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.


Music to their ears.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  The teenage music!

“Today the teenage music is an environment not something to be played inside an environment.”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  Profound or what?

Perhaps all Marshall is saying is that teenage music is loud and is best avoided indoors.  Of course, having 6 children and sensitive hearing he had many opportunities to be struck pleasantly or unpleasantly by teenage music.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 72.


Michael Hinton Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Technology No Comments

Bless the Beatles!

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  Why?

“For reaffirming that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Get it?

A pun certainly (“rocks”) but more than that, a joke with a point.  Who was it that raised TV kids in the sixties?  Not their parents, Marshall is saying.

Who is rocking the cradle today?

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 29.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education, Uncategorized No Comments

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.



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


Tags: , , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Technology No Comments

What are you watching?

Marshall McLuhan (1966, age 55).  The old medium.

A new medium creates an environment that most of us cannot see.  For example TV is for the most part invisible.  As a result you don’t watch TV you watch the old media it contains.  In an essay I wrote in 1966 I put it this way:  “What we see on the late show is not TV, but old movies.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  To watch TV then you need to watch YouTube:


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, “The Relation of environment to Anti-Environment,” (1966), reprinted in Marshall McLuhan Unbound, Ginko Press, 2005, p.18.

Tags: , , , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

It took a while, but the future is here.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  A prophecy.

“Shortly it [film] will under TV pressure, go into its portable, accessible … phase.  Soon everyone will be able to have a small, inexpensive film projector that plays an 8-mm sound cartridge as if on a TV screen.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  And few will realize things have changed.

Except, of course, for artists.  And some of them will not be happy about the change.  For example, David Lynch:

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 291-92.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication No Comments

Why do men like Westerns?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  It’s their security blanket.

The world is changing so fast men are unsure of exactly what their role is.  “For millions of such men horse opera presents a reassuringly simple and nondomestic world in which there are no economic problems.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  The medium as medicine or poison?

In the Western violence is a natural, peaceful, and healthy way to release tension.  Here we see clearly what a man’s role is, what he’s got to do, and that when he does it the world is a better place for it.  This weekend in Arizona we saw what can happen when an unstable man in the real world takes this kind of role playing for role modeling.  The medium must take part of the blame.


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

Tags: , , , ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, January 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Want to understand America today?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  You need to understand its two grand traditions, the frontier and the home town.

The home town is about society, feeling, home and women.  The frontier is about business, action, office and men.  And believe me, the two will never meet until they have achieved their greatest opposition!

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Do we still?

In the 1940s McLuhan thought America had divided along the lines of its two great traditions and the best place to see those traditions in action was on Soap Operas (the home town) and Horse Operas or Westerns (the Frontier).

In the 1960s he seemed to be saying that under electric conditions the two were finally meeting.  Business and society, feeling and action, home and office, and women and men were now increasingly switching positions, fusing rather than splitting.

Today where are we?  On TV the soap opera has given way to the talk show and the western to fantasy and science fiction.  Have the two traditions merged or simply reappeared in these genres?

The new home town?


The new frontier?

Albeit with some changes.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

You can learn a lot about a nation …

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  From its sports!

“Games are the mask of the crowd. … Each nation’s popular games project the image of its central dynamism.”

Me (December, 2010, age 58).  For example …

This is America:



This is Canada:


This is Britain:


Cordially, Marshall and Me



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

Tags: , ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Culture No Comments

Where’s the play?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Did you know …

That the word school is from the latin scholia meaning leisure or play?  Is it any wonder kids are dropping out of school?  School has become a detention center.

Me (December, 2010, age 58).  What is to be done?

According to my Shorter OED, school derives from the latin schola (not scholia) and means the employment of leisure in disputation.  As usual McLuhan gets the small bit wrong but the big bit right.  Unless school is as engaging as play little real learning will take place there.  How much real disputation goes on in our schools?  How can we introduce more intellectual play?

Is this the solution?

Or is this?

Or are we still missing the point?

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Tags: , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Education No Comments

TV: Reaching out to touch someone near you

Marshall McLuhan (May, 1964, age 52).  The effect of TV.

Have you noticed the way children in grade school read these days?  The same way they watch TV:  too close, too involved, too slow.

Me (December, 2010, age 58).  Something’s happening here…

But what it is ain’t exactly clear

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man, 1964, p. 308

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
Permalink Communication, Technology No Comments