Lewis Carroll and the letter

mail Manners are eagerly received but not always eagerly executed and for some it is merely the fact that our 21st century ideals often collide with those of the 20th century and the ages following behind. For one’s lack of perceived manners, or shall we dare say perceived rudeness, is often just an oversight, still a faux pas to some but not in the posture of present day decorum and modern thinking. For example; upon accepting a gift proper etiquette would require a hand-written note back to the giver letting he or she know that we are appreciative of their thoughtfulness. However, this practice has now been exchanged with an email, a call on the phone, or even a text. Thus many would attest to the assumption that good upbringing does seem to mandate a written response which has been transported and delivered by the mail carrier, while others still would disagree; finding the more informal thank you equally fitting.

In consequence to the formers’ position, the art of letter writing has since been dismissed like the home phone line that is offered a conciliatory smile and hence has been sentenced to the back of the closet; reinstated by a smarter cell that travels with us wherever we journey. It has become our side kick, riding shot-gun in our pocket or hand-bag, a trusted device that allows us to do away with pen and pencil, paper and pads; freeing us up from those mundane tasks such as…letter writing. However, there still is something very nice about receiving a letter, no matter how technologically sophisticated one has become. There is still something very lovely about pulling open the letter box, and as you sift through your bills and solicitations an envelope peers out with no other intention than to give you news, wanting nothing more than your attention. There is something quite special about knowing that someone picked out the stationary, sat down with their solitude to compose a personal thought; that they mulled over what to say, reread their sentences transcribed in their own words, and sailed their message along the paper freely as one would skip across a lake on a sunny afternoon. Or, just perhaps each word they wished to convey was produced from strained ponderings and like tapping syrup from a maple tree, the words came out slowly with long moments of rephrasing.

Yet, whatever method had evolved to get the message across, it was eventually folded into an envelope and the deliberate act of placing perhaps a very colorful stamp in the corner, the same spot that Benjamin Franklin would have blotted centuries ago, was acted upon; sealed and then slipped into a post box for transport, trusting its delivery to our ever-ready postal service…and considering it may have traveled by way of rugged terrain or choppy seas…it is still quite reasonable in price.

Yes, the letter! This blogger must confess that she still writes them and dearly enjoys the reciprocation of their receipt. The quiet stroll to the post box..up the driveway… mundane to some yet the probability that by chance there may be a letter in the box is certainly worth the trek up and back.

lewis carroll 2 In today’s post I present to you again the esteemed thinker: Lewis Carroll. His wit and facility at word play, logic, and fantasy are noted by most that enjoy his writing. He has left his mark in history through his rare and diversified literary gifts whereby he possessed a talent for writing prose as well as verse, and though he is often exclusively remembered for his “Alice in Wonderland” stories, his diaries and letters validate a multi-faceted author.

I now suggest a brief time-out from your hectic day to read a portion from his work titled, “Eight or Nine Words about Letter Writing” (1890). Here is the popular Lewis Carroll on “How to end a letter”.

“ If doubtful whether to end with ‘yours faithfully’, or ‘yours truly’, or ‘yours most truly’, &c. (there are at least a dozen varieties, before you reach ‘yours affectionately’), refer to your correspondent’s last letter, and make your winding-up at least as friendly as his; in fact, even if a shade more friendly, it will do no harm!

A Postscript is a very useful invention: but it is not meant (as so many ladies suppose) to contain the real gist of the letter: it serves rather to throw into the shade any little matter we do not wish to make a fuss about. For example, your friend had promised to execute a commission for you in town, but forgot it, thereby putting you to great inconvenience: and he now writes to apologize for his negligence. It would be cruel, and needlessly crushing, to make it the main subject of your reply. How much more gracefully it comes in thus! “P.S. Don’t distress yourself any more about having omitted that little matter in town. I won’t deny that it did put my plans out a little, at the time: but it’s all right now. I often forget things, myself: and ‘those who live in glass-houses, mustn’t throw stones’, you know!”

When you take your letters to the Post, carry them in your hand. If you put them in your pocket you will take a long country-walk (I speak from experience), passing the Post-Office twice, going and returning, and, when you get home, will find them still in your pocket.”

