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New Book Publication Announcement: THE RESPONSIVE CHORD (2nd edition) by Tony Schwartz

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 5:45pm

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“The essential guide to how media shape our lives. By the creator of the most talked about political ad in television history.”

The Responsive Chord outlines the way our ways of thinking and communicating have been shaped for centuries by written language and by the difficulty of transmitting information over long distances… and how those habits have been outmoded by instant communications such as television, radio and telephone. Schwartz explores in depth the failure of techniques in advertising and education that are based on the old methods and explains how we must understand the new media, as well as how best to make use of them, giving numerous examples.

NEW to the SECOND EDITION:

  • Foreword by John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University. Carey worked for Tony Schwartz in the late 60s and early 70s, including the time when he wrote The Responsive Chord. He is intimately familiar with the book and with Tony Schwartz, so the foreword contains both analysis from a current-day perspective and a number of inside anecdotes (see excerpt below)
  • Updated design, several new illustrative figures.

CURRENT RELEVANCE:

  • Election 2016 and President Trump: We are constantly bombarded with media, and never more so than in an election year. The book focuses on how media work on us to drive our actions, with special emphasis given to political media. The book has been especially relevant this political season given Trump’s highly unconventional relationship with the media.
  • Fake News & Truthiness: So many people have been sent reeling by the extent to which truth itself has been damaged since the 2016 election—from the egregiously untrue statements made by candidates and government officials to the proliferation of “fake news.” The Responsive Chord gives us an alternate understanding of the media according to which our notions of truth and falsity are not even relevant. It shows how, even back when we had seemingly much higher, shared standards for truth (think Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley), the most effective processes of communication completely bypassed truth/falsehood… and the book explains how those processes continue to operate.
  • Election 2016 (Daisy ad): There have been regular mentions throughout the news media of the 1964 Daisy Ad, both because of the parallels between the 2016 election and the 1964 election, and because of the regular talk of creating a similar ad for use today. Schwartz was the creator of the Daisy ad (see below), and The Responsive Chord presents and discusses the ad (pp. 89-92).
  • “DAISY” Play. Tony Schwartz and his ideas are the subject of a play by Sean Devine that premiered at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in July-Aug, 2016, to nightly standing ovations. The play is about the creation of the “DAISY” ad (see ABOUT below). Discussions are underway for it to be staged in NY and Chicago, as well as several Canadian locations.

ABOUT TONY SCHWARTZ

  • Tony Schwartz is equally famous, in different circles, for (1) his pioneering work recording music and documenting the audio life of New York City in the 1950s and 60s, (2) his advertising work, including the Daisy commercial and (3) his theories of media and communication.
  • Creator of the Daisy ad—the most talked about political ad in television history, despite having aired only once. He was hired as a consultant by the DDB agency and created the concept of the ad for them, based on an anti-nuclear ad he made for the U.N. in 1962.
  • Winner of multiple Academy Awards and Toni Awards. Four-time first place winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Created over a dozen commercial recordings, one of which was among the first 100 recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry.
  • Taught media studies at Harvard, Columbia, Fordham and New York University. Lectured around the world by telephone and satellite.
  • Created commercials for over four hundred corporations, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Chrysler and Kodak. Created the first anti-smoking commercial (1963, for the American Cancer Society.)
  • Produced television and radio commercials for the campaigns of two U.S. Presidents, as well as hundreds of U.S. candidates at all levels of government.
  • His collected works were acquired by the Library of Congress in 2007, just before his death. Transporting all the audio & video recordings & papers from NYC to DC required three trucks. See http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/schwartzcollection.html
  • Created and hosted a weekly radio show on WNYC for over 30 years (1945-1976)

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

“The Responsive Chord certainly gets a big response from me…. I enjoyed it enormously. This is a totally untouched field and Tony Schwartz has a monopoly in this area.” — Marshall McLuhan (1973)

“Tony Schwartz was a genius when it came to understanding the communications revolution of the 20th century. My interview with him was one of my favorites and one of the most important of my own long career in broadcast journalism.” – Bill Moyers

“I read The Responsive Chord as a freshman in college and it affected everything I’ve ever made since. Its message is practical and deep. I’d recommend it to anyone.” — Ira Glass, Creator & Host of NPR’s This American Life

“Tony Schwartz was not only an original theorist but a master persuader whose must-read book is brimming with indispensable insight about how humans construct meaning through media.” — Prof. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center (factcheck.org is one of their many projects)

Obama Team. In the foreword, John Carey relates, “I was told by a senior member of the Obama campaigns for the presidency that The Responsive Chord was a must read for all senior members of their communications team.” Unfortunately, he has lost contact with the person. I have been working to corroborate that claim and get one of the Obama team on record.

See a more extensive list of quotes at tonyschwartz.org/rc-quotes.

FROM THE FOREWORD by John Carey

As a communication professor who teaches about new media and a researcher who has studied new media technologies for companies such as Google, Comcast NBC Universal and the New York Times, why do I rely so heavily on a book written decades ago? It’s because The Responsive Chord describes with great clarity how media affect our lives and gives us practical guidelines that are just as relevant today as when the book was first published.

The Responsive Chord analyzes how and why our modern media environment works on us and in us. For example, why do some video bloggers who talk about things of little importance to anyone attract millions of followers? Tony Schwartz explains, “People are more likely to choose programming on the basis of some personal function it serves, rather than for specific content. In many instances, it does not matter what a program is about.” (p. 51) As Sam Roberts of the New York Times writes, “Mr. Schwartz presciently anticipated camcorders and also cellphones, iPods and other [modern] electronic devices.” Insights from the book also help us understand current media phenomena such as viral media, social media, virtual reality, and mobile media.

ABOUT JOHN CAREY

John Carey, Professor of Communications and Media Management at Fordham University, was a student at Fordham in the late 60s, when Marshall McLuhan lectured there as the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities. He subsequently worked for Tony during a time that included the writing of The Responsive Chord. He went on to work in the media industry for many years, with clients including Google, American Express, AT&T, NBC Universal, The New York Times, Primedia, A&E Television Networks, Digitas, The Online Publishers Association, PBS, Cablevision, Rainbow Media, Scholastic and XM Satellite Radio. Carey has served on the advisory boards of the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, the Annenberg School for Communications and Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Center.

See also On Tony Schwartz on this blog: https://goo.gl/2VZ88e 

More About Tony Schwartz, Media Pioneer & Audio Documentarian (1923-2008): https://goo.gl/vLR58U 

tonyschwartz-medialab

Tony Schwartz in his media lab, New York City, 1982


Categories: Blog

New Book Publication Announcement – Taking Up McLuhan’s Cause Perspectives on Media and Formal Causality

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 02/22/2017 - 10:41am

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Edited by Corey Anton and Robert K. Logan and Lance Strate

This book brings together a number of prominent scholars to explore a relatively under-studied area of Marshall McLuhan’s thought: his idea of formal cause and the role that formal cause plays in the emergence of new technologies and in structuring societal relations. Aiming to open a new way of understanding McLuhan’s thought in this area, and to provide methodological grounding for future media ecology research, the book runs the gamut, from contributions that directly support McLuhan’s arguments to those that see in them the germs of future developments in emergent dynamics and complexity theory.

