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.

How much TV did Marshall McLuhan watch?

Marshall McLuhan (Summer 1952, age 41).  A delightful chap!

This afternoon Hugh Kenner who is one of my graduate students brought around a friend of his, Fred Rainsbury, to chat in the garden of my house on St. Mary Street.  Rainsbury is writing a Ph. D. thesis on The Irony of Objectivity in the New Criticism.  I suggested he pay special attention to analogy, after all what’s metaphor?

Me (July, 2010, age 58).  Apparently, more and more

According to Fred Rainsbury, who knew McLuhan in the early 1950s as a student, and went on to become Supervisor of Children’s Programming of Radio and Television at the CBC, “Marshall watched little television.”

Apparently over time McLuhan came to watch television more and more.  In the mid 1970s McLuhan said in an interview that he had no time to listen to radio, no affection for movies anymore, but he did “see a good deal of television.”  A remarkable admission from the man who is said to have pleaded with his children not to let his grandchildren watch too much TV and suggested the government limit the population’s access to TV.  Which leads me to wonder how worried McLuhan actually was about the effects of TV?   Did he change his mind?  Did he believe himself to be immune?  Was he purposely placing himself at risk in the pursuit of his research?

How much TV do you watch?  Are you at all concerned about the effects of TV?

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Barrington Nevitt with Maurice McLuhan, Who Was Marshall McLuhan, 1994, pp.  207 and 239.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Education, Technology, Vol. 1 1 Comment

1 Comment to How much TV did Marshall McLuhan watch?

  • “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go to the library and read a book.”

    a Groucho McLuhanism

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