96 Letter Pressing

Letter Pressing

By Mary Gossy


A legible message made of words is a text. That word, “text” comes from the same root as “textile,” and it has to do with weaving. One strand, one word crosses another, and then there is a phrase, and the phrases tie together into thicker webs of meaning, until a fabric of text is made, made by hand, whether by moving a stylus over impressionable material, like a chisel into stone, or a pen over paper, or fingers over a keyboard of some kind or another. Even electrons leave traces. That’s one reason that circuits heat up. Text comes always from some form of typing even if it flows from ink out of a quill onto parchment. Moving the shuttle across the warp and woof takes force, and so does spinning, and all that movement makes friction and heat. Weaving hands and typing go together in very particular ways. “Type” comes from the Greek “typto,” which means, “I strike.” If you have ever used a mechanical typewriter you know this, because it can take a good deal of force to get the key to smack the ribbon hard enough to mark the paper beneath with the reverse of whichever letter you have chosen. “Typos” originally meant “the mark of a blow,” in the sense of a bruise or wound. Later it means a stamp struck by a die. And then later it can mean example, or copy, or pattern, and today, read in English, it means blows that have struck in the wrong places, printed letters mixed up, misplaced, absent. It’s what our text messages are full of, typos, the marks where our touches miss.


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