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.

More on the Critics!

Marshall McLuhan (June 2, 1960, age 48).  There’s no such thing as bad advertizing?

Yesterday I told you  what Robert Fulford had to say about me in Maclean’s.  I must say the man really does not get me.  He is hung up as teenagers say on Euclidian space.  It blinds him to the truth of the medium is the message.  He says I’m repetitious.  But I have to keep repeating myself because he does not get it.  That is to say getting it is something he does not get.  Get it?

Me (December 2009, age 57).  More critiquing of the critics

Let us look now at the criticisms that can be found in the blurbs printed on the covers and dust jackets of the 4 copies of Understanding Media that I have on my McLuhan book shelf.  There is more than a hint of criticism to be found there because McLuhan’s publishers knew controversy sells books.

Second printing, October, 1966, Signet Book, new American Library of Canada: “Understanding Media is the book that’s making history and hysteria- with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and the twentieth century. Marshall McLuhan is the new spokesman of the electronic age- the oracle whose revolutionary ideas have blasted an explosion of debate from academy to coffee house. [The publisher] “His critics are infuriated by his ideas ….”  Richard Schickel, Harper’s.

Third printing, 1968, McGraw Hill, hard cover:  “An infuriating book.” Commonweal.

First MIT Press edition, 1994, soft cover:  “McLuhan’s theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate. … There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan’s work in the last few years ….  Lewis H. Lapham revaluates McLuhan’s work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.”

Critical edition, Ginko Press, hard cover, 2003:  “Infuriating, brilliant and incoherent. “ Commonweal Review.  “The medium is not the message.”  Umberto Eco.

There is a recurrent idea in the blurbs.  People are “infuriated” by the book.  Why?  Among other things Robert Fulford, whose criticism of McLuhan in Maclean’s set off this series of blogs on the criticism of Marshall McLuhan, presumably would say his arrogance is infuriating. (To be continued)

Is there anything in Understanding Media that you find infuriating?  Tell me what it is and why it is infuriating.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for the is post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 300.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
Permalink All categories, Communication, Culture, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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