Tuesday, June 13, 2006

'The Collected E-mails of Charles Dickens'

In my first post (I think), I wrote about how I was blogging against type, for lack of a better phrase, since I'd always kept written journals and have a great love for old books and letters. Well, Jay Leno had a conversation with guest Keanu Reeves last night that was oddly similar to that first blogging effort.

Keanu (who is now 41, believe it or not) was on the show to promote his new movie "The Lake House," which is about two people, his character and a woman played by Sandra Bullock, who write love letters to each other although they're living two years apart in time. So Jay asked Keanu, "In real life, are you a letter guy, or are you an e-mail guy?" To which Keanu replied, "I'm a letter guy." Jay said he was too, and that he preferred letters because they were more real, that when you're sitting and writing a letter, things sometimes flow from your pen that you wouldn't necessarily say in an e-mail. "I think it's because you can go back and edit emails, and correct them instantly," Jay said.

From the way I portray it, it sounds like they were having a really serious conversation, and to an extent, they were, but it was done in fun as well. I particularly liked Jay's comment about the permenance of letters. He said, "I don't think we'll ever see 'The Collected E-mails of Charles Dickens.'" And isn't that the truth....very few people save emails, or print them out for safe-keeping like they do treasured letters.

I actually wrote an honest-to-goodness letter yesterday. My brother Ethan is at Air Force ROTC field training in South Dakota right now, and as a cadet there, he's not allowed access to the telephone or e-mail (it's a distraction, apparently). He can, however, receive letters. So I wrote and mailed him a newsy one yesterday about different family things that have been going on since he left, results of some of the early World Cup matches and the minutiae going on in my own life at the moment. And now that I think about it, it's actually the first letter I think I've ever written to my youngest brother (birthday cards don't count). And while I know the content isn't exceptionally compelling, I think he'll save it. That's just the type of guy he is.

I think that's something you should do; save letters, I mean. It takes much more time and effort to write a letter than it does to type an e-mail. People put elements of themselves into letters, and like Jay said last night (although I really don't think he was trying to be as profound as this came out), you do sometimes say things beyond your original intent. Unlike an e-mail, you can't erase what you've written completely, either. I think letters are just more honest.

And will I go see "The Lake House?" Hmm, I'm not sure. While the idea is compelling, it might just be one I check out as a rental.