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.

Canada’s view of the U.S.A.

Marshall McLuhan (March 4, 1965, age 53). Americans cannot see what they are doing

I was just telling Claude Bissell, the President of Toronto University, about a new idea of mine.  The United States is Canada’s environment.  That is we are surrounded by the United States in every possible way, socially, culturally, economically.  The Americans of course are caught up in this environment but are numb to it.  They do not see it, but we do.  Canadians are able to see the unstated rules and ways of operating that Americans cannot see.

Me (March 2010, age 57).  What do Canadians see?

As a Canadian living in Canada there are things that stick out about America for me.  For example, the violence of the political debate about health care reform and Tea Party activists protesting taxation.   Also, Sarah Palin, the politicization of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the lionization of Teddy Kennedy.  But do these things stick out because – in McLuhan’s language – Canada is anti-environment to the U.S.A.’s environment?  Canadians do have a good seat from which to view what goes on in the U.S.A.  But whether it is a great seat is far from clear.

What things Canadian, if any, stick out for Americans?  Tim Horton’s? The recent paraOlympics?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 319.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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