the lost epistolary art

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miss buenos aires
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the lost epistolary art

Postby miss buenos aires » Fri Jun 13, 2003 6:56 am

I miss handwritten letters. So much nicer than emails; the heft, the handwriting, the delayed gratification. And letters always seem so much more coherent than emails, they seem to encourage paragraphs, rather than disconnected sentences.

You know what I mean?

All of my friends have proven to be very disappointing correspondents. When they do write back, the letter sits on a dresser for weeks, until they get so embarrassed about not having any envelopes that they abandon it altogether and hand it to me the next time we meet, three months later. So I'm trying a new tactic. PM me if you want a real pen pal.

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costellopunk
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Postby costellopunk » Sat Jun 14, 2003 6:43 pm

my handwritten letters are a lot like all my other writing: disconnected, no paragraphs, and for the most part illegible. i'm a big fan of e-mail.
-it takes a long time but god dies too/but not before he sticks it to you-

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lapinsjolis
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Postby lapinsjolis » Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:03 pm

My handwriting is terrifying but there is nothing like a handwritten letter. The beauty of finding a letter in the mist of bills and coupons is a rare treat in the age of email. Letter writing is an art I'm sure you can master costellopunk, if you had the inclination. A polite indulgence among friends and lovers. Email is very addictive. :shock:

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King of Confidence
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Postby King of Confidence » Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:49 pm

I conducted a long correspondence with someone during college and after, in the days before email. I'd kind of forgotten the thrill of a hand-addressed, hand-written letter. The thickness of the envelope, her small, intelligent hand, the fervor of ... the fervor.

I can't say that the correspondence was altered by going to typewriters and word processors, which we did after too many complaints about "I CAN'T READ YOUR DAMN HANDWRITING." And email didn't come into play until we were two blocks from each other, discovering, over the course of three years, that we weren't the soulmates we thought we were in our twenties.

It's the overall slow-ness of the relationship that strikes me now, when it's formed in paper and ink and stamps. Things had time to sink in, receive consideration, get mulled, until the next letter arrived. I miss that too, miss buenos aires.

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spooky girlfriend
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Postby spooky girlfriend » Sun Jun 15, 2003 10:48 am

Unfortunately I think a lot of the reason for lack of letter writing comes down to the fact that the world is just too damn busy to take the time to write a letter.

I do miss writing letters myself. I wrote many when I was younger. I know it is silly and girlish to remember this particular person, but when I was 16 I used to write back and forth with was a young man whom I met one summer. I knew some french, but that was before I had two years of it in college. He had taken it all through high school and he would write portions of the letter in french. Some of it I could read and the rest of it I would cluth in my hands while thumbing through my french dictionary. I always enjoyed those so much.

But no one only wants to write letters. Those who are writers also want to receive letters.

Sigh. My world is busy, too. If it weren't for email, I wouldn't have much of a chance to catch up with anyone. But at least this way I can keep closer in touch with people I might not get around to writing at all. :)

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A rope leash
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Chicken scratches

Postby A rope leash » Sun Jun 15, 2003 11:10 am

I'm not certain that handwriting is such an important part of the epistolary art. I often write down phrases and ideas that I must put into type very quickly because my penmanship is so poor that even I have trouble reading it.

While it is nice to receive and flowery and gorgeously handwritten letter, you would never receive the same from me, because I want to be clearly understood. While a handwritten letter might now be an anachranism, the art of writing a letter is still essentially in the composition of that letter, and this would also be the case with an email, or even a message board blog.

So, really, we are all writing letters right here. I'm writing one right now. The amount of artistry and innovation I put into it is up to me.

Practice makes perfect. That's how you get right on white.

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King of Confidence
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Postby King of Confidence » Sun Jun 15, 2003 1:01 pm

Rope is right. Once I started composing on a keyboard, the expression of my thoughts became far more precise and robust, and I could get more of them expressed "at speed" than I could scribbling furiously with a pen.

Actually, what I miss are pens themselves, trying out new ones, finding one with a line you like.

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spooky girlfriend
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Postby spooky girlfriend » Sun Jun 15, 2003 1:07 pm

I also compose well on a keyboard, but I realized a few days ago one thing that was different for me.

