December 12, 2009

Open letter to the Vlogbrothers

Last time I wrote an open letter, it was addressed to the English people in general, and was meant more as a joke than anything else. This time, however, I have in fact written and sent a letter (that is, a short email) to John and Hank Green, and have decided to post it here as well, for your enjoyment.

A few words about the two: Hank and John Green, also known as the Vlogbrothers, are two American brothers (aged 29 and 32 respectively) who decided in 2007 to spend an entire year communicating to each other only through non-textual means. They called it the 'Brotherhood 2.0' project, and initially gave it two rules: First, any form of text-based communication, like e-mail and SMS, was forbidden. Second, every weekday one of them would post a video blog on YouTube to the other, whereupon the other would respond in a video blog the next day, and so on for an entire year. The Vlogbrothers soon gained an unexpected number of followers who were subsequently dubbed Nerdfighters, as in "someone who fights for Nerds". Although the Brotherhood 2.0 project ended the 31st December 2007, the Vlogbrothers still regularly post videos on YouTube. Recurrent themes in their vlogs include: Promoting the idea of being an intellectual (hence the 'Nerdfighter' label), donating money to charity, and adding "in your pants" to book titles for hilarious effects. The videos are often somewhat interactive, asking the viewers to help the Vlogbrothers with a search or to participate in a good cause -- like, for instance, www.kiva.org -- and the acronym 'DFTBA' ('Don't Forget To Be Awesome') is frequently used as a reminder of the resourcefulness and creativity the YouTube followers have displayed. DFTBA has now become a popular abbreviation in the Nerdfighter community.

The email I sent to Hank and John is an example of what is known as 'constrained writing'. Constrained writing, as the name suggests, is a piece of writing like any other, but submitted to certain constraints. A classic example is George Perec's 300-word novel "La Disparition", written without ever using the letter 'E'. I will not reveal what the constraint is in my letter, but hopefully it will be obvious. Here it is:

Dear Fraternity

Title be Alexander, devoted fan. This being, Alexander delightfully followed the brothers' astonishing display 'f textless brotherhood. A double fortnights' time ('bout)  ago, Discovery Fortuitous (through bloke: Alex Day). From then, been active, darting fast through brotherhood animations. Done! From the beginning all down! Finished! Thus, became a dedicated 'Fighter.

Two brothers are -- Darn, for the best adjectives disappear from the brain. Altruistic; deep; funny; those become alluding descriptions for them, but are desperately failing to brotherhood adequately depict. For the bestselling author + ditty fabricating, treehugging brother 'Ank: durable fanfare that beautiful appraisal delivers, forever! This, both assuredly deserve!

Following things be Alexander's destined future: To buy amazing discs! Fie! the books also! Duo Fratres Triumphabunt!

Best,
Alexander

The D's were a pain.


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Krystakia

    How long did it take you to write?

    11 Jan 2010, 17:38

  2. I wrote over a period of several days (5 I think), working on it in small chunks, and editing earlier parts. When I’d finished, I was almost disappointed by how short it was…

    01 Feb 2010, 23:20

  3. Krystakia

    (The thought of actually writing it isn’t exactly my image of a cup of tea) But it looks pretty good, I will say that it is better than anything I could do. I have this problem where I turn anything I’m trying to write into something bizarre, like a badger that catches fire while he’s dancing his way down the side of a huge tree… or something. I feel for you with the shortness though. As you’re writing something like that, it always seems like it should be way longer than it ends up being.

    Did they answer you?

    02 Feb 2010, 01:41


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