What tools do we use for writing? Until you get to computer-generated type, everything is potentially messy, sometimes smelly, and always ready for appropriation into an art project. Used typewriter ribbons? Exquisite. Outtakes from the mimeograph? Fabulous.
I had a manual typewriter in college and wasn’t all that skilled at creating neat pages. Now, however, I am crazy about the way the red bleeds out of the black and how the paper yellowed but the whiteout stayed white. Although the IBM Selectric was introduced in 1961, they were expensive, big, and heavy. I can’t remember anyone who had one at home.
As described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typewriter,
“The Selectric used a system of latches, metal tapes, and pulleys driven by an electric motor to rotate the ball into the correct position and then strike it against the ribbon and platen. The typeball moved laterally in front of the paper instead of the former platen-carrying carriage moving the paper across a stationary print position.”
There was no doubt you were using a machine: awkward,
noisy, busy in and of itself. Office procedures as the frame
for analyzing change over time will reappear in future posts.
For now, the essay’s visual.