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 (1967, age 65/66).Â In conversation with Howard Gossage
â€śMarshall,â€ť said Howard Gossage, â€śtell me something.Â Do you have to be such a maddening writer?â€ť
â€śWhat do you mean?â€ť
â€śWell, Iâ€™ll be reading along and at first itâ€™s great.Â â€śI find that [my] â€¦ independently arrived at theories not only are confirmed by, but fit neatly into [your] â€¦ far broader structure, it is very heady stuff indeed.Â And then wham.Â You hit me with one of your probes.Â Something that requires 5,000 words of explanation and you give me none.”
â€śHoward, if I stopped to explain everything I said Iâ€™d never get anywhere, besides there has to be something for the reader to do.â€ť
Me (June 2010, age 57).Â Â So whatâ€™s a man, or a woman, to do?
Perhaps the only thing you can do when you hit a probe [a question or statement designed to stimulate thought or insight] is to grin and then decide whether or not to do your work.
Here are some McLuhan probes:
People will not accept war on TV.Â They will accept war in movies.Â They will accept it in newspapers.Â Nobody will accept war on TV.Â It is too close. (1973)
The ideal show on pay TV would be a great composer rehearsing a symphony, not playing his symphony. (1967)
The TV image is the first technology to project or externalize our tactile sense. (1961)
TV is a service medium only during a crisis. (1970)
The TV as a today show is a continuous present.Â There are really no dates. (1971)
Do any of these probes still â€śmaddenâ€ť?Â What if in each one the word â€śTVâ€ť were replaced by â€śInternetâ€ť or â€śFaceBookâ€ť?
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Howard Luck Gossage, â€śYou can see why the mighty would be curious.â€ťÂ In McLuhan: Hot and Cool.
Probes: Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone, Essential McLuhan, 1995, pp. 294-295.