Monday, 2 February 2015

speech is silvern but silence is golden

The superlative Brain-Pickings shares yet another absolute jewel from the desk of Lewis Carroll (Charles Ludwig Dodgson) in his short pamphlet, probably written as a more sensible and kinder counterpoint to the thicker, authoritarian guides to correspondence of the day, called “Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing.”

While it is true, especially among the shrapnel of sharing, that for some, words are little projectiles to shout out demands and twice-divorced from communication—and of course contextual communication, sometimes only requires a gesture, a sort of disembodied body-language but that’s not the courtesy and consideration that Carroll is concerned with, I believe. Despite how some bookkeeping techniques might sound dated and the epistolary arts might be a moribund thing, Carroll’s advice rings surpassing true, even today. Careful reading and restraint is emphasised.  Sometimes—day-to-day, I guess, we only need such short barking dispatches or confirmations but I think what we write, say day-to-day is not just a reflection but is the same as what we hope to compose in a thoughtful and polite way. This excellent analysis is also a point of departure for exploring what else the don thought about politeness and good, humanising manners.