emails, I usually only save things where we're discussing something profound or where I've come up with a good idea.

I throw away love letters from people I am not in love with anymore.


8:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not...I'm the most cynical person she knows now...mwa ha ha!

9:52 AM

Blogger dr gonzo said...

yeah, Rhett's #1. :o) and Lo, you are not even on the scale. you're not so much a cynic as you are a realist/pessimist with a bizzare embrace of hope.

10:28 AM


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