New York

Rodney Graham

303 Gallery

In his three-act play La machine à écrire (The Typewriter, 1941), Jean Cocteau presents a female protagonist indistinguishable from the eponymous tool of her modern trade. This mysterious character’s deep-seated aggressiveness is borne out in typewritten letters signed “The Typewriter” whose alarming anonymity propels an entire community into a state of sustained anxiety. Recognizing the metaphoric implications of the perpetrator’s activities, the detective bent on cracking “the typewriter’s” case likens her use of the mechanical writing tool to that of a machine gun (unsurprising, perhaps, given that companies such as Remington produced both machines designed for speed, precision, and repetition). The culprit, too, eventually defines her actions as a literal (and literary) attack for which she “chose the filthiest, most despicable of human weapons to beat them with—a typewriter!”


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