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.

Technology

Did McLuhan fear success?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  It would be more comfortable.      

“At the beginning of his very flattering essay on myself in The Pump House Gang … Tom Wolfe has a drawing of me which at once suggests another title for his essay (“What if he’s right?”), namely, “I’d Rather be Wrong.”  

 Me (June, 2011, age 58).  The important thing is to understand 

“I am resolutely opposed to all innovation, all change,” he said in an interview on the CBC in 1966.  “But,” he went on to say, “I am determined to understand what’s happening because I don’t choose to sit and let the juggernaut roll over me.” What about you?  Do you ever wonder that in your race to keep up with what’s new in the world you are actually being run over?  Try turning the gadget invasion off for a while and see what happens.  The world will still be there when you get back and maybe you will too.  There are worse things …    

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ury5b-qtI1Y

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 212.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

The amazing déjà vu machine.

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  I’ve made a breakthrough!

For your information, a question: “Is the déjà vu phenomenon, i.e. ‘I’ve been here before’, exotic with the ‘man of letters’, and normal and un-noticed by non-literate man?  If so [one day]  … It should be possible to create physical situations in which anybody might experience the sensation of déjà vu.”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  A déjà vu machine?

Who would want such a contraption?  It seems like an invention that provides a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.  On the other hand, anything that can produce such subtle disturbances in the working of the mind could lead to devices capable of having far more powerful and disturbing effects for good or ill:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counter-Blast, 1969, p. 27.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s No Comments

Lessons in hot and cool

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  For your information some questions.

“Why are [lapel] buttons better than billboards?  Why is the story board at an Advertising Agency more involving than the finished ad?  Why are ads better than the features on TV and in magazines?”

Me (March, 2011, age 58).  Because they’re cool.

As usual McLuhan has his finger on something.  By better of course he doesn’t mean superior in all ways.  He means more involving.   For example:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 86.

Tags: , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments

Do you have a head for heights?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Depends on whether your ear or eye is dominant.    

“The Iroquois in high steel have no qualms since they don’t have the habit of visual perspective.  If you never think to look down, a twelve–inch girder high above the street is as secure as a sidewalk.”

 Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Don’t like that idea?

Never mind, McLuhan has others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa0SFtmS–c&feature=related

 

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 150.

Tags: , ,

Michael Hinton Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

Why is the news so hard to understand?

Marshall McLuhan (March 3, 1959, age 47). The news is coming at high speed.

“When the news moves slowly, the [news]paper has time to provide perspectives, background, and interrelations for the news, and the reader is given a consumer package.  When the news comes at high speed, there is no possibility of such literary processing and the reader is given a do-it-yourself kit.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Are you surprised?

Perhaps, as Marshall suggests, you don’t understand because you need to find new ways to understand.

Pattern recognition for example.  At any rate, is it a surprise you don’t when you keep expecting the consumer package and what your given is a do-it-yourself kit?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uDaj4EU70A&feature=related  

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Electronic Revolution:  Revolutionary Effects of New Media,” address to American Association for Higher Education Conference, March 3, 1959, in Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 8.

Tags: , , , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication 1 Comment

McLuhan kicks the TV downstairs.

Marshall McLuhan (September 20, 1976, age 65).  Recently I put the TV in the basement.

Why? As I told that journalist, Barbara Rowes, who interviewed me for People Magazine, “I did not want it invading my home.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Other technologies McLuhan rejected …

At one time or another were cars, wristwatches, dictation machines, and electric typewriters.  Is the machine using us?

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.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, February 10th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Technology 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.

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

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

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education, Technology No Comments

How did Russia beat the U.S. into space?

Marshall McLuhan (August 24, 1964, age 53).  They didn’t have a nineteenth century.

The Russians are people of the ear rather than the eye.  They didn’t have an Industrial Revolution.  They went directly from an oral age to an electric age, skipping the mechanical age.  This acted like a sling shot to fire them into space.

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Again, no wonder his colleagues at Toronto University thought he was nuts.

And on this one I’m inclined to agree with them.  And yet it is a thrilling idea.  And certainly a more entertaining one than, say,  the Soviets were good at engineering and math and not shy of spending resources on a space program their economy couldn’t sustain.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

David Thompson, “How to learn economics in a rowboat,” Toronto Daily Star, August 24, 1964.


Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Technology No Comments