Image by lizstless via Flickr
“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If you send me a letter, we shall be friends forever… or something like that. Letters, such curious things, be it the ones we send to others, or keep for ourselves.
Whilst looking for a quote regarding letter writing, I found this sad funny:
There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader. ~ Charlie Brown
A boy who understood that his dog ranked higher than he in his social circles. Snoopy, the Regale Beagle, the hipster dog who even received letters. One could wonder, in 2012, would Snoopy be composing letters, emails, Facebook messages, IM, or keeping a blog?
A web post started me thinking about Anais Nin’s life, ergo, I wished to read more about her. A Literate Passion, Nin’s correspondence with Henry Miller keeps reappearing, so I’ve made it a ‘to-read’ on my Goodreads. Imagine; a peek into the lives of literary greats and their affairs, literally!
Letters offer us a backstage pass into conversations, events, and lifestyles of so many greats. You do wonder, though, did the letter writers ever think someday that the world would have access to their private correspondence or personal diaries? Would they have burnt every piece if they’d been privy to the future?
Reading letters between friends, family, lovers, intellectuals, and the famous, allows the reader a real taste of life, a livelier portrait of the composer. Letters have kept thoughts alive on issues that may have otherwise died or been swept under for fear of upsetting a certain balance. Thankfully, the words keep getting unearthed allowing us to savour, remember, and help to capture a thought, era, socio-ideology for the sake of history.
Curiously, though, will the end of the pen to digital ink also end the formal note as we know it? Is the beauty of the penned thought lost forever? Yes, an email could be argued to be the same as a letter, but is it, really?
These times are a changing, indeed. With every new smartphone App; Facebook wall or page; Google+ circle, or Instagram pictweet; keeps us privy, but those that write it know we are looking. The authentic self certainly gets lost to the ego. The affairs still happen, but they are erased as quickly as the IM thread their covert actions are composed upon.
Perhaps we need not read all these books about others intimate lives or intellectual pondering. Then again, as we remember the great revolutionary, Martin Luther King, Jr., we do so by utilizing his letters to understand his words. Only through this core understanding can we strive to stop history from repeating.
Maybe it shall be blogging that becomes the tool that helps document the time; our person, our being. Writers offering their insights via poetry, memoir, satire, or musings; keeping the spirit of what Samuel Johnson found so important in a letter:
“In a man’s letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted, nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover actions in their motives.” ~Samuel Johnson
It takes the fearless to be so naked to the world. I’m the first to say it is easier to follow than set the world on fire. In the spirit of the day, I’ll take one last quote (though not word for word) from a Harry Potter movie:
You can do what’s right, or you can do what’s easy. It is up to you to decide … ~