When writing on a keyboard, I simply backspace or delete to change what I want to say and it goes away. When writing by hand, I often mark through it or scribble over it, but I can still tell what I had once thought. Even now when I go back and read things that I wrote years ago and see those scribbles, I can still see what I almost wrote.

For whatever reason, it is insightful to go back and see the other things that were going on in my head - even if they didn't make the cut at the time. :)

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Otis Westinghouse
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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Mon Jun 16, 2003 5:33 pm

As ever, ARL is being the agent provocateur! I can't go for that theory, there's a world of difference between seeing characters on a screen and thinking 'someone typped that' and holding a letter that was held recently by someone who means something to you. Especially if they add a little fragrance to the letter...

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Re: the lost epistolary art

Postby bambooneedle » Mon Jun 16, 2003 8:30 pm

miss buenos aires wrote:the delayed gratification.

You know what I mean?


Huh?

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Gillibeanz
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Postby Gillibeanz » Mon Jun 16, 2003 8:47 pm

I had a pen friend sweetheart when I was 15 and can still recall the thrill when a letter dropped through the letterbox. Having said that though there is something to be said for e-mail - its so fast, and cuts out the agony of waiting for the royal Mail to get their act together and deliver when they are supposed to!!

Its wonderful when someone finds an old pile of love letters tied together in a loft or some forgotton dusty cupboard - somehow the romance will not be the same if its discovered in this day and age in an old computer file!
COME ON YOU SPURS!!

selfmademug

Postby selfmademug » Tue Jun 17, 2003 7:27 am

I have to give one of my typically equivocal (or is it wishy-washy!?) opinions.... cause I just adore both real paper letters and email. The sensuality of an actual physical letter cannot be denied, its having passed from one set of hands into another. And yet I agree with Rope that writing is writing is writing, and that ultimately, the most important part of a letter is its contents. I have received many a dull, multi-paged letter on paper, and I have received many things by email that I wouldn't give up for the world and have read and re-read the way folks did with letters in days past, so much so that I've committed them to memory.

But I have an INCREDIBLE weakness for beautiful or funky paper, nice pens, and the visual and sensual individuality embodied in physical letters.

See, told ya... a bit if a 'splunge' answer there...

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Postby pophead2k » Tue Jun 17, 2003 4:35 pm

This is a subject I've often thought of from a historical perspective. Much of the great social (or 'people's') history of the world is derived from letters. Although letters have to be used carefully as a historical reference (bias, etc.), they make a wonderful and compelling picture of life from times past. Abigail Adams' letters spring to mind as well as hundreds of first hand accounts of people who were eyewitness to history. All of this electronic correspondance (which is rarely saved) is taking away from the picture of ourselves that we would otherwise have left for a future generation.

Dave

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miss buenos aires
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Postby miss buenos aires » Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:22 am

You can say a letter is a letter is a letter, whether it be email or posts on a message board, but I wrote a real letter the other day (to someone all of you know), and it is different. I write differently with pen in hand.

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Postby firebetty » Wed Jun 18, 2003 12:03 pm

i adore real mail. the funkier the better. i was working for a museum about 7 years ago that did a show of mail art and i my love of mail (i drempt of becoming a mail carrier) exploded. i hadn't condidered the oppertunities of a blank envelope, postcards to be co-oped, mystery packages. what would the mailing process do to it (damage it), who would see it, how many postal workers could i annoy (or make their day better?) how many ways can i communicate and interact with people with this ephemeral, mundane process?
email and this message board are my shameful addiction. :wink:

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El Vez
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Postby El Vez » Wed Jun 18, 2003 12:14 pm

Having received a lovely handwritten letter from MBA before, I must take this opportunity to praise her exquisite penmanship as well as her ability to turn a phrase like nobody's business.

Which also reminds me......I owe you a handwritten letter!

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A rope leash
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The fix of it

Postby A rope leash » Wed Jun 18, 2003 3:43 pm

It's nice to get any sort of letter from Miss BA.

But, I could write the most brilliantly eloquent piece of literature ever in the history of the universe, and it would fail to impress due to the haphazard architechure of even the finest examples of penmanship produced by my hand.

She reads my love letter:

O my gosh! He's so sweet, and so lovingly wonderful!

But, O no! He must be a moron! He can hardly draw a letter!

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HungupStrungup
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not fish and chip paper

Postby HungupStrungup » Thu Jul 31, 2003 12:23 pm

I dredge up this old thread because I have three observations about correspondence on paper.

