Amidst the clamorous unraveling of events where people and lives seem like falling rubble being crushed madly, the Correspondence Project flows forth and develops like a quiet backwater. Not only would it become an oasis in the midst of a vastness of sand in movement, but also a place of fragrance, color and well being. In the Correspondence Project a sinister geography is transformed into a stable and luminous home. When Batuz conceived of it, he fleetingly glimpsed its virtues. Upon putting it in motion its virtues became even more evident. Like many initiatives of substance, it is so clear that it seems incomprehensible.
An acceleration of history and a corrosive estrangement among human beings has lead to the near extinction of a literary genre which once had enormous currency and force: the genre of letter writing. No one writes letters any more like those which would transmit information, cultivate feelings, sustain conversations about science and philosophy, would channel love, sustain a friendship, confide intimacies, advance projects, skillfully put forth theories and engage in vigorous reflection. That genre is now the repository of thoughts and emotions that one age of humanity has bequeathed to succeeding ones. And it shows no signs of being reborn. But Batuz has brought together some of its qualities in order to activate it in a circumspect form with the moving purpose of preserving another portion of humanity: the present, threatened by the avalanche of itself, a kind of infinite horde which will obliterate civilization like the barbarians in the High Middle Ages. At that time monasteries saved what they could, and they saved a lot, but they did not save it all.
The Correspondence Project attempts to carve out a small space and take good care of it. It may not be the best project, nor the most representative. It does not seek the approval of the powers that be. It acts with intuitive arbitrariness. It is not dressed in the robes of a judge, but in the tunic of a pilgrim. It moves and puts into motion. It doesn't question other pilgrims, nor does it disqualify judges, nor tribunals, nor the most varied kinds of procedures that aspire to a similar goal. It quite simply performs its own function, with utopian enthusiasm and duty bound responsibility. It puts into circulation ideas, impressions, states of mind, ironies, confessions, humor, fears, hopes, dreams and sympathies among creative people from different points on the planet. Each person speaks with another through the vehicle of the epistle which requires the freshness of privacy and accepts, paradoxically, the risks of being a document which will be known by third parties. The Correspondence Project is an interchange that is open to the view of many, an uneasy exhibition. How much self censorship will be operative in each letter? How much frankness? The desire is to open an entryway. Perhaps it will only appear to be a slot between blocks of words: the intention alone is worth the effort.
So that border will cease to function like dividing walls, but rather like permeable membranes, letterers will be translated by Universities and Institutions which will be incorporated into the program. The warmth of their halls will provide the energy that will make the texts resonate in other languages. But the project is not nurtured by correspondence alone. Rather, these letters generate, support and comment on the cultural actions that are put in motion throughout the network of the project's participants: always in a state of tension. It is this type of brotherhood which has a ripple effect throughout the earth and corresponds to the marvelous quiet backwater with which we began this brief sketch.
The Correspondence Project though a project on its own, has extended itself throughout the years to various others of the Société Imaginaire, fulfilling its proposition of having no end or limits, but open to continually record the testimonials of those dedicated to this undertaking's aim to communicate. As Aguinis points out, it has no definite direction but is open to all and is continually developing itself in its application so as to reach all corners of the world. The genuine is that the possibilities are endless while the importance remains for continuance to be given.
Therefore to broaden its application, this long standing project is simultaneously being extended through the forums this website offers, while parallel past contributions are being researched and archived for further investigation. These results will eventually be posted on the web for the public to gain other testimonials which may serve to initiate further responses. For now we provide just a few examples at hand in order to open this door of immediate communication to the greater public.
Each contribution is lighting a candle which illuminates a certain corner of the world. This continuous exchange from various corners of the world begins to shed light, each illuminating their own country, culture, standpoint differently, thereby together as a whole providing a unique perspective of a universal viewpoint instead of an isolated one, establishing a transcendence from local to global.
Butor and Mutis are here with their letters reaching in the dark, lighting candles with what they say and with what they hear. Their shouting resonates off the dark walls guiding them in their uncertain direction. They do so calling for others to also respond with answers which would further illuminate the dark room we are all wandering through.
You, whoever you might be:
If I had placed your name at the head of this blank page, surely l would have known you for quite some time, and thus, as these lines would develop, flashes of your semblance would come to me, the sound of your voice, memories of past moments together, perhaps from a distant childhood, discoveries we had in common, readings, travels.
If I had written your name, of course, preceded by the well-known formula Mr., Mrs., or Miss (this last form now in disuse), l would most certainly have used the polite vous form, which to be sure l am accustomed to using with many of my friends even the oldest and dearest, since the step from respect to camaraderie was never taken, a thing which l often regret but which takes nothing away from the relationship.
On the other hand it has happened that l will use the familiar tu form in letters to persons l have never seen but with whom l have worked at a distance.
If this letter gets to you, whom l am addressing as vous, it will serve to uncover, through our continuing dialogue, who knows what unplumbed depths, gold mines, or perhaps mines of salt that someday will shine in the open air.
I certainly do not yet know you, nor have l even received a letter from you, and l imagine a face, a voice in expectation of comprehension over the vast and frozen expanses of foolishness and deafness, misfortune and lost opportunities, vast spaces into which l hurl this message in a bottle.
The bottle which you dropped into the sea has found its way to one of the possible recipients of its message. I have always thought that messages in bottles are a very unique and particular means of communication between shipwrecked persons. This case is no exception. Shipwrecked as we are on our Island and surrounded by the sinister world of communication, where through the most sophisticated technological means, man has managed to achieve the ability to say everything to everyone and, in the end, to say nothing at all while he sinks in a sea of idiocy where words and images are just the flotsam of an unprecedented catastrophe at sea. Have you ever thought, perhaps, that in the Middle Ages man managed to communicate with his brothers in fuller and more efficient ways than today? That enormous bottle in the sea, received by all and understood by all: the work of Dante roars out to us to say that it was so. What to do then? Turn our backs, to be sure, on the disastrous call of the mass media and begin anew from zero. Such a beginning l see as possible, thanks to our Société Imaginaire, which was created (and this is important to keep in mind) by someone who put aside his undeniable possibilities in the world of painting, so that a few of us survivors might begin a dialogue without any other purpose than to share company in truth and courage and to say the two or three things that we need to say; nothing else. We are not going to save the world, nor decipher the role of the intellectual in the modern world; we'll not save the Third World nor the Fourth nor the Tenth. Let us return to the dialogue initiated by the Greeks and carried on, with a little less conviction, by the Romans, and continued to decline through that feeble Century, the nineteenth. As an aside to these comments, l must express my admiration for your work. l speak now to a friend whom l hope someday to be able to address in the familiar tu with the deep sincerity of one who believes that this may be our only way out, the only way to win the game. Do you not see it this way also? l am sure your answers is, Yes. l send my best regards and also send my own, in no way imaginaire, Yes.