Our typing taps into an alternate reality

“The computer is restructuring our current economy of writing. It is changing the cultural status of writing as well as the method of producing books. It is changing the relationship of the author to the text and of both author and text to the reader.”

from The Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext and the History of Writing by Jay David Bolter

I'm venturing back to the land of academia, where at long last I will once again embrace the textbook, abide by the syllabus, make the grades...this time without the excessive drinking. I know this sounds like tons of fun to you, so I decided to share the love. When I came across this quote in the midst of some preliminarily assigned informational scientific reading (which was, quite honestly, putting me to sleep five hours before my bedtime), I didn't keep reading. No, I stopped, looked around, allowed the quote to marinate for awhile, and then, wondering if I was feeling additional delayed effects of last June's bong hit, I felt powerless against the pull of the keyboard, so I found the nearest friendly computer and started to type.

I probably should have read myself to sleep that night. Yes, I should have kept riding the upright academic tide instead of taking a wrong turn towards loco, meditating on the nature of the written word like a little kid looking to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow (okay, the whole Santa and Tooth Fairy myths were fine because they didn't entice us to actually go anywhere, but I can remember annoying my poor mom about this elusive pot and longing to leave my elementary school grounds in search for either shiny riches or what I so often saw on the box of magically delicious Lucky Charms).

But since this quote calls into question the blogging method to which I am so dedicated, I felt the need to comment. After all, I know some of you bloggers and like-minded type-artists often take moments out of your busy lives to drop by this manic depressive reading room. The least I can do to show my appreciation is post this rambling mess here, where it undoubtedly belongs, so that you, too, may devote way too much thought to the type-writing dynamic.


Writing and computers. Computers and writing. Keys and fingers. Speed and accuracy. Communication. Discussion. Emotions. Our typing taps into an alternate reality. Parchment & quill, typewriter, diaries, these ancient methods have all but expired, too much bother for our instant gratifications, ancestors of our scribbling handwriting fury, with messy strikethroughs, arrows, mistakes showing the process, building blocks finite and linear. Complex wiring simplifies our wordplay, less deliberate and more impulsive. The inherent shyness of hesitation is gone when my fingertips glide across the keyboard, improvising letters, cutting and pasting, manipulating language, deleting the assembly, destroying any evidence that I may not have known what I am doing. But do we ever really know what we are doing, typing away like we’re going somewhere, like people may read our impressions as expressions of worth and value in this disseminated global empire?

We must type the expression of our impressions to exist. We must type what we see and hear to subsist. Heavy typing, electrical hum, light chatter. Everybody’s going about the daily ritual, perpetuated by hours and minutes elapsing, moving right along with our muscles, working and living, knowing that this is the body we’re stuck in, and it’s growing. We’re either in slow-motion or fast-forward, the concept of real time just as much of a illusory convention as grammar and musical notes, organized on the desktop, stored on the hard drive, eating away at our life expectancies. Progress and decay somehow compromise while I contemplate my inert activity, flushed with anticipation of turning the corner, hard and fast, eyes open and mouth closed, silent.

The weather is balmy, warm yet cloudy, air conditioning blasting indoors like an arctic wind tunnel, freezing paranoid thoughts in the comfort we take for granted. We’re just sitting at the computers, computing our computations. Our technological function is one big How-To manual, an intimidating gang of instructions that we don’t always follow, now or never, but the next time I find that place where it’s now or never, I’m gonna choose never. ‘Now’ will always be behind your shoulder, enabling you to move on and improvise the next act. The word ‘never’ cuts like a knife into the English language, providing dramatic ultimatum, almost cinematic in its function, its grand negativity devastating. Now will never be ever-present. Kiss it goodbye like it will never last, because maybe that’s the one thing you know for sure, and a heavy reliance on the word, ‘maybe’ indicates uncertainty, a reluctance to be sure of myself, a resistance to the kind of unwavering, stubborn confidence that can hit you like an arrow to the heel. This resistence is a strength, a respect for everything we don't know, everything we will someday find out.

The thinkers ponder the truth, philosophies and theories and analysis beckon the discussion forward like someday it's gonna mean something. Has the text changed us? Or have we changed the text? We look down and see paragraphs of permanence and know that our only folly is kept inside, waiting to emerge. Look around, these texts are everywhere, transforming language, audio visual light vibrations, attracting our senses and eliciting cranial responses, making us laugh, cry, smile, want to kill ourselves, want to talk about it until the sun comes up or the energy runs out and there's nothing to do except just observe how now could maybe someday become never and give thanks for impressions of expression that never would have been possible without the act of you typing thoughts...generated, computed, and priceless.


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