our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts
“Sometime in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter—a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, to be precise. His vision was failing, and keeping his eyes focused on a page had become exhausting and painful, often bringing on crushing headaches. He had been forced to curtail his writing, and he feared that he would soon have to give it up. The typewriter rescued him, at least for a time. Once he had mastered touch-typing, he was able to write with his eyes closed, using only the tips of his fingers. Words could once again flow from his mind to the page.
But the machine had a subtler effect on his work. One of Nietzsche’s friends, a composer, noticed a change in the style of his writing. His already terse prose had become even tighter, more telegraphic. “Perhaps you will through this instrument even take to a new idiom,” the friend wrote in a letter, noting that, in his own work, his “‘thoughts’ in music and language often depend on the quality of pen and paper.”
“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler , Nietzsche’s prose ‘changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.’ ”
– from “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” in the Atlantic
If you followed the story of me and my netbook, the why and how, you know I bought this thing for a kinda special reason, to fill a specialized niche in my machinery pool, namely to serve as a mobile typewriter and surfing/blogging station … and for the occasional test of Linux distributions. But mostly for scribbling down my thoughts while I’m on the road. And, last but in no way least, for continuing the work on my next (actually the second debut) novel. For such an easy task you don’t need a specialized gaming notebook or anything very professional or expensive. In fact all you need is a keyboard and a screen. A nice-looking box with a gratisfying tactile feel to it won’t hurt neither.
So in many ways, my cheapo Acer netbook does great and delivers just what I want in a convincing way. Looks great, feels like a soap bar, sports a non-glaring screen, even the touchpad now behaves after a little repair session, it’s small and lightweight for mobile use and has the absolute bestest battery running time I ever experienced in any laptop/note-netbook ever!
There is only one small point I need to nitpick about: The keyboard of this thing is awful, just god-damn awful, I tell ya!!! If Apple showed us how they can make the typing experience even on those terrible chiclet keyboards kinda níce and satisfying, Acer totally neglects that and turns it all to shit in typical coldblooded Asian manner. The keyboard works so I have no reason to complain and can’t claim for warranty. But the travel of the keys is much too short, attenuation point and feedback, and any kind of feeling is reduced to zero. So if it’s true what the philosopher said about our equipment and our thoughts I shouldn’t even try to churn out great prose on that thing. 😦 Because it is no fun typing on the Acer B115. On a subconscious level I’d always try to make my texts and my thoughts short, to send telegrams rather than composing meaningful concepts in a well-worded manner. Not a good starting point for texts that are made to be read by more than just one person. And hey, even if I’d write for only one person or just for myself as the sole reader – as I’ve planned for post-apocalyptic times – why would I keep myself short just because of a terribly sub par typing experience?
The best solution – just for writing – would be a no distraction word processsing machine like the Hemingwrite. But then it also misses all the usual niceties we’re so used and addicted to at this day and age. Hemigwrite won’t let me do a quick research on a topic, it won’t alllow me to do much of editing, and that screen … much too small. I’d like to see about half a standard page in my writing software, so I know where I am.
So despite the terribly fucked up keyboard, all in all I still must say it was a great buy and the absolutely right decision to purchase the Acer netbook. The positive points outweigh the negative by a great margin and I’m looking forward to many Linux tests on that specific machine.
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