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 March, 2011

Elections in the electronic age

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Don’t ask and you will receive.    

“In the cool TV age, the office must chase the man, as in the pre-railway days of Jefferson and Washington.  Anyone seeking office is far too hot for the new cool electorate.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Is Canada no longer in the electronic age?

There seems to be an awful lot of seeking going on in Canadian politics right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXlmQ2OutCE&feature=relmfu 

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 60.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Politics, Uncategorized No Comments

Will TV elect our next Prime Minister?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Meet the new NBC and CBS.    

“NBC and CBS could easily become the political ‘parties’ of the future, just as the New York Central and the Pennsylvania railroads were once the political parties of the nineteenth century.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  The future is here…

CTV, Global, and the CBC are hard at work in the current Federal election in Canada.  And so are the more traditional political parties with a little help from TV.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 52.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Politics No Comments

It’s all happening here

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The sorcery of TV.

“TV means that the Vietnam war is the first to be fought on American soil.  Parents can now see their sons killed in living color.  All sons become ours on TV.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Today, with what’s been happening …

In Japan, Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere our TV family has never been bigger or more stricken with tragedy.  It is possible that this experience of a seemingly unending TV cooled string of hot conflicts and disasters may well prove today to be as McLuhan said about the experience war on TV in the sixties “unbearable.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 52.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Politics, Technology No Comments

What’s real?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The genuine fake!    

“In art, the genuine fake, Rembrandt or Vermeer, is just as valid as the real thing because it provides the same new awareness or perception.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  An observation McLuhan made about advertising …

When he said that advertising was getting so good you don’t have to buy the product to enjoy it. 

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

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 46.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, March 26th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Culture, Uncategorized No Comments

Lions and tigers and bears?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Man the hunter!    

“The electronic information environment returns all men to the condition of the hunter.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  But what are you hunting?

Odds are your big game is not as exciting as the lions, tigers, and bears of our tribal ancestors:

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 42.

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Michael Hinton Friday, March 25th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

The name unmaketh the man or woman.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Nixon for example.    

Boswell said it rightly, “There is something in names that we cannot help feeling.”  Would Nixon have lost to Kennedy if he hadn’t been saddled with his rejection-inviting name.  Is there anything sexy about someone wearing a miniskirt named Twiggy?

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Is he serious?

Apparently.  This is an idea that keeps popping up in McLuhan’s writing.  A rose by any other name he is saying would not smell as sweet.  But if you don’t like the idea, don’t worry about it.  He’s got others.  Too bad about that Twiggy, though.  If not for that name she really could have been something:

 

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 276 and 304.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, March 24th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

The rich, the poor, and TV.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Watch out old world!    

“The TV child, rich or poor, shares the same new information world. The old hardware can’t match the riches of TV software imagery, whether at school or at the A&P.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  McLuhan’s critics found statements like this one infuriating.

McLuhan they said was confusing image with reality.  McLuhan was saying something very different.  A bit like, “how can you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?”  TV he’s saying is a revolutionary force.   Having a TV in your living room is like inviting Che to have dinner with the family.  No telling what type of ideas they’re going to pick up. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vTXQks1QMg&feature=related 

 

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 311.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
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The miniskirt is the message.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Its tribal!    

“Miniskirts are not fashion.  They are a return to tribal corporate costume.  In tribal societies men and women wear the same short skirts.  There is no change . … The miniskirt is not sexy.  Sex does not interest tribal man as a theme.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  We can learn a lot from this about McLuhan.

But not a lot, I think, about the miniskirt.  Here is a man with a theory.  Electric media is turning us into tribal beings.  Each new thing that comes along, such as the miniskirt, must be part of this pattern.  As Marshall liked to say, “with the miniskirt the end is in sight.”  The end that is of rational, print-oriented, visually-biased man.  Take a look for yourself. What do you think? Sexy or not sexy?  

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 304.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
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The craftiness of TV.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Its subliminal!    

“TV is not only an X-ray ‘zerothruster’ or fire god like Zoroaster, but it is entirely subliminal in its impact, as is the case with all other new media.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Meaning?

It works on us in ways we are unaware that it is working.  But how that actually happens was not Marshall’s business to discover.  It is ours, if we choose to.  If not, he has other ideas.  For example

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArDFVEikL8k

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 208.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

The muzak of the eye!

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Ads!    

“British sociologist D. G. MacRae says the reason why the huge potential of the ad world has not been tapped by his colleagues is that ‘we do not want our prejudices disturbed by knowledge.’  If ads disappeared, so would most of our information service environment – the Muzak of the eye.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Which invites the question …

How is our thinking affected by the information service environment created by ads?  Everyone is interested in whether ads influence buying decisions.  But what if their most influential effects are on other far more general and apparently unrelated things?  Such as what we think about and the way we think?

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 200.

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Michael Hinton Friday, March 18th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments