1 December 2008

Letter 4.37

Sorry to hear you had such trouble playing the tape I sent you. Actually, as I said, it was a new invention of mine, designed to be played without the need for a machine. Like all early prototypes it has its faults. It takes generations, sometimes even years, for a product to reach the pinnacle of perfection of, say, a perfect stringhopper or a perfect rabbit-hole. However, vast improvements have been made and I have now developed a tape which not only does not need to be played on a machine but also does not even need a spool on which to wind it. You are, in fact, holding this invention in your hand at this moment.

I have yet to give it a name, since I feel only a good snappy term will have a chance of catching on in today's marketplace. I showed it to one friend who suggested I call the invention 'paper', but obviously such a name has no pizzaz and would never be a commercial success. I've been working on a line of related ideas for transcribing thoughts on to this new medium, which I'll call paper until a better term can be invented. Instead of using an electronic printer, as we have all been doing since time immemorial, I am now working on a system which is independent of electronics. My dull-witted friend has termed the device a 'manual typewriter' -- clumsy oaf, to think such a mouthful would get anywhere. And even beyond that there is the hope of someday creating a system which will be so compact that it can be held between two fingers, and yet, incredibly enough, so versatile, that it can form characters in any script, can do drawings, perhaps be available in different colors, and yet be so inexpensive that if damaged it need not be taken in for repairs but can simply be thrown away. I call the system 'writing'. The major problems yet to be overcome is to invent a material which can make a suitable mark on the 'paper'. My friend tells me this is a pure nine dream. If God wanted man to write, he says, He would have put ink in our veins. I wonder what he means by 'ink'?

Glad Clearing the Path got to your stump. I find that in a coherent book form it is easier to use, to understand, than it was in typescript. But not everyone who has used the typescript feels it makes as much difference as I do. Perhaps that's why it was I, and not they, who took the trouble to see to its publication.

Path Press has been going great guns, and the camera-ready copy of 'Change' (which you saw in typescript) is with them. Path Press will now be taking a three or four month holiday from wordsmithery in favor of the practice of silencesmithery before resuming operations at the same old stump.

I loved hearing you read your stuff, even though I couldn't make heads or tails what it was about. Seemed like a lot of flashbacks/flashforwards/flashsideways. Is it really necessary to demand so much of your readers? I try to make it as easy as I can for the poor ninnies and still get accused of making then work for it. But I sure admire the way you can turn it out, day after day. Me, I'vegot so many blank days I could pass as a snowstorm. And to get an entire page written in one day! The feeling of accomplishment, of self-worth, it instills in me! And then I look at the stack of your typescripts that rest on my shelf, and next to it are my two pamphlets and a few folders and envelopes of incomplete perhaps uncompletable stuff, I do admire your persistence and inventiveness, and if I can't figure out what the invention is for, why, I guess you'll never guess the latest use I've discovered for this stuff called 'paper'. I'll give you one clue. It will be a saving of soap and water'


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