It’s never a bad idea to reread Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” but today, of course, is a particularly appropriate time to do so.
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest.
My husband recently wondered if we could send a typed thank you note to a friend who’d helped us out during the storm… we had a lot to thank her for, and he felt it would be easier to compose the note on a computer, where we could rearrange and polish phrases as needed.
Reflexively, I said “no,” but then I found myself wondering if conventions would change in the future. Then again, even now, handwritten notes are special precisely because of their rareness. And why print out a typed note, at that point, when you can just as easily email it?
What do you think? Are there any situations in which it’s ok to send a typed note?
A friend discovered this “apology form” while cleaning up her desk — just fill in your offense, your intention, and a couple of adjectives, and you’re good to go. Turns out there are a number of different such forms offered by the so-called Bureau of Communication, whose mission is to “promote better understanding between the peoples of the world.” (Unsurprisingly, there’s a book, too.)
Might be useful this holiday season to avoid misunderstandings and adjudicate family disputes…
This is random, but I had my iPod on shuffle the other day and was reminded of this old Arcade Fire song… Given the lyrics (“It seems strange / How we used to wait for letters to arrive / But what’s stranger still / Is how something so small can keep you alive”), it seemed worth sharing here.
(The clip above is a recording of the interactive video that the band made using images from Google; check it out at The Wilderness Downtown if you’re interested.)
Well, this is appropriate timing… I’ve been reading Janet Malcolm’s excellent book about Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman, and a day after I blogged about handwritten fonts, I reached a passage where Malcolm describes a pack of letters from Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes, to the poet and biographer Anne Stevenson:
As I looked at the pages of dense, single-spaced typing, punctuated by x-ings-out and penned-in corrections, I had a nostalgic feeling. The clotted, irregular, unrepentantly messy pages brought back the letters we used to write one another in the 1950s and ’60s on our manual Olivettis and Smith Coronas, so different from the marmoreally cool and smooth letters young people write one another today on their Macintoshes and IBMs.
Via our product manager, Ceclia, and the Pen Boutique Facebook page comes word of an interesting new project. As you might expect from the name — Snail Mail My Email — it enables people to email a message to the project’s volunteers, who then write it out by hand and mail it to the recipient.
Ivan Cash, the San Francisco designer and art director who founded SMME, sees it as a “jumpstart to help raise awareness,” according to this CNN article. Personally, I think it’s more interesting for as a bit of creative conceptual art, but the response has been fairly impressive: the team now has 134 international volunteers and has sent thousands of letters.
If you want to participate, email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org before August 15.
(Or, you know, break out a pen and show off the quirks of your own handwriting.)
Another thing from France that I’ve been meaning to share for a while is this post about the site Dialogus, where you can discuss, ask questions, and engage in a fictive dialogue with historical figures like Marie Antoinette and John F. Kennedy (who answers in perfect French) as well as fictional characters like Emma Bovary and Peter Pan. “Who are you?” someone asked Lolita. “I’m not really sure how to answer that,” she responded.
I’m not aware of anything like this in the US, but it strikes me that this is the Internet at its best — engaging, educational, and diverting in the best sense. If you speak French (or, like me, muddle through), I highly recommend it. There are a few letters in English, too, though the answers strike me as somewhat less spirited.
Thanks to contest winner Annie for sending us a picture of this lovely handwritten note! A great description of Larmes de Cassis, too: “like the stain you would get if you dropped a piece of blueberry pie onto a white shirt.”
(And yes, I do know the color of that stain. Why do you ask?)
Much like my mother (and who knows, maybe my grandmother, too), I never got into the habit of sending out holiday cards. For a while, among acquaintances at least, that put me in the minority. Now, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, I’ve got lots of company.
Of course, there are plenty of alternatives, e-cards among the most prominent. I don’t send them, either. For some reason, in spite of the fact that I like to write and receive real letters, I can’t seem to send more than a handful of cards in any given year. And this year, I was so busy that I (gasp) didn’t send any at all. Aside from laziness, I guess I’d say that I’m conflicted about whether or not a card is the best way to get in touch with people to whom I really owe a letter or a long personal email, or whether it’s appreciated by all but my most far-flung friends and relatives.