Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Making the Unseen Visible





Post-Script: There's more here than mere sentimentality, and involves more than just typewriters. Unearthing the artifacts of cultures ancient and modern reveals a similar fascination with physical handiwork and their relationship with time, memory, life and death. Mementos, talismans, idols and icons are to this day still revered and respected, and remain just as useful to those cultures as do our phones and tablets do to us. It's not just that typewriters can function as tools to perform some mundane task like mechanized printing, but that they become an intimate part of our lives, and thus we endow them with the very real artifacts of relationship.

But I don't want to over-analyze this to death. I'd like for there to remain just a little bit of mystery about sitting down to an ancient machine, interlocking one's fingers with its keys, and performing some ritual that results in creativity spilling itself out like blood upon paper. Like all good rituals, we don't have to understand how it works, only believe that it does work.

Typewriter photos from my Flickr archives, typecast via Olympia SM9 (that itself has its own story to tell).


Blogger Richard P said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Leigh Whitaker said...

I was interested to read this post today. My Hermes that I've been working on has a sticker on the bottom with the former owners name and address (it's an Air Transport Association sticker). I've actually found her current address and I was thinking of writing her a letter and including some pictures. I'm wondering how weird that would be for her. She's 90 now, according to the internet. Hopefully she wouldn't think I was trying to scam her for money, lol.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Totally agreed, and there are some typewriters that have a very direct record of their previous owner's thoughts and personality - those with one-time use carbon ribbons. My recently acquired IBM Composer is one such that not only has half a ribbon's worth of its previous owner's thoughts imprinted on it in reverse zig-zag patterns, but thanks to the owners name written in the owner's manual and recent local obituaries and news items, I can even guess what's there: lyrics and text for original choral compositions. I discovered that the previous owner was a fairly famous local music teacher and composer - An interesting and creative life I wouldn't ever have known anything about if the machine itself hadn't told me.

9:23 AM  

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