Thursday, November 21, 2013

More letters

   I love the internet.
   I love that the air around us is literally filled with content. With meaning. Urgencies and voices and orders and rants. Streams of them. The idea of the ether resurrected.
   I love that there are galaxies of gaming forums, Romanian mansions of chat rooms, and endless apps. What was Borges' famous quip, "In the future every absurdity will have its champion."? Soon every absurdity will have its app. Once young strivers made for the Great American West, then the Great American Novel, then they made the Next Great Film. Now they make apps. Love it. Though neither could Borges nor present day Wall Street predict how they'll make money.
   I love that there's a music server named after a Greek goddess. I love that teenagers by the millions text missives and love letters by the many more millions every day. The daily correspondence of Edith Wharton or Anna Karenin (see Nabokov on the spelling of her name versus the novel) or Madame Bovary gone wireless, gone to hyper speed.
   We write again. Constantly.
   Constantly……
   When I was in college I had one mad love. Mad for her. Me so serious and she the snark. My Neruda wrestling her Stevie Smith and almost always losing. We fell in love at about 7pm in a college deli the last day of Passover 1986, stayed up all night, sitting in front of a tomb, and then were separated for 8 months. We wrote almost every day. I would hold her letters up to my face in bunches. The light effusions of my muse. Like they were leaves fallen from the tree of life. Her scent made me ravenous. The first paragraph in Anna Karenina uses the word "home" ten times. Her, her, her, I'd not have been embarrassed to do the same, albeit so badly, when I wrote of "her".
   I still have those letters. Well, they exist. They're objects I could travel across the city I'm sitting in right now and within reason and a modicum of excuses place my hands on and hold again.
   On a bad night, after a few too many drinks they might even take on the quality of something sacred. Something scary. Something that might move me anew as I trace her spelling, the ridges of her handwriting and the folds of the pages she made either in a rush or with deliberate pressure, coffee or tea carved into the margins, which envelope she used, the hotel she was leaving embossed above, what foreign postal mark graced the corner. A trace of her mouth, her nails, the hot palm she put down on the paper. Still there.
   Such fucking wealth.
   Do I have that any more? Will I keep my emails? Even the ones that matter?
   What happens when whatever storage I'm using crashes and dies?
   Everyone has the same handwriting now. Everyone in some sense smells the same online.
   Pity.
   But I do love the internet.
   I hate that people use it to dabble in other people's affairs, I hate that the comment section below an article's become the epistolatory equivalent of a sucker punch. I hate that people hide in it. Hide behind their half efforts. In the constant noise it provides, the virtual crowd that can't touch you, the dog that always comes when you call.
   I love it because it shows how desperate we still are. Ravenous for contact, for exchange, for touch. Things that can't be virtual. 
    
   

11 comments:

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  2. "I hate that the comment section below an article's become the epistolatory equivalent of a sucker punch."

    This should be a pop up banner that is automatically all over the screen every time somebody clicks on the "comment" button below an article.

    And yes ... the irony in posting this as comment is not lost on me ;)

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  3. That's funny. I just read this article about the brutality of boxing where the writer quoted Joyce Carol Oates. One of the "commenters" then lambasted him for "dropping names" - saying JCO had no place in a discussion of boxing because she'd never boxed.
    Madness, posted every day in the major newspapers. I think we'll look back on this era and shake our heads at what people defined as participation. Strange.

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  4. About the apps & trolls & quoting another famous quip, everyone is seeking their '15 minutes of fame', sometimes in the worst way.
    Hideous how people can hide behind anonimity to insult, harass, to show the dark side of humanity.
    Wonderful how sometimes we can reach and be reached beyond a screen and a keyboard and make actual contact with (a) person(s) with whom we established a connection. With a few of those, it's a personal point to exchange real, physical, touchable letters, handwritten notes that can be stored and retrieved at will.
    Emails? Sure, they are practical and do not require a whole drawer or a cupboard to neatly stock them. But a storm can prevent me from acessing my email, and I just need a candle or a flashlight to be able to re-read those letters, those dear letters, some sweet and funny and quirky, some deep and thoughtful and intense. And it doesn't even matter if the handwriting is not all neat cursive in a straight line... it feels even more personal when it's uneven or if the ink is blotted by a tear or a coffee stain. All personal, all handwritten by people whose souls I have touched somehow while they touched mine back.

    In a world where nasty people use the internet to hide their true self, it takes courage to risk going beyond the virtual. It can be dangerous, but it can also be deeply rewarding. Maybe we're all lost walkers looking for their tribe; to find a fellow tribe member is truly glorious. :)

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  5. I love the last few paragraphs of this blog/post or whatever is the appropriate verbiage. Clearly, I'm not a blogger, regular commentator, or even a lurker. Actually, I normally post on the forums of a website called datehookup.com and that's an understatement. I have made over 60,000 posts in the past two years. Scary, I know. I am on that site all the time even when I should be working, sleeping, spending time with friends and family, or you know living. LOL. I have become addicted to the internet and especially that forum. What you wrote in the last paragraph makes so much sense. I really need to stop hiding in the virtual world and start living more in the real world. Yet, here I am... reading this blog and writing my first comment. Is there a 12-step program for internet addiction? Is it available online? ;)

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  6. This entry/blog really draws to me. Maybe it's in the way your writing it or typing it I should say. The way you use your words. It really sucks me into it. This one is my favourite. I keep coming back to it. Reading it. Over and over. It speaks to me. Is that to crazy to say.? Amazing man you are.

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  10. "I hate that the comment section below an article's become the epistolatory equivalent of a sucker punch. I hate that people hide in it. Hide behind their half efforts. In the constant noise it provides, the virtual crowd that can't touch you, the dog that always comes when you call."
    I'd have to ask you for more on the above... as clumsy as it may be from me.
    Honestly it's strange to read this. I appreciate every word and metaphor chosen by you, and yet it sounds bitter-sweet, like a huge punch in the face after all the nice emotions you wonderfully described beforehand! I took the journey and weirdly enough, feel like being pushed out of a plane at its cruise height! Very odd... maybe I am misunderstanding... hopefully. Again, English isn't my mother tongue, so you know...

    I always prefered real letters and still get & write some. It's different, it's nice, you get to wait and you don't need any electricity yo read them over and over again. Letters are alsways a great positive surprise in your box...

    BTW, nice of you to have kept these letters full of love, yet aren't you afraid these would keep you locked in the past and attached to a time frame that was emphasizing all emotions, especially passionate love? "Passion" not being meant here as to be understood for the latin word it was 1st... however... If passion is what your inner-self is seeking, you might pass along something maybe better, don't you think? OK OK OK, this is content, not style...
    Be pissed if so you wish or welcome the invitation to think about things further, up to you. I doubt you'll reply. Or would you make me lie?

    Whatever, take care and great writing style! Very smooth...

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