My beloved wife decided to buy me a typewriter. Not an old school one (expensive and always needing lot of careful maintenance) but a more modern electronic typewriter that can get the job done just fine. Why?
I went to high school way before the introduction of high-speed internet and the wide spread use of PCs in the classroom. I hand-wrote for most of my life and before going to graduate school I rarely used any writing software. Needless to say, on the way toward the completion of my PhD, I had to learn all the secrets of writing programs not only for my personal reasons (papers, conferences, dissertation, etc.) but also in order to grade and edit, most of my students’ papers as well, being now the online submission of class assignments very common and, admittedly, very handy.
I wrote my dissertation on a MacBook using Word and Pages. I edited all my academic publications using markups and comments, often going through some long and tedious procedures (every journal has its own format and stylesheet). All this was fine, for a while. When however I finally realized that academic writing and in general the academic world was not my natural habitat, I found myself stuck with the habit of using my computer for ALL my writing. And I got stuck without being able to write anything that could be creative at all.
This is where my wife jumped in with her remarkable intuition of bringing me back to my origins, when I was a nerdy teenager who, like Julian Sorel, loved to spend time with a pen, a blank sheet of paper and some good books. Her considerations where pretty simple and compelling to me: you need to face the terror of the blank page again, see it not only as a canvas for infinite creations, but also as your own solitude and creative paralysis. Yes, she basically wanted to give me a typewriter to sort of objectify in front of my eyes, my very emotional situation, giving me something on which my unruly desire could shift its investment (very much alike an unconscious libido which tries to find the object of its pleasure).
My wife sees me as a Renaissance man (how lovely), not because I hold special talents, but precisely because I don’t have one talent more developed than others and I am (proudly) an enthusiastic amateur. I have constantly refused to professionalize my skills and I believe that this is what makes me look “renascent” to her eyes. The white page inserted in the typewriter is the endless space of all my scattered desires that struggled to rest over an object of satisfaction: the ticking sound of the typewriter is the mirror of the monotonous and repetitive structure of my own libido.
The only thing I need to be professional about is to learn to sit in front of that blank space everyday and accept its existence, work on it, fail at it, maybe succeed in some way, but always facing an object that reminds me that reality is always just a blank page where, imaginatively, I can be everything i want, before the sound of typing end, and the dominion of the symbolic order of our language regains its power on my life, my dreams, my libidinal desires.