Do you bear in mind the final time you obtained a handwritten letter or notice, or have been struck by lovely penmanship? I do.
Not way back, a pal dropped off a thanks card for a dinner I had hosted. I can recall the weight of the cardboard inventory as I held it in my palms. And my eyes have been drawn to the elegant calligraphy — her identify, in tremendous cursive — astride the highest. A couple of months in the past, one other pal wrote me a examine, and the very first thing that struck me was her beautiful cursive writing.
Letter writing and cursive, sadly, are dying artwork types. Some would possibly even say misplaced artwork types.
Which brings us to the theme of this week’s Weekend Reads, which doubles as an end-of-2017 greatest of sequence: Lost and Found.
I used to be rummaging by an outdated field of miscellaneous papers one current weekend after I occurred upon a badly photocopied article dated 31 July 1994: “Letters Are Acts of Faith; Telephone Calls Are a Reflex” by Vivian Gornick. Fascinated that I had held onto it for thus lengthy, I took it out.
The article opens with the story of Mr. Levinson, who we be taught (parenthetically) was “an unhappily married man who lived in the Bronx.” He and the writer’s mom labored within the accounts division of a bakery in Lower Manhattan, and once they parted within the evenings, Levinson “fell into the habit of writing to her late at night” as a result of “his need for her conversation had often not run its course.”
This letter-writing relationship types the backdrop for Gornick’s ruminations on letter writing versus phone calls and her inside dialogue on why letter writing succumbed to the newer expertise of the phone.
“Seventy years ago, when Mr. Levinson wanted to relieve his overflowing heart he wrote a letter to my mother,” writes Gornick. “This morning, when the same need drove my friend Laura she picked up the telephone and called me. The result, in a sense, was also the same — connection had been made, a vital exchange extended, the courage for life restored — but surely the difference signifies.”
It appears quaint today to examine phone conversations. But substitute “telephone” with, say, “Twitter” or one other kind of social media, and the stress stays simply as related right this moment:
“The telephone conversation is, by its very nature, reactive, not reflective. Immediacy is its prime virtue. The immediacy delivers quick company, instant stimulation; the stimulation is cathartic; catharsis pushes back anxiety; into open space flows the kind of thought generated by electric return. The letter, written in absorbed solitude, is an act of faith: it assumes the presence of humanity: world and self are generated from within: loneliness is courted, not feared. To write a letter is to be alone with my thoughts in the conjured presence of another person. I keep myself imaginative company. I occupy the empty room. I alone infuse the silence. All these things Mr. Levinson did 70 years ago, when he sat down at midnight to write to my mother.”
I’ve been reflecting so much of late on misplaced time, particularly time misplaced to social media. Time that I’ll by no means get again. And additionally on the best way we select to speak with one another: texts vs. conversations vs. emails vs. posting social media updates.
In the shift to digital communication, what have we misplaced? Time and human connections simply spring to thoughts, though the checklist goes on.
Over the summer time, I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone in an try and be extra present throughout a household trip overseas and unencumber psychological area to learn a guide or two. (Check! I learn two.) Every week or so in the past, I took one other plunge: I deleted the Twitter app. The social media platform had been my go-to useful resource for information for the previous six years, offering the information junkie in me the “fix” I wanted. But over the previous 12 months, it turned much less and much less helpful and extra of a distraction. (Now my go-to useful resource arrives in my inbox as soon as a day — within the night: DataTrek‘s morning briefing on “markets, data and disruption.”)
You might recall from an earlier version of Weekend Reads that far and away probably the most fascinating — and terrifying — article I had learn shortly was “‘Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia” in The Guardian. If you’re nonetheless on the fence concerning the perils of social media, listed here are two current items from TechCrunch which are sure to get you considering: “The Difference between Good and Bad Facebooking” and “The Technology Industry Needs to Think More Seriously about Device Addiction”.
I’m relieved I deleted these two social media platforms. I nonetheless typically reflexively flip to my smartphone for the seductive “pull-to-refresh mechanism, whereby users swipe down, pause and wait to see what content appears,” as described in The Guardian article, however since my mind not will get its repair of dopamine, the dependancy is sporting off.
