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Highly recommended: the intimacy of correspondence via voice message.

Jonny Diamond

May 4, 2020, 12:06pm

I have long enjoyed exchanging recorded “letters” with loved ones thousands of miles away. There’s something about the voicemail-as-letter that doesn’t quite have the formal pressure of the written word, but can also exist outside the stresses and banalities of daily existence—meditative, personal, conversational. In an era of constant up-to-the-second communication, from one side of the globe to the other, measuring a conversation by days and weeks is a valuable act of slowing down. If you can get over the sound of your own voice (and please, you should) recorded messages are a great way to have a long and rewarding correspondence (though I reckon future historians and archivists probably won’t be thrilled).

If you’re still having doubts, may I direct you to the publicly available pandemic correspondences of writers Amy Marie Spangler and Szilvia Molnar? Starting in January of this year, Molnar (who lives in Austin, Texas) and Spangler (who lives in Istanbul) have been exchanging letters that range from the literary to the personal to the political—these recordings are intimate, erudite, and full of care. You can get a quick sense of what they talk about via these random “episode” titles:

the way things are from my end & reading lucy ellmann (the first letter)
self-care with a bag of popcorn and a small soda
from digesting india to appreciation of cinema to finding beauty in old things
the thing about boys in action movies
writing this with lust for life or lust for art, but maybe that’s the same thing?

Whether or not you follow their example, these letters are a lovely reminder of what friendship-at-a-distance can be during isolating times. I highly recommend.

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