Thursday, December 15, 2005

Condolences. The bums lost.

There are two things that I would love to accomplish at some point in my life, but that I probably will never get around to doing: keep a journal, and maintain a prolonged letter exchange with another person.

My mind keeps wandering back to Jefferson-Adams in particular, but just think of how much of what we know about so many historical figures has as a direct source these two modes of recorded thought. I often find myself wondering where historians of the future will go to find primary sources that will enable them to truly understand the character of the major world players of today, or even of the everyman. Journals and letters have filled that role to perfection in the past, and the practice bears maintaining.

Of course, when I say I want to keep a journal, I'm not talking about the "December 15 - Today was the most boring day ever, for dinner I had lasagna" variety. I mean it as a place in which to transcribe a thought process, or expand upon a certain substantial thought or idea, in free form. I think free-form is really the key - you have to capture your thoughts as quickly as they flow out. I can't tell you how many times I have frustrated myself to no ends by failing to record a certain rhythmic or meaningful thought process, only to have it lost in the shuffle of short term consciousness forever.

Some may argue that a blog serves that purpose. I firmly disagree. For all but the tiniest few, writing a blog is about exposure. It is an exhibitionist act. It is a means of sharing your opinion, with no expectation to be swayed from it. It is a cry for help, support, or empathy. As such, it is written with an audience in mind, and structured accordingly. Therefore, it is anything BUT a place to stream consciousness, or allow ideas to unfold at a natural pace and in a natural direction. This blog is no exception.

The journal has so much more merit than the blog; its potential as a furrow for ideas is so much greater. And as much as it exists on a higher level than the blog, so does the letter exchange exist above it. Actually, scratch that. I would say that the letter exchange is a natural extension of a well-kept journal, sort of its refinement.

The exchange is the payoff. In this case, two-dimensions are infinitely more dynamic than one. One person kicks off with a write up of his ideas on... well, anything. The other responds to his points, opines, and in turn makes a few of his own. The exchange continues indefinitely. The end result is that both ideas and opinions are shared, molded, revised - an overall productive process, and additionally one that embraces our shared humanity in a satisfying and gratifying manner.

Brevity is, of course, almost out of the question. Lengthiness is not necessarily requisite, but somewhat expected to allow for a full expression of thought. Care must also be given to format and structure this time, as effective communication is your first priority. Finally, and this is also true of the journal, it must be hand-written. This is absolutely essential in tackling the original goal we set out to accomplish: preserving the thoughts and ideas we have NOW for future historians. If you don't trust your hard drive only as far as you can piss on it, I question your sanity.

Anyway, I think I might have just convinced myself to start doing these things. What would hold anyone back? Well, for one, they are not easy to maintain. Like anything valuable, both journals and letter writing require time and effort, things that are placed at the ultimate premium these days. Still, nothing changes the fact that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Let's take it.

Wanted: Pen Pal. Must be male. And smart.



Do French jokes ever get old? I think not. I found yet another list, this time courtesy First Things. It's comprised mostly of "classics," but it does have a few I hadn't heard before.

My favorite:

"They’ve taken their own precautions against al Qaeda. To prepare for an attack, each Frenchman is urged to keep duct tape, a white flag, and a three-day supply of mistresses in the house."
Argus Hamilton

I don't think it gets much better than that.

Here's the link, they're in the middle of the page.


At 10:41 AM, December 15, 2005, Anonymous frankiefirefox said...

I submit myself for pen-pal status. I am debatably male and questionably intelligent. I also need some mental calisthenics to keep my life in some sort of order. One of my downfalls would be that I don't have a true physical address.
I do disagree about your take on this blog. I do not believe that you are craving attention, and certainly nor a cry for help.

At 11:09 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger Vince said...

Yeah, we definitely don't fall into that bin. But then again, neither do we take ourselves seriously.

Click that little "NEXT BLOG" button on the top right of the page, and it doesn't take long to find one written by a chick who spills her guts about relationships, her sex life, and other mundane details of her life... to complete strangers, no less. Exhibitionism? Cry for help? Self-esteem issues? Anyone?

That's mostly what I was referring to. That sort of crap is more like a diary on display, not a real journal. In the end, it is worthless, except to the person who wrote it. Boo, that.

NOW, I'm not saying that I don't write things to invoke a certain response or just plain show off sometimes. But that is the distinction that has to be made between this medium and a journal. Blogs are written to be read, where journals are written as a creative outlet, or a tool.

At 11:11 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger mrshife said...

I like this one.

“What do you expect from a culture and a nation that exerted more of its national will fighting against Disney World and Big Macs than the Nazis?” —Dennis Miller

And Vince I don't think I would make a good pen pal because I am a dumb, white guy.

At 12:59 PM, December 15, 2005, Anonymous bass said...

i also apply for pen-pal status if you are looking to expand your paper trail into an international phenomena. I have nothing but time and dust.

At 1:04 PM, December 15, 2005, Blogger angel, jr. said...

Before e-mail made things easy, I use to write letters. One of my best friends and I (we met while our parents did their residencies at the same hospital at the tender age of two) wrote weekly letters from first grade until about 10th. I still have most of his letters. Now, since we're too busy, we just forward jokes. And because we've got mobile to mobile free, it's easier to call.

At 9:31 PM, December 15, 2005, Blogger T. Leach said...

If only I had time, Vince.

I like this idea a lot. And, as you know, I'm friggin' brilliant,


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