The Stopping of the Mail
Admittedly, a Very Bizarre Story
It is a truth universally acknowledged that sometime about midway through the twentieth century, mail ceased to be about long-distance correspondence and became an impenetrable fog of catalogs, solicitations for charitable and political contributions, bills, and scams.
In the twenty-first century, when billing and long-distance communication moved online, mail became exclusively the province of sales letters, unasked-for magazines, debt collection letters for fictitious debts, envelopes stamped “IMPORTANT” which end up being anything but, and undesired communiques from the Internal Revenue Service.
If Thomas Pynchon already felt overwhelmed by the senseless unreality of information overload in 1966, one wonders how he puts up with the bombard today. And he’s had several decades more than I’ve had in which to have accumulated a share of governmental, financial, commercial, and charitable organizations all pursuing him – in all likelihood, asking for money. Still, he seems like he would be more successful than most at avoiding much of that.
If all meaning and significance in the world had already been lost in a time when the Beatles were still singing “Love Me Do,” how much less can we make sense of the world in a day when bots are pushing frog memes on Facebook and there are more hours of podcasts available to the casual listener than there are hours in that casual listener’s life? Oedipa had Thurn and Taxis. We have Q and pizza parlors.
In a world in which the traditional markers of adulthood have seemingly been erased, it seems that, instead of maturity, one simply reaches the age at which one has left behind oneself a trail of houses and apartments which will forever be associated with one’s name – such that long after one dies, one will be receiving pre-approved credit cards at ten different addresses.
With all that in mind, let me tell you what happened to me last Friday.