Drew Pisarra

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Artwork by Gene McCormick

 Requiem for a Manual Typewriter

O, Remington! O, Smith-Corona! O, Olympia and Olivetti!
Must I hammer out the self-sacrifices that we’ve undergone for art, for commerce, for communication of every sort?
Must I ratatat tat and clackety clack  how this “e” hurts, this “s” aches, and this god-damned “ “ oftentimes gets stuck ?
Must I bemoan our brand of hellish stasis via QWERTY or shall I shrug my many type bars as if in capitalization mode, declaiming with quiet insistence: THIS AIN’T RIGHT AND THIS IS NOT AS IT SHOULD BE!!!

O, Underwood, O, Brother, O, Royal!
Fellow typewriters, fellow writing machines, fellow  keyboards of printed copy, where did we go wrong? How did we falter? Why did we fail?
To what scrap pile of still-useful goods shall we be thrown?
To what junk yard? To what trash heap?
Is this the inevitable? the unavoidable? the doomed?
Must we gather dust alongside solar calculators and windup clocks, rotary egg beaters and tiresome tire pumps, hand presses and hand drills and foot-driven potter’s wheels, push lawnmowers and all-but-forgotten laundry pulleys, washboards and drying racks, thumb pianos and abaci with their calculating beads.
What lies ahead?

O, Adler, O, Crandall, O, Hammond,
O, Facit, O, Imperial, O, Hermes,

O, Blickensderfer…
Look to the days of glory.
Look to the glory days.

     See William Gibson cranking out ‘80s cyber punk on an olive-green Hermes portable circa 1927.
     See Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy spooling out from his singular Olympia SM 9.
     See Charles Bukowski with his Royal Model HH (pawned), his Underwood Standard (pawned) and his Olympia SG model (pawned then reclaimed).
     See Sylvia Plath in the bac yard pecking away at her husband, her father, her life and her punctuated mind on an Olivetti Lettera 22.
     Or Yukio Mishima, whose typewriter, perhaps an Imperial, had its quotation marks permanently jammed.

Look there’s more.

     See William S. Burroughs whose Remington dictated Naked Lunch to him instead of vice versa.
     See Jack Kerouac famously spilling out 100-words-per-minute as On The Road unraveled its long and uninterrupted scroll,
     See Agatha Christie who did it with her Remington Home Portable in the library with a candlestick,
     Or Richard Wright with his Royal Arrow, John Cheever with his Royal Portable, John Ashbery with his Royal Aristocrat, Royal Model KMN,
     Ernest Hemingway with his Royal Quiet de Luxe, Arthur C. Clarke with his Remington Noiseless or Suzan-Lori Par s with her Groma Kolibri Hummingbird writing 365 plays in a year. Even Mark Twain clacking out his Life on the Mississippi on a Sholes & Glidden Treadle Model – a first in publishing.

Clack, clack.

Hear me.
Hunched, waiting, impatient.
My cracked black  leather case carelessly open.
My green crinkle coat paintjob chipped and stripped to camouflage.

Somewhere in the drawer beneath, lies unused onion paper, untouched carbon copies, and unopened bottles of correcting fluid for mistakes not yet made.

Everything works here. Test it and see:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
The quick  brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Should that pangram fall on deaf ears, here’s another:
The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

What magic! Here’s another:
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

Maybe it’s time to get soused.

The world is word-processed.
The world is computing
that you’re incapable despite your capabilities,
unfashionable despite your timeless design,
no longer ready,
no longer in sync.

Tap. Tap.
Tap. Tap.


Drew Pisarra writes about Korean movies at koreangrindhouse.blogspot.com. Since 2013, he’s been tweeting every week on a Shakespeare sonnet via @mistermysterio.