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 April, 2011

That rock and roll music!

Marshall McLuhan (December 19, 1973, age 62).  Impossible!

Impossible, that is, in any other language than English.  As I wrote to Mr. Ronni Fiedler, the editor of Harper’s Magazine, in a letter which for some reason he chose not to publish, “For many reasons, which need not be cited here, both jazz and rock are forms of music which have made English a world language, since these forms cannot be sung except in English.”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  Hail the conquering hero comes!

This was an idea McLuhan also tried out on his fellow guests and the audience – not to mention the host – of the Dick Cavett Show in December 1970 with baffling effect.  Truman Capote utterly rejected the notion.  But then McLuhan was never very interested debating ideas and he soon moved on to another subject.  If you’re still in doubt, perhaps Elvis will help you make up your mind:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5JALwwaASg&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 484.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, April 16th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Culture No Comments

The importance of the businessman’s lunch

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Have you noticed?

“In daily affairs, the increase of oral preference and awareness today appears in the new importance of the businessman’s lunch as an occasion of serious business.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  How serious?

For McLuhan the new seriousness of the businessman’s lunch was evidence of the way the electric age had shifted “the entire business community” from print to conversation.  Here is an example of how serious the conversation could get:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 71.

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 15th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Management, Technology, Uncategorized No Comments

Blast those art galleries and museums!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Why?

Because they “imprison and classify human spirit.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  But what if the museum’s collection rebelled?

There is something terribly sad about a museum.  This or that, each cased display is saying is dead and gone forever.

The cases themselves, McLuhan once told an audience at the Museum of the City of New York, in 1967, suck the life out of the objects they contain.  No wonder children find them a hard sell.  It makes you wonder …

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 65.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Uncategorized No Comments

Bless the Beatles!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Why?

“For reaffirming that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Get it?

A pun certainly (“rocks”) but more than that, a joke with a point.  Who was it that raised TV kids in the sixties?  Not their parents, Marshall is saying.

Who is rocking the cradle today?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 29.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education, Uncategorized No Comments

The amazing déjà vu machine.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  I’ve made a breakthrough!

For your information, a question: “Is the déjà vu phenomenon, i.e. ‘I’ve been here before’, exotic with the ‘man of letters’, and normal and un-noticed by non-literate man?  If so [one day]  … It should be possible to create physical situations in which anybody might experience the sensation of déjà vu.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  A déjà vu machine?

Who would want such a contraption?  It seems like an invention that provides a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.  On the other hand, anything that can produce such subtle disturbances in the working of the mind could lead to devices capable of having far more powerful and disturbing effects for good or ill:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 27.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s No Comments

Do media merely serve human ends (like chairs!)

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  It would seem so.

“Until now, all media have been given the flat earth approach – that is, to common sense, the earth is flat.  To private, unaided perception, it must always seem flat.  Media of all kinds [people naturally think] exert no effect on ordinary perception.  They merely serve human ends (like chairs!) and convey data, etc.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Taking a round earth approach to media.

McLuhan said that the flat earth approach to media was the one sensible people take.  He believed that the media hypnotize you into thinking that they aren’t doing anything else.  That they are protected in their operation by a cloak of invisibility.  Cars take you places, ads try to sell you stuff, Google gives you access to information, surely, they don’t change the way you think.  Or do they?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 22.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, April 9th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Technology, Uncategorized No Comments

The bloody sports page!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Blast the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat!

“Blast The Sports Page pantheon of pickled gods and archetypes.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Hard to disagree with Marshall on this one.

Is there any writing more irritating than the prose that appears in the sports pages of a daily newspaper?  Here is a close competitor, TV sports commentary.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 19.

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 8th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Bless advertising art.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Wonderous to behold!    

“Bless Advertising Art for its PICTORIAL vitality and verbal creativity.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Let’s take a look.

All advertising may not be art, but some definitely is.  Would there were more.

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 18.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, April 7th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s No Comments

TV has made cities obsolete.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Shezamm!

“The INSTANTANEOUS global coverage of radio-TV make the city form meaningless, functionless.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Everything is now here, wherever you are.

Or as McLuhan also put the idea: “Any highway eatery with its TV set, newspaper and magazine is as cosmopolitan as NEW York or Paris.”  And, as you will note in the clip below, some highway eateries are more cosmopolitan than others.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 12 and 13.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Uncategorized No Comments

Who’s your teacher now?

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Ads!

“The metropolis today is a classroom; the ads are its teachers.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  What’s on the curriculum?

This is an idea McLuhan returned to many times, ads do far more teaching than selling.  It’s easy to find some disturbing teaching in ads, which certainly increases ones concern about the lessons we pick up inadvertently in the marketplace.  Here’s one that gently makes a case for consumerism as the path to the good life.  Well, perhaps gentle is not the right word …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDk_TEM257k&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 12

Tags:

Michael Hinton Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education No Comments