There is an irony that I like: apparently the typewriter and carbon paper is making a serious comeback in the ultra-paranoid and hi-tech world of cyber-espionage – it offers the safest option against hacking. I never learnt to type and so I chose word processors and long-hand, until carpel tunnel problems numbed my fingers. Ten years after the operation and my handwriting never recovered its clarity.
Hi Lionel —
At the end of his life, when McLuhan was trying to formulate the laws of media, he came up with a tetrad (visualized here: http://jennytso.com/wp-content/uploads/mcluhan-tetrad-examples-i19.jpg ). The questions McLuhan would ask of any medium were, (1) what does it enhance? (2) what does it obsolesce? (3) what does it retrieve? and (4) when pushed to its limit, what does it reverse into? The last question has always been most interesting to me, as I tend to think (like McLuhan, and also the I Ching) that extreme and polarized entities (whether technologies or anything else) reverse into their opposites. McLuhan liked to say that the privacy assumed by print literacy would reverse into a total loss of privacy and personal boundaries in the media age — and he said this decades before Facebook! It seems, though, that it can go both ways, and that a state of total transparency can reverse into privacy — and with that reversal comes a retrieval, namely of the old technology of the typewriter. And so you get Russian intelligence agencies suddenly ordering thousands of typewriters, because (as you point out) it’s actually the one kind of writing technology most secure against hacks.
As you must know, I like tetrads and will ponder that McLuhan one! Another example parallel to your tactile LP experience is that in occult publishing there has been a revival of the “talismanic edition” in reaction to Kindle etc. So revised grimoires are coming out hand stitched and bound in special leather often with a unique identifying talisman on the cover. A book to touch and smell as well as read.
I’m glad to have shown you a new tetrad! This page has a neat möbius-strip graphic that introduces entertaining complexities: http://www.anthonyhempell.com/papers/tetrad/concept.html
One of my pet theories is that McLuhan was an occult philosopher in disguise as an English professor.
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