Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Typewriter

Some days ago I was trying to write a few good words, maybe like this, so thought my flattery.  Once nothing appeared, again and again, I thought about the silence, the unnatural silence, of even my ill attempt.  Something was wrong, help was needed, sound needed to come from my manly attempt to compose doggerel.  So away I put my sleek and quiet iPad only good for prose, and found a place not far where an old man sells and repairs typewriters still.  On the phone he said he'd been doing it all his life and still making money at it, knew everything there was to know.  He tried selling me an electric typewriter.  So much for Solomonic wisdom, said I, he didn't know me. Told him I never used the electric stuff, but I had a manual Underwood once, and a Royal, but best was a Hermes, with a good feel, and she never asked for anything, just let me type, with a soft or hard touch, and words came out and I came to like the doing and the product.  Did he have such a thing?  Sometimes good things happen to fools, he said, for he had one in almost perfect condition, a Hermes 3000.  Dropping all prudence, I drove Clarence north an hour and bought the thing for ninety bucks.  The pleasure was great, and--eventually--the doggerel came forth.  The thing was a hit, a palpable hit.  It still is.  I love it and she puts up with me.  Now I have discovered that the last typewriter factory has closed its doors and I almost wept, but then--trusting in my iPad for the research--discovered that this ain't true thank God!  Now back to my Swiss made Hermes.  You've heard the expression, made like a Swiss typewriter?  Exactly.  Precisely.

Discussions - 3 Comments

That was nice. It brought a badly needed smile on a gloomy day in a gloomy season.

I have my grandmother's Underwood typewriter, but it needs a new ribbon and probably a good cleaning. At least it did about ten years back, though I haven't opened the case but to look in when I am missing the previous owner, dead the last thirty years.

Happily, the site you offer has ribbons that might work and points to an online recommended repair shop list ( http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/tw-repair.html) That's exciting and something to look forward to and save towards.

Thank you for the smile. Enjoy your typewriting!

I am convinced -- I can't prove it with anything resembling evidence, yet I am still convinced -- that the ability to backspace and instantly correct typing mistakes is the root cause of all our societal ills.

I used to type rather carefully, and give some thought to what I was about to type. I would visualize the words and the finger strokes needed to make letters ink on paper.

Now I just slam away at a keyboard. I go back and read what I write and find whole words missing ... words that were in my mind but somehow never made it to the fingers.

On the whole I'd rather have a keyboard than a typewriter. But that does not diminish the typewriter and its graces. Or the virtue of slowing down and acting with more precision.

Never learned to touch-type, so I hunt and peck rapido speedo (or so I think) but do so on a computer. When words collide (ha ha, stole that phrase from a book title) on the computer, I find the best remedy is a simple pen and notepad. The instant and constant editing that a computer facilitates crushes the free flow of words that, in (first) draft form, should constitute the matter to which revising will lend its ultimate form. In short, even a typewriter, to my lights, again perhaps because I can't skate trippingly across its keys, is too cumbersome for me. Pen and paper, that's the key; free-write away. Best of all, of course, regardless of media, is what Stephen King called B.I.C. I'll let you folks spell out that acronym. Hint: Flannery O'Connor, among others, made the same point, and in fact imposed it on herself as a habit in order to be present when lightning would strike in her favor. Given her illness, she only had a few good hours a day with which to put her mind and pen to her vocation.

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