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 May, 2011

The death of the handshake.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Ortega y Gasset saw it going.

“Ortega y Gasset saw the handshake as on its deathbed.  Since TV in the United States, people tend to seize both hands and buss one another.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Chalk another one up to TV.

This is classic McLuhan.  Discover an apparent change in culture and attribute it to TV.  Then move on and let someone else sort it all out.  Not always easy to see how this one has played out.  As this clip shows, today the handshake is back.  Or maybe not.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 109.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Technology 1 Comment

Dear old global village.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The family hour.      

“The new age of electric software and information involves everybody in a single human family once more.”

 

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Not to everyone’s amusement. 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 94.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, May 14th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Technology No Comments

Cool PR?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Thank your enemies.      

“The only cool PR is provided by one’s enemies.  They toil incessantly and for free.”

 

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  For example? 

Jack Layton.  There cannot be many Canadians who do not now know who Jack Layton is.  Thanks to his enemies tireless efforts to discredit him many voted NDP in the recent election.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 88.

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Michael Hinton Friday, May 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture No Comments

The first ‘software’ generation.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).      

“Now is the the first ‘software generation.  The TV youngsters are the first to be divorced from the old dominant hardware of books and machines.  This generation was baby-sat by TV  They watched it from their playpens.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  And the result? 

As Marshall goes on to say they grew up fast:  “Gray at three, they had seen the gamut of adult violence and confusion in every part of the world.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 64.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Success.

Marshall McLuhan (December 3, 1952, age 41).  Secrecy?    

“[Wyndham] Lewis used to say to me:  ‘The secret of success is secrecy.’  I used to think that very funny.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  In other words … 

Sometimes it’s a good idea to keep your mouth shut:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 233.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments

Man the machine.

Marshall McLuhan (June 22, 1951, age 39).  The unseen effect of modern machinery.

“Ever hear [that] modern radio quiz program.  The quiz-master sez every 3 seconds: ‘Are you ready for the next question?’  The 2 dollar, the 4 dollar, the 64 dollar question?  Only machines get ready for questions.  The knobs have to be turned.  Then comes the slug for the slot.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Are you ready for the next question?

Some machines are better prepared than others:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Technology, Uncategorized No Comments

You must remember this!

Marshall McLuhan (March 7, 1977, age 65).  At very high speeds.    

“Well, when things change at very high speeds, a need for continuity develops.  You see, you’re in such complete discontinuity at high speed.  Everything you’re looking at now is gone in a second and our demands are to hang on to older things.  So the antique stores and the love of taking the varnish off old tables, revealing their original state, and that sort of thing is a passion today.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  We must forget to think. 

McLuhan suggests that when information is coming at you at very high speeds, as it certainly is today, you must learn to forget it as fast as you can.  “In order to think,” he says, “you have to forget most of what you are experiencing in order to relate it to earlier things that you knew, otherwise you can’t infer anything from what you are seeing.”  In other words, welcome to the …     

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, May 7th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Culture, Technology No Comments

The aggression of ads

Marshall McLuhan (March 7, 1977, age 65).  Watch out!    

“Madison Avenue is a very powerful aggression against private consciousness.  A demand that you yield your private consciousness to public manipulation.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  What is to be done? 

Be aware.  Look into the abyss, but be aware.     

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Friday, May 6th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Culture No Comments

Why read McLuhan?

Marshall McLuhan (January 4, 1964, age 52).  The McLuhans at the breakfast table.

“Marshall, listen to what Tom Easterbrook has to say about you in the Weekend Magazine.”

“And what is that?”

“He,” that’s you, “churns up the atmosphere.  I think he’s aware of doing it, but he does it for shock effect.  He goes at his adversaries until they become numb.  But he has zest – he’s full of fun.  He conveys a marvelous feeling of being alive.”

“What do you think?”

“Dear old Tom.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Being alive.

Tom Easterbrook was McLuhan’s oldest friend and a colleague at the University of Toronto.  As Easterbrook suggests for McLuhan the important thing was to shock people into thinking.  If you worry too much about whether McLuhan is right or wrong you will get very little out of reading him.  Slow down and enjoy the rush of life.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education No Comments

The TV thing.

Marshall McLuhan (March 7, 1977, age 65).  Mental pollution!    

“The TV thing itself is very, very polluting.  It goes right into the nervous system.  The problem is how literate is your society, your family circle.  Your child is coming out of an intensely literate world, so he can take a fair amount of TV without too much harm.  But to the ordinary kid without a lot of literacy, TV will just turn off any possibility of left hemisphere.” 

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  What now? 

A bleak vision.  Today there are more ordinary kids than ever before.  Without literacy to protect them logical thought may be on the ropes.  What is required is a champion.  If only it were this easy. 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Culture No Comments