From the bottom of my troglodytic cavern I’m listening, with a certain dose of bitter-sweet nostalgia, to a fading away mechanic ticking.
It’s a ghost sound by now, the lost sound of typewriters’ voice.
I have no idea about how many people have paid attention to this little news, lost in the jungle of overwhelming and heavier serious news which compose the environment of our daily life.
I have noticed it and I have felt a light pang of loss.
The last factory of typewriters of the world, which was located, it seems, somewhere in India, has just closed forever.
There was not any further request for typewriters; nowadays nearly everyone writes by computer, some still choose nostalgic and reliable handwritten ways to save their short notes, others don’t write at all.
Actually a pen or a pencil and a note book remain the only real antagonist of virtual writing.
Mechanic world is destined to extinction, it’s composed of noise and limits, it needs strength and even physical energy.
Immateriality is destined to triumph…
The iconic image of the writer, the journalist, the reporter remains nevertheless linked with the one of the mechanic tool, the portable typewriter which completed the scene.
A computer keyword is softer, cleaned, more silent, easier to deal with in all possible way, a little aseptic. It opens our horizon over an imaginary never-ending virtual sheet of paper which we can fill with lots of words and gives us the freedom to delete them and recreate slightly different lines, modifying their apparent reality at any time, without signs.
Do you remember, on the opposite, the annoying problem of a typo, the mortal sin committed on a letter, written by an antediluvian typewriter?
The correction was more or less possible, but it was always visible, like a kind of Cain’ mark, on our concrete page.
Often the best solution was simply pulling out the page, to throw it away and to start over again with a new one.
Writing by computer gives us a total flexibility, the possibility to store immaterial documents in immaterial immense drawers.
Wonderful, isn’t it?
Sometimes a creepy thought crosses my mind…what could we do if suddenly for some mysterious background all electrical power suddenly disappeared?
All would be blocked; our life would lose most of fixed and reassuring points of references.
Catastrophic science fiction sceneries…and in this deep, scared silence, we might hear a remote ticking of an old typewriter which had survived and was still there to offer its humble service to its owner.
Typewriters have had a relatively short life, a little more than 150 years, and they are practically extinct by now, like innocent and harmless little dinosaurs.
A few of them will survive in some museum of old oddities.
Everything has become easier and immaterial, music, photography, books, communications…
Even my slow troglodytic mind can see the undeniable advantages of that, even though I miss the records shops, the big covers of vinyl albums (cumbersome, but aesthetically so beautiful) the photographic films, the time we had to wait before seeing our photos printed (all so expensive!), the days before receiving an answer to our letters and the special moment in which we kept the envelope in our hands, before opening it.
I still feel pain in my fingertip just thinking of the weeks I had spent typing my degree thesis on my faithful “Olivetti”.
Ah, if only I could have a computer then…
So goodbye without too many regrets to typewriters, what’s next?
In all cases, here in the bottom of my troglodytic cave I keep some shelves full of real books, a stock of pens, pencils and notepads.
One never knows…