Dispatches From Near and Far


If I was to ever to be on a street and Jesse Edwards walked by, I would not nod hello, because I have never met him. However, when his emails and messages on Facebook pop up, I greet a good friend with a big hello back.

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This is the new world which replaced the old world which replaced the old world before that. My new world consists of people I met online, I call then friends because I do know them by their words and images. I might even know them better than some of my land based friends. This idea of non-contact friendship goes back to the days of the Pen Pal, when we corresponded by mail and the conversation was set at the pace of the days needed for the letter to travel by land, sea and air.

I met Jesse through the Envelope Collective, a defunct mail art website, through the old world system of correspondence. I was a contributor and then became a part of the team scanning the mail art. I got to know Jesse through his art and words. He would mail his work from the San Fernando Valley and I would scan and upload. Then one day he upped and left, sold everything and flew to India in 2006, and has been traveling since. At the moment he is in Thailand. Now our conversations take place at the speed of light, rather than the slow luxury of the USPS.

I posed to Jesse three questions:

1. How do you tell a story? From the beginning, middle or end?

the flip answer is that i do not tell stories , but i live them .
but when i do try to tell them i tell them at half speed . as most people think that the real story is just too far out to be true . but between friends i try to tell them in the order that they happened . with some back story thrown in and a few asides blended in for a quick laugh . now facebook is a place that the old goa crowd and asia uses to speak of the past and settle old scores in the present . and make plans for the future . and the stories of that generation have to be deciphered thru the clouds of drug blinded memory and deals gone right or wrong .

2. We met through Envelope Collective, a defunct website devoted to mail art; though we have never met, we have managed to re-connect on Facebook. What are the advantages of a pen pal/internet friendship over an offline friendship?
we did meet on the EC but i think that i first time i heard of you was on flickr . bodhi was into flickr and was playing with some of the stuff you did there . maybe i have the timeline mixed up .

one of the advantages of the online version of friendship is that it requires less gas and less wear and tear on the car to stay in touch. another is that the keyboard is easier for some of us to use than the phone line or the face to face meeting . the keyboard is in its own way something like reading in that you can pick it up or put it down when you feel like it . for me it is also the one thing that the army taught me that i still use . they also taught me morse code but i do not use that anymore . another advantage is that we have a copy of all the communications saved for history . this means that historians or interested parties , myself included , can refer back to all that was said and done . we can also use and reuse , alter and or copy and create something new .


3. Memories of the past flicker bright when we are reminded of a quiet moment in our past. When you travel, do you layer your memories of home over what you are experiencing at the moment?
i try not to . or i do not . i just travel . or the layers of home are under the experience of the moment . now when i eat i look at the menu of the place where i am sitting and if i see something that excites a past memory and i try that dish my mouth and stomach are expecting what the memory remembers . if it is different but better my mouth and stomach are happy . if it is different and worse then nothing is happy . travel is just a menu to be explored . and sitting and reading as you drink the coffee and wait for the food is a luxury that i missed for many years .

thanks for this time to reflect on the method of friendship and communication . next time , after i get my hair cut maybe i will attach a video . and that could be a good project for you to explore . or for me to explore . rock and roll ,


Images: Jesse Edwards, mail art from the Envelope Collective

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