If Style

Two full days this week—Tuesday and today—occupied with reading and reviewing student work means I am almost (almost) finished with the spring term. Today’s workday consisted of reading final projects and exams for ENGL328—a pleasurable enough undertaking all unto itself that it was not exactly a relief when my dentist’s office called late morning to offer a wait-list invitation for a 1 p.m. cleaning. Needed a break anyway: sure, I’ll take it.

Talkative hygienist talked: about a pain-free gum-poke test she would administer, about the relatively unkempt upper-outer-left region, about how that was because I was right handed, about the Chinese lanterns she’d used to decorate the vacation Bible school classroom where she’d spent that morning, about how I was her first patient of the day, about slow-notice children who saw and asked about the Chinese lanterns for the first time today, about how it makes no sense that EMU needed to raise tuition this year, about etc., about etc. For the price of clean teeth, an hour of arhetorical listening, I kept thinking. And then back to the office for two hours or so of more work.

Gems from the exams included one poignant opening paragraph that described exactly what I understand to be the value of this version of ENGL328. Another had the momentarily-profound-seeming typo, Elements If Style. And then there were sentences that rattled around in my head all day after I read them; one about how for the interdependence of writing and living this was a class in “radical biology,” another about how teaching well means constantly sending sound lines through the water. Rattling1: an inversion of Rich’s “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it,” as “You must live as if your reading and writing depended on it.” What is a pulse, anyway, if not streaming cardiovascular inscription? Rattling2: for the adrift, academically and otherwise, sonic confirmation that there is an uneven floor beneath these immediate surfaces. And so, yes, a delight to read, a short term near-complete, and, next, in less than 1000 minutes, summer vacation, a few weeks of summer R&R (Rest and Relaxation, better described as Reading and Research).

While Supplies Last

From The Long Now blog, an entry today about the end of typewriter manufacturing. What will it be next? VCRs? Film cameras?

I never got much use out of the typewriter as a writing machine. I used them to fill out forms in that dimly lit pre-PDF-dawn when fax machines were hot. I used typewriter impersonators (compact dot matrix word processors, essentially), although I can’t think of a single document whose production depended on it such that it couldn’t by then have been more sleekly crafted on a computer. I read Click, Clack, Moo to Is. twenty or thirty times when she was younger, so that’s something. But this isn’t the sort of discontinuation that I would think gives anyone much pause, except perhaps to wonder which commonplace technologies of today will surrender to obsolescence in the next 25 years.