Why As Ever?
I don’t remember the first time I signed off a letter or email with as ever. But at some point it emerged as proper to a certain ideal form of communication: intimate, digressive, self-revelatory but not narcissistic, earnest but not solemn, playful but not superficial, amusing but not glib.
In other words, all that is good in letter writing, and conversation more broadly. Warmth. Directness. Camaraderie. True liberality—the suspension of judgment, the willingness to entertain the challenging and unfamiliar and contradictory. A bit of inscrutability—elliptical, mysterious, gestural—and the pleasure, the relief, in nonetheless being intuitively understood. As ever: Capacious enough for all occasions, all stations of life, grief or celebration.
As ever: Steadfast in a swirling age. As always, it says: as it always has been and always will be, in saecula saeculorum. A statement of recognition of the past, of faith in the future, and affection in the moment. And a statement of warning: that what is irascible and tiresome in me, the conflicts and resentments and disappointments between us—these probably aren’t going anywhere either. And so, a statement of fullness, of wholeness, of acceptance: with each other we must always take the bad with the good, and never forget the good for the bad, or the way they cast light on each other.
Perhaps best of all: for these reasons entirely unsuitable for a work email. Doubtful that it will ever be caught dead under an ill-considered Reply All or a fake-courteous per my previous followup. Its very conviviality and conspiratorial nature is alien to the deadening and flattening discourse of office life.
A refuge, then, from the dreary if necessary nowhere land of bosses and subordinates: here only, à la Montaigne, the sunlit equality of friendship.
Okay, but what is it?
I foresee sending out an occasional letter, maybe monthly, maybe more, sometimes combining some longer-form thoughts with a curation of what I am reading, painting, writing, and thinking about. This is always changing, but heavy in the rotation: cities, architecture, ocean ecosystems, surfing, God, aesthetics, art history, film, poetry, beekeeping. Etc.
It’s free to subscribe. But we all know that time and attention is the most scarce and precious resource we have, and the entire edifice of modern capital is bent on colonizing what scraps of it remain. If you give me some of yours, I won’t treat it lightly.
If that sounds like you, welcome friend. Pull up a chair, pour some tea, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Come as you are and leave when you like.
Who are you?
I am a writer, editor, and amateur painter. I like to surf, drive around listening to music, hang out with my friends in between pandemics, go to church, disappear into fathomless boreal forests on impulsive vision quests, and read.
Wait, what’s an ornamental hermit?
Glad you asked! Once upon a time, great lords and their friends found it amusing to house a recluse on their estate—or even just the appearance of one. There was entertainment value and social prestige in showcasing a specimen of eccentricity, solitude, and dubious wisdom.
Thus the performance of solitude itself became a social, public act. In a minor way this cultural fad prefigured the total commoditization of our most interior, personal lives that only became fully possible with the further development of communications technology. The open question remains of whether more power and humanity lies in resisting this, if that is even possible, or in embracing it and seizing it for our own ends.