A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan continues. If he had lived Marshall would have been 100 on July 21, 2011. Join me in the countdown to his centennial, and an exploration of more of his observations on the way media work in the electric age in which we live.

American mind

The rational and the visual

Marshall McLuhan (June, 1967, age 55).  Thinking is leap frogging

“Connected sequential discourse, which is thought of as rational, is really visual. It has nothing to do with reason as such. Reasoning does not occur on single planes or in a continuous connected fashion. The mind leapfrogs. It puts things together in all sorts of proportions and ratios instantly.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58). Like this:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

McLuhan: Hot & Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn, New York, 1967, p. 264.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, June 30th, 2011
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Where do you live?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 58).  Most people prefer the past.         

“There are very many reasons why most people prefer to live in the age just behind them.  It’s safer.  To live right on the shooting line, right on the frontier of change, is terrifying.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  The man of the “absolute present.”

According to Derrick de Kerckhove, who knew McLuhan in the 1970s and is a long-time student of media, “[Marshall McLuhan] lived in what I call the absolute present.  Absolutely there.  Entirely in the moment.  In a way that I can’t even imitate.  Artists are like that.  Great artists are; they have this quality of just being there.”  Which perhaps is the same quality that is required for great comedy:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Forward Through the Rearview Mirror:  Reflections on and By Marshall McLuhan, edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart, 1996, p. 137.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
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What good are ads?

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  You need to ask?         

“The historians and archeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections that any society ever made of its entire range of activities.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  In other words …

They hold the key to understanding us in our real and our imagined worlds.  If we could just break the code in which they are written:

 

 

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 232.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, June 18th, 2011
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The new learning

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Pattern recognition.      

“Today, again, after a period of classified consumption, learning in a comprehensive world is becoming play, pattern recognition, discovery.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  What do you do when you hit play? 

Learn of course.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 118.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
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Man the machine.

Marshall McLuhan (June 22, 1951, age 39).  The unseen effect of modern machinery.

“Ever hear [that] modern radio quiz program.  The quiz-master sez every 3 seconds: ‘Are you ready for the next question?’  The 2 dollar, the 4 dollar, the 64 dollar question?  Only machines get ready for questions.  The knobs have to be turned.  Then comes the slug for the slot.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Are you ready for the next question?

Some machines are better prepared than others:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
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The aggression of ads

Marshall McLuhan (March 7, 1977, age 65).  Watch out!    

“Madison Avenue is a very powerful aggression against private consciousness.  A demand that you yield your private consciousness to public manipulation.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  What is to be done? 

Be aware.  Look into the abyss, but be aware.     

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Friday, May 6th, 2011
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Apocalypse now?

Marshall McLuhan (July 24, 1974, age 63).  Good-bye identity!    

“Electric speeds of information literally create the mass man and obliterate the private man.  … Is it too late to point to our universal victimization by media in which private identity has been abolished?” 

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  With what result?

Electric media separate us from our bodies.  As, for example, when you make a cell phone call.  You stay put your mind hurtles elsewhere to meet with others in electric space.  All media separate you from the physical you.  The result, electrically, McLuhan came increasingly to believe, is a witches brew of dark discarnate effects.  As we lose our physical identities we become unable to separate fantasy from reality, resort unthinkingly to violence, and are watched and monitored relentlessly by electronic eyes at home and abroad.  Is there any escape?  Depending on the day Marshall’s answer was either yes or no. 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 503.

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan:  The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, pp. 249-50

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Michael Hinton Friday, April 29th, 2011
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Do media merely serve human ends (like chairs!)

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  It would seem so.

“Until now, all media have been given the flat earth approach – that is, to common sense, the earth is flat.  To private, unaided perception, it must always seem flat.  Media of all kinds [people naturally think] exert no effect on ordinary perception.  They merely serve human ends (like chairs!) and convey data, etc.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Taking a round earth approach to media.

McLuhan said that the flat earth approach to media was the one sensible people take.  He believed that the media hypnotize you into thinking that they aren’t doing anything else.  That they are protected in their operation by a cloak of invisibility.  Cars take you places, ads try to sell you stuff, Google gives you access to information, surely, they don’t change the way you think.  Or do they?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 22.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, April 9th, 2011
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Welcome to the classroom without walls.

Marshall McLuhan (March 3, 1959, age 47).  Have you turned on your teacher today?

“One effect of the commercial movement of information in many media is that today we live in classrooms without walls.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Education is a snap.

You want answers?  Your wish is the medium’s command. . .

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Electronic Revolution:  Revolutionary Effects of New Media,” address to meeting of the American Association for Higher Education, March 3, 1959, in Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 7.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
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What’s new pussy cat?

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Apparently quite a lot …

On June 25, 1967, forty-five TV control rooms around the world joined together to create by satellite the world’s first global TV program.  In Toronto Marshall McLuhan was asked by the CBC’s Stanley Burke “Can you say what message the medium has around the world this afternoon?”  Here is his answer.

Marshall McLuhan (June 25, 1967, age 55).  And yet …

“Everyone will look at this program as if it were something they had already seen before with just a little addition of this or that.  Because that is the inevitable way we look at everything. It’s the same old thing with a little item or two added.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

P.S.  Many people we imagine have never seen anything new ever.

 

Reading:

Or rather viewing: http://bit.ly/aDWkXA

 

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
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