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.

Everything can be checked out

Marshall McLuhan (July 3, 1964, age 52).  My statements are not opinions.

People seem to believe that I make things up out of thin air.  It simply isn’t true.  Everything that I say can be checked out, and if it doesn’t check out – Ă  la Popper – it can be chucked out.  If I was simply expressing a personal opinion I wouldn’t bother to say it.

Me (February 2010, age 57).  Can we check this out?

Here is one of the statements of Marshall McLuhan: since the advent of TV Americans have become less visual.

(The visual he said perceive the world as “uniform, continuous, and connected”  – like a page of printed text.  To be visual is to view the world from a distance – to be uninvolved, objective, and rational.  To view the world less visually is to perceive it more acoustically – acoustic space is “fluctuating, discontinuous, and disconnected” – the world  viewed up close – intimately, emotionally and tactically.  The less visual are less objective, less rational.  They are involved.)

A case can certainly be made that this is true.  Compare “The Dick Cavett Show” to “Oprah”, the “The Twilight Zone” to “Numbers” or “Perry Mason” to “Boston Legal.”  America today has a more tactile less visual feel.  Granted, it’s not a scientific test, but in a rough and ready way it does provide support for Marshall McLuhan’s statement.

Are we all becoming more or less visual?  Is each generation less visual than its predecessor?  If so, what difference does it make?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p.304

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Michael Hinton Thursday, March 11th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Vol. 1 No Comments

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