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Friday, September 22, 2006

“You’ve got mail”…


There was a time when I wrote and sent letters on a regular basis. No occasion is too common, no thought too ordinary to commit to paper, and just share with supposed-friends. But then, I eventually grew tired of being the only active one in what should be a two-way activity – the root word of correspondence being “respond”, something which I have learned to almost never hope for when sending letters. Perhaps it is childishness for some, but I really believe that when one receives a letter, one should find a way to acknowledge it; make the sender know that he has received it and read the contents. Social etiquette demands it. Between friends however, I believe it is most telling of the level of respect and the amount of importance that one has for the other. Emerson, in his essay Friendship, expressed this most eloquently in the following lines:


“To my friend I write a letter and from him I receive a letter. That seems to you a little. It suffices me. It is a spiritual gift, worthy of him to give and of me to receive. It profanes nobody. In these warm lines the heart will trust itself, as it will not to the tongue ....”

Speaking of letters, in one of my forays into National Bookstore during their book sale for bookworms promo, I came across one book that illustrated the very essence of my delight in letters. Here I quote interesting passages from the introduction of The 50 Greatest Love Letters of all Time (Ed. D.H. Loroweitz, © 2002 Byron Preiss):

  • ....The act of writing… gives us a chance to reflect in private before exposing our heart… Much the way light displays all the colors when broken by a prism, love expresses the spectrum of our emotions, and these letters offer a colorful glimpse into the soul of the writer.
  • …how long did it take to choose the right word to convey the right tone and evoke the right feeling that will result, one hopes, in the right response? Was it a slow, laborious affair or a quick scribble? Coffee cup rings, tearstains, cross-outs, or smeared ink all contribute to the writer’s state of mind.
  • …what the recipients must have felt when they tore open the envelope and breathlessly, or anxiously, read the contents.

It was moving to be able to read the tender thoughts of various luminaries from all disciplines – Mozart, Henry VIII, Truman, Khalil Gibran, Chagall, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Sand, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Franklin, Frida Kahlo, Frank Lloyd Wright… the list just goes on. Interesting also for me to note that the letters which drew me the most were those written by notable women such as Marguerite Radclyffe Hall (yup, the namesake of former Harvard College for Girls…a noted English poet and writer in the early decades of the 1900s), Vita Sackville-West (English poet and novelist who is also a lover of Virginia Woolf), and Simone de Beauvoir (French writer, novelist, and feminist)…..

    kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

    "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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