Physical mail, the type that requires patience and includes humanity in its form – finger prints and sloppy handwriting and smears of jam – fuses the solitary with the social. We are lonely and strange with our ideas and our art. In conversation we react and respond, we touch and are touched. We read the other person to gauge their understanding. We repeat if we feel misunderstood. In a written letter we are without these tools, we are introverted. We write when we are strangers with the world – from train cars and travel destinations – with news that things have changed – we have given birth, become an atheist, fallen in love, learnt to bake sourdough. We write with our new address when we move. We write when things are quiet and our ideas are new. When we can hear the ocean, when our company has left, when night has fallen or day broken. With no potential for immediate response and time sitting in the way of communion, everything is at stake. We ask important questions. We have confidence in our awkward sentences and in the recipient for we do not control and cannot see how we are received. We stand by our words. They are gifts. They are freedom. They are surprise.
With letters, as with art, we are empowered in our solitariness – to withdraw, to seek personal inspiration, to set private goals – and in our relationships – to collaborate, to communicate, to make wild gestures of love. This material, this paper, this fabric, this dress, belongs to two solitudes, mine and yours. Physically speaking, we’ve made contact.
- A piece I wrote for STATE (the secret summer catalogue)