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.

Technology

What is truth?

Marshall McLuhan (March 25, 1974, age 63).  Good old Agatha Christie!    

“Was it Hercule Poirot who, when asked ‘what is truth?’ replied: ‘Eet ees whatever upsets zee applecart?” 

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  Perhaps it’s time to upset some apple carts? 

Why not?  You have nothing to fear but the apples.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 492.

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan:  The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, pp. 249-50

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Apocalypse now?

Marshall McLuhan (July 24, 1974, age 63).  Good-bye identity!    

“Electric speeds of information literally create the mass man and obliterate the private man.  … Is it too late to point to our universal victimization by media in which private identity has been abolished?” 

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  With what result?

Electric media separate us from our bodies.  As, for example, when you make a cell phone call.  You stay put your mind hurtles elsewhere to meet with others in electric space.  All media separate you from the physical you.  The result, electrically, McLuhan came increasingly to believe, is a witches brew of dark discarnate effects.  As we lose our physical identities we become unable to separate fantasy from reality, resort unthinkingly to violence, and are watched and monitored relentlessly by electronic eyes at home and abroad.  Is there any escape?  Depending on the day Marshall’s answer was either yes or no. 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 503.

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan:  The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, pp. 249-50

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 29th, 2011
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The new threat?

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  The new.    

“As the most completely book-minded people in the world, North Americans would seem to be moving into new orbits of experience for which their bookishness has not entirely prepared them.”

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

Continue to explore.  To discover how media as media work.  Bring understanding to the rescue.  That I imagine is what Marshall would do.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 99.

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Music to their ears.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  The teenage music!

“Today the teenage music is an environment not something to be played inside an environment.”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  Profound or what?

Perhaps all Marshall is saying is that teenage music is loud and is best avoided indoors.  Of course, having 6 children and sensitive hearing he had many opportunities to be struck pleasantly or unpleasantly by teenage music.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, April 21st, 2011
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The importance of the businessman’s lunch

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Have you noticed?

“In daily affairs, the increase of oral preference and awareness today appears in the new importance of the businessman’s lunch as an occasion of serious business.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  How serious?

For McLuhan the new seriousness of the businessman’s lunch was evidence of the way the electric age had shifted “the entire business community” from print to conversation.  Here is an example of how serious the conversation could get:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 71.

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 15th, 2011
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Do media merely serve human ends (like chairs!)

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  It would seem so.

“Until now, all media have been given the flat earth approach – that is, to common sense, the earth is flat.  To private, unaided perception, it must always seem flat.  Media of all kinds [people naturally think] exert no effect on ordinary perception.  They merely serve human ends (like chairs!) and convey data, etc.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Taking a round earth approach to media.

McLuhan said that the flat earth approach to media was the one sensible people take.  He believed that the media hypnotize you into thinking that they aren’t doing anything else.  That they are protected in their operation by a cloak of invisibility.  Cars take you places, ads try to sell you stuff, Google gives you access to information, surely, they don’t change the way you think.  Or do they?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 22.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, April 9th, 2011
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Girls in the TV age

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Thoroughly uncompetitive modern Millie.

“In our TV age, girls don’t have the one-upmanship problem of goals.  Girls don’t have to specialize.  They are all-embracing, as it were.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Is McLuhan right or wrong?

Why don’t you be the judge?  Click below to see some testimony on the question.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 60.

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 1st, 2011
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It’s all happening here

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The sorcery of TV.

“TV means that the Vietnam war is the first to be fought on American soil.  Parents can now see their sons killed in living color.  All sons become ours on TV.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Today, with what’s been happening …

In Japan, Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere our TV family has never been bigger or more stricken with tragedy.  It is possible that this experience of a seemingly unending TV cooled string of hot conflicts and disasters may well prove today to be as McLuhan said about the experience war on TV in the sixties “unbearable.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 52.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
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The name unmaketh the man or woman.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Nixon for example.    

Boswell said it rightly, “There is something in names that we cannot help feeling.”  Would Nixon have lost to Kennedy if he hadn’t been saddled with his rejection-inviting name.  Is there anything sexy about someone wearing a miniskirt named Twiggy?

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Is he serious?

Apparently.  This is an idea that keeps popping up in McLuhan’s writing.  A rose by any other name he is saying would not smell as sweet.  But if you don’t like the idea, don’t worry about it.  He’s got others.  Too bad about that Twiggy, though.  If not for that name she really could have been something:

 

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 276 and 304.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, March 24th, 2011
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The rich, the poor, and TV.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Watch out old world!    

“The TV child, rich or poor, shares the same new information world. The old hardware can’t match the riches of TV software imagery, whether at school or at the A&P.”

 

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  McLuhan’s critics found statements like this one infuriating.

McLuhan they said was confusing image with reality.  McLuhan was saying something very different.  A bit like, “how can you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?”  TV he’s saying is a revolutionary force.   Having a TV in your living room is like inviting Che to have dinner with the family.  No telling what type of ideas they’re going to pick up. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vTXQks1QMg&feature=related 

 

 

 Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 311.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
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