A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

A Fitting Memorial?

Marshall McLuhan (March, 1970, age 58). The Coach House!

Now that I have The Coach House I don’t think I will ever be happy anywhere else.  Unfortunately it seems I’m booked to be everywhere else this year.  Thanks to my assistant Margaret Stewart’s help here is the full list of destinations:  “the Bahamas [no, it will not better there], Washington, New York [no, I do not love NY), Montreal, Greece, St. Louis, Ottawa, and San Francisco [no, I will not leave my heart there].”  On top of this more brain problems.  The Dr Barnett has given me these blood thinners to take.  Well I’ll take them, if I remember to.  Don’t want a stroke.  But no more operations.  Look what happened last time.  I’ve got to keep going, even if I have to go away to do it.  Today, I don’t mind telling you, the medium is a mess.  Can’t seem to find anything.  Never mind I’ll make do with what’s at hand.  Let’s see what errors I can find today in Culture is Our Business. Somehow the damn thing got published without being proof read. Got to run, now, I’ve got work to do.

Me (December 2009, age 57).  An insult to Marshall McLuhan

Just a little more than two years earlier McLuhan’s year of triumph, academic 1967/1968, (which he had spent at Fordham University in New York City, where he had held a $100,000 Schweitzer chair in the Humanities) was interrupted in November 1967 by a tortuous ordeal.  He had undergone brain surgery to remove a tumor.  The surgery had been long and trying.  And his recovery had been long and trying.  He had suffered loss of memory and even now years later he was far from his old self.  The photographic memory was gone, the energy for which he was famous was damped down, and his quirks were exaggerated.  On a good day you could almost see the old McLuhan, but there were few good days.

McLuhan loved The Coach House.  The question is did he deserve the Coach House?  The Coach House in the 1970s was a small “seedy” building set back from the street.  In the Spring of this year on a trip to Toronto I went to visit it.  It was a pilgrimage of sorts I wanted to see for myself where McLuhan worked and where the famous Monday night seminars took place.  What I found was a small, locked, run-down, garbage-strewn,  windows-papered-over, lightless shack with a plaque on it proclaiming it the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.   In a comment on a previous post, Michael Edmunds, wrote that the University of Toronto and St Michael’s College had “little respect for McLuhan.”  It would seem they wanted neither his papers nor his program.  It is understandable that neither Toronto nor St Mike’s had the money to bid for McLuhan’s papers.  It is less understandable that they would insult his memory by making a run-down 19th century garage his most visible memorial.

Is this right?  Why is the University of Toronto intent on insulting the memory of one Canada’s most extraordinary thinkers this way?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

www.mcluhan.program@utoronto.ca

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Michael Hinton Saturday, December 12th, 2009
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Education, Vol. 1 1 Comment

1 Comment to A Fitting Memorial?

  • michael edmunds says:

    “As of July 1, 2008, the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (MPCT) of the Faculty will become a project of the CHI, reporting to the Director of the Institute.”
    Dec. 14, 2009

    http://www.ischool.utoronto.ca/news-events/news/coach-house-institute-launched

    Now no longer even an underfunded program, but now a “project.”

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