A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâs observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (May, 1969, age 57).Â A Coach House of my own!
I never thought Iâd say this, but Iâm glad to be back in Toronto.Â Of course, after my nightmare year in New York in academic 1967/68 what with the brain surgery and âthe recoveryâ itâs hardly a surprise that Iâm reveling in the quiet and still delights of dear old Hog Town.Â While I was away Toronto University gave me a new office and my own building to house it and my Center for Culture and Technology in, the Coach House.Â Itâs tucked in back of the Pontifical Center of Medieval studies, and close to all my favourite haunts: my old office at 96 St. Joseph, the coffee shop in the basement of the ROM and the bar on top of the Sutton Place Hotel.Â Yesterday was the official opening.Â Â No expense was spared for the party. Â My secretary Margaret Stewart told me the final damage was $382.58.Â The Toronto Star reported the event today with the head line, âGuruâ McLuhan boy at heart.Â And so I am.Â Which reminds me I promised to meet Tom Easterbrook at the Sutton Place bar at 5 pm for whiskey and cigars â donât tell Corinne, my Doctors say no scotch, no cigars, but Iâm tired of Doctors orders.Â Iâm back, and at long last Iâve got something to celebrate, and at the present moment I feel like celebrating.Â Got to run, Tomâs awaiting.
Me (December 2009, age 57).Â At least it made him happy
McLuhan loved The Coach House at 39A Queenâs Park Crescent.Â It was his place.Â And he filled it with the things he loved, his books, piled everywhere, his rowing oar from Cambridge, his files.Â And it contained things he loved: a wonderfully-1960s floor-to-ceiling mural by McLuhanâs friend, who worked as a designer at Eatonâs, RenĂ© Cera, The Pied Piper, and of course the Monday night Seminars, which were the high point in his week in the 1970s.Â Here he brought and spoke with the wise and wonderful – Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Buckminster Fuller, Eric Havelock, and Peter Drucker to name a few.Â The question is couldnât the University of Toronto given him something better than the Coach House?Â Even in the Spring of 1969 the Coach House, which was built in 1828, was small, rundown, âseedy,â and, well, as Bette Davis would have said, âa dump.âÂ (More on this tomorrow.)
Do you have a place of your own to work?Â Is such a place necessary to be creative and productive?Â What is the minimum necessary?
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Virginia Wolfe, A Room of Oneâs Own, 1929.