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.

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Man the machine.

Marshall McLuhan (June 22, 1951, age 39).  The unseen effect of modern machinery.

“Ever hear [that] modern radio quiz program.  The quiz-master sez every 3 seconds: ‘Are you ready for the next question?’  The 2 dollar, the 4 dollar, the 64 dollar question?  Only machines get ready for questions.  The knobs have to be turned.  Then comes the slug for the slot.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Are you ready for the next question?

Some machines are better prepared than others:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
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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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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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Who put the fire into the fireside chat?

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Radio!

“The radio and public address microphones killed off political oratory.  You can’t orate into a microphone.  You have to chat.  …  Roosevelt was the first to master the microphone as artillery fixed at the fireside.  The home becomes the firing line.”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  TV is not radio.

Unless radio makes a comeback the fireside chat would appear to be dead.   As you can see:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
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Business talks!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Talking is a labour-saving technology!

“The executive who has many decisions to make must resort to the speedy oral conference with specially briefed experts.  The sheer quantity of information entering into such frequent decisions could not possibly be presented in linear, written form.”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  Hence, the popularity of the single page report!

The purpose of the single page is not to record everything that needs to be said.  It is to remind the reader of everything that needs to be said later and in greater detail.  And as this clip suggests not all that is said needs to be recorded.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, April 19th, 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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Blast those art galleries and museums!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Why?

Because they “imprison and classify human spirit.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  But what if the museum’s collection rebelled?

There is something terribly sad about a museum.  This or that, each cased display is saying is dead and gone forever.

The cases themselves, McLuhan once told an audience at the Museum of the City of New York, in 1967, suck the life out of the objects they contain.  No wonder children find them a hard sell.  It makes you wonder …

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 65.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, April 14th, 2011
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Bless the Beatles!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Why?

“For reaffirming that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Get it?

A pun certainly (“rocks”) but more than that, a joke with a point.  Who was it that raised TV kids in the sixties?  Not their parents, Marshall is saying.

Who is rocking the cradle today?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 29.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 13th, 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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TV has made cities obsolete.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Shezamm!

“The INSTANTANEOUS global coverage of radio-TV make the city form meaningless, functionless.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Everything is now here, wherever you are.

Or as McLuhan also put the idea: “Any highway eatery with its TV set, newspaper and magazine is as cosmopolitan as NEW York or Paris.”  And, as you will note in the clip below, some highway eateries are more cosmopolitan than others.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 12 and 13.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
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