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.

Why is TV so involving?

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  Because it compels involvement.

“Visual space is a continuum.  … Tactile space is an interval.  Hence beat and rhythm. … It is the interval whether in music or mosaic or in poetry that compels involvement until we become part of the situation.”

Me (May, 2011, age 58).  Huhh?

This is the kind of statement that drove McLuhan’s critics mad with rage.  What was he saying behind the McLuhanisms such as visual and tactile space?  Perhaps that it is not by chance, as he hints in Culture Is Our Business that The Beatles song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” was such a hit with 60s TV kids.  The song reaches out to you and you reach back to it.  It really does want to hold your hand.  It compels, demands, participation.  And that is what all electric media do they compel your involvement.  You become part of the situation they create.  Next time you’re out at dinner and a cell-phone rings observe what happens.  In a way it’s like this:


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 110.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture 1 Comment

1 Comment to Why is TV so involving?

  • […] your home. On this level, TV doesn’t adapt to a user’s preferences as well as radio. Indeed the former is rather demanding; to really get full value from a TV experience a consumer needs to devote considerable attention to […]

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