A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan continues. If he had lived Marshall would have been 100 on July 21, 2011. Join me in the countdown to his centennial, and an exploration of more of his observations on the way media work in the electric age in which we live.

Archive for January, 2011

What did McLuhan talk about at the Centre for Culture and Technology in the 1960s?

Marshall McLuhan (August 24, 1964, age 53).  Here are three problems we’ve been discussing:

First, our world and its problems are the creation of specialists.  The solutions we so desperately require, however, can only come from generalists who can see how everything fits together.   Second, it is widely agreed that scientists are befuddled by abstract art.  We can develop ways to help them appreciate abstraction.  Third, parents have long wondered how their children can do their homework with the radio blaring.    We’re close to a breakthrough on this one.

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  No wonder his colleagues at Toronto University thought he was nuts.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

David Thompson, “How to learn economics in a rowboat,” Toronto Daily Star, August 24, 1964.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, January 29th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education 1 Comment

So you think you’re creative?

Marshall McLuhan (August 24, 1964, age 53).  Education as we know it is obsolete.

Naturally we must experiment with alternatives to book-based, classroom instruction.  Here are a few of the questions – which I mentioned to a reporter for the Toronto Star – that I am wrestling with now which may well bring about a breakthrough:

  • How well could you learn economics in a rowboat in an alligator-infested swamp?
  • Or in a bamboo hut in a tropical forest?
  • Or in a triangular-shaped pink room in downtown Toronto?

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

How did he come up with such incredibly odd but brilliant ideas?  Here’s one answer:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

David Thompson, “How to learn economics in a rowboat,” Toronto Daily Star, August 24, 1964.

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Michael Hinton Friday, January 28th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education No Comments

How fast can you learn?

Marshall McLuhan (August 24, 1964, age 53).  How about a Ph. D. in six weeks?

“A person of good intelligence could acquire a doctorate level of awareness in aspects of various subjects in just six weeks.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  How so?

McLuhan explains that to do so you need engage in “intense discussion with top scholars in various fields.”  Stop memorizing things and don’t limit yourself to “written data.” Not a bad strategy.  Maybe you need to go to graduate school?  But then do you have what it takes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXvv5sTqNa4

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

David Thompson, “How to learn economics in a row boat,” Toronto Daily Star, August 24, 1964.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education 1 Comment

Newspapers don’t make news.

Marshall McLuhan (1965, age 53).  You do.

“The only connecting factor in any newspaper is the dateline… . When you enter through the dateline, when you enter your newspaper, you begin to put together the news – you are producer.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  If so, it doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin couldn’t name a paper she’d read:

Their names are irrelevant.  If you don’t like the sense Sarah Palin makes of the stories that flash past her eyes don’t blame it on the newspapers she reads or doesn’t read.  It’s not what she reads but what she does with what she reads.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Address at Vision 65,” in Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

What are you watching?

Marshall McLuhan (1966, age 55).  The old medium.

A new medium creates an environment that most of us cannot see.  For example TV is for the most part invisible.  As a result you don’t watch TV you watch the old media it contains.  In an essay I wrote in 1966 I put it this way:  “What we see on the late show is not TV, but old movies.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  To watch TV then you need to watch YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q7QFOhuPaU&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “The Relation of environment to Anti-Environment,” (1966), reprinted in Marshall McLuhan Unbound, Ginko Press, 2005, p.18.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

Is he right or is he wrong?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59). The microphone.

“The radio and public address microphones killed off political oratory. You can’t orate into a microphone. You have to chat. And the chat invites the interlocutor and the panel group.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58). Or can you?

Or is this the exception that proves the rule?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUP_ISA030c&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:
Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1970, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Technology 1 Comment

You are living a “gigantic flashback.”

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Think about it.

“In our time we are reliving at high speed the whole of the human past.  As in a speeded-up film, we are traversing all ages, all experience, including the experience of prehistoric man.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Is it any wonder you sometimes feel dizzy?

But, as Marshall says, relief is possible.  You “can turn it off.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1970, p. 115.

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Michael Hinton Friday, January 21st, 2011
Permalink Communication, Culture No Comments

Do kids read alone and silently for fun anymore?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The book took us to silence.

In the Middle Ages, as is well known, there was no such thing as silent reading.  It was only with the advent of the book that “silent, solitary reading” took hold.

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  The electric age has opened our ears.

If books and silent reading go hand in hand is it any wonder that today’s electronically-wired kids find silent reading a challenge?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1970, p. 73.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication No Comments

Are you normal?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  Let me put you at ease.

How often do you shave?  What color is your tooth brush?  What cigarette do you smoke?  What’s your preferred sexual outlet?  Worried you won’t measure up?  Stop worrying and read the latest Gallop Poll on the subject.  After all, that’s what public opinion polls are for.  To educate you.  Odds are you’ll find you’re just like everyone else.  At least that’s the way the smart money’s betting.

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  For example.

Do you believe in evolution?  Listen to these comforting words.

Are you at ease?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 291-92.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

It took a while, but the future is here.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  A prophecy.

“Shortly it [film] will under TV pressure, go into its portable, accessible … phase.  Soon everyone will be able to have a small, inexpensive film projector that plays an 8-mm sound cartridge as if on a TV screen.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  And few will realize things have changed.

Except, of course, for artists.  And some of them will not be happy about the change.  For example, David Lynch:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 291-92.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication No Comments