On A Gentleman of Letters

The word “letter” carries several meanings. A quick etymology search finds that the origin is unknown, but that the word can mean “…graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character conveying information about sound in speech,” from Old French letre “character, letter; missive, note,” in plural, “literature, writing, learning” (10c., Modern French lettre), from Latin littera (also litera) “letter of the alphabet,” also “an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning.”

Yeah. All of that. And the horse it rode in on, as the saying goes, meaning the accouterments surrounding writing. This includes the pens, paper, ink, envelopes, wax seals (Yes, wax seals), and even the desks upon which things are written. Then there is the knowledge gleaned from researching the history and cultural importance of these items.

All of that touches on the Big Picture, the Grand Scheme, the Whole Enchilada of such themes as writing and knowledge being the essentials of communication, technology, and, especially when the topic is a love letter or a note of gratitude, the theme of love and the human experience. Thus, when we write a letter, we travel from the beginning of human written communication to the edge of human experience in a few pen strokes.

The posts appearing here over the coming indeterminate time promises to deal with some of these themes. The other concepts you’ll have to work out amongst yourselves. I’m not running a school for unruly children, after all. Or one for ruly ones, for that matter.

Some of the articles appearing here will simply be links or websites about writing or knowledge or even travel that have caught the eye or are of interest to the gentleman typing this. He may or may not comment on the links/sites. Hopes are not to be hoped, and expectations are not to be expected. It is what it is.

At this point, a word about the expectations of the gentleman, if you will be so kind as to indulge him. He firmly believes that civility, while neither created nor destroyed by such things as pens, good paper, and wax seals, can often be enhanced by such things as pens, good paper, and wax seals. They become items of discussion that can take one’s mind off untoward or uncivil thoughts and words. He is, however, not a prude–no, no, dear reader, far from it!–yet, he asks the favor of making an effort to keep the tone of discussion/commentary/ripostes jolly, light, and happy. As Elwood P. Dowd said, and he’s been quoted by so many, “In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Nothing wrong with knowledge, nosiree, but the gentleman asks that pleasantries trump one’s insistence on showing off. If anyone feels an uncontrollable urge to insult, demean, or engage in any such tomfoolery, he or she will be politely asked to find another natatorium in which to micturate.

Carry on.



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