Olympia Traveller de Luxe

12 Apr My Type Writer

The day I brought a type writer:

Why buy a type writer in this day and age?

Its quite simple really, my printer seriously pisses me off. You can stop there if you wish as I am sure that many of you out there have an empathy and understanding of what I am talking about. It works for an hour, and then the next…. it doesn’t work at all for absolutely no reason beyond the usual conspiracy theory of a Panamanian tax avoiding company wishing to screw you for a few more extra quid. Or is that just my own?

I went onto eBay and brought myself a type writer. It’s a small travel type thing which is still surprisingly heavy but it looks pretty cool and it serves its function. You see I was reading a book and I wanted to make some notes on the computer so that I could print and re-read what I had written but this proved to be quite a problem. My bloody printer! It no longer wanted to associate itself with my computer, it had become aloof and was beyond wanting to bother working slightly hard and serve its purpose. After around 30 minutes of downloading drivers and getting the operating system to recognise the damn thing it finally was connected and live.

Print preview. Print. Notification that it was out of ink. You can see this is a proving to be a long drawn out process. I had gone to the effort of re-installing the software and making sure the drivers were up to date, so I carried on with this lost cause. A quick run to the shops to get a new ink cartridge and then I was quickly dissuaded from going any further based on the sheer cost of the stuff. Wars have been started for liquid which costs a lot less!

So I brought a type writer.

Olympia Traveller de Luxe

The thing that you quickly realise is the finger pressure required to get a good smack of the hammer. In this digital age it is very easy to type quickly and incorrectly, the keys just create a digital pixel based font and the spell check will autocorrect in simlpe mistakes. Using a type writer is a work out for the fingers and the mind. Heavy stabbing fingers to punch the key home. Being aware of the layout of the page so that you do not overrun at the end of the page and of course spelling. There is no going back to re-correct unless you bust out the tip-ex.

It reminded me of a portrait I once took of a little girl who had asked if she could see the back of the camera to view the picture. She did not understand that inside that funny little box was a 35mm film and it needed to be developed and printed before being viewed – or uploaded as she put it. Of course technology moves on and often for the better but there is an essential component missing. I am a lazy typer. I learned how to type quickly on AOL chat way back in the day, trying to find girls to talk to who lived in another town. I do type quickly but I do not put any thought into it, if its wrong I can readjust, if the wording doesn’t read correctly I can delete and rearrange. The spell check will correct the common and simple errors I am always making but with a type writer there is no option. Like the film camera you have to get it right.

I find it very useful to lucid write (type) with the Traveller de Luxe, more so than with pen and paper or a Word doc.

There is something very tactile and visceral about typing on the writer or pressing the shutter and hearing the loud click and wind of a 35mm. It processes through your fingers and stays within your mind and the experience is earned and learned. It gives a boundary in which you know the correct rules defined by the physical property of the object you are using and at the same time offers a chance to experiment and the very realistic opportunity to fail. I think that is was art is partly about. Failing. If you don’t fail and get pissed off with yourself, you will never grow. So go out there, get some film (or a type writer) and fuck it up. Learn, experiment and grow.


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