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.

Reading

The delights of irregularity

Marshall McLuhan (June, 1967, age 55). Another breakthrough!

In the editing and publishing of our journal, Explorations, Ted Carpenter and I made a remarkable discovery.  Namely, “that readers like a journal that appears on an irregular basis.  Most readers of most journals are very unhappy about their regular appearance.”

Me (July, 2011, age 58).

Bowing to the undoubted desire of most readers of this blog for more irregularity in appearance, I will post again on Wednesday, July 6.  Then again I may not.  Until then I recommend that you take a peek in the archives.  What’s old can be new.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0YOlU3SMgs&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

McLuhan: Hot & Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn. New York, 1967, pp. 263-64.

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Michael Hinton Friday, July 1st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Fiction is dead!

Marshall McLuhan (October 29, 1960, age 49).  TV did it.

“The medium of television …, incidentally has had a strange effect on the young of driving them to the libraries to ask for fact books.  The librarians report there is a tremendous new taste in the young for fact books, not fiction.  Well, I mean I was thinking of the fact book as something you have to dig.  You don’t read it in a line, just a story level on a simple plane. You have to dig a fact book.  And the youngsters to day dig their reading.  They read in depth.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Do you dig fact books?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_mCoCuMWWM

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “The Communications Revolution,” panel discussion at 3rd Annual Conference on the Humanities, Ohio State University Graduate School, October 29, 1960, in Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 36.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

McLuhan escapes from the 19th century.

Marshall McLuhan (September 20, 1976, age 65).  To set the scene.

I admit it, I’m a creature of habit.  Up at 4 am to read the New Testament in Greek, Latin, French, German, or English in my green bathrobe.  On the white kitchen wall phone a bit after 5 to discuss new breakthroughs in media studies with a colleague, today it’s Barry Nevitt.  Shocking to realize it, but do you know no one in media studies realizes it’s not possible to prove anything?  You can only disprove things.  “It’s really quite enraging that nobody has ever thought of this before.”  Back upstairs for a quick catnap.  Then dressed (Hawaiian shirt and slacks) and down to the kitchen for breakfast at 8.  My custom at table was to read the New York Times while Corinne rustles me up either a beefsteak, rare, or an egg on whole wheat toast with honey – depends on the day, I like to alternate – when one day I realized I was spending too much time reading the bloody newspaper.  You see “the complicated lay of the Times is 19th-century.  To get through the whole damn thing would take at least a week.  In the electronic age people want information quickly.”  That’s when I made my move.

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  What did McLuhan do?

He switched to the Toronto Globe and Mail.  There are, you see, many ways to time travel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w5coGE5fm0

Some of them quite exhausting.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Barbara Rowes, “If the Media Didn’t Get Marshall McLuhan’s Message in the ‘60s, Another Is on the Way,” People Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 12, September 20, 1976.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Technology 1 Comment

Products are becoming services.

Marshall McLuhan (May 8, 1967, age 55).  For example …

“Instead of going out and buying a packaged book of which there have been five thousand copies printed, you will go to the telephone, describe your interests, your needs, your problems … and they at once Xerox with the help of computers from libraries all over the world, all the latest material for you personally, not as something to be put out on a bookshelf.  They send you the package as a direct personal service.  This is where we’re heading under electronic conditions.  Products increasingly are becoming services.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Sound familiar?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Predicting Communication via the Internet (1966),” interview with Robert Fulford, May 8, 1966, on CBC’s This Hour Has Seven Days in Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 101.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Technology No Comments

Newspapers don’t make news.

Marshall McLuhan (1965, age 53).  You do.

“The only connecting factor in any newspaper is the dateline… . When you enter through the dateline, when you enter your newspaper, you begin to put together the news – you are producer.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  If so, it doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin couldn’t name a paper she’d read:

Their names are irrelevant.  If you don’t like the sense Sarah Palin makes of the stories that flash past her eyes don’t blame it on the newspapers she reads or doesn’t read.  It’s not what she reads but what she does with what she reads.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Address at Vision 65,” in Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

Do kids read alone and silently for fun anymore?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The book took us to silence.

In the Middle Ages, as is well known, there was no such thing as silent reading.  It was only with the advent of the book that “silent, solitary reading” took hold.

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  The electric age has opened our ears.

If books and silent reading go hand in hand is it any wonder that today’s electronically-wired kids find silent reading a challenge?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1970, p. 73.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication No Comments

Newspapers don’t make news.

Marshall McLuhan (1965, age 53).  You do.

“The only connecting factor in any newspaper is the dateline… . When you enter through the dateline, when you enter your newspaper, you begin to put together the news – you are producer.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  If so, it doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin couldn’t name a paper she’d read:

Their names are irrelevant.  If you don’t like the sense Sarah Palin makes of the stories that flash past her eyes don’t blame it on the newspapers she reads or doesn’t read.  It’s not what she reads but what she does with what she reads.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Address at Vision 65,” in Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments

Three words a day.

Marshall McLuhan (September, 1930, age 19).  Dear Diary:

Today my habit of memorizing the meaning of three new words a day has paid off handsomely.  Professor Allison, who was lecturing today on Milton, started his lecture with a question.  “What is the meaning of “imprimatur”?  No one else but me could answer.

Me (December, 2010, age 58).  Words, words, words!

The habit of looking up words in the dictionary (the O.E.D. naturally) was one of the few McLuhan picked up from his father.  It was a habit he maintained for most of his life.  McLuhan’s biographer, Philip Marchand writes, that much later in his life McLuhan once remarked “that a single English word was more interesting than the entire NASA space program.”

Two of the words the young McLuhan committed to memory were “scaturient” and “sesquipedalian.”  Whether he ever found a time to use them seems unlikely.  “I say, Marshall, do you see those two streams, the one gushing forth one-and-a-half times more than the other?”  “Yes, their scaturient and sesquipedalian character certainly caught my eye.”  But that was not the point.  Words themselves fascinated him.  More than the launching of a rocket.  To understand this is to understand McLuhan.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, pp. 14and 19.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Permalink 1930s and 40s, Communication, Education No Comments

The power of film.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  You go where it goes.

“It was Renee Clair who pointed out that if two or three people were together on a stage, the dramatist must ceaselessly motivate or explain their being there at all.  But the film audience, like the book reader, accepts mere sequence as rational.  Whatever the camera turns to, the audience accepts.  We are transported to another world.”

Me (October, 2010, age 58).  Which is hard to believe.

But for all that may in fact be true.  Stranger things can happen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXruyT3ziUU

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 286.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Permalink Communication, Culture, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

Just talk?

Marshall McLuhan (March 14, 1951, age 39).  The world is becoming one.

As I was writing to Harold Innis it struck me that the close of the age of print is initiating an end to fragmentation, divisions, and specialization.  Every discipline has much to teach the others.  Economics, for example, has much to teach poetry and poetry economics.

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  For example?

One cannot help wishing McLuhan would provide a specific example.  But the marvelous thing about McLuhan is that he sees no need to.  Looking around today, there does seem to be a scholar who raids literature to advance economics – Professor Deirdre McCloskey – who readers of this blog have met before.

Perhaps this is what McLuhan had in his mind’s eye.  Or perhaps not.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, pp. 223.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Education, Vol. 1 No Comments