Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie & Julia: Blogs & Letters

I've just returned from seeing Julie & Julia in a full, chortling theatre. As soon as the credits rolled, the applause started - for a movie. It was witty and charming and exactly what it needed to be. Julia was the icon we remember and Julie was us - joyful, struggling, mean, and oh-so human.

But what really got me was the reason we were able to see these portrayals: because of what they chose to leave behind.

[Okay, and an agent or two - but that's beside my point.]

Powell left behind a blog - The Julie/Julia Project. She wrote, cooked, and wrote some more. Gained a following, got media coverage, insert many other landmarks here, and then got a movie made about her endeavor.

The Child's left behind letters - copious letters to friends detailing their daily lives. They were never meant to be seen by those other than the recipients, and yet, the fact that someone somewhere laid their hands on this seemingly innocent pieces of paper makes it so we are able to "know" the Child's better.

And there is the rub: a blog is for the masses; a letter is for a single recipient.

The medium makes for quite the different story - the persona vs. the person.

Is this what we leave behind in the world of Web 2.0 - an airbrushed version of our life? No, it's not perfect - far from it in most cases - but it's not exactly real, either. We choose what we write. I choose to tell you that I saw Julie & Julia today. I choose to refrain from further detail about the rest of my day. I can also choose to delete it all if I want.

Yet, in letters, it's different. In the few (and I do say 'few') letters I've written in the last 5 years, it's easy to pour myself out onto the paper. I know my audience, our relationship, our history. I know that they know more than I write and, as such, I can be a truer version of myself. The letter is a document - historical, if you will. Permanent, save for a fire or water damage or an angry 5-year-old...okay, at least it's not made of zeros and ones.

Or maybe this is just jibber-jabber.

Julie & Julia made me wonder what will be left when we're no longer here.

Will you be a 30-minute meal or boeuf bourguignon?


  1. Your musings bring up a good question. Letters: permanent, Postman probably likes them if they have a point, we send a meaningful message to another person in our lives. Blog: open to the masses, can be deleted (which is something I also like, not just for when I make a typo!).

    Funny you should say that about the letter. I recently wrote one to my friend to make up for a trip we couldn't take, and I sent it out Wednesday. Thursday morning I realized, "Oh my, I put the wrong house number on it!" and I did not put a return address because I was in a hurry, therefore she will not be receiving the letter and now it looks like I just haven't spoken to her in a week. If it was an email, and I had sent it to the wrong email address, it would have been as simple as "Forward, and click." Now it's lost for a good long time unless her neighbor decides to bring it to her.

    Two sides to everything, but when the Twitter is hacked or the apocalypse comes and destroys in the will all be lost.

  2. @ MBenti - Oh, that's awful! It's sad to know that hard work put forth may be lost.

    Occurrences like that makes me want to find a reader that converts handwritten notes to a digital format. Or maybe vice-versa? Write an e-mail, get a lovely letter on kitty stationery.

    Or flowers, if you'd prefer.