Saturday, April 30, 2011


I had been thinking about buying a typewriter since coming to the US, but without much income to play with didn't really want to pay the exhorbitant prices on e-bay. I had left my beloved, flawed Olevetti behind in NZ. Don't let me fool you, I am not a typist.

There is something gloriously physical and solid about a typewriter that you lose with laptops and PCs. With a typewriter you can trace a direct physical connectionfrom your finger through the key, the lever, the arm, to the hammered letter directly imprinting itself onto the paper. The computer is far more opaque in operation: a naive alien from another star could open a typewriter and quickly discover how it operates. That same alien would probably vapourise the planet when confronted by a PC case.

I found Leviathan in the Good Will and instantly fell under it's dreadful spell when I opened it's ugly tan-orange case. It is a beast of a typewriter, weighing close to 15 pounds in it's case. I almost wrenched my shoulder out when I picked it up for the first time. I could of sworn it were made from the bodies of dead stars and the tears of kittens.

I want a Leviathan for quite a few reasons. The biggie: it is solely a writing machine. No internet to parasitically suck time out of me, no distractions, no email, no fascinating Neverwinter Nights or Baldurs Gate or Diablo to play. Simply me, the blank page and my intermediary, Leviathan.

The second is a little symbolic. The typewriter is a twentieth century writers tool, one that birthed any number of beautiful worlds out of words. I am pretty much a 20th century boy, and while there are many advantages to the 21st century's digital age, the pervasive speed and conectivity leaves me a little cold.

A more practical third: it's black-out proof. Like a pen or pencil too, a typewriter can keep going even when the power generators falter. I guess it's possible I could run out of coffee.

And a selfish 4th: I like the sound.


  1. Do they make typewriters any more? I don't think I've touched one since 1990-ish. I did all my term papers in college on a manual typewriter though. Royal, I think.

  2. The ascension of the PC has pretty much killed the typewriter as a writing tool. Last time I saw a typewriter used in earnest was 1991, when I was taught typing in highschool.

    I do harbour a fantasy that there is a typewriter workshop nestled away somewhere in India, producing writing tools for those areas where computers and electricity are scarce. More likely to be a typewriter rehab shop.