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.

Memory

Remembering is distorting

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Bartlett proved it long ago      

In Remembering Bartlett, who was a don in Cambridge, uncovered a remarkable fact.  People don’t remember things as they were; they distort them.  And the farther back they try to remember things the more distortion there is.  

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  How much of what you remember is a distortion? 

Does this not explain the experience we all have that others memories are different from our own?  And the necessity of telling family stories over and over again if the story is to be preserved?  And the ultimate futility of the ritual:  for unless the story is recorded in some way, on tape or in writing, it will change, and if it is recorded the story is not what you thought it would be.  It is a re-membering, a distorting.   

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Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 186.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Technology 1 Comment

You are living a “gigantic flashback.”

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Think about it.

“In our time we are reliving at high speed the whole of the human past.  As in a speeded-up film, we are traversing all ages, all experience, including the experience of prehistoric man.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Is it any wonder you sometimes feel dizzy?

But, as Marshall says, relief is possible.  You “can turn it off.”

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Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1970, p. 115.

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Michael Hinton Friday, January 21st, 2011
Permalink Communication, Culture No Comments

Memories.

Marshall McLuhan (June 16, 1975, age 63).  My first memory.

I am in Edmonton.  I can’t be much more than two years old.  I’m looking out the window of a street car and  I see horses on the river bank.  I remember thinking they look so small they could fit in my nursery.  Such is the magic of visual perspective.  To me the horses in the distance not only looked small, they were small.  I was a very perceptive lad.

Me (July, 2010, age 57).  Too good to be true?

Philip Marchand writes in his biography of McLuhan that “in view of McLuhan’s later obsession with visual perspective as an invention of the print era and his almost visceral rejection of that perspective – in later years, the painter Harley Parker recalls, McLuhan seemed actually to believe that ‘things became smaller as they receded into the distance’ – the memory is almost too pat.”

Who can say?  My first memory is from the time I was two or three.   I’m in a long hallway.  I look around and realize that I’m lost.  Given that this blog in a way is an exercise in both discovery and self-discovery, a way of finding my way home, intellectually, perhaps this first memory of mine is also “almost too pat.”

What is your first memory?  Does it reveal something significant about you?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Philip Marchand.  Marshall McLuhan:  The Medium and the Messenger, 1989 p. 8-9.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Vol. 1 No Comments