"One of the most potentially soulful aspects of modern life is mail and all that attends it: letters, envelopes, mailboxes, postage stamps, and of course the man or woman who delivers the mail. Junk mail and bills are only the shadow of an otherwise blissful institution. A great deal of pleasurable fantasy surrounds the important soul task of writing letters. An envelope is one of the few things in the modern world we seal, thus creating a private space for expression. Stamps are usually not mere tokens of monetary exchange, but small paintings, the closest thing we have to medieval miniature art, and they are also of interest to collectors, partly because of the variety of fantasy they contain, from national figures to local flora and fauna.
"The mailbox is a mysterious item, too. For the most part, we place our treasured letters in this box, and mysteriously our letters find their way around the world. I sometimes have the fanciful idea that the box is a black hole into which my thoughts and feelings fall, to be retrieved somewhat magically by another person participating in this ritual of self-expression. I can understand why people in other ages sealed their letters with wax--not only to keep them private, but also to acknowledge the sacredness of a letter through the ritual of stamping one's seal with fire and a material, wax, that is not just functional, like glue, but has aesthetic and religious properties." Thomas Moore, Pg. 124, Soul Mates
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I ran across this passage last night before bed. The United States Postal Service would be a thriving institution if letter writing was imagined this way. Perhaps the USPS's problems are not so much about the amount of emails sent or paying bills on-line or politicians making the wrong decisions; but our loss of soul and imagination.