Thursday, December 27, 2007

On Christmas and Typewriters

The wind has returned and with it my sleepless nights. I would not mind it, except those are not really productive hours – it is an odd stage of being awake but not fully functional, no intellectual alertness whatsoever.
Christmas granted us some beautiful days when the snow fell on the ground and surprise, surprise, stayed there long enough to enjoy a rare opportunity of making a snowman and playing snowball fights.
But alas, a winter wonderland is over and in addition to the wind, it is raining now.

The Christmas itself was very nice – everybody was happy with Santa’s gifts. The funny thing happened the day after Christmas. We went to the
Natural Museum of Iceland, which miraculously was opened while most of the businesses were closed for the holiday. There in a special little room designed for children’s enjoyment the kids found an old-fashioned typewriter. They pecked on the keys, watching with utter fascination how the letters appeared on the paper, were highly delighted to discover a “carriage return” lever, and didn’t tire of removing the paper with a grand gesture of professional writers and tucking in the new lists. We could not convince them to go to a different hall for quite some time. Perhaps, the ability to see something directly on the previously blank page, as oppose to the computer screen, tapped into their creative spirit. I understand why some writers didn’t surrender these machines even with arrival of computers – there is certain rhythm into it: clickety-clack of typing, swift sound of a carriage returns, typing again; it can be a trigger for inspiration. Also, there is such a legacy behind it – a long line of famous writers, starting with Mark Twain who famously was the first prominent author to turn a typed manuscript to his publisher; Hemingway, writing his stories standing in front of his typewriter; the poems of E.E. Cummings, which, as mentioned so often, could have been composed on nothing but a typewriter. And then there are images of reporters in movies furiously typing away their stories - think of ever so elegant Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday”.
It is a pity the Christmas is over – the typewriter could have been a wonderful present.

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