Don Edwards Literary Memorial

May 13, 2006

On Letters and Blogs

I wrote an overly long essay a couple of years ago entitled “On the Death of Letters.” I felt at the time that the Internet ease of emails was destroying something essential in our culture as humans, not just Americans. So I post a little of that essay. But maybe, just maybe, blogging requires us to be more thoughtful in the composition of our thoughts. So, just maybe, the blog will turn out to be the salvation of an art form now lost somewhere in UPS.

The Death of Letters

Letters have died. Rest in peace…we will never see your likes again, but we should mourn your passing.

The wondrous body of literature that comes from letters is so powerful, so enlightening and so special that it is a painful truth to say that the art of letters is no more and can never be again. Our species do not need letters any longer and they cannot be replaced by short notes, telephone calls or even visits.

Letters are forever.


I am a prophet telling my followers how to behave amidst widespread persecution of this new sect. I am lonely so I write them to say what is important for me to say.

My best friend is a banker. I am a social philosopher. I write him often to share my thoughts and readings.

I am an American poetess and have personally helped finance a novelist/poet living in England. I write him frequently.

I am a scientist. I want to give the president of the United States some urgent advice.

I am a computer technology expert visiting Israel. I am moved by the ancient cities and ruins. I feel the need to write my family about my thoughts.


All of us wrote our letters for one main purpose….to communicate. It took days, months, even years to receive answers depending primarily on distances involved and the means of transportation to the destination.

To assess blame for my letter obituary, start with Guglielmo Marconi. In 1895 he managed to send wireless messages over a couple of miles. He started something that has culminated in the personal computer, the Internet, e-mail and facsimile transmission. Don’t forget to assess equal blame to Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone and the Wright Brothers for the airplane. We can get anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours; with special air fares, we can get back and forth in the continental United States of America for what it cost for an extended vacation only a few years ago; we are able to communicate with our friends and business interests instantly by telephone and e-mails. Letters are so anachronistic now that there are few and brief. The dreaded Christmas saga letter, sent to everyone in the world, sharing with us all their vacations, how their neighbors Keisha and Gerald are doing, names and dates associated with our pets, mean that these letters are intended for everyone and therefore no one.

The art of writing graceful, well thought out prose in the form of a letter is lost forever to the technology of easy communication. The Internet has become a literary assassin.

….and I now add, perhaps blogs will resurrect, like Lazarus, thoughtful exchanges of ideas, concepts and, God forbid, insight into our short lives.


Filed under: DON POSTS — Don @ 2:02 am

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