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.

What’s in the cards?

Marshall McLuhan (1969 age 58).  The solution to life’s problems

My son Eric and Eugene Schwartz tell me that The Marshall McLuhan DEW-LINE Newsletter is selling like hot cakes.  I send them stuff when I can and they send it on to my subscribers.  Great idea that the Distant Early Warning (Card) Deck.  Worked that one out several years ago.  Eric put it together from my notes and Eugene came up with the cracking idea to charge the subscribers an extra $5 if they want to get the deck.  The card deck is a technology for delivering creative solutions to life’s problems.  I call it The Management Game.  Actually Games.  Here is how to play the simplest one:  Take any card.  On the card is an aphorism.  Relate the aphorism to your current hang up.  I drew the 5 of clubs.  The aphorism reads: “since life is short our faces must be long.”  My current hang up is my health.  Nothing seems the same since that brain surgery in November of 67.  Well, as Corinne says I must take each day as it comes.  Is that my solution, or is that my problem?

Me (January 2010, age 57).  Playing a different game

The distant early warning or DEW line was a 1950s cold-war radar alert system Canada and the United States built in Northern Canada in the 1950s.  The system was designed to give Americans and Canadians a heads up if Russia attacked by sending planes or missiles over the Arctic circle.  McLuhan liked to announce himself in speeches as a voice from the DEW-line.  That is he had to come to warn of dangers ahead.  But in naming his card deck – which if you live in Montreal you can see on display at the Canadian Center for Architecture until February 25th, 2010 – after this famous piece of cold-war technology, McLuhan misleads.  The name doesn’t quite fit.  The deck says you can find answers for your hang-ups or problems by contemplating the aphorisms on the cards.  Yet the DEW line was not a system for finding solutions to a problem (say nuclear attack), but a system for knowing whether you have a problem (look there’s a bomber!).

Let’s play McLuhan’s Management Game differently.  Instead of calling “to mind a private or corporate problem as you shuffle the cards,” as the game suggests,  and then picking  “a card and … [applying] its message,’  let’s  shuffle, select a card, look at the aphorism, and only then decide whether in fact we have a problem.

The card I’ve drawn for us all is the 4 of spades: “When all is said and done more will have been said than done.”  Sounds like a call for action.  I know what I’m going to do.  (Tell you about it on Tuesday.)  What will you do?

(Look next week for the announcement of a winner to our classify Marshall McLuhan contest.)

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Readings for this post

Marshall and me, Reading Marshall McLuhan’s Cards, December 3, 2009

Marshall and me, What’s Marshall McLuhan’s Stuff Worth, December 4, 2009

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Michael Hinton Saturday, January 16th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Management, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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