TypeTown #33: "I tried to find the smallest, lightest typewriter I could."
🐴 Cormac McCarthy, Edgar Morin, Jimmy Carter, and more...
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A word of warning: we’re going to be quick this week.
Mrs TypeTown is celebrating a BIG birthday and we’re not sure how long we can get away with this nonsense.
So we start with American author Cormac McCarthy, whose love affair with typewriters has left quite the mark.
After dabbling with a Royal during the early days of his career, McCarthy eventually settled on an Olivetti Lettera 32.
“I tried to find the smallest, lightest typewriter I could.”
For almost half a century, he bashed out everything on that same machine.
He’d picked it up for 50 bucks in 1963. When it finally packed in, his friend bought him another for $11 and McCarthy auctioned off the original machine in a bid to raise funds for Santa Fe Institute.
Auction house Christie’s reckoned it might fetch $15k-$20k.
In the end, it went for just over a quarter of a million.
The decision to stick with typewriters was a comfort for McCarthy. But it left the next generation at Santa Fe Institute somewhat befuddled.
“I was in my office clacking away. One student peered in and said: ‘Excuse me. What is that?’”
Still, it hasn’t done him any harm.
His novels include All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, The Road, and Child of God.
Along the way, he’s picked up the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The film adaptations of his works have won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
And throughout it all, he’s maintained a detachment that has left many questions unanswered.
“Writing is very subconscious and the last thing I want to do is think about it.”
Let’s leave him in peace.
READ» No Country for Old Typewriters: A Well-Used One Heads to Auction - The New York Times
READ» Rare Thoughts on Writing From Cormac McCarthy in This Unlikely Interview - Literary Hub
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A century of exploration
TypeTown is distinctly conscious of its general bias - so far - towards the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.
So this week we travel to France, where 101-year-old philosopher Edgar Morin can reflect on decades of remarkable contributions to fields as varied as politics, ecology, education, and media.
This image was shot in 1976, perhaps when he was working on one of the 60 books he’s published across Europe and Latin America.
As a result, he’s received state honours from France, Portugal, Morocco, and Spain.
Today, though, his tools have changed, tweeting regularly from his home in Paris and giving this spritely interview at a remarkable 99 years young.
Quite some life.
READ» Dr. Edgar Morin - WISE Qatar
READ» Edgar Morin: Uniting the best of Africa and the West - New African
As sad news of Jimmy Carter entering hospice care broke earlier this week, it’s worth remembering this is a man whose 1977 typewritten note has (we assume) gone further than any other piece of human communication.
The note was included on the Voyager 1 spacecraft that launched that year.
By 2013, it was the first human letter to reach extrasolar space (beyond our Solar System).
Seven years later, Voyager 1 was recorded as being 22.3 billion kilometres from the sun.
It is still out there somewhere, covering 11 miles a second, every second of every minute of every day, forever… unless, of course, someone or something has intercepted it.
READ» Dear Space Aliens: Hello! Love, Jimmy Carter - Slate
Worth pausing the platen
📬 AI Writing and Typewriters - Total Annarchy (Ann Handley)
📬 Writing on Real Paper with White-Out - Writer Everlasting
📬 How a ‘priceless’ Pet Shop Boys letter ended up in an Altrincham record shop - Altrincham Today
And finally… typewriters in the wild
In this short new film about TypeTown favourite WRDSMTH…
In this display at Norwich Museum…
And in this news piece from WISH-TV…
Until next time
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Love this -- “Writing is very subconscious and the last thing I want to do is think about it.”
Beautiful memory of President Carter’s epistle!