Thursday, March 31, 2011

Slow type

And now I run the risk of seeming ridiculously retro and nostalgic, but I loved the story in the New York Times style section today about typewriter fetishists.

“I’m in love with all of them,” said Louis Smith, 28, a lanky drummer from Williamsburg. Five minutes later, he had bought a dark blue 1968 Smith Corona Galaxie II for $150. “It’s about permanence, not being able to hit delete,” he explained. “You have to have some conviction in your thoughts. And that’s my whole philosophy of typewriters.”

The article, "Click, Clack, Ding!, Sigh"...brought up a lot of buried misapprehension that I've always had about the slapdash approach to writing that the computer has created in all of us. And because this  is not just about the love of slow-brewed thoughts, but about the sad fact that we've embraced plastic over lovingly burnished metal, here's the slide show companion to the story.

In grad school, I was taking a class with Sven Birkerts when he was writing The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. In the class, he often threw out his theory about computers creating a lot of bad thinking and dashed-off writing (see Louis Smith, above). I'd even take it a step further to say that handwriting creates the best link between the brain and the hand, offering up more creativity and solid thinking. I remember casually asking a writer/editor if she ever tried writing in longhand first, because I always thought it brought better results. "Just sounds like a waste of time to me," she said with a flummoxed look, making me feel like a complete throwback...kind of like these typewriters.

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