What's the difference between a letter and a postcard? There's the obvious physical distinctions; it's hard not to tell the difference between a closed envelope and a single sheet card. There's an inherent secrecy to the former because save for the intrusion of prying eyes/hands the envelope hides and protects the sender's message. It would seem then that a postcard most likely represents one of two options: it is a watered down, sanitized or encoded message or the sender trusts the messenger to know the message. It would appear that the first is the more common occurrence because in its transparency the postcard leaves itself open not only to the messenger but any person who happens to come across it between the sending and receiving.
And so far as I understand, this is a bad thing because to send a message is to exert control over it. There's a narcissism involved in that "I" sent a message with a sole intended recipient. For others to partake in the message then is to diverge from that direct line. It interferes with my intent and therefore is unacceptable. But such invasions intrude on the recipients privacy as well. This letter/postcard was sent to me not to you/them. We allow these kinds of trespasses in post mortem and found readings because the reader is either an other in the sense that they are removed from the conversation as a stranger or are temporally distant enough that their knowledge of the message will make no difference. In both scenarios, the reader lacks a certain amount of context.
Barring the disclosure in the message of a preexisting dialogue, it is inherently more acceptable for the sender to violate this unformalized connection in correspondence because whatever is contained in the message is their words. It is less culturally taboo because by virtue of sending, I include part of myself as the message. The message represents an aspect of me that I send to you, but because I separate myself from it, it gains autonomy and becomes its own thing, the message. Despite its autonomy as a separated thing however, I am still included as a part of it, and this part of me contained in the message is vulnerable because it cannot respond.
Here, Alex, is the part where I question who has more (for lack of a better word) power in correspondence. Most everything I've stated thus far has been fairly obvious. What happens if the sender opens the message beyond just the intended recipient by making a copy and posting it on an open forum like their personal blog? It eliminates that vulnerability, yes, but devalues the message to the recipient. It's no longer quite so personal knowing the message belongs to everyone.
And historically, it's the ability to do the opposite, to take a message for the masses and make it feel like you were speaking to each audience member individually that has marked a good leader as also being a good public speaker and thus something more than merely a good leader in what they were able to do.
But the message is and would be the same regardless of recipient. The biggest change is in how it is received, how it is interpreted.
I’ve just received your last letter and am immediately replying. You’ve asked if I’ve received your last letter and if I intend to reply. If I may, please let me point out that your having sent your last letter makes the letter you previously sent no longer the most recent, and if I reply, as I am now doing, it is not in response to your second-to-last letter. I cannot, therefore, satisfy the requests you’ve made in your last letter.While this is a nice discourse in semantic, the real meat of Monsieur Jacques Roumbaud's poem, Correspondence, at least in how it pertains to this post, shows up in Letter 3:
I’ve just read your first letter (dated 23 November, 1960. You have therefore written, on average, since that date, one letter every six and two thirds weeks (there never was an interval shorter than six weeks or longer than seven weeks between two of your letters)) and something has struck me. You had written (I remind you, in case you have forgotten): “Have you received my last letter? If so (and I would be quite surprised if you had not yet (though, should that be the case, do let me know)), do you intend to reply?”The first letter implies and queries about the existence and response to a previous that, because this is the first letter, cannot exist.
Thoughts to be continued...