A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâ€™s observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (June 1, 1960, age 48).Â Thereâ€™s no such thing as bad advertizing?
Thatâ€™s what they say, but having read what Robert Fulford had to say about me in Maclean’s, Iâ€™m beginning to have doubts.Â At the very least Fulfordâ€™s the exception that proves the rule.Â Itâ€™s actually amazing, as I told him myself, that he gets anything at all out of Understanding Media because he obviously doesnâ€™t Understand Me.Â I have a theme that governs everything I write, namely that for 5,000 years western man thought in the way print taught him to.Â Splitting things up.Â Fragmenting the world. Analyzing. Putting things in order.Â Being logical and rational.Â Now, with the advent of the electric age, all this has changed.Â Welcome to the re-tribalized, acoustic, global village.
Me (December 2009, age 57).Â Critiquing the critics
Robert Fulford wrote that Understanding Media was â€śarrogant, sloppy, repetitious and brilliant.â€ťÂ A view which is both right and wrong headed.Â This perception of Understanding Media as a large dollop of error and held together by a drop of brilliance was a common response to McLuhan in the 1960s.Â (Around the same time, Richard Schickel wrote in Harper’s â€śhis critics are infuriated by his ideas â€¦ but some think he has one of this continentâ€™s most brilliant minds and that his theories foretell our real future.â€ť)Â But it is not Fulford or Schickelâ€™s 45-year old responses I want to talk about.
Let us consider some of the current critics of McLuhan, beginning with the writer of a recent blog, who I will not name.Â This critic wrote â€“ I paraphrase to protect their anonymity- that 99 percent of what McLuhan wrote is bullshit, and the remaining 1 percent is pure genius.Â And that is all.Â They do not give an example of anything in McLuhanâ€™s cannon they think is bullshit and explain why it is bullshit.Â Nor do they give an example of an idea of McLuhanâ€™s that they think is brilliant and explain why it is brilliant.Â Remarkably, or perhaps unremarkably, this type of criticism of McLuhan is not unusual.Â In fact this is a fairly typical response to McLuhan on the internet:Â gossipy, intellectually lazy, and insulting.
(To be continued)
Can you give me an example of something you think is bullshit in Understanding Media and explain why it is bullshit.Â Also, and more challengingly, can you give me an example of one thing in the book besides â€śthe medium is the messageâ€ť or the world is becoming a â€śglobal villageâ€ť you think is brilliant and explain why it is brilliant.
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 300.