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👀 (Not so) Private letters of note
#288 | "Why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too?”
I’ve always been fascinated by the romance between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. Heidegger was briefly a member of the Nazi party, and Arendt, a Jewish political theorist. Maybe I’ll write about them someday. But today, my Just One Thing isn’t exactly about them.
Years ago, Maria Popova wrote about the love letters the two exchanged. Reading the letters, I felt… guilty. It feels wrong to look at something so private.
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But it is also fascinating to get a glimpse into the inner workings of other people’s minds. When people mostly only display a glossy exterior, carefully curated to hide all the chaos inside, reading people’s private correspondence is a reminder that everybody’s inner lives are just as rich, colourful, and messy as my own.
So here’s my Thing for today: Letters of Note. An online museum of, well, letters of note. From the letter Alexander Graham Bell wrote to his father soon after making the first ever phone call to Buzz Aldrin writing about his “trip of a lifetime”, there are so so many to choose from.
I particularly enjoyed this one by Douglas Adams – it’s hilarious, obviously. And this one that Frida Kahlo wrote to Diego Rivera, in which she articulates my initial sentiment about reading other people’s private correspondence: “Why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too?” (though she’s talking about something else entirely).
And think twice before you send anyone else a deeply private letter, email, or text. You never know where it might turn up. Or when.