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.

What has TV done?

Marshall McLuhan (1969, age 58).  To give but one example

“Nobody seems to know much about why the paper-back book flopped in the 30’s and succeeded in the 50’s.  But it is a fact which probably has some relation to TV …”

Me (April, 2011, age 58).  What else?

TV he suggests in one shotgun blast of speculation in Counterblast may also explain “the unexplained popularity of highbrow paperbacks,” the strange ability of “the young [to] … respond untaught to rock-and–roll,” the new importance of “the quick briefing by experts [in business] or the making of deals at lunch,” as well as the rise of “the roundtable, the frequent conferences and group brainstorming.”  To McLuhan, it would seem, anything new in the late 50s and early 60s was probably the result of TV.  His critics threw their hands up in dismay.  His fans rifled through Understanding Media for explanations.  And McLuhan?  What did he do?  He went on to dream up more things TV could be doing without our knowing and left the explanations to others.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Counterblast, 1969, p. 98-99.

Tags: , ,

Michael Hinton Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Leave a Reply