Japanese Typewriter

2006 November 1
by barclay

Every once in a while I think it’d be cool to own an antique Japanese typewriter. It’s got a very novel quality about it, and you’d be joining an elite and respected “club” of people that own them. People would be impressed, and probably give you a little extra lee-way with your assignments. As an antique, it probably wouldn’t have an owner’s manual, and even if it did, I probably wouldn’t understand it, and half the instructions would be translated incorrectly anyway – or very possibly, be self-contradictory. It’s bound to be an adventure.

Japanese Typewriter

You’d have to coddle it just to get anything done with it – but in my mind there’s no reason to own it just to keep is stashed in a sterile environment. There’s a certain responsibility to caring for antiques, and this would be no exception. Considering it’s extreme complexity (and surely, it’s a delicate beast), I’m sure it’d required an undue amount of attention just to keep it alive. But there’s still that craving … sometimes I think it’d just be so damn cool to have. There’d certainly be moments of profound joy, having the simple beauty and depth of Basho reproduced from such a beautiful blank slate. Or, perhaps, just a little bit of me out in the world, a expression of myslef that will surive long past my body.

On further analysis, however, I probably wouldn’t really like having one. I’d probably get frustrated quite quickly. I’d find that it wouldn’t quite do what I want – I’d constantly be performing the wrong action, and next thing you know, it’d be spewing ink all over my new carpet, have wads of paper stuck in it’s maw, and the only thing it’d successfully spit out would be nonsensical and profanity-laced. I wouldn’t know where to get supplies for it, nor which ones were the best given a selection. Invariably, I’d end up sacrificing time with my friends and family just to figure out how to get a 17-stroke radical to print, just because I don’t under the language too well. Knowing me, I’d probably even lose sleep over it. I’d worry about it being stolen, or spontaneously breaking, or just tripping over it in the middle of the night when I’m going to get a glass of water. I’d wonder why it came with so many god-damned buttons, and who in the hell ever thought it’d be a good idea to create one of these things.

It might just be better to borrow one from a friend for a bit – I’d still have to be quite careful with it, but at least I’d have someone to ask questions of; someone to query about the operation and, in the worst case, someone to return it to when it acts up. Even so, it’d only be an occasional thing, and in retrospect, I don’t even know that I’d go so far as to ask a friend for the favor – it’d probably just be hoisted upon me.

Wait, no, I’m talking about children.

Never mind.

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