McCarthy to auction typewriter

02/12/2009

The New York Times have published an article (via TEV) on the failure of Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter, a machine on which he wrote “every book [he has] written including three not published.”  McCarthy estimates “about five million words over a period of 50 years” have been written using the instrument.  He plans to auction his typewriter, with the proceeds going to the Santa Fe Institute, an NPO with which he is affiliated.

But what value does this machine have?  Well, Christie’s estimates it will reach upwards of $15,000 USD.  Glenn Horowitz, the man handling the auction said, in reference to the “complex, almost otherwordly fiction” that has been written on the typewriter, that “it’s as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss Army Knife.”  As apt as the analogy is, it also highlights the fact that the real worth of the machine is incommensurate with the value of the work produced using it.  It can only be of real value to the magpie collector of antiquities, or the enthusiast of obsolete technology.  Who would want a pocketknife over Mount Rushmore?  It’s not the hammer and nails that matter, but the house you build with them.

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