In recent times, the concept of crafting a handwritten letter has become something of an oddity and seems completely bizarre. The norms that we had decades ago are fading due to the influx of technological advancements. The distinctive and novel touch of penmanship is vanishing at a rapidly increasing rate. While ‘writing’ in itself is an art, writing on a paper, addressed to someone, serving an additional purpose of meaning, however, is a masterpiece.
As we text away, the lost treasure of writing heartfelt notes is disappearing with the blue bubble of meaningless words. With the emotional availability of an inanimate object, we barely have a moment to tell people we care about them, let alone draft a thoughtful letter.
Although handwritten letters seem to have lost the battle to our pocket-sized black mirrors, I believe that books are forms of letters too. Books are unique chasms of connections wherein the author writes to the readers; they draw a story in our minds with an invisible pen, which creates an impression that will last forever.
‘Love Always, Charlie.’
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is an epistolary novel; a compilation of letters written by the protagonist, Charlie. These letters board the reader onto a magic carpet, to explore Charlie’s world. Stephen takes us on a journey through Charlie’s letters, describing every major event that happens in his life, slowly unveiling the story. He addresses each of his letters to a mystery character that remains in a sealed envelope. Set in 1991-92, it is clear why Charlie uses handwritten letters to express himself, however, maybe Charlie used letters to remain anonymous as opposed to other means of communication in the 90s.
‘May Allah be with you always, Hassan.’
In one of Khaled Hosseini’s masterpieces, The Kite Runner, one of the ending chapters of the story of Amir’s life is attached with a letter from his childhood partner in crime, Hassan. Amir receives a letter from Hassan after years of being torn apart. Hassan talks about his life in Afghanistan with his new family. This letter sharpens knives and slowly chops down on metaphorical onions, leaving the readers in pain and a puddle of tears. We feel Amir’s nostalgia, yearning, and regret, as he folds the letter and gently places it into his pocket.
Yours with No Love or Authenticity, AI
Having someone else author letters on your behalf is preposterous enough, but what if even the ghost-writer wasn’t handwriting them? The Sci-Fi film ‘Her’ showcases the future of artificial intelligence. Apart from IVA (Intelligent Virtual Assistants) learning emotions and morality, the most intriguing part of the film was the protagonist’s profession. Theodore works at a company called handwrittenletters.com, where people pay to get letters to their loved ones written by a third party. The company’s software types out words in the buyer's handwriting, the words out of a ghostwriter's mouth, literally. Neither handwritten nor from the heart, the point of the gesture is missing. The phrase “just for the sake of it” comes to mind as Theodore finishes writing someone else’s love letter for them.
Although technology has improved for the better, some traditions are always worth holding on to. So, pick up a piece of paper and scribble away- whether it is to someone of mystery or a childhood partner-in-crime. As long as someone does not craft it for you, the art of writing letters will still be preserved.