1. My mother and father met just a short time before his employer sent him overseas for an indefinite period that ended up being almost two years. Each of them had survived a failed marriage, and each was somewhat gunshy; but there was a definite attraction and an understanding they would soon become engaged, if neither changed his/her mind. It was mostly via handwritten letters, read and reread, that their union was crafted. If not for the written word and the reasonably efficient postal services of two nations, I would not be here to type these words on this infernal monitor screen, which you at your infernal monitor screens will read, some very soon and some perhaps months or even years from now. What a world, eh?

2. I had a friend with whom I used to correspond. Her letters were ordinary, but she made her own envelopes, which were stunning. She said art and photography magazines were the best, because they devoted sufficient space - you need a pretty good-sized image to cut and fold into an envelope. Plus, those sorts of publications are printed on nice heavy stock, able to survive the sometimes rough handling of the Postal Service. I adopted her practice for a short period, but it fell by the wayside when our friendship did. Perhaps I should get back to envelope-making though; I found it very satisfying.

3. I correspond now with someone virtually every day via email and instant message, and occasionally we send each other cards. Of course we do so for Special Occasions, but sometimes just for the heck of it. I always love receiving a surprise card from her, and it pleases me no end that she is thrilled to receive mine. I like the process of picking out just the right card and choosing the right words to put on the paper carefully and with a proper pen, so that another person will hold it and read it, and perhaps save it to reread, brightening not just the day it's delivered, but perhaps another day when it might be the only thing that will serve that purpose.
"But it's a dangerous game that comedy plays
Sometimes it tells you the truth
Sometimes it delays it"

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Otis Westinghouse
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Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Jul 31, 2003 5:25 pm

Three lovely testaments to the lost epistolary art. That's brightened my day. Now where are those stamps...

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A rope leash
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Chicken X

Postby A rope leash » Thu Jul 31, 2003 5:59 pm

I recently recieved a post card from Copenhagen. No, it wasn't from C-Fan, it was from my muse, whom I hadn't heard from in years. The writing was so tiny, you couldn't even read between the lines, but it was GREAT to get a card from her!

I have since received a letter from her, in Word format, which still seemed quaint, given that it was hand-delivered by a government employee in a snappy uniform. The envelope also contained a chap-book of her poetry, which was quite a bonus.

Yeah, it's better than email, because of the "personal touch".

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sulkygirl
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Postby sulkygirl » Thu Jul 31, 2003 6:27 pm

Hmm...I like the Handmade Envelopes idea...do a bit of crafting meself, sounds like it might be fun!!

:D
"Love can be stranger than fiction..."

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miss buenos aires
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Postby miss buenos aires » Fri Aug 01, 2003 3:13 am

See? I knew you'd all come around, even Rope. I now have several very satisfying handwritten correspondances going on; I think I'd forgotten how nice it is to get a little something in the mail, as it is even nicer than I remembered. My offer still stands. I'm sure there's a limit, but I haven't reached it yet.

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SweetPear
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Postby SweetPear » Fri Aug 01, 2003 3:38 am

Hungupstrungup~
I can relate to all three of your observations and they were all very beautifully stated.
I've been with my husband for over 20 years and even though we've been going through a major rough (possibly irrepairable) patch...I still have a box full of every letter and note and card he ever gave to me and I think that no matter what fate has in store for us, I will always treasure every word. Just like a good book, they put me in another place and time and I can go there anytime i choose.
My sister used to (and still does on occasion) make her own paper and envelopes. I'm also big on handmade...anything, really.
I take great pains in picking the right colors and words and styles and am likewise, delighted to receive anything (handmade or not) from anyone, because even if it was only for a moment, someone was thinking of pleasing ME.
I'm also very picky about my writing utencils. What I really prefer is a nice sharp pencil, but that doesn't always suit. So in that case I like a (real) ink pen. And I absolutely cannot live without fine point Sharpies.
God, I wish I could find that box..... :(
I'm not angry anymore....

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A rope leash
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Letters

Postby A rope leash » Fri Aug 01, 2003 7:17 am

Good writing instruments are hard to find and keep.

Deep in my stash of memorablia, there is a box of handwritten letters. They were written between me and my first wife, during the time I was away in the military.

They are filthy.


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