A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.¬† Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,¬†I present one of McLuhan‚Äôs observations and talk about its relevance today.¬† 300 ideas. 300 days.¬† 300 posts.
Marshall (June, 1951, age 39).¬†¬†¬† Nobody wants to talk.
I was writing to Pound about this.¬† Nobody wants to talk.¬† Not business men.¬† Not teachers.¬† Everyone distrusts talk.¬† They‚Äôre afraid of what they will discover.¬† That they‚Äôre lives are vacuous.¬† That‚Äôs why they turn the mirror to the wall
Me (October 2009, age 57).¬†¬† Conversation still isn‚Äôt happening
Talk was the way McLuhan thought things through and thought things new, by talking it out.¬† His conversations tended to be one sided.¬† (Someone once said that McLuhan was very polite in conversation.¬† He always waited for your lips to stop moving before he started to speak.)
Conversation can mean many things: ‚Äútalk, intercourse, communion, communication, discourse, conference and colloquy.‚ÄĚ¬† But the meaning I have in mind is an exchange, a give and take, a two way street.¬† If it‚Äôs all one way it‚Äôs not an exchange; it‚Äôs an unloading, a filling up, a release, an exploration, a lecture.¬† It can be therapeutic, you can learn things, but it‚Äôs not n interaction.¬† Interactions are potentially dangerous things.¬† As McLuhan suggests you may find out things you don‚Äôt like.¬† There may be winners and losers. ¬†Something new may be revealed and what‚Äôs new is not typically comforting and comfortable.
What kinds of conversations do you have?¬† How many are really just the sharing of feelings?¬† How many degenerate into lectures.¬† When you lecture who learns more, you or the person you‚Äôre lecturing to?
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
The Letters of Marshall McLuhan. Selected and edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, and William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 227.
‚ÄúConversation,‚ÄĚ in Webster‚Äôs New Twentieth Century Dictionary. Second edition, 1958.