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Page 191

Typewriters require getting smudged by white-out and inky ribbons.
They can jam. Erasure is often awkward. And yet,
no computer or Bic can offer a satisfaction to match
those striking metal keys (swack! Swackity-swack!), the music
of pre-electric typewriters (noises that can be added
electronically, to computer keyboards, but are NOT
the same), the pleasure of stroking out in relentless rhythmic taps
a line of words (no errors!), then ending the line
with a hearty carriage return (scaRROMP -- DING!),
then, the tapping instantly resumed, without a missed beat,
as if never interrupted. You could see and feel the process
that turned delicately waggling fingers into flailing typewriter
thingies (a technical term for metal arms, stamped with characters
on their flying extremities) into words on a page.

(Typewriter, mon semblable, you are the type of writer
I am!)

(But when I write with Bic, it seems I am Bic.)

What are fingers, but claws, paws, for tearing off hunks
of raw meat and cramming them into our maws (eating
is a maw-and-paw business), for grabbing one another
in anger, lust or play, for scratching where we itch?

But at my typewriter, I could see my ideas taming
my fingers, turning them into instruments
of thought; the dance of my transformed fingers
would charm mere metal and plastic mechanism,
make it come alive; finger to key, key to ribbon,
ribbon to page, characters (neatly serifed) leaping
from fingers (which have outrun thought -- I could not
think to place them so quickly, so deftly)

from fingers to the page, as the page rolled upwards,
processed, line by line, in my little blankness-decryption
(or encryption?) factory, magically converting
nothing into words.

Note: "Typewriter, mon semblable" – Typewriter, my likeness, something like me – an allusion (for what reason? I don't recall) to T. S. Eliot's similar line in "The Wasteland", calling the "Hypocrite Lecteur" (Hypocrite reader) "mon semblable...".

"When I write with Bic, it seems I am Bic" – the last three words pun "iambic", the most commonly used metric foot in English formal poetry (and in my formal poetry. Bic is my favorite brand of ball-point pen. It's plastic cap is perfect for cleaning out earwax (a no-no! Don't try this at home kids) or picking teeth (preferably not just after using it to clean out earwax).

The noisy typewriter becomes a factory for filling blank pages – or decrypting the blankness by discovering what the blankness is saying or encrypting blankness, encoding it in words that, ultimately, say nothing. It is, in any case (UPPER or lower) amazing all the devices we've developed for making words appear on blank pages.

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