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.

Marshall McLuhan: Cult Hero (cont’d)

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Let’s be serious.

Marshall?

Yes.

That book Representative Men: Cult Heroes of Our Time. [see yesterday’s post]

What about it?

If you’re a cult hero, does that mean people think you have the answers?

Yes.  But as usual people are wrong.  I don’t have the answers.  I’ve got something far more important.  I have the questions.

Me (June 2010, age 57).   To find the questions look for the answers

Marshall McLuhan’s books would be easier to understand if he asked his questions in the form of questions.  Instead his questions appear in the form of bold unqualified statements, which he called probes.  Famously McLuhan said he made these statements not because he wanted people to believe him, but because he wanted them to think.

Here is an example: As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again.  The age of automation is going to be the age of ‘do it yourself.’ (The Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 283.)

Consider the number of ways our age is becoming a ‘do it yourself age.’  In McLuhan’s day someone else made appointments, dialed telephone calls, took messages, and typed and edited reports and presentations, and published.  Now with the help of technology, we do these things ourselves.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Representative Men: Cult Heroes of Our Time, edited by Theodore L. Gross.  New York: The Free press, 1970.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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