Esteemed thinker: Lewis Carroll

bar-b-que Look around any city or town and there is one business that has not lost its appeal, one particular enterprise that continues to lure revenue makers…that of the restaurant. Eating has become a form of entertainment for many…so much so that society has added this culinary quest into other types of leisure activities and amusements. Let us begin with the movie theater. While we complain how expensive it has become to purchase a ticket, seldom do we see the same individual turn down an overpriced tub (yes, not a bag but now a tub) of popcorn. Seats are equipped with drink holes to capsulate the jumbo sized beverage, while teetering on laps are gooey plates of nachos and cheese dip.

Feeding our bodies has also become synonymous with sporting events too, and as we engage in rooting for our home team, the before game spiriting is equally as robust where groups of fans convene behind their vehicles to consume vast amount of beer and bar-b-que for a tail-gate party right before their physically toned and well-fit team comes out to play. Then when inside, we have arenas stocked with as many types of vendors as one would find in a fast-food court at the mall. And speaking of malls…shopping for clothes and the lot is now banded together with eating…lots of eating.

The idea of eating however is not exclusively reserved for just hand –to- mouth, but is also a term that we can use to mean feeding our souls…as in a spiritual way through organized practice or less organized as with our personal interaction with nature. Yet still there is another, feeding our brains…as when we seek out to learn something new. By way of going to school or as simply as reading a book; both are considerably nourishing and their calorie consumption is virtually nil; an added benefit especially good for those looking to maintain or lose weight. (The former is not always as calorically deficient for after the spiritual soul has been fed there is often a gathering of coffee and cake, unless you take nature’s path and nibble on berries)

Least we not forget our animal friends when we think of feed; this word used as a noun is interpreted as the food we give bovine or equine…such as ‘cattle feed’. As for plants…its sustenance cannot be taken for granted, for they too desire to be fed.

And so… this blogger wishes her readers many good feedings, hoping that you continue to nourish and satiate whatever part of your hungry body you choose with generous amounts of goodness and harmony.

lewis carroll Today’s post brings you a most famous and entertaining esteemed thinker: Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Readily remembered for his ever popular and imaginative Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland (1865), this English born author’s given name, unbeknownst to many, was Charles Dodgson. His talent could also claim other vocations for he too was a photographer and mathematician.

And so, in his succinct and ever so clever work titled, Feeding the Mind (1884), I have clipped for you a morsel that should nourish your curiosity …Here is the celebrated Lewis Carroll….

“… Considering the amount of painful experience many of us have had in feeding and dosing the body, it would, I think, be quite worth our while to try and translate some of the rules into corresponding ones for the mind. First, then, we should set ourselves to provide for our mind its proper kind of food. We very soon learn what will, and what will not, agree with the body, and find little difficulty in refusing a piece of the tempting pudding or pie which is associated in our memory with that terrible attack of indigestion, and whose very name irresistibly recalls rhubarb and magnesia; but it takes a great many lessons to convince us how indigestible some of our favourite lines of reading are, and again and again we make a meal of the unwholesome novel, sure to be followed by its usual train of low spirits, unwillingness to work, weariness of existence—in fact, by mental nightmare.

Then we should be careful to provide this wholesome food in proper amount. Mental gluttony, or over-reading, is a dangerous propensity, tending to weakness of digestive power, and in some cases to loss of appetite: we know that bread is a good and wholesome food, but who would like to try the experiment of eating two or three loaves at a sitting? I have heard a physician telling his patient—whose complaint was merely gluttony and want of exercise—that ‘the earliest symptom of hyper-nutrition is a deposition of adipose tissue,’ and no doubt the fine long words greatly consoled the poor man under his increasing load of fat.
I wonder if there is such a thing in nature as a FAT MIND? I really think I have met with one or two: minds which could not keep up with the slowest trot in conversation; could not jump over a logical fence, to save their lives; always got stuck fast in a narrow argument; and, in short, were fit for nothing but to waddle helplessly through the world…”

First image: Full Moon Bar-b-que signs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1946, Carol Highsmith photographer