A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâs observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (December 14, 1977, age 66). Â Really, I was stunned!
I still canât get over Peter Gzowskiâs outrageous suggestion on television yesterday that I failed grade six!Â I canât imagine where he got the idea.Â Â As told him – âI never failed any grade ever.â
Me (June 2010, age 57). Could McLuhan have actually forgotten that he failed grade six?
One might think it odd for a man to forget failing grade six.Â Marshall McLuhan, however, forgot a great many things after the brain surgery he underwent in 1967.Â For example, he forgot books he had read, his childrenâs birthdays, and where his friends lived.Â Granted, his biographers do not comment on McLuhanâs denial that he failed grade six on the Gzowski show, which is when you think about it extremely odd.Â Perhaps they didnât because it seemed like a small, unimportant thing.Â On the other hand it may also be a small, but striking example of how McLuhan was changed by the surgery and perhaps also his strokes.
Clearly, McLuhan was not the man he once was after his surgery.Â As McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand says: âhis friend John Wain described him as ânervous, fragile, tenseâ [in] the year after his operation.Â To some extent, he remained that way for the rest of his life.âÂ And a neurologist Marcel Kinsbourne, who knew McLuhan in the 1970s, recalled âhe was querulous and irritable in his later years âŚ Â Â He didnât come across as being particularly mentally alert or flexible.âÂ The question is how fundamentally he was changed.Â As readers of this blog know, I believe the changes were pronounced.Â So much so as I have argued in earlier posts.Â One can say the surgery cost McLuhan his genius.
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Philip Marchand, Marshall Mcluhan: the Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 214.