Corey Anton is Professor of Communication Studies at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Robert K. Logan is Professor Emeritus in Physics at the University of Toronto and Chief Scientist at the sLab OCAD University. Lance Strate is Professor of Communication and mMdia Studies at Fordham University in New York.

Reviews “Very good essays on a crucial intellectual topic. I’m hopeful that this anthology will help kick off another McLuhan movement rooted in McLuhan’s place in the great tradition of philosophies of causation”.  – Graham Harman, American University in Cairo Available Now   –   Price £70, US $100   –   Purchase this book   –   ISBN 9781783206940   –   Paperback 292 pages   –   Imprint: Intellect Books (Source: https://goo.gl/3lxwCF ) four-aristotelian-causes
Categories: Blog

New Book Publication Announcement – Remediating McLuhan by Richard Cavell

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:56am

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The forthcoming publication of Remediating McLuhan by Richard Cavell was announced on this blog on October 3, 2016. See https://goo.gl/mH8xhl .

From Richard Cavell’s Introduction (pp. 9-12):

The McLuhan remediated in the following pages is the one who had become a cliché when Donald Theall wrote these words that presaged what eventually became a twenty-year decline in McLuhan’s reputation. Theall’s McLuhan was defined by the parameters of literary modernism, communications biases, hot and cool media and technological determinism. The publication of McLuhan’s Letters in 1987, and Philip Marchand’s biography in 1989, heralded a renaissance of interest in McLuhan that has continued unabated to the centennial conferences and confabulations of 2011 and beyond. While this current scholarly interest has assured McLuhan’s foundational status as media theorist—affirmed by Friedrich Kittler no less — it has by no means exhausted the import of his writings, in large part because his written body of work as a whole is rarely revisited, and because ‘media’ retains a largely communicational bias in much of what has been written about him.

An Overview of the Book’s Chapters

Section One – Re: Mediation

1.Beyond McLuhanism (pp. 19-26): The remediation of McLuhan—after a twenty year hiatus in which he was infrequently cited, often as ‘the infamous’—began in the wake of the publication of his Letters(1987) and Philip Marchand’s biography (1989). What these works suggested was that the ‘McLuhanism’ that had characterised critiques of the media theorist for the previous twenty years had failed to account for a thinker whose complexities extended beyond the remit of media triumphalism, utopian technologism, crypto-Catholic redemption, the ‘return’ to orality, naive globalism and, ultimately, techno-determinism. While these critiques reflected their moment, ‘McLuhanism’ also owed a great deal to McLuhan himself….

2.McLuhan and the Question of the Book (pp. 27-38): McLuhan’s reputation in the 1960s hinged to a considerable extent on his pronouncements about the book, which was considered the prime bulwark against the threat posed by television, and, more broadly, ‘the media’, a concept to which McLuhan was ineluctably connected. McLuhan’s comments about ‘the end of book culture’ (Counterblast[1969], p. 48) were thus not well-received, and he was excoriated by critics for his ‘assault’ on the book. Dame Rebecca West, in her 1967 presidential address to the English Institute in London, asserted that The Medium is the Massage was designed ‘to cheer illiterates on their way, and this…

Section Two – Embodiment as Incorporation

3. McLuhan and the Body as Medium (pp. 41-48): Contemporary media studies are said to be in crisis. The advent of the ‘new’ media has provoked the question of how the new media differ from the ‘old’, mass media. Some, such as Bernhard Siegert, have responded that there are no mass media.¹ Siegert’s argument is that what was massified in mediation were material objects, such as television sets, whereas mediation has more to do with transmission. Others, such as Eva Horn, push Siegert’s argument further, stating that ‘[t]here are no media’ (‘Introduction’, p. 1), and argue that a fixed concept of media has been superseded by the new media,…

4. McLuhan, Tactility, and the Digital (pp. 49-56): In 1967, Marshall McLuhan published one of the defining books of his career: The Medium is the Massage A classic example of remediation, this book not only played on one of McLuhan’s most famous utterances, ‘the medium is the message’, but also inverted the linear, sequential ‘rationality’ and causal determinism deriving from the book as medium. In The Medium is the Massage there are more illustrations than there is print, the book can be read in any order, and McLuhan de-authorises his own relationship to this book by producing it collaboratively. As a result, it can be argued that the…

5. Mechanical Brides and Vampire Squids (pp. 57-64): While there is much that divides Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) and Vilém Flusser (1920-1991), the confluence afforded by the prospect of discussing them together allows us to consider what I suggest is a central strand of connection, namely their tendency to understand media as embodied, which is to say, as having a relationship with bios.¹ This is a paradoxical dimension of their work, however, because the element of embodiment is configured according to a principle of alienation, such that the closer our relationship to media becomes, the further we get from the classic notion of the sovereign self. McLuhan had expressed…

Section Three – Empathic Media 

6. McLuhan: Motion: e-Motion Towards a Soft Ontology of Media (pp. 67-78): While media theorists would agree on few fundamentals intrinsic to their field of study—starting with the definition of ‘media’—they would no doubt concur that media have an epistemological dimension. Whether it be McLuhan’s notion of the media ‘environment’ (‘Educational Effects’, p. 402) or Kittler’s concept of a ‘discourse network’, it can be argued that the effects of media are cognate with the Foucauldian episteme: they ‘determine’² our situation because they function in a Heideggerian manner as the pre-condition of what we can know and say (die Sprache spricht, nicht der Mensch³) and they ‘are’ our situation (as Mitchell…

7. Re-Mediating the Medium (pp. 79-88): It is entirely appropriate to be considering Marshall McLuhan’s work at the Moderna Museet¹ in the context of the ‘post-medium condition’ since this museum has an intimate connection to one of McLuhan’s most provocative comments about the nature of art. Writing inThe Medium is the Massage(1967), McLuhan (with Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel) superimposed his notion that ‘art is anything you can get away with’ over an image of Nikki de Saint Phalle’s monumental She: A Cathedral, photographed in its Moderna Museet installation of 1966. This 82 foot / 28 metre-long sculpture contained music rooms, a cinema and…

Section Four – Determining Technology

8. McLuhan, Turing, and the Question of Determinism (pp. 91-96): Marshall McLuhan arrived at Cambridge University in the fall of 1934. He enrolled at Trinity Hall (Marchand, Marshall McLuhan, p. 38) and remained there until the summer of 1936, when he received his Bachelor’s degree, having ‘set the foundations for almost all of his subsequent intellectual work’ (Marchand, p. 41). By extraordinary coincidence, Alan Turing, then a Fellow of King’s College, was at the same time ‘supplement[ing] his fellowship by supervising undergraduates in next-door Trinity Hall’ (Hodges, Alan Turing, p.5). Their paths quite possibly crossed, although John Polanyi, who knew them both, states that McLuhan, ‘sadly’, never spoke of Turing.²…

