A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâ€™s observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (April 16, 2010, age 99). This is too much!
â€śMarshall, you know thatâ€™s impossible.â€ť
Me (April 2010, age 57).Â The implications are profound
Clearly, Marshall McLuhanâ€™s biographers have recognized that McLuhanâ€™s brain surgery had serious and irreversible effects on Marshall McLuhan: Â that he was fundamentally changed.Â But they do not seem to realize – or want to realize – the extent to which McLuhan changed or what this change means for our understanding of McLuhan and his work.
Of all McLuhanâ€™s biographers, Douglas Coupland comes closest to capturing the seriousness of the effects of the surgery.Â But he does not go far enough or draw from it some basic conclusions.Â (If you have been following this blog you know that my belief is that the surgery killed McLuhanâ€™s genius.)Â Here, I think, are three of those conclusions:
- Reading McLuhan is difficult, but the true McLuhan is to be found in the essays and books he published before the surgery of November 1967.
- Reading McLuhan is far more difficult in the essays and books published after his surgery because they were stamped by the influence of the surgery and that of his colleagues and co-authors.
- The best way to understand McLuhan (conversation not writing was his strength) is to attempt to hear him speak in interviews, letters, and the memoirs of the people who knew him.Â As always, I believe, it is best to pay more careful attention to McLuhan in the years before his surgery than after.
What implications of this for your understanding of Marshall McLuhan?
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan (2009)], pp. 182-83, p. 185