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 strangeness of you.

Marshall McLuhan (May 7, 1976, age 64). Absolutely amazing !

I often use a simple home recorder to study poetry.  A group of us will read a poem and the most remarkable things happen when you separate your voicing of a line from the immediate hurly burly of the present and listen to it as if it was being said by someone else.

I remember Wyndham Lewis as being bowled over by the sound of his own voice.  He is English but was surprised to hear that he had an English accent.  “Bloody Hell,” he said, “I thought I had an American accent.”  I must admit I was as shocked as he was.

Me (May 2010, age 57).   Shocking

Why is it that our voices sound so strange and unpleasing when we listen to them as a recording? I’ve had people tell me I have a wonderful voice.  That’s not my reaction when I hear it  recorded.  I say, “what a peculiar sounding voice.”

The experience is totally different from ordinary live conversation.  No matter how hard I concentrate when I am speaking I cannot catch the sound of my own voice or change it to match how I’d rather have it sound.  It is said this has something to do with the way the heads we are inside (bone, sinew, tissue) affect the way we hear the sounds we make when we are speaking.  But it does seem odd to me that over time I have never adjusted to the strangeness of hearing my voice.  And I have a similar reaction to photographs in which I appear.

What is your reaction to the sound of your own voice or picture of your image?   Why do you think that is?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

P.S.  Marshall McLuhan, it is said, disliked having his picture taken.

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, pp. 519.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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