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Amber Paulen

Ode to Type-writer

To celebrate the making of the machine that has caused pivot to the whole of my life: The Type-writer. Apparently, one hundred and forty years ago the patent was made. The typewriter is a writer’s romance image, it’s the black and white Romeo and Juliet scene of a paper scattered desk, of love or hate or any other emotion made by the firm strike of the key and then the arm and paper inked with words, lovely words. Here are some swooning, smoking, thinking, writing images of typewriters alone or at work, all done Magnum -style.

For my own ode I will stick to words, lovely words. As has been mentioned here, I am now working on two parallel drafts section by section, making the stiff-transition of typewriter to laptop. It is the laptop I must face for it is the typewriter I so thoroughly enjoy. A typewriter is the largest creative magnitude of free-form, tangible, the possibilities of white paper that addicts me. A laptop is structured, technical; but it is also very neat and gives the impression of getting somewhere. I like WriteRoom OK and the lavender background it allows, but there is no note-jotting in margins, no pencil scratches, no messy stacks of paper, only a glowing screen adorned with streaming words.

The one thing, maybe the most endearing thing of the typewriter that the laptop or desktop can never, will never have, are the movements which give rise to sounds. There’s the bell, the train-track push of the turbine, the horse-race strike of the keys, the three gear advancement of one line down, but the best, the very best typewriter sound is the one of Finished. To be finished means I must pull the no longer white paper out of the turbine which results in the most satisfying finished sound: a fast roll of gears, like a quickly spun wheel, like an axle always moving onward. With the paper out and in my hand and the turbine at rest and keys at rest and my mind at rest, it is with thanks I sigh.

To write on a typewriter is communion with higher ground. To write on a computer is work.


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