Monday, July 24, 2006

Archiving & war

What do other people do with their old letters? I'm sorting through one of those piles of miscellanea that haunt the corners of my life, flotsam and jetsam waiting to be tagged and filed in the appropriate place, or occasionally (not nearly often enough says Lovergirl) thrown out.

I found this letter from Dad, together with this photo of me and him in our backyard. I think he looks like Elvis. I love Dad's letters. I can hear his thick Maltese accent as he writes.

Dear Mikhela,
Thank for the present. I had a good Christmas breakfort with mum + Zedd then I went to Maria and family for Lunch and I had sweats at Marge and Bob & David every thing has stopet for the holiday "the Chi" scare Danceing and Ballroom Danceing so Im doing a lot of gardning and lots of reading Zedd gave a book (the word of ISLAM BY GEOGE NEGUS) very interestng book.

I have got a fish pound to put in front garden but I am putteing water lilis in it the cats will got the fish here around the pound and am putting the Mashrooms you send me

(this was followed by a diagram of the fish pond)

Bye for now love Dad xxxx Say hello to (here he spells Lovergirl's name completely phonetically) xxx

By the way "the chi" is 'tai chi' and scare dancing is square dancing.

In contrast here is a postcard from my sister Zedd:

been diving here & saw turtles, sharks & heaps of fish. Weather's been great & wedding was heaps of fun.
Love Zedd

Letters from Dad make me homesick for Melbourne.

It seems a shame to throw out any handwritten correspondence - it's so rare and gorgeous. I read that within the next few years Australia Post will be unprofitable - with us all communicating electronically, it's losing its economies of scale. The real turn of the screw, apparently, is the accelerating shift to electronic bills. Then stamps will go up and I will receive even fewer letters. If I was an artist I could figure out some art project to do with the snowdrifts of letters that spill out of my bookshelves. I've even got a whole suitcase full of them in the shed.

In the weekend papers I finally read a three page spread on the Lebanon-Israel conflict. Embarrassingly, I hadn't taken anything in - 'Another war in another strife-torn zone dahling' as she waves her champagne flute about. But following the rabbit warren of blogs at Global Voices led me to a world of bloggers who have bigger things to worry about than where to file their correspondence. Here an Israeli soldier writes on a Lebanese blog:

I don’t want to start arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, the finaly word is that it’s not right that civilians get hurt in the process, from both sides.

I’m sending you my best wishes from here, and hope that you and your family will be strong and be alright until this horrible situation will be over.

Suddenly I'm seeing a blog as a very powerful thing, an opportunity for ordinary folk to communicate without the sanitised intermediaries of mass media. It's not universally accessible yet, but imagine if we all had the ability to find out the story from the other side's perspective! How it worked on me was that I suddenly had an image of the war as affecting real people, so I wanted to know more. Shamefully, I'm not very good at being completely up to date with world events. It's so far out of my control, and changes so rapidly, there seems little point in knowing what's going on.

I understand so little it's embarrassing but one thing I really don't understand why commentators are so shocked by the fact that both sides are killing civilians. Every conflict has a monstrous tally of 'innocent victims' (I never understand that phrase - does it assume that soldiers are guilty? Why don't the leaders of the opposing countries just fight to the death? Surely that would decide the conflict just as rationally?), raped women and butchered children and senselessly razed farms

The next bit I need to add to my yawning chasm of knowledge on this issue is what are other countries doing about it? And why or why not?

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