9. Angels and Robots (pp. 97-106): In the mid-1970s, Marshall McLuhan proposed to revisit his foundational text, Understanding Media, in order to address the generation that had experienced the transition from visual space to acoustic space—from the space produced by print media to the space produced by electronic media. Whereas visual space was abstracting, monological and eye-bound, argued McLuhan, acoustic space was involving, dialogical and multi-sensual. What, asked McLuhan, were the implications of this massive shift? The question is no less pertinent now that the move into the electronic regime has advanced so considerably, with the spatial element having become crucial to an understanding of…

Section Five – Being Mediated

10. Marshall McLuhan’s Echo-Criticism (pp. 109-114): ‘Environment’ was the term employed by McLuhan in his elaboration of the way in which media attained epistemic status, becoming, in effect, the frame of reference for a given historical period. Although environmental groups such as Greenpeace (Dale, McLuhan’s Children) take McLuhan as their progenitor, insofar as he provided them with a paradigm for the mediatics of environmentalism, McLuhan’s ‘environment’ differed radically from theirs in that he rejected their notion of ‘nature’.¹ Media had become the new environment in his argument, and media would be the only way out, through the creation of anti-environments. The gestalt dynamic of environment and…

11. McLuhan and the Technology of Being (pp. 115-124): As the terms ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’ suggest, we are increasingly experiencing our being via technologies of mediation; if Facebook implies an extension of corporeality, YouTube more complicatedly points towards an extension of our conscious self. Brian Rotman has expressed this phenomenon as a process of ‘becoming beside ourselves’, which suggests the displacement of fixed notions of being by processual notions of becoming, and the way in which these processes are taking us beyond defined notions of selfhood—from the self to the ‘selfie’. McLuhan’s media theory pertains directly to this increasingly relational sense of being emerging from the mediascape through…

12. The Tragedy of Media: Nietzsche, McLuhan, Kittler (pp. 127-148): Friedrich Kittler asserts provocatively in Gramophone Film Typewriter that Nietzsche heralds media philosophy in his statement “[o]ur writing tools are also working on our thoughts” (quoted p. 200). This reference to Nietzsche opens a significant historical and critical avenue onto media philosophy as practiced not only by Kittler but also by McLuhan, despite the fact that McLuhan’s media philosophy emerged from a rhetorical tradition that was only partly related to the philosophical tradition in which Kittler saw himself to be the mediatic heir of Nietzsche.² Yet this philosophical tradition is key to the emergence of media philosophy as a discourse…

Coda: On the 50th Anniversary of Understanding Media (pp. 149-152): The 26 chapters that comprise the second half of Understanding Media proclaim for media a cultural impact equal to that of the alphabet, while suggesting that to understand the alphabet as a medium asserts a claim to a new philosophical paradigm—amedia philosophy. The seven opening chapters of the book propose media as the trivium and quadrivium of a post-humanistic epistemology.¹ Behind the alphabetic quotient hovers the digital as a universal mode of translation. And the subtitle places mediation in complex relationship to the bios.

Published by: Amsterdam University Press   –   ISBN: 9789089649508   –   Release date: 15-10-2016   –   Edition: Hardback   –   Pages: 202   –   Series: Recursions   (Source: https://goo.gl/iJu5Rt )

See http://blogs.ubc.ca/cavell/biography/ for Richard Cavell’s biography.

richard-cavell Richard Cavell


Categories: Blog

Photographs From the transmediale Marshall McLuhan 2017 Lecture by Dr. Sarah Sharma, Berlin

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 9:16pm

This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture was delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who focuses on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma spoke under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considered whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wondered who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?

A video of her lecture will be posted here when it becomes available online. These photographs have been made available by transmediale in Berlin and additional photos can be viewed at https://goo.gl/ZgTVLY .

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017: Exit & the Extensions of Man

(Click on photos for an expanded view.)

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The Audience

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Kristoffer Gansing introducing the Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017

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Dr. Sarah Sharma presenting the lecture: “Exit and the Extensions of Man”

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Baruch Gottlieb (left) in conversation with Dr. Sarah Sharma (right)

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Read about Dr. Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto here https://goo.gl/j63tfc .


Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan Predicted Digital-Mediated Tribalism

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 5:41pm

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Primo Conti, Profughe alla stazione (Refugees at the Station)

By Patrick Roesle

While McLuhan was the person who coined the term “global village” to characterize of our new wired world, today we often load the phrase with idyllic or utopian connotations that McLuhan did not intend. Quite the contrary. During a 1977 interview on TV Ontario’s The Education of Mike McManus (incidentally McLuhan’s final television appearance), the host asks: “Way back in the early fifties, you predicted that the world was becoming a global village. We’d have global consciousness. And I’m wondering now, do you think it’s happening?”

After getting a couple of cryptic answers from McLuhan, McManus tries to bring his guest to terra firma.

McManus: But it seems, Dr. McLuhan, that this tribal world is not friendly.

McLuhan: Oh no, tribal people, one of their main kinds of sport is butchering each other. It’s a full-time sport in tribal societies.

McManus: But I had some idea that as we got global and tribal we were going to try to——

McLuhan:
The closer you get together, the more you like each other? There’s no evidence of that in any situation that we’ve ever heard of. When people get close together, they get more and more savage, impatient with each together….The global village is a place of very arduous interfaces and very abrasive situations.

Central to McLuhan’s scheme are “tribal” and “literate” social modes. Preliterate cultures were tribal: they inhabited a sensual, dynamic, nonlinear world—the “implicit, magical world of the resonant oral word, [encountering] not efficient causes but formal causes of configurational field.” Reality was taken in through all five senses (with emphasis on oral communication), and concepts such as individualism and privacy were not merely foreign, they were inconceivable.

But then the phonetic alphabet and the printing press detribalized Western culture, imposing linear thought, a reliance on sight at the expense of the other (more interactive) senses, individualism (and its corollary, isolation), and a kind of emotional anesthetic upon “civilized” humanity—creatures “crude and numb in their perceptions, compared with the hyperesthesia of oral and auditory cultures.” Over the centuries, “tribal man” became “Western man.”

Electronic media, McLuhan argued, were having a retribalizing effect on culture. From the Playboy interview:

The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems, which I spoke of earlier, are immersing us in a world-pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind. The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western world is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another. But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing——rather than enlarging——the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences. Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, this is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence——violence that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial….

McLuhan was saying this twenty years before the invention of the world wide web. And he pretty much nailed it. “Western man” is metamorphosizing into “electronic man.”

When a person finds herself alone in a strange town or a new city, she will be drawn towards places that interest her, to people she finds amicable or fascinating. We do this in most any scenario. We know it practically a priori. But this tendency takes on a new social dimension once we eliminate distance as a factor.

