Saturday, September 10, 2005

Letters of the heart

[The EZLN and other zapatista translations are still resting comfortably in our Library.]


Ah, Friday evening. The night calls out for innocent pleasures.

But first a housekeeping chore.

I have grown bored with shape-shifting, persona-free boys. Nor do I give a whit what their agenda might be. Counterinsurgency, nostalgia, mania, reprisal, anomie, provocation, whatever.

Silly little things, not to understand that voz will out, especially for someone whose life is amanuensis.

So, for any who might wish my attention, for any reason whatsoever, they might try reading some of my posts. Flowers, poetry, brilliance, engagement, kindness, wit and love letters are much more my style than the cyber-equivalent of creepy old men in trench coats wielding specious threats.

There, shuddering delicately.

All the more reason then to indulge in a thought or two on the convergence of love letters and agitprop.

My only experience in writing the latter myself was when I was doing my Chiapas Daily Summaries a number of years back. I have never had more fun with words, and that, I believe, is the primary postulate. Whether penning notes to one’s beloved or engaging the masses, you must be engaged yourself. Delighted, in fact.

If not, if it is work, the results are the tedious stuff that fills my mailbox everyday, an endless, always deleted, series of boring, boiler plate Action Alerts and Dire Warnings. In some cases, when real information is being disseminated and times are perilous, this is necessary. But that is rarely the case, and, even in that event, rarely effective if one’s audience has not already been – yes, courted.

The equivalent in matters of the heart would be to send a note threatening self-immolation if gratification were not immediately forthcoming. And this after nothing other than, say, nodding to the girl of your dreams at the office every morning. Then another threatening note on the morrow.

The other issue of absolute import is focus. The endless “I” is simply not suitable. Agitprop is not the place for gonzo journalism, unless, of course, you’re still writing for High Times or trying to flog a book or looking to replace Geraldo.

Nor is narcissism of much use in wooing. Your lady, you might recall, is much more interested in your learning her, not in hearing of your exploits, accomplishments and obsessions. You wish to amuse, delight and engage her, just as you are amused, delighted and engaged by her.

This is why we remember little paper boats with such fondness and wish for more of the same. And why Herrick and Marvell will always make me swoon and most compulsively self-referential modern literature makes me wish to toss crockery.

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