【媒库文选】何不重拾尺牍情

2018-07-09 12:27   参考消息网  

Why It's Time to Revive the Vanishing Art of Letter Writing

何不重拾尺牍情

Nigel Kendall 奈杰尔·肯德尔

“Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls/For thus, friends absent speak.”The poet John Donne wrote these words nearly 400 years ago to the author and diplomat Sir Henry Wotton. Today,in the age of instant text messaging, social media and email, they ring truer than ever, because the writing or receiving of a real letter has become such a rare event.

A UK-wide survey undertaken by Cunard and Sunday Times Style suggests that one in four of us has not received a written letter for at least 10 years. That's 10 years without the bitter-sweet pleasure of pacing the floor waiting for the postman; 10 years without recognising the handwriting on an envelope and eagerly tearing it asunder to reveal its contents; and 10 years without the physical proof that someone cares enough about you to create a one-off work of art for your enjoyment.

We may not get them any more, but we still love handwritten letters: in the same survey, one third of British people said they remember the content of sentimental letters.

“As I get older,” says John O'Connell, author of For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication,“and friends and family die off, physical letters feel like holy relics – little pieces left behind. We have this idea that our digital footprints will stick around forever, and in a sense they will. But how accessible will they be? There are emails I sent 15 years ago that I'd love to see again but I have no idea how to get hold of them.” Shouldn't we all make time to give our friends and family something they'll treasure forever?

Jodi Ann Bickley certainly thinks so. In 2013, the-then 24-year-old Bickley set out to inject a dose of warmth into peoples' lives. She went online and offered to handwrite a letter to anyone who contacted her. Her website received 50,000 visitors in its first three months.

Five years later, she is still the main force behind onemillionlovelyletters.com, and has personally written 4,000 letters offering hope, support and comfort to strangers since. In recognition of her contribution to letter writing, she was recently invited on board Cunard's ship, RMS Queen Mary 2, where she found the quality of service and her surroundings conducive to her craft.

Cunard has been delivering mail for nearly 180 years and has inspired generations of writers. Charles Dickens recorded his voyage on board the RMS Britannia in 1842, while in 2017 singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran created parts of his ÷ (Divide) album on board the Cunard flagship RMS Queen Mary 2. She also has a red Royal Mail letterbox where guests can post their postcards and letters to loved ones as they travel the world.

The power of letters weave their spell on the writer as much as the recipient. “The only time I ever truly relax is when I sit down to write a letter,” Bickley says. “Making the time to take a pen in your hand and write – I see it as a type of mindfulness.”

The survey also suggests that one third of us are put off the idea of writing a letter by a lack of confidence about structure. How much does Bickley plan ahead? Does she have a formula? “No. I literally never draft a letter. I think when you write something down for the first time, that's often the one with the most feeling in it. If I start a letter and I can't write it, I never want it to seem forced, so I stop and return to it later.”

The thought behind a letter matters just as much as its content. “I never tell anyone that everything's going to be OK, because I can't know that,” says Bickley. “I am letting someone know that there's someone in the world who cares about them.”

Who wouldn't love to receive a letter like that? Let's get writing.

“爵士,尺牍交心,胜于亲吻/故而,言浅交深。”将近400年前,诗人约翰·多恩写下这几句话给作家兼外交官亨利·沃顿爵士。今天,在短信、社交媒体和电子邮件盛行的时代,这些话听上去比任何时候都有道理,因为书写或收到手书已经变成非常稀罕的事情。

冠达邮轮公司携手《星期日泰晤士时尚杂志》在全英国展开一项调查,结果显示,每四人中有一人已经10年以上没有收到手写书信。10年了,我们不曾坐立难安,盼望邮递员上门,喜悦而煎熬;10年了,我们不曾认出信封上的笔迹,然后急切撕开看个究竟;10年了,我们不曾有触手可摸的实物来证明有人关心自己从而特制一份艺术作品博我们一悦。

书信也许不再,但我们对书信的爱依然如故:同样是在这项调查中,三分之一的英国人说,对于那些深情厚谊的书信,他们至今记得其中的内容。

《爱书信:慢沟通之乐》一书的作者约翰·奥康奈尔说:“我渐渐上了年纪,加上亲朋好友相继谢世,手写书信摩挲起来仿佛圣洁的遗物——遗留下来的些许小物件。我们以为数字痕迹会永远如影随形,在某种意义上确实也会如此。然而,数字痕迹怎可方便提取?我想把15年前发送出去的电子邮件翻出来看看,却不知道怎样找到它们。”我们难道不应该腾出时间给亲朋好友一份他们会永远珍藏的东西吗?

乔迪·安·比克利无疑是这样想的。2013年,当时24岁的比克利着手为人们的生活注入一丝温暖。她在网上自告奋勇为任何联络她的人手写一封信。前三个月,她的网站就有5万人次的访问量。

5年后的今天,她依然是“一百万封可爱信件”网站的主力,亲笔写就的书信迄今已有4000封,为陌生人送去希望、支持和慰藉。前不久,为表彰她对手写书信的贡献,她受邀登上冠达旗下的皇家邮轮“玛丽皇后二号”,体验了有利于写信的优质服务和环境。

冠达邮轮传送邮件已有近180年历史,激发了一代又一代作家的灵感。查尔斯·狄更斯记录了1842年随皇家邮轮“不列颠号”航行的经历,创作型歌手埃德·希兰2017年在冠达的旗舰邮轮“玛丽皇后二号”上创作了《÷》唱片中的部分作品。“玛丽皇后二号”还设有一个皇家邮筒,宾客可以在周游世界的过程中给所爱的人邮寄明信片和书信。

书信对写信人的魔力不亚于对收信人的魔力。比克利说:“坐下来写信是我唯一真正放松的时候。腾出时间提笔写信——我把它看作一种正念疗法。”

调查还显示,三分之一的人对写信这个主意敬谢不敏是因为对书信的格式缺乏信心。比克利会提前做多少准备?有套路吗?“没有。我写信从不打草稿。我认为,第一遍写下来的东西往往感情最饱满真挚。如果动笔写信却写不出来,我绝不希望它显得勉强,于是我会停下来,回头再写。”

书信背后的心意与书信的内容一样重要。比克利说:“我从来不说‘一切都会好起来’,因为我没有办法确定这一点。我要让人知道的是,世界上有人关心着他们。”

有谁不愿意收到这样一封信呢?我们动笔吧。(于晓华译自英国《泰晤士报》网站6月21日文章)

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