In Defense of the Letter

Illustration for article titled In Defense of the Letter

Analog means more than digital. It's real, for one thing. Something real is maimed in the process of recording. And it's slow. Pulp doesn't teleport, like bits. If you write somebody a letter, you mean it.

Bits are circumspect, at best. They're alterable. Transient. Intangible. Destructible.

A letter that's typed is smashed onto paper, one character at a time. The ink left behind by each key is its own tiny little memory, a record of the process as it happened. There is no going back, no forgetting at the command of another key, there is only progress and memory. Holding a typed letter isn't simply grasping whatever it's reporting, it's possessing a record of the act of reporting itself.


Handwriting is for pussies. Anyone can write. Free-form and free-wheeling, instruments in unsteady hands spill ink or smear graphite in jots of uneven loops and crooked lines. The paper bears no scars, simply stains. Stains can be washed or smudged away.

A typewriter is a machine, it requires a connection. An intimacy of operation. Lines and margins and ribbons need require care. I do not know how to love them. So I do not type. Perfection is a minor miracle, or a lot of care.

It's much easier to tell a lie with a typewriter. The truth of the paper and the ink make it easy to hide lies behind it. Everything digital is already a lie.

You can burn a letter, but it leaves behind ashes.

Bad Valentine is our own special take on the beauty—and awkwardness—of geek love.


Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Googlo The Peasant

What about ransom style news paper clippings? does that count for anything?

Whats your take?