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Alun Rowlands

The fear of failing to reach the other, the failure of writing as well as the hope that the reading implies an understanding, that the meaning is conveyed to the other are characteristic for the process of writing letters. The choice of this communication media evokes memories of the past, when humans had to rely on it if they wanted to get in touch with a remote person. However, unlike one might assume, the letter does not constitute a particular special case of communication. With regard to the constellation of those involved in the communication process, a letter can be seen as an example of communication itself, if it is assumed that one structural characteristic of any message is the need to cover a distance. What is evident here is the way from one to the other as well as the delayed arrival, which, in terms of an awareness of distances and of the relationship from the time of writing to the spatial absence of the addressee, is intrinsic to the moment of writing. Thus, the following considerations also deal with language as a means of exchange – and with the process of exchange itself, if one examines the situation of the sender with regard to the uncertainty if his words will be received and understood. The letter gives an idea how this situation can be handled using an active approach, instead of perceiving the absence of the addressee as a deficiency. In fact, it is this particular experience of emptiness that gives cause to write and provides space for indeterminate movement. The notion of a simple sending and arrival is replaced by the idea of a bi-directional process, which makes it difficult to ascertain where dialogue begins or where it is prevented. As a figure of thought, correspondence is thus not a strategy to solve the tension between presence and absence but a tool to make the incongruity of this tension visible.
Karolin Meunier The Act of Corresponding (2009)