A “community” once necessarily had to refer to a group of people living in (reasonably) close proximity to each other. Today any group of people, regardless of geographic dispersion, with a shared interest and a spot in cyberspace where they can relay and receive messages can become a community. Thus, a hundred people, with a mean distance of 250 miles between them and a mutual interest in, say, artisanal dental floss or the cartoon BraveStarr can now become the “artisanal dental floss community” and the “BraveStarr fandom.” (Fans have been around for decades. The advent of the fandom, however, was contingent upon the internet.) Read the rest of this article at https://goo.gl/Vk0VRR .

“Identity Is Always Accompanied by Violence” — Marshall McLuhan on Globalism and Tribalism

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Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan at the Perception ’67 LSD Convention at the University of Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 6:42am

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Allen Ginsberg was one of several high-profile guests at a controversial conference on LSD held at the University of Toronto in 1967.  (DON DUTTON)  

Panelists largely supported LSD use, saying it boosted human creativity to previously-unseen levels.

“The use of these drugs, I think, has a very positive effect on writers. They are used by almost all the avant-garde,” Ginsberg said during an on-stage interview.

Even McLuhan, who attended the conference with his wife, chatted up Ginsberg and other panelists (and, according to student paper Excalibur, wore a psychedelic ‘third eye’ the whole time).

Star columnist Sidney Katz, however, bemoaned youth using it as a sort of psychological instant gratification.

“The very people who should not be taking LSD are the ones using it; people take it because they feel they are not where the action is,” Katz said.

Perception ’67, according to the Star, ended with an ear-thrashing courtesy of The Fugs—a hairy, psychedelic rock collective from New York:

“Suddenly, the whole audience of 2,000 heard the Fugs screaming words that are only an echo today—they probably won’t be heard again.” (Source: https://goo.gl/0k7yAx )

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Marshall McLuhan in his Coach House study with a picture of Allen Ginsburg over his books

See also Timothy Leary, Marshall McLuhan & Electronic Media – https://goo.gl/eKYfsJ

See also Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in – https://goo.gl/DkUpXd

“Electric technology, by virtue of its immediate relation to our nervous system, is itself a sort of inner trip, with drugs playing the role of sub-plot or alternative mode. It may well appear a few years hence that the panic about psychedelic drugs relates less to the chemistry than to the hidden terrors which people feel in the presence of electric technology.” –Marshall McLuhan, June 1974


Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Winter Program, Monday Night Seminar – Poetry:The Still Point of the Turning World, Feb. 13

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 4:45pm

New Coach Hose

Monday Night Seminar

Poetry: The Still Point of the Turning World

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent                       East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3

Monday Night Seminar: Monday, February 13th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM 

Description: Join Toronto’s poet laureate Anne Michaels and her guests Joseph Kertes and Moez Surani for an evening of probing poetry and discourse. This evening will explore the importance of poetry: an ancient form of civic engagement which continues to speak in our rapidly changing world of digital media and data. Moderated by David Nostbakken, McLuhan Centenary Fellow.

NB: Participants are welcome to bring a favourite poem – any poem that is meaningful to them by a poet they admire – which could be read aloud and contribute to the discussion.

ANNE MICHAELS is an internationally acclaimed novelist and poet. Her books are translated and published in over forty-five countries and have won dozens of international awards, including the Orange Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, and the Lannan Award for Fiction. She has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize (twice), the Governor-General’s Award, and long-listed for the IMPAC Award (twice). Her novel FUGITIVE PIECES was adapted as a feature film. Her latest book of poetry, CORRESPONDENCES, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2014. She is Toronto’s Poet Laureate.”

JOSEPH KERTES is a critically acclaimed novelist whose most recent book, The Afterlife of Stars, has just been released in the U.S. and was chosen by the New York Times for their “10 New Books We Recommend This Week”. Kertes has received the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour as well as the Canadian Jewish Book Award and the U.S. Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is the founder of the widely respected creative writing and comedy programs at Humber College, where he served for many years as Dean of Creative and Performing Arts. As a student at the University of Toronto, he was encouraged in his writing by Marshall McLuhan.

MOEZ SURANI has published three books of poems – Reticent Bodies, Floating Life, and Operation. His poems have appeared in The Walrus, Harper’s Magazine, and was anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry in both 2013 and 2014. He has received a Chalmers Fellowship and was awarded the Kingston Literary prize, as well as Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Prize.

REGISTER NOW at https://goo.gl/Q3jyEf

anne-michael

Anne Michaels


Categories: Blog

A Letter by Marshall McLuhan to Harold Adams Innis, March 14, 1951

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 02/02/2017 - 8:16pm

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(November 5, 1894 – November 8, 1952)

Dear Innis,

Thanks for the lecture re-print. This makes an opportunity for me to mention my interest in the work you are doing in communication study in general. I think there are lines appearing in Empire and Communications, for example, which suggest the possibility of organizing an entire school of studies. Many of the ancient language theories of the Logos type which you cite for their bearings on government and society have recurred and amalgamated themselves today under the auspices of anthropology and social psychology. Working concepts of “collective consciousness” in advertising agencies have in turn given salience and practical effectiveness to these “magical” notions of language.

But it was most of all the esthetic discoveries of the symbolists since Rimbaud and Mallarmé (developed in English by Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Lewis and Yeats) which have served to recreate in contemporary consciousness an awareness of the potencies of language such as the Western world has not experienced in 1800 years..

Mallarmé saw the modern press as a magical institution born of technology. The discontinuous juxtaposition of unrelated items made necessary by the influx of news stories from every quarter of the world, created, he saw, a symbolic landscape of great power and importance. (He used the word “symbol” in the strict Greek sense sym-ballein, to pitch together, physically and musically). He saw at once that the modern press was not a rational form but a magical one so far as communication was concerned. Its very technological form was bound to be efficacious far beyond any informative purpose. Politics were becoming musical, jazzy, magical.

The same symbolist perception applied to cinema showed that the montage of images was basically a return via technology to age-old picture language. S. Eisenstein’s Film Forum and Film Technique explore the relations between modern developments in the arts and Chinese ideogram, pointing to the common basis of ideogram in modern art, science and technology.

One major discovery of the symbolists which had the greatest importance for subsequent investigation was their notion of the learning process as a labyrinth of the senses and faculties whose retracing provided the key to all arts and sciences (basis of myth of Daedalus, basic for the dreams and schemes of Francis Bacon, and, when transferred by Vico to philology and history of culture, it also forms the basis of modern historiography, archaeology, psychology and artistic procedures alike.) Retracing becomes in modern historical scholarship the technique of reconstruction. The technique which Edgar Poe first put to work in his detective stories. In the arts this discovery has had all those astonishing results which have seemed to separate the ordinary public from what it regards as esoteric magic. From the point of view of the artist however the business of art is no longer the communication of thoughts or feelings which are to be conceptually ordered, but a direct participation in an experience. The whole tendency of modern communication whether in the press, in advertizing, or in the high arts is toward participation in a process, rather than apprehension of concepts. And this major revolution, intimately linked to technology, is one whose consequences have not begun to be studied although they have begun to be felt.

