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.

Alter your reality.

Marshall McLuhan (Fall 1968, age 57).  The extensions of us

It is obvious that media – in fact all of our artifacts – are extensions of us.  The wheel extends the foot, clothing extends our skin.  What is not obvious is the number and subtlety of the ways they extend us.

Me (August, 2010, age 58).  The mind is opened

Philip Marchand says that the power of McLuhan as a teacher is that his “classes held the promise of permanently altering one’s appreciation of some aspect of reality.” (p. 3.)  To get a hint of the effect of McLuhan as a teacher try this experiment.  Take a five dollar bill out of your wallet.  What do you see?  What parts of us does money enhance or extend?  Make a list.

Here is part of the list McLuhan comes up with in chapter 14 of Understanding Media.

Trade and choice – spending

Power

The price system

Specialization

Work and skill

Wishes and desires

Persuasion

The storage of value – saving

Information

The number sense

Or consider the number of extensions there are for our skin.

Clothing

Buildings

Central heating

Power

Attractiveness

Identity

Can you walk downtown and not see the big buildings differently?  As enhancers of both our ordinary lives and the stuff dreams are made of?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The extensions of man, 1964, chapter 14.

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: The medium and the messenger, 1989, p. 3.

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Michael Hinton Friday, August 13th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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