Olympian brainstorm no. 2: typing as ascetic practice

by | Jun 29, 2012 | Uncategorized | 8 comments

Here’s the second brainstorm that developed on my Olympia SF this Wednesday.

These “brainstorms” are explorations of an idea. The idea isn’t necessarily something I believe, and it certainly isn’t necessarily true, but I want to see where it goes. The typewriter helps by keeping me moving forward: no editing, no take-backs. (In contrast, this word-processed paragraph has gone through several fussy revisions.) So the idea gets blurted out and developed. Self-criticism can wait for another day.


  1. Anonymous

    You seriously wrote that without going through a dozen drafts? Oh, my, I'd have had to rewrite that several dozen times just to form the initial thoughts.

    That was eloquently written; even poetic.

  2. notagain

    Well, streamlines, he *is* a pro.
    But I, too, am always impressed with these posts.
    The reference to "face" got me thinking, though. Being ugly and not really liking the sound of my own voice either, I'm much more comfortable writing my thoughts than expressing them in person. I also thought about advertising, where the words are written and polished and spoken by the beautiful with perfect voices. I don't really trust spoken words either.

  3. Anonymous

    I agree. My own preference for writing over speech is probably due to the fact that I have to give something a lot of thought before offering a cogent comment or response. I seem to be slow at comprehension, which is why I read so slowly. I do, however, eventually come around. I'm sort of like an intellectual iceberg; slow but inexorable.

    But I certainly can't do what Richard just did. And I'm not referring to his perfect typing. Typing skills aside, he's got quite a talent, being able to express himself so well on the first take. It's also not just a matter of being verbose or loquacious. Many tend to have diarrhea of the words without either substance or style, and they certainly aren't as poetic as Richard's post.

  4. Scott K

    Excellent post, and you have hit on an element in modern society that we are increasingly struggling with. While we sent out thousands emails, texts, online updates and postings every day, we have struggled to convey emotion and communicate effectively in a world that has become so impatient and unwilling to take the time to learn how to express ourselves effectively.

  5. Anonymous

    "Some people have a way with words and other people…uhhh…have not way, I guess."
    – Steve Martin

  6. rn

    Richard. Your insightful post got me thinking: through their analog astringency, typewriters become transparent objects. They are what they are. You can see the mechanism work. You can watch the letters appear on the paper. In our increasingly secretive and suspicious society, the mere sound of them creates a kind of bond between strangers. My partner, Andrea Haenggi, and I were at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh last week, and found that our typewriters enabled us to create a community in the moment with folks we didn't know. See: bit.ly/Mz1qg5

  7. Richard P

    Very interesting. Typewriters do seem to elude the computer dynamic of secrecy-plus-surveillance (the constantly escalating war between encryption and decryption, which dates back to early computer science and WWII). A typewriter is, in a sense, an open and honest machine, yet it keeps your writing private when you want it to.

  8. deek

    I certainly feel, as I am working out a story in my head, that I start chipping away at my marble slab when I take to writing it down. Its painful as the words have a lot fewer meanings then the raw idea. Some words, sentences and paragraphs can be rewritten, but the form, the meaning sometimes get set in, well, stone.

    Its ironic, to me at least, as you start drafting a story, you are in essence removing the vast majority of options you may still be living in your head…

    Thanks for catalyzing some thought on this late Friday afternoon.


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