Read the rest at https://goo.gl/CJUZ1U

This letter is especially memorable for its anticipation of what McLuhan in paragraph one calls “an entire school of studies”, which later became known as the Toronto School of Communication and was foundational for the nascent field of Communication Studies. He offers more detail about this future “school” in the second last paragraph, which you can read in context by following the above link. The later Toronto School turned out not to be a bricks-and-mortar place-based school, but rather a conceptual school about how to study media. Here is that second last paragraph:-

It seems obvious to me that Bloor St. is the one point in this University where one might establish a focus of the arts and sciences. And the organizing concept would naturally be “Communication Theory and practice.” A simultaneous focus of current and historic forms. Relevance to be given to selection of areas of study by dominant artistic and scientific modes of the particular period. Arts here used as providing criteria, techniques of observation, and bodies of recorded, achieved, experience. Points of departure but also return. 

The full letter with explanatory footnotes can be found in: Molinaro, M., McLuhan, C. &, Toye, W. (Eds.). (1987). Letters of Marshall   McLuhan. Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 220-223.

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Categories: Blog

Extended Call for Papers: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, Saint Mary’s College Of California, June 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/30/2017 - 11:01pm

st-marys-ca

EXTENDED DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Technology, Spirituality, Ecology

Saint Mary’s College Of California

JUNE 22-25, 2017

Responding to a large number of requests, the deadline for proposal submissions for the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA) has been extended to February 28, 2017.

Saint Mary’s College of California is proud to host the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA). Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is one of the oldest colleges in the western U.S. with the original location in San Francisco and now located on a 420-acre campus in the Moraga Valley, 20 miles east of San Francisco. The convention will be held from June 22 through 25, 2017.

Media Ecology is a wide tent whose history, perspectives and scholarly interests incorporate a broad array of academic and professional disciplines focusing on “the study of media environments and the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs” (Lance Strate, 1999). This interdisciplinary approach towards the exploration of media as environments fosters a rich discourse of investigation, and each MEA convention provides a unique opportunity for academics and professionals to come together in a relaxed, convivial and intimate environment that encourages deep conversations alongside activities that encourage friendship and fun.

The theme for the 18th annual MEA Convention is Technology, Spirituality, Ecology. This tri-part theme provides a confluence of topics that represent major global concerns in the contemporary age. This is probably best articulated in the papal encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si, when he stated that “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and a generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature” (para. 47).

With this as context, we invite paper and panel proposals that address one or more of the three core themes. Although we encourage submissions that touch upon or align with, the convention theme, papers, abstracts, and panel proposal, submissions from all areas of Media Ecology are welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish their papers to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s). The top papers will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology, the journal of the MEA. All submissions will be acknowledged. The language of the convention is English.

Please note that paper and panel proposals need not be related to the overall conference theme.

Please submit all papers, panels, and proposals to the convention coordinator, Lori Erokan at <le6@stmarys-ca.edu >. 

Extended submission deadline: February 28, 2017

Questions can be sent to the Convention Chair, Ed Tywoniak at <tywoniak@stmarys-ca.edu>.

Guidelines for Submission

For manuscripts eligible for MEA award submissions:

  1. Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)
  2. Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional affiliation and other contact information.
  3. Include a 150 words abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA or Chicago style.
  4. Papers should be written in English.

For Paper and Panel Proposals:

  1. Include title, 250 words abstract, and contact information with your proposal
  2. Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme
  3. Presenters should be prepared to deliver their papers in English.
  4. Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal that wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send completed paper to the convention planner by June 1, 2017.

Note that campus housing will be available at reasonable rates, along with a variety of off-campus lodging options. Specific information on housing, transportation, places of interest and other logistics will be available shortly on the convention website and the official MEA website.

For more on the Media Ecology Association, visit http://www.media-ecology.org

laudato-si2


Categories: Blog

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017 in Berlin to be Delivered by Dr. Sarah Sharma

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 01/18/2017 - 4:38pm

transmediale

This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture will be delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who has focused on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma will speak under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considers whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wonders who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?

Free admission   –   Please present a valid photo-ID at the door and allow sufficient time for Embassy security. Doors open 18:00 / start 18:30

The transmediale Marshall McLuhan lecture is realized in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada to Germany and its Marshall McLuhan Salon, which holds one of the most significant collections of audio-visual material by and about the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, as well as a large number of his publications. (Source: https://goo.gl/j9lS7H )

sarah-sharma Dr. Sarah Sharma

“My research focuses on the relationship between technology and culture with a particular focus on social inequalities. One key strand of my research has focused on time as a site of social difference in a culture that is imagined to be technologically speeding up. I am currently at work on a new project that engages medium theory and feminist approaches to technology on such sites as     algorithmic culture, the “sharing” economy, and the changing structures of care labour”.        

Read more about Sarah Sharma here https://goo.gl/B48c1L .

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transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon exhibition

watching-blade-runner
Ben Bogart: «Watching (Blade Runner)»
Following the transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture by Sarah Sharma, an installation by Vancouver based artist Ben Bogart opens in the Marshall McLuhan Salon of the Embassy of Canada. The work «Watching (Blade Runner)» (2016) is the latest installment of the series “Watching and Dreaming.” Initiated in 2014, this series of works are the result of statistically oriented machine learning and computer vision algorithms attempting to understand popular cinematic depictions of Artificial Intelligence by breaking apart and reconstructing them. The machines’ understanding is manifest in their ability to recognize, and eventually predict, the structure of the films they watch. The images produced are the result of both the system’s projection of imaginary structure, and the structure of the films themselves. What is watching? What are the mechanisms that allow recognize patterns and regularity in the noise and complexity of observable reality? How do we integrate the continuous flow of information into a cohesive world-view? These are among the questions at the centre of Ben Bogart’s artistic inquiry.
Opening: 31 January 2017, 20:00
1–5 February 2017, 14:00–18:00

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture and transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon Exhibition is a cooperation between transmediale — festival for art and digital culture berlin and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.

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Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Winter Program: Monday Night Seminar on Creative Data, January 23

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 7:47pm

New Coach Hose

Monday Night Seminar: Creative Data

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent                       East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map

Monday Night Seminar, Monday, January 23rd, 6:00 PM

A Public Lecture followed by Discussion

 With Richard Lachman, Transmedia Zone, Ryerson University
& Eric Miller, University of Toronto, Engineering Department

Moderator: Paolo Granata

REGISTER NOW at http://goo.gl/HLTziB 

bigdata

creative-data


Categories: Blog

McLuhan on Campus Exhibit (Oct 13 – Dec 20, 2016) Featured on Salt + Light Television

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 4:03pm

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Click on images for closer view.

