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A hierarchy has been established, now that the printed word has become electronically portable. Fax is good, e-mail is bad, typewritten letter is better, hand-written best. Thoughts committed to the lap-top are immediately suspect, and not to be compared with thoughts committed to lined notebooks by the stub-ends of pencils larded with gobs of candle wax. As Clive James has said, the key is “resistance from the medium.”

Matthew Parris declared recently in The Times that once his readers began writing to him electronically, he would be excused from reading the letters because they would be too numerous, too easily…

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