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.

Superstition: The magic number 3, or is it 2?

Marshall McLuhan (1968, age 57).  The rule of 3

I’m told I’m so famous now I need an agent.  People are making money off my name and I mean to get my share.  My agent is Matie Molinaro.  I asked her if she was a secret agent.  She seems to like my jokes, obviously a woman of good taste, says if I’m going to do movie work I have to be a member of ACTRA and AFTRA.  Corinne says she hopes the films will all be talkies.  I said, me too, silent film will not do me justice, and I’m also hoping for a predominance of black and white. Colour is an unnecessary technical change and in my case not an improvement.  Not incidentally, I asked Matie to make sure my ACTRA and AFTRA numbers are divisible by 3.  I’m convinced, no, I’m persuaded by experience, that the number 3 and numbers divisible by three are lucky.  Consider: I have 6 children; I live at 3 Wychwood Park; and Corrine and I were married in 1939. Q.E.D.

Michael Hinton (2009, age 57).  The rule of 2

Marshall McLuhan was adamant about the luckiness of the number 3 and numbers divisible by 3.  As a result the number 3 works its way through almost everything McLuhan touched. For example, he often said that the best place to test-read a book was on page 69.  If that page was interesting then he said the book was worth reading, if not then you should move on.  Understanding Media: The extensions of man, (6 words) is comprised of 33 chapters.  The Gutenberg Galaxy (3 words, 8 if you count the subtitle) is a bit more complicated example.  In manuscript the book consisted of 399 pages.  The book is comprised of 111 mosaic bits – ‘Prologue’, plus ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’, the 107 ‘chapter glosses’, ‘The Galaxy Reconfigured’, and ‘Bibliographic Index’.  112, however, if you count the ‘Index of Chapter Glosses.’)  In setting up this blog you will see that the magic number 3 has played a role. For example, I’ve promised to do a total of 300 ideas, 300 days, and 300 posts.  And the headline for this blog is 9 words.

The power of 3 on the mind of Marshall McLuhan notwithstanding, a strong case can be made that Marshall McLuhan felt the number 2 was as powerful if not more powerful than 3.  (To be continued tomorrow.)

What are you superstitious about?  Certain numbers?  Avoiding black cats and walking under ladders?    Do you have a lucky shirt, lucky shoes, or a lucky colour?   Any other 3s in Marshall McLuhan’s life and writing that you would like to add?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Molinaro, Matie Armstrong.  “Marshalling McLuhan,” in Marshall McLuhan: the man and his message. Edited by George Sanderson and Frank Macdonald. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, 1989, pp. 88.

W. Terrence Gordon, Marshall McLuhan: Escape into understanding, 1997, pp.185-190.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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