A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâ€™s observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (Spring 1971, age 59).Â McLuhan to Peter Newman
Did you hear about the man who went on a date with Siamese twins?Â The following day a friend asked him if he had a good time.Â The manâ€™s reply: yes and no.
Me (June 2010, age 57).Â Â Two cheers for Marshall
Yesterday a small test was made of Patrick Watsonâ€™s observation made on â€śThis Hour has Seven Daysâ€ť that no one can understand more than 10 percent of what Marshall McLuhan has to say.Â The test of course was unscientific and leading rather than persuasive.Â Today I want to present a more sweeping assessment of McLuhanâ€™s sensibility.Â Namely, that on unimportant subjects â€“ that is subjects only tangentially related to media and media theory Marshall McLuhan is always easy to understand.Â For example here is McLuhan talking about his personal dislike of technical innovation and change on the CBC television program â€śThis Hour Has Seven Days.â€ť (May 6, 1966):
â€śIâ€™m resolutely opposed to all innovation, all change.Â But Iâ€™m determined to understand whatâ€™s happening because I donâ€™t choose to sit and let the juggernaut roll over me.Â Many people seem to think that because you talk about something recent youâ€™re in favour of it.Â The exact opposite is true in my case.Â Anything I talk about is almost certainly something Iâ€™m resolutely against and it seems to me that the best way of opposing it is to understand it.Â Then you know where to turn off the button.â€ť
What has this got to do with the man who dated Siamese twins? The punch line also works for the question:Â Do you understand what Marshall McLuhan is saying?Â Yes and no.
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Who Was Marshall McLuhan, edited by Barrington Nevitt with Maurice McLuhan, 1995, pp. 109, 135, and 136.