By Tina Richardson
On August 4th 2010 I bought a postcard from the Beach Cafe in Old Hunstanton and sent it to myself at my university address. I chose a ‘typical’ seaside image: a sunny day with people enjoying themselves on the beach. It turns out the image was from the 1970s at the latest, as the photographer had to have been standing on the pier. The pier was originally built in 1870 and destroyed by a storm in 1978.
The Wish You Were Here Concept
While wikipedia has a whole section on the Pink Floyd album of the same name, it doesn’t have a section on the concept. This might be because it is obvious or because it merits its very own thesis. However, Jacques Derrida has written about the postcard in The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, and other philosophical texts seem to be available on discussions of the postcard, but not much on wish-you-were-here.
The Postcard as Sign
In Britain the seaside postcard is synonymous with the rise of the Victorian seaside resort. According to the OED a postcard is “A card designed to be carried by post without an envelope“. However, the holiday postcard is much more than that. Amongst other things it is a sign of remembering and a recognition of absence. While this could also be applied to a letter, I think the holiday postcard has a different kind of significance: it is celebrating the pleasure of the sender in the absence of the receiver.
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