friday diary

Technology advances, as we leave behind space travel for typewriters.

Cormac McCarthy is selling his typewriter.  He got a new one.

The typewriter is selling at Christie’s with a letter from McCarthy authenticating that, yes, he ‘typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not yet published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of fifty years…’

You begin to appreciate the sheer amount of work it would take an infinite number of monkeys to randomly type Hamlet.

The starting price is set at US$ 15,000-20,000.  And it’s likely to go up.

While this may embody the typical grail status that significant memorabilia has in fandom, McCarthy apparently sees the typewriter simply as a tool.  He’s one of a number of significant writers who still use typewriters.  The usual reasons seem to be that

1) practically, they’re simple mechanical devises, easier to maintain.  As Frederick Frosyth told the BBC, ‘I have never had an accident where I have pressed a button and accidentally sent seven chapters into cyberspace, never to be seen again. And have you ever tried to hack into my typewriter? It is very secure.’

2) aesthetically, the rattle and clatter of a typewriter has a more evocative, artistic appeal than the streamlining and digitization of a computer.  There’s an alleged physicality to typewriters that is lost in the cyber experience of an OS.

3) creatively, these writers claim they think better at a typewriter.  As Will Self told The Guardian, ‘Ultimately, it makes no practical difference if you work on a manual typewriter – it simply means you have to think in your head instead of on the screen.’

Which can admittedly be a challenge.  Here at Paradoxes (typed without shame on a laptop), it’s hat’s off to these writers, and to commitment–in glorious anticipation of all those determined iBook users of 2047.

An Alien Typewriter? Probably.

In keeping with the spirit of the times, the UK Ministry of Defense has closed down it’s UFO programme.  Suddenly, swiftly, and, Nick Pope complains, ‘in a most unceremonious way.’

National Public Radio reported that the UFO hotline, in use more or less since 1959, went cold today.  Apparently, the British Military thinks it’s better to fund the war in Afghanistan than to prepare for an alien invasion.

The story took an eerily SF tone as official statements appeared.  The website that used to tell you how to report the shining silver saucer slipping surreality over Sussex now simply explains it doesn’t exist.  It begins with this:

The MOD has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life.  However, in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom.

‘We can neither confirm nor deny…however, we can’t take this seriously…’

Next, if this anything like the usual alien invasion story arc, we need is an enraged expert.

Enter enraged expert, stage left.  Roy Lake of the London UFO Studies group.  According to NPR, Lake thinks ‘it’s a stupid thing to do’, and hints darkly about possible ramifications for the human race.

‘We know that sometimes things can be explained as natural phenomena,’ Lake said, ‘but there could be that one thing that’s not. I think the government knows d*mn well what’s going on up there, and they’re covering it up.’

But Pope worries about exactly the opposite.  In the days of hi-tech espionage, he says, ‘””if it doesn’t behave like a conventional aircraft, we’re not interested” is a very dangerous mindset.’  What we don’t know could hurt.  Or transmorgify us into processed dinners.

Well, goodbye, Torchwood.  At least officially.  Yes, we all know (or suspect) the truth.

When was the last time you saw a weather balloon with attendant droids that fired phytocannons, anyway?

One thought on “friday diary

  1. Just great – now who am I going to call next time I’m in England and I start to sculpt Devil’s Tower in my Bangers and Mash?

    Well certainly no offense to Mr. McCarthy – whatever floats your creative boat – but as the wind blows through the big trees in my backyard, could it be that they are whispering to me? What’s that you say old tree? – “Thank you for using a computer Joivre.”

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