A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

The arts can’t exist in America today

Marshall (December, 1948, age 37).  The arts can’t exist in America today

The American mind is 100 percent 18th century.  Jefferson, Voltaire, Dr. Johnson.  Rational beings.  Relentlessly logical beings seeking a rubbing together kind of causal understanding of the world. Minds ordered by the eye, by print.  The arts are all about the ear.  Minds alive to the textured, primitive, acoustic world where things happen all at once.  Not just one thing at a time.    

Me (October 2009, age 57).  The arts cannot but exist in America today

Today the American mind is 100 percent 21st century.  Oprah, Letterman, Dog Bounty Hunter.  Primitives.  Minds ordered by the ear, intuitive.  A world where the Arts cannot but exist.  This makes our world – for we are all Americans now – far more complex and complicated than that long vanished world of 1948.  We are all in need of ways to reach out, to build a bridge as Neil Postman said to the 18th century.  We need that strength visual thinking gives us to find the solutions we need to see through to the end of this century – solutions for the economy, the environment, the polity and society. 

Do you see the world becoming less rational? 

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Reading for this post

The Letters of Marshall McLuhan.  Selected and edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, and William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 207.

Neil Postman.  Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century: How the past can improve our future.  New York: Knopf, 1999.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Permalink 1930s and 40s, Communication, Culture, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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