A thought on Postcards in the Digital Age

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Why bother sending postcards in the digital age? You can facebook, tweet, instagram, e-mail etc. etc. Even though it´s not an either/ or situation, why send something snail-mail, that might take weeks to get to its recipient (sometimes, if at all), that´s expensive, that takes time and thought and effort? Well, I suppose because it takes time, thought, and effort. I used to have dozens of correspondents who shared my love of sending and receiving postcards. Over the years, this has dwindled to a few; and it saddens me because I love sending and receiving them. But why? What does a postcard offer that sending an image through messenger doesn´t? Well the obvious thing, is the physical object itself. The less obvious thing is that mentioned above, the thinking of the person, the selecting something especially for them, the going to the trouble of writing, finding stamps, going to the post-box, all especially for them (and from them to me). It makes me feel special; and I certainly think the people I send them to are also special to me. I wouldn´t bother otherwise. But there´s more to it than that: the mark, the trace, the aura. Postcards leave the marks of a body with writing that has extended from someone´s emotions, to their thoughts, to their brain, through their arm, to their hand, to the card. Their writing, their mark, is like no one else´s. I don´t think this is just romanticising nostalgia, though perhaps there is a teensy weensy a bit of that. But there´s more: there´s probably DNA on the card, fingerprints, and probably not only from the sender. Postcards have an aura—the hand-writing on the back is what helps create it in a Benjaminian sense. In the more coloquial sense of the term, the postcard evidences a past presence left imprinted, a consciousness made physically evident. It makes one feel closer to the person. I treasure the practice and the individual cards. Today I received this one above.

José Arroyo

 

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