Pictorial Image vs. Alphabetical Image vs. Sleep and the Price Paid
Holding onto my first thoughts after finishing Jonathan Crary’s 24/7 this morning, I realize that I must stay quiet, focused, without external interruptions: morning prayers on hold, ditto for news that will have to wait to be not quite so new, and floor exercises that will be performed at a later hour. In other words, I need to escape the digital world of 24/7.
This morning I wish for a typewriter, even an IBM Selectric, something in which to put an entirely blank piece of paper: a writing screen with no marginal instructions or advertisements. Such distractions are on the right margins of my Microsoft Starter, urging me to buy a copy of Microsoft Office. I am a nonconsumer by nature, although it’s a trait that can be considered cheap. In this case, Microsoft is punishing me with ads because I won’t buy the finished product. This, of course is on my laptop, something I did buy. All I’d like is just a piece of paper on which to type out my thoughts without editing toward a social media. That could come later. But a typewriter is not an option this morning, so I unplug my now–charged laptop and fit it comfortably between my nightgowned waist and my knees, my back pillow-propped against a rich mahogany headboard and begin.
If typed on a typewriter, as I have done right now on my laptop, I would pull the paper from the non-digital machine, go to my home office and power up my copier to fax or pdf the text to my PC, where at a less private time, one open to the distractions of the world, I could edit and even enlarge upon those initial thoughts. I’m not against the digital world, I’d just like to have it on my time, not 24/7. Crary’s book has found a place in my thinking.
Why not put the words down on paper in pencil or pen? That would almost be the ideal way to tactilely reinforce my thinking, but I remember, even as a kid, not being able to write fast enough; my thoughts would jumble on paper, words tripping over one another so that what I meant to say became blurred or simply by its arrangement unintelligible. The typewriter became that tool which actually slowed me down in that I could never type as quickly as I could think, even after secretarial courses hell-bent on getting me past 90 words a minute, but always someone else’s 90, never my own.
To use a typewriter today is not a loom-bashing endeavor when combined with the ability to electronically pass that writing into a digitalized state where it can be worked on, edited, and then moved to its intended destination. When making use of digital technology, the value I place on time in which to think while typing becomes first and foremost a commodity for someone else’s profit. Once anybody’s writing becomes part of the digital world, once our fingers tap out text, questions or products, we have become the cost-free marketing department of every corporation with a product or service to sell. Our time, their profit.
A few personal notes about holding onto those first thoughts: A moderately severe hearing loss works to my benefit in the day’s early hours. I have no auditory distractions until I put in my hearing aids (also digitally enhanced), and even time doesn’t intrude, as my bedroom wall clock (a beautifully shaped piece of wood with gold Roman numerals crafted by my son Lukas in wood shop) has been without a battery for more than a year. I can approximate the hour by the amount of light bleeding past the edges of my blackout shade. I live alone and I am retired. Taking the time to think uninterrupted is a gift I have been waiting for my entire life. It is not a gift I intend to willingly give away.
There must be at least one thrift shop in this town with a working typewriter for sale. – Sunny Solomon 2/20/14