Monday, August 14, 2006

From our Correspondent

Over the weekend I was reading, or, more accurately, re-reading, a selection of Ernest Hemingway’s letters. He was a voluminous correspondent and although I have never been a great enthusiast for his books, a bit too macho for my taste, his life has always fascinated me. Anyone who can be regarded second only to Castro in Cuba, Che Guevara excepted, has to have been a man of some character.

His room in the rather seedy hotel in Havana where he lived and worked initially is preserved, complete with his (alleged) Underwood typewriter, as a museum piece, as is his country retreat just outside the city, and one is allowed to peer reverentially into them.

The letters themselves are entertainingly badly spelled and, as in the case of one he wrote to his latest mistress from the battlefields of Normandy, almost incoherent. But they make a wonderful back drop to his life.

Personal letters are a great insight into the personalities of the authors and it is a pity that it, along with diary keeping, seems to be a dying art. In today’s world, the only letter likely to arrive with the mailman will be a threatening one from your bank manager.

It is hardly conceivable that Dan Brown’s collected E-Mails will arouse much enthusiasm if and when published, and a news item this morning makes the survival of any such electronic communication a pretty dodgy business.

NASA, who you may recall, managed to shoot a few people to the moon for no very obvious reason, has managed to misplace the original tape of the first landing. But the more amazing thing is that, even when they find it, there is only one piece of equipment in existence capable of replaying it. The technology has changed, and it was only the foresight of a NASA technician that saved this one from the scrap heap.

Thus it may be with your E-Mails – and many may breathe a sigh of relief that their verbal indiscretions will be unplayable (or unreadable) by future generations.

It seems that for all the technical effort put into the art or science of modern communication, pen and paper can outlast them all.

So, if you want to preserve your thoughts, don’t leave them on your hard drive – print them out.

Maybe I’d better print out a copy of this blog. Move over, Sam Pepys!


Post a Comment

<< Home