Making Corrections

Transcribed below.

These fancy electronic typewriters can erase history. They will make a mark on the page, and then if you don’t like the mark they will make it disappear as completely as a North Korean dissident.

That seems like cheating.

It’s hard to think of a good reason why it should seem like cheating, because we do the same thing with word processors, except much more efficiently. Unless you are one of those Beat poets who think that writing should move in one direction and never look back, editing is an important part of writing.

Still, precisely because we do have word processors, it seems as though there should be something different about a typewriter.

What Dr. Boli finds is that the mechanical action of a mechanical typewriter encourages a rhythmic typing motion that promotes accuracy. The electronic typewriter, just by allowing corrections, makes typing less accurate. Thus the typing speed decreases overall, even if the movement of the fingers is much faster on an electronic keyboard.

There were, of course, ways of correcting mistakes on a manual typewriter, too. Much ingenuity was applied to the question of how to correct the uncorrectable, whether by erasing the error (and much of the paper underneath it) or by covering it up with foul concoctions that never dried, unless you left the lid of the bottle slightly loose, in which case they became inert lumps of concrete.

But there is an alternative to those laborious methods, which is to retype the whole sheet. If a double-spaced page has 200 words on it, and you type at 50 words per minute, then retyping the whole page will take four minutes. Compare that to the time you would spend applying correction fluid and waiting for it to dry (which would never happen), or carefully scraping at the paper with an eraser to remove most of the ink without leaving a hole, and you can see why Dr. Boli has never made use of these correction devices. Paper is cheaper than correction fluid, and typing doesn’t smell as bad.

Olympia Electronic Compact 2
Classic Gothic 10/12 printwheel, 12-pitch

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What Is This Place?

There is a certain amusing dissonance about a site on the Web whose theme is writing by making marks on paper. But that is not the only dissonance you will find here. We’ll have long digressions on random subjects, instructional articles about writing instruments, and even poetry—but everything will be written out on paper, and only then published to the electronic world at large.