Think about it for a minute: How many instances a day do you examine your smartphone, or scroll by Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest?
Research shows users contact, swipe, or faucet their telephones 2,617 instances a day. Another survey discovered that Americans sometimes check their smartphones once every 6.5 minutes, or about 150 instances a day. That provides as much as so much of time that we are able to by no means get again.
So whereas I’ll have misplaced some social media connectivity, I’ve discovered a lot extra in return: free time, presence of thoughts, and a happier psychological state. I don’t miss the relentless echo chamber of negativity that now appears to outline the social media expertise.
(A aspect notice: A couple of weeks in the past a operating buddy shared an article and implored our training group to work on our glutes, reminding us that “runners with weak glutes fall into the ‘the toilet bowl of doom’” — a phrase I instantly adopted (and tailored) as the rationale for my social media abstinence: a need to not circle the drain of despair, or “the toilet bowl of doom.”)
Looking again on a 12 months of Weekend Reads, listed here are three items that stand out in relation to the “Lost and Found” theme:
- Back in February, I informed you about Kathryn Schulz’s deeply private and profoundly shifting essay about loss and grief: “When Things Go Missing: Reflections on Two Seasons of Loss.” (I’ll always remember a line from her review of H is for Hawk, through which she captures the depth of grief on this sentence: “Like a tent poorly staked, she is filled by the storm that is grief and blown away.”) You might recall Schulz gained the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for characteristic writing and a National Magazine Award for “The Really Big One,” concerning the menace of a large earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. And for the runners amongst you, she wrote a terrific piece: “What We Think about When We Run.” (The New Yorker)
- In March, I solved I wrote a few thriller I had solved — one which had been vexing me for the higher half of the previous 15 years or so. I used to be dwelling in New York City on 11 September 2001, and within the subsequent unsure, scary days, I clearly bear in mind studying an article concerning the therapeutic impact of cooking a stew. Over the years. I’ve considered that article numerous instances, however strive as I’ll, I couldn’t discover it. Sam Sifton, the founding editor of NYT Cooking, likes to remind readers that cooking is a lot greater than recipes, it’s an act that helps bind associates and households collectively. I agree. I typically discover a state of move after I’m within the kitchen. For me, cooking is a meditative, restorative act (a pal says she is a “therapeutic baker”). Sifton supplied the clue to my thriller. All these years, I had been looking out within the archive of The New Yorker after I ought to have been looking out the “Gray Lady.” “Black dogs are everywhere, biting. There is no better time to cook,” Sifton wrote not too long ago. “Regina Schrambling wrote a recipe for simply such a state again at nighttime days that adopted the assaults of 9/11: beef stew with Dijon mustard and cognac. ‘Long before there were antidepressants,’ she wrote on the time, ‘there was stew.’ So possibly give her recipe a run this weekend as a sort of meditation, labor remedy over the range.” The full article, the one I’ve been trying to find years, is: “When the Path to Serenity Wends Past the Stove,” printed 19 September 2001. (The New York Times, Popular Mechanics)
- And in August, I shared that my favourite article, palms down, from the previous few weeks — and maybe even of 2017 — was Tejal Rao’s delightful and inspiring account of self-taught chef Erin French and her restaurant, The Lost Kitchen, in Freedom, Maine. It is a story of resilience, dedication, and magnificence. (The New York Times)
Here is a one further (new) article so as to add to the checklist, about the so-called Bureau of Found Objects: “The Peculiar Poetry of Paris’s Lost and Found.” I particularly enjoyed the pragmatic rationalization for why it’s known as the Bureau of Found Objects, fairly than the Bureau of Lost Objects. “Because we do not know if they were lost or stolen,” says Patrick Cassignol, bureau director. “We know only that they have been found.” (The New Yorker)
And with that, thanks for studying. Best needs for 2018: May you lose no matter it’s that has weighed you down this previous 12 months and, in return, discover a brand new sense of lightness and well-being.
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