A multi-media exhibition   –   Oct 13-Dec 20, 2016
John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael’s College, 113 St. Joseph Street, Toronto

Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at the University of St. Michael’s College. McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication is presented through artifacts, audio, texts, video and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity and Victoria. The exhibition will feature items drawn from the Special Collections and holdings at St. Michael’s, including material from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers and Marshall McLuhan collection. Rare and intimate examples on display include McLuhan’s correspondence and collaborations with friends and colleagues on campus such as Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, Harold Innis, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.                                                                                                                           kelly_library_mmexhibit

On a recent episode of Catholic Focus, Salt + Light Television featured the McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions exhibit in the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Host Deacon Pedro Guevara Mann spoke with Kelly Library Archivist Simon Rogers as well as Michael McLuhan, son of St. Mike’s very own Marshall McLuhan, about both the exhibit and the man behind it.

Photographs of the McLuhan on Campus Exhibit by Yours Truly

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20161107_164941The Coach House telephone used by McLuhan

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Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #3: McLuhan Salon: Hacks, Leaks and Breaches, January 19, 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 01/05/2017 - 11:42pm

mcluhan-salon-global-village

The McLuhan Salons are back!

We have teamed up with the Toronto Reference Library to present a discussion on the thorny ethics of hacks and leaks, with expert on Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, Mark Surman and Fortune writer Mathew Ingram. Join us!

Thursday, 19 January, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Toronto Reference Library, Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, 

                   789 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4W 2G8                   

MAP : https://goo.gl/9UhPxG

Registration is free but required. Limit two tickets per valid email address. Doors open at 6 pm. Please join us for a cash bar reception starting at 6 pm. As most Appel Salon events are free, it is TPL policy to overbook. In case of a full program, your ticket reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend you arrive early.

Room Capacity: Based on fire code regulations the Appel Salon can accommodate seating for 458 in the main room. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. Additional overflow seating, as well as standing-room, is available in the adjoining room.

PLEASE REGISTER TO ATTEND THIS EVENT: https://goo.gl/De0Z8u

Toronto Reference Library

toronto-reference-library

Bram & Bluma Appel Salon

toronto-reference-library-bluma-apel


Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan Can Save Humans From Destroying Ourselves With Technology

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 7:37pm

robot-ai

Marshall McLuhan is still the most penetrating Christian humanist to grasp that technology has forced us to rediscover how humans can use it to advance our species and preserve its humanity.

James Poulos By  , January 3, 2017

It’s time—again—for a resurgence of interest in Marshall McLuhan. After a posthumous revival in the 1970s and ‘80s, McLuhan fans renovated his legacy again in the mid-‘90s, as Muhlenberg professor of media Jefferson Pooley notes in a new appraisal at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Just last year, Pooley observes, Tom Wolfe, who helped make McLuhan famous way back when, gave tribute in a taped appearance to his enduring relevance. “Today thousands of young Internet apostles are familiar with Marshall McLuhan,” the old New Journalist said, “and are convinced that his light shines round about them.”

To be sure, the visionary theorist, famous for buzz phrases like “the global village” and “the medium is the message,” was primed for importance in the Internet era back when the most even he could divine was a coming “electric age.” But were McLuhan merely a cross between David Riesman and Shingy, his voluminous pop prophesies would be plowed under by the very deluge of content and change-ology that he predicted would come to define our immersive media experience.

McLuhan is far more than an egghead or a guru—and, in a subtler way, beautifully less than either. He is, still, the most prolific and penetrating Christian humanist to grasp that technology has forced us to rediscover how humans can use it to advance our species and preserve its humanity. The time has come to care about McLuhan again because the time has come to pull off that rediscovery before it’s too late.

McLuhan Knew Internet Would Change Our Workplaces

But how? The key is found in the gap between the McLuhan of the elite imagination and the real McLuhan, the man of faith whose existence is a muted but open secret. The first McLuhan was already in place when Wolfe first profiled him—the McLuhan who foretold how the future us will act.

“They will work at home, connected to the corporation, the boss, not by roads or railroads, but by television,” Wolfe summed it up. “They will relay information by closed-circuit two-way TV and by computer systems. The great massive American rush-hour flow over all that asphalt surface, going to and from work every day, will be over. The hell with all that driving. Even shopping will be done via TV. All those grinding work-a-daddy cars will disappear. The only cars left will be playthings, sports cars. They’ll be just like horses are today, a sport. Somebody over at General Motors is saying—What if he is right?”

Well, he wasn’t all right. But in our ongoing headlong retreat from the collective effort of civil society, with the biggest of marketplaces moving out of the open air and the big box store and into the cloud, he could still be more right.

“Whole cities, and especially New York, will end too just like cars, no longer vital to the nation but…just playthings,” Wolfe marveled at the McLuhan whose prognostications captivated the elite mind. “People will come to New York solely to amuse themselves, do things, not marvel at the magnitude of the city or its riches, but just eat in the restaurants, go to the discotheques, browse through the galleries.”

Horrible! Or wonderful? From the age of “Mad Men” to the age of “Sex in the City” and the terminal (?) age of “Girls,” this titillating ambivalence has fueled our content-choked culture of work, play, communications, and commerce. Try as we might to keep up, we’ve felt increasingly uncertain about our command of the technology that lurches us ever faster into a future so heavy on the activity and light on the agency. Read the rest of this essay at https://goo.gl/tJ0KiE .

James Poulos is the author of “The Art of Being Free, out January 17 from St. Martin’s

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Categories: Blog

Our Present as Predicted Half a Century Ago by Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 12:20pm

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MyToba.ca, the Manitoba news and information service, published the following comments and a short video of Marshall McLuhan on the last day of 2016. His predictions relate to space exploration, a personalized information service not unlike a combination of Google plus Wikipedia, the unharmonious global village with its loss of secrecy, racial conflict, media as extensions of humans, amplifying human powers, the idea that “the future of the future is the present”, ever-present wars, his personal habit of only reading the right-hand page of any book, which, because of the redundancy of books, he can figure out what he hadn’t read with his own “noodle”, an ability that he attributed to his ability to use his right brain hemisphere with its holistic and imaginative capacities. (Thanks to Howard Engel in Winnipeg for this.)  

Today In History – December 31

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Today In History in 1980, Marshall McLuhan died at age 69. McLuhan was educated at the University of Manitoba, as well as the University of Cambridge. McLuhan was a University of Toronto professor, writer, and communications guru. McLuhan was born July 21, 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta, and was the author of “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,” made famous for his statement that “The Medium Is The Message.” As we think about what 2017 has in store, watch above as McLuhan makes some amazingly accurate predictions about our world.

(Source: https://goo.gl/LE5efZ ) For the idea of McLuhan as a Futurist, see the previous article on this blog at: https://goo.gl/zzEJqT And Marshall McLuhan: Prophet of the Internet Age – https://goo.gl/p0ENZl mm_quote_
Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan in the Context of the Culture & Technology of the 1960s Decade

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 5:15pm

rockin-the-1960s

Culture & Technology in the 1960s Decade

The Sixties are especially significant in the kind of art-media-cultural developments we are cataloging here in this timeline. Essentially because during the 1960s, we began to develop most of the technologies that underpin our 21st century media-space. And it was the American Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) that really kick-started the building of the basic infrastructure that we inherited. ARPA’s enlightened, State-funded research programmes spanned computer-science, networking, human-computer interface design, computer-graphics, modelling and simulation at the same time that aerospace and telecoms engineers were building the communications satellite infrastructure glimpsed as early as 1945-46 by Arthur C. Clarke and the scientist/engineers at RAND Institute. In the 1960s the US Military completed several versions of the SAGE early-warning air-defense networks, and by the late Sixties, ARPA had initiated a inter-computer network in the USA that resulted in the Internet in the early 1970s. By 1968 an ARPA-funded researcher, Douglas Engelbart, using a mainframe computer linked to a dumb-terminal demonstrated how a networked personal computer might work in the 1980s… As early as 1961, the computer-pioneer Jay Wright Forrester had shown that complex systems – like factories and businesses could be modelled in a computer, and simulations created to improve management strategies. By 1971, Forrester’s Systems Dynamics approach was applied to creating World Dynamics a computer-model of the entire World and its resources. And apart from these media-technology innovations, the decade established Britain as a vibrant source of cultural content-invention – in popular music, fashion, fine arts, design, and life-style, and even more radical – the 1960s was the decade during which the counter-culture and avant garde became a dominant influenThe Sixties are especially significant in the kind of art-media-cultural developments we are cataloging here in this timeline. Essentially because during the 1960s, we began to develop most of the technologies that underpin our 21st century media-space. And it was the American Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) that really kick-started the building of the basic infrastructure that we inherited. ARPA’s enlightened, State-funded research programmes spanned computer-science, networking, human-computer interface design, computer-graphics, modelling and simulation at the same time that aerospace and telecoms engineers were building the communications satellite infrastructure glimpsed as early as 1945-46 by Arthur C. Clarke and the scientist/engineers at RAND Institute. In the 1960s the US Military completed several versions of the SAGE early-warning air-defense networks, and by the late Sixties, ARPA had initiated a inter-computer network in the USA that resulted in the Internet in the early 1970s. By 1968 an ARPA-funded researcher, Douglas Engelbart, using a mainframe computer linked to a dumb-terminal demonstrated how a networked personal computer might work in the 1980s… As early as 1961, the computer-pioneer Jay Wright Forrester had shown that complex systems – like factories and businesses could be modelled in a computer, and simulations created to improve management strategies. By 1971, Forrester’s Systems Dynamics approach was applied to creating World Dynamics a computer-model of the entire World and its resources. And apart from these media-technology innovations, the decade established Britain as a vibrant source of cultural content-invention – in popular music, fashion, fine arts, design, and life-style, and even more radical – the 1960s was the decade during which the counter-culture and avant garde became a dominant influence on mass culture. The Beatles Sgt Pepper and Beach Boys Surfs Up, the 1969 Woodstock and Isle of Wight Festivals established this – and the new Hollywood adventures of Dennis Hopper, Arthur Penn, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Doug Trumbull and others proved it at the box office. Echoing the rapidity of technical developments (cataloged in Gene Youngblood’s book Expanded Cinema in 1970), and the burgeoning cultural changes of the 1960s, the arts were evolving into a kind of celebration of mixed-media as we experienced concrete poetry, happenings (algorithmic theatre), auto-destructive art, pop-art, performance art, rock music, and the rest of the counter-culture impact (drugs/long hair/burning bras etc) on mass culture. (See the Mediainspiratorium at https://goo.gl/3WIzEB )

There are 3 entries about Marshall McLuhan in this timeline:-

Herbert Marshall McLuhan: The Gutenberg Galaxy 1962

sixties-mm-gutenberg

Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.

 I discovered Elizabeth Eisenstein’s encyclopedic book on the impact of Print (The Printing Press as an Agent of Change 1980) twenty years after I read McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy – but this was the book for this time, reminding us not only of the many physical cultural changes wrought by Print, but of the psychic re-orientation and wholly new methodology of thinking that it precipitated – as McLuhan explains in his Prologue, the reorientation from oral society to typographic society had profound effects, the idea of rote learning, the development of linear step by step logic, – creating the modern scientific revolution; and the leap into someone-else’s personal perspective fostering individuality, the system of visual (vanishing-point) perspective, the Renaissance as books spread knowledge throughout the West in the vernacular, outside the control of State or Church. The Gutenberg Galaxy itself provides the prologue for an understanding of how electronic media is impacting on all these aspects of our culture and our psyche. Read McLuhan’s final section: The Galaxy Reconfigured, then go on to read his Understanding Media (1963).

Herbert Marshall McLuhan: Understanding Media – The Extensions of Man 1964

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Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly we approach the final phase of the extensions of man – the technological simulation of consciousness, where the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media. Whether the extension of consciousness, so long sought by advertisers for specific products, will be a ‘good thing’ is a question that admits of a wide solution. There is little possibility of answering questions about the extensions of man without considering all of them together. Any extension, whether of skin, hand or foot, extends the whole psychic and social complex.” – Marshall McLuhan from the Introduction, Understanding Media, 1964, p11)

Marshall McLuhan + Quintin Fiore: The Medium is the Massage – An Inventory of Effects 1964

sixties-mcluhan-massage

Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.


Categories: Blog

Recently Published Marshall McLuhan-Related Books Available Now

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 12/24/2016 - 7:25pm

The following publications previously announced on this blog that are available now are the following:-

Explorations: Studies in Culture & Communication, Volumes 1 to 8 (1953 – 1957)

Previously announced here with full description: https://goo.gl/CdOoeI

explorations_1to8Click on image for expanded view.

“Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, principally edited by Edmund (“Ted”) Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan, was the first postwar journal to engage directly with the new “grammars” of the mid-century new media of communication. Launched in Toronto in 1953, at the very moment that television made its national début in Canada, Explorations presented a mosaic of approaches to contemporary media culture and became the texts in which McLuhan and Carpenter first formulated their most striking insights about new media in the electric age. The extraordinary breadth of contributions to Explorations from leading thinkers across the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences makes this journal a founding publication in the now burgeoning field of media studies. Originally funded by a Ford Foundation grant, the eight co-edited issues of Explorations were issued from 1953 to 1957.      

THERE IS STILL TIME TO BENEFIT FROM THIS SIGNIFICANT DISCOUNT FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Extended Discount Offer Until January 7, 2017:-

  • Individual Volumes Sold Directly By the Publisher at 40% off List (retail) Price: USE Code EXPL2016
  • When Buying the Full 8-Volume Set: Use Code: EXPLORE8

Order from Wipf & Stock Publishers: 

http://wipfandstock.com  *  orders@wipfandstock.com  *  (541)344-1528

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Marshall McLuhan: On the Nature of Media Essays, 1952 – 1978

Edited by Richard Cavell

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Media studies have been catching up with McLuhan over the last 50 years. These essays are drawn from the most productive quarter-century of his career (1952-1978), and demonstrate his abiding interest in the materiality of mediation, from comic books to fashion, from technology to biology. Anchoring these essays are four meditations on the work of his great predecessor, Harold Adams Innis, who first proposed the centrality of mediation to every facet of our daily lives. McLuhan took this task literally; rejecting the specialist approach of academic study, he published in mainstream magazines such as Look and Harper’s Bazaar on topics such as sexuality and the fashion industry, in each case bringing to these topics insights that remain startlingly fresh. The essays offer a rare glimpse into a great mind as it works out the implications of the effects of media not only on what we know but on how we are coming to understand our being. (Source: https://goo.gl/1sEbDE )

Published by Gingko Press  –  196 pages  –  ISBN: 978-1-58423-582-8  –  US $19.95


Categories: Blog

How to Become a Famous Media Scholar: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 10:48pm

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Saturday Review Cover – March 18, 1967

By Jefferson Pooley

WHEN MARSHALL MCLUHAN published Understanding Media in 1964, the Cambridge-trained literary scholar was not well known, even inside the academy. By 1967, he was on the covers of Newsweek and the Saturday Review, and the subject of an hourlong NBC documentary, all in the same month. Over three manic years, McLuhan had shot from scholarly obscurity to klieg-lit fame.

Like most celebrity ascensions, McLuhan’s was the product of a conscious publicity campaign. Handlers, press agents, and impresarios worked together to make “McLuhan” a household name. He was packaged and promoted like a promising starlet, with multimedia gusto. Understanding Media garnered a few mainstream print reviews upon publication, but McLuhan’s break came in early 1965, when a pair of San Francisco prospectors — one, Gerald Feigen, a physician, the other, Howard Gossage, an ad-agency executive — “discovered” McLuhan and promptly arranged to visit the Canadian in Toronto. Feigen and Gossage were self-fashioned avant-gardists, using profits from their business consulting firm for “genius scouting”; the doctor read Understanding Media and alerted his partner. Together they plotted a full-fledged publicity rollout, starting with cocktail parties in New York City with media and publishing figures. The pair staged a weeklong “McLuhan Festival” that summer, with nightly parties and a rotating cast of ad executives, newspaper editors, mayoral aides, and business leaders in attendance.

Tom Wolfe, not yet famous as a prophet of the New Journalism, was there too, on assignment for the New York Herald Tribune’s Sunday magazine New York. He soon published a feverish profile (“What If He’s Right?”): “Suppose he is what he sounds like, the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov?” Wolfe’s lead paragraph centered on McLuhan’s business appeal:

One of the big American corporations has offered him $5000 to present a closed-circuit —ours! — television lecture on — oracle! — the ways the products in its industry will be used in the future. Even before all this, IBM, General Electric, Bell Telephone were flying McLuhan in from Toronto to New York, Pittsburgh, God knows where else, to talk to their hierarchs about … well, about whatever this unseen world of electronic environments that only he sees fully is all about.

In late 1965, the same month that Wolfe’s piece appeared, Harper’s ran its own spread on “Canada’s Intellectual Comet.” The media sluice gates had opened. Over the next two years, extended profiles of McLuhan were published by Fortune, MacLean’s, the Saturday Review, Esquire, Newsweek, and the New York Times Magazine. McLuhan himself wrote articles for, or sat for interviews with, TV Guide, Family Circle, Mademoiselle, Look, Vogue, McCall’s, and Glamour. He appeared for lengthy segments on the BBC, NBC, CBC, NPR, and the Voice of America. The New Yorker ran its first cartoon on him (“You see, Dad, Professor McLuhan says…”), and a version of McLuhan’s new book, The Medium is the Massage, was released as an audio LP by CBS Records, the same month (March 1967) as the Newsweek cover and NBC documentary. McLuhan was famous.………………..

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McLuhan’s medium-is-the-message formalism has indeed provoked lots of important work in media studies. He’s the fountainhead for the modish “German media theory” that’s gaining fast syllabus traction in the English-speaking academy. The most interesting American media thinker, John Durham Peters, credits McLuhan as an “unmissable destination for media theorists.” In some ways, though, McLuhan was more a product of the media culture than its student. He seduced Esquire and the ad men (and later Wired) because what he had to say resonated with Americans already primed for the good news about technology. That’s no reason to stop reading him: McLuhan’s probes, taken as truth-indifferent provocations, really are good to think with. It’s just that the man — rewarded for closeting his gloom — is more instructive than his books. (Read the full article at https://goo.gl/kE4SLI )

 Jefferson Pooley is associate professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College and author of “James W. Carey and Communication Research: Reputation at the University’s Margins”.

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Newsweek Cover, March 6, 1967 & Understanding Media (1964)


Categories: Blog

Ted Carpenter’s Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! Book (1972) & Film (2003)

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 5:55pm

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KIRKUS REVIEW of the book, published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston of Canada in 1972 (April 2, 1973) – Carpenter, a one-time Marshall McLuhan associate (the two jointly edited Explorations in Communications, 1960), explores the impact of media, both visual and acoustic, on preliterate peoples — Eskimos and New Guinea tribesmen being among those to whom he has introduced the printed word, the mirror, the Polaroid camera and the tape recorder. The effect, says Carpenter, is staggering: “I think media are so powerful that they swallow cultures,” encircling and destroying old environments, eroding and dissolving cultural identity. Citing his own experiences Carpenter tells of the stunning psychological disorientation he has witnessed among men who have just learned to write their names, heard their voices coming from a tape deck or seen their photograph for the first time; staring into the lens of a camera “the terror in their eyes is the terror of being recognized as individuals” — for the first time each man saw himself and his environment “and saw them as separable.” Unlike McLuhan, Carpenter is leery of “hot” media and openly biased toward the visual: Euclidian space, three-dimensionality, the phonetic alphabet are for him inexorably linked to the development of Western Civilization and its characteristic patterns — lineality, causality, temporality, etc. Thus the ubiquitous use of radio in New Guinea alarms him. Radio is magic; it reinforces the separation of spirit and flesh hitherto confined to dream-myth rituals and ceremonials. He worries about its propaganda potential noting that in North Africa and Indonesia it has already been used to break down traditional tribal groupings, “building nationalism to a feverish pitch and creating unreasonable national goals.” This sometimes smacks of Western paternalism but Carpenter pleads that no technology is neutral; the notion that electronics can simply be used to dispense information is folly; the medium is indeed the message. Some of his recommendations (government sponsored chess, crossword puzzles and “huge mirrors erected in public places”) will make you blink but his repeated examples of media-induced distortions of human behavior are interesting enough to galvanize attention and draw feedback. (Source: https://goo.gl/4hDhcJ )

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THE FILM (