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.

Communication

Whose hand is on the scalpel?

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  The involvement of TV.      

“In closed-circuit instruction in surgery, medical students from the first reported a strange effect – that they seemed not to be watching an operation but performing it.  They felt they were holding the scalpel.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  What does McLuhan infer from this?

Hold onto your scalpel: Because TV creates “a passion for depth involvement in every aspect of human experience”  it naturally “creates an obsession with bodily welfare.”  Ergo:  “the sudden emergence of the TV medico and the hospital ward as a program.”  A trend that continues today with House and Nurse Jackie, not to mention the scalpel-detective crossover shows CSI, NCIS et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.      

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 328.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Friday, June 10th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Education No Comments

Let your fingers do the walking! (Or is it running?)

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Remember the ad?      

“Remember the New York Telephone ad?  ‘Let your fingers do the walking.’  In the computer age the role of the pedestrian is taken over by the pushbutton.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eaikf34WN-A&feature=related

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  The prescient Professor McLuhan

Do your thumbs deserve a break today? 

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 236.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture No Comments

Beware the toothy smile!

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  So many questions.

“This ad raises a multitude of structural questions.  The mouth is the all aggressive organ.  Teeth are the most menacing of all human appointments because of their lineal order.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  Don’t like that idea?

No matter, as McLuhan would say, he has others.  But a smile can be a very powerful weapon …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7JB68sLGY8&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 220.

Tags:

Michael Hinton Friday, June 3rd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture No Comments

Have you ever noticed? (Part 3)

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  You may have also wondered why …      

“The ‘missing link’ created far more interest than all the chains and explanations of being.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Here’s your chance to try and think like McLuhan. 

What do you think McLuhan would say is the explanation for greater interest in the missing link than the great chain of being?  See Tuesday’s post for the answer.  Meanwhile this may help inspire you to solve this mystery.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 112.

Tags:

Michael Hinton Saturday, May 21st, 2011
Permalink Communication, Culture 1 Comment

Have you ever noticed? (Part 2)

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  You may have also wondered why …      

“Isolated news items are more interesting than editorials.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Now that you mention it. 

McLuhan’s observation seems bang on.  The editorials in a newspaper are not as interesting as the news items.  As with ads McLuhan says the news item wins out because it has no single point of view.  It is all about the present.  It is in tune with the our electric age.  This may be bumph, but as observations go is remarkably astute.  Editorials are not what newspaper readers want.  Why do newspapers devote so much space to them?  Is this any way to run a newspaper?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 112.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Friday, May 20th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

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.

Tags:

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.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Friday, May 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, 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.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication 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.

Tags: ,

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

The pattern watcher

Marshall McLuhan (January 4, 1967, age 55).  Why am I so popular?    

“I simply have ideas that seem to intrigue people.  Actually I’m a pattern watcher.  That’s it a pattern watcher.” 

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  McLuhan in action. 

This snippet of conversation is a good example of how McLuhan came up with ideas in conversation.  You can almost feel the electric surge as the idea comes to him that he’s a pattern watcher.  ”I do a lot of my work while I’m simply talking,” he once said.  “I think a lot when I’m talking and perfect many ideas that way.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 176-177.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture No Comments