Saturday, September 25, 2010

Epistolary persona

Epistolary Persona

This postcard came from one of my favorite pen pals, who often sends me excellent food for thought. This quote has kept me musing for a while.

A correspondence is a kind of love affair...
It is with our own epistolary persona that we fall in love,
rather than with that of our pen pal.
-Janet Malcolm


Thoughts?

15 comments:

  1. I wish I was as organized as PostMuse. And she seems more relaxed and forgiving than I could ever be.

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  2. Wow! This quote addresses something I've noticed about myself: at least with some of my correspondents, I enjoy re-reading what I wrote to them more than I enjoy re-reading what they wrote to me. I'm so embarrassed!

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  3. Hmmm... I don't agree. I think I am just who I am in my letters and usually don't think about what I wrote after the fact. Sometimes I am in love with the ink, paper and presentation of my letter but it is too hard to revisit everything. I was horrified that my penpal has every letter I have written since I was 16. Many of those needed to be burned!

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  4. which is why we should all write to ourselves too :)

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  5. I like the quote and I never thought of it that way.
    "A correspondence is a kind of love affair..." I collected quotes in the beginning of the year in a small journal book and then I lost track of it. Due to being busy with work and other things. After seeing that quote it's starting to inspire me to start my favorite quote book again.
    A favorite quote I like on letter writing is:
    "Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." Lord Byron.

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  6. Hmmm... I dunno. You certainly can't have letters without at least two people being involved... and I often get a great deal of joy from the things other people write about in their letters. I'm not sure my letters are always all that brilliant, but I do try to write from the heart... and like the person above I too often like to re-read things I've said... though I don't keep copies of my own letters so once they are mailed they are gone for good.
    I guess I don't see myself as having an epistolary persona... it's just me.

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  7. Thanks for sharing thoughts... I agree, PostMuse! And Rachel, that is a very good point. I wish I did that.

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  8. That's an interesting point. I know that I'm much more brilliant on paper than I am in person and, on paper, there's no treppenwitz to lament.

    Speaking of lamentations, I am horribly delinquent in answering your last letter! Soon, I promise!

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  9. Ooooo ... I like treppenwitz! I have never heard that before, but now I finally have a word for those moments that happen all too often when I'm in the moment.

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  10. I liked Rachel's idea too! I don't think I agree with the postcard, however I think it there is probably a grain of truth to it for some. It is so odd that I popped that postcard in for you and you received it the same day you made this post! Hope the letter pile isn't burying you! I'm at 55 at the moment and am hoping that the months leading up to the New Year provide some quality letter writing time. There are letters in my pile from June! It's miserable. I need to develop a far more efficient letter writing system or *gasp* cut down on correspondents?!
    Take no rush in replying to my letter - your letters are well worth any wait :)

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  11. I suspect there is a bit of that: I wouldn't write to people if I didn't love writing letters, after all. But as Kaz says, it doesn't work without two people involved. I wouldn't continue writing letters if I didn't also love receiving letters and learning about all kinds of different people through what they write to me. I certainly don't wholeheartedly agree with the quotation, but as Bianca said: there is probably a grain of truth to it.

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  12. Stephanie, I enjoyed mulling over your thoughts. True enough, and this brings up the question for me about why I am so enthusiastic about writing letters, and yet I seem absolutely unable to continue a personal journal for any length of time. I revisit in fits and starts, but can't maintain the commitment, whereas my letter-writing is totally consistent. You're right: it takes two!

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  13. I (mostly) agree with Janet Malcolm. It seems a very Freudian sentiment. Almost everything we do is filled with transference, projection, and our inner essences that go back to childhood. I don't know if an epistolary persona can be entirely different from the real "self" (whatever that is). But it's true that the pen pals I tend to "fall in love with" reflect me right (write!) back at myself .


    In other news, so far I have had not one single person on Etsy respond to my offer to buy them a subscription to LEX for $2.00 when the value is $23.00. It may be that letter-writing blogs have made the value of an old-fashioned paper publication plummet or maybe getting pen pals on the internet is so easy now that people don't want to spend money on a subscription.

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  14. ^ I'd love a subscription to LEX for $2, if only I had more time to write to people right now! *sigh*

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  15. Dear Missive Maven: I have taken the liberty of using your 'watercolor letter' image on a post about letter-writing quotes on my blog at Healing Philosophy. I have linked to you at the bottom of the post. If you mind, leave me a comment and I will fix it. Thanks, Alex. You have a very nice blog by the way.

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