Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tap Tap

More on the topic of typewriters :

The Guardian blog responds to the news of McCarty's auction with a piece about other authors and their typewriters. Julian Barnes says :

I think you need the technology that suits the way your brain works. Sometimes you need your thoughts to go down your arm in what feels like a direct feed via pencil or felt-tip to paper, sometimes you require a more formal "sit up and address a machine".

When I tried writing on a computer, it felt an inert business. I had no relationship with the machine; whereas my IBM 196c makes a nice hum, as if it's saying quietly: "Come on, get on with it" or "Surely you can improve on that."

I also found that, while the myth of the computer was that it made everyone write at greater length, and under-correct, because on the screen and in neat print-out it looks more finished than it is, I found that I was constantly over-correcting, ending up with something too tight and unflowing for a first draft.
Another piece on the blog lists Will Self, Don DeLillo and Frederick Forsyth as more authors who use a typewriter.

Says Self :

Writing on a manual makes you slower in a good way, I think. You don't revise as much, you just think more, because you know you're going to have to retype the entire fucking thing. Which is a big stop on just slapping anything down and playing with it.
And Fredrick Forsyth definitely has a point when he says :

I have never had an accident where I have pressed a button and accidentally sent seven chapters into cyberspace, never to be seen again.
Worth browsing is the site :

Authors A-Z is an ongoing project featuring the lives, works, and typewriters of the most outstanding authors around the world. Created in 2004 by Kevin McGowin and Charles Gu for, the project is both a celebration and an exploration of writers and their writing machines. Consisting of more than 80 contemporary authors from Mark Twin to Ayn Rand, Authors A-Z is a growing project documenting the important role of classic typewriters played in the formation of literature master pieces.
May i just add the note, I used typewriters for many years ... and was Typex's best customer!

BTW, the image at the top is a sculture using old typewriters by Jeremy Mayer. More can be found here.

Postscript :

Worth reading also is George Tannebaum's post Tools vs Toys [via] :

Today, of course our tools are more sophisticated than typewriters. We can do sophisticated motion graphics and editing at our desks or on a plane. We can make type dance like Isadora Duncan on LSD. We can compose and record music. We can buy a $49 video camera and shoot stuff.

These are all things Mr. McCarthy can't do on his Olivetti. But they don't make us better than McCarthy. Because Mr. McCarthy's trade involves ideas.

So far no one has built a desktop app that produces those.

1 comment:

Greenbottle said...

anybody here miss the record albums or audio cassettes or vhs video tapes?

ah well, it's a good thing that these people just stop at type writers... i was half expecting to read of some famous writers still writing on papyrus.

and i'm wondering what button frederic forsyth was referring to. i wish sophie kinsella and the like have this button on their keyboards.