Thursday, December 31, 2015

Between the Lines: The Typewriter Revolution

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guests: Richard Polt

Why would anyone these days who needs to write reach for a typewriter? Aren’t computers much more efficient? They are and author Richard Polt says that’s precisely the problem. Polt is a professor of philosophy at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, who says the typewriter is making a resurgence, if not a revolution, in our time. He’s written about this phenomenon in The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century (The Countryman Press, 2015).

Dig deep and you will find a patent for an invention that looks much like a modern typewriter as far back as 1714. English inventor Henry Mill filed his patent, describing his invention as "an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another." By the 1870s, typewriters could be found in a few business offices and in some homes too. The typewriter was a modern and much-used machine in the 19th century—but does it have a place in the 21st?

Polt’s interest in typewriters as a collector (he owns about 300 of them), enthusiast, repairman, writer/blogger and magazine editor goes beyond the romance of using a vintage machine. He opens his book with The Typewriter Manifesto. It’s typewritten, of course: 
“We assert our right to resist the Paradigm, to rebel against the Information Regime, to escape the Data Stream. We strike a blow for self-reliance, privacy, and coherence against dependency, surveillance, and disintegration. We affirm the written word and written thought against multimedia, multitasking, and the meme. We choose the real over representation, the physical over the digital, the durable over the unsustainable, the self-sufficient over the efficient. THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TYPEWRITTEN.”
“It’s not just about nostalgia,” Polt says. “As the digitization of the world races forward — challenging our privacy, our powers of concentration and our self-reliance — it becomes ever more important to find ways to stay connected to physical reality. That’s why I call the typewriter revival an insurgency against the all-digital paradigm.”
Writing on a typewriter, Polt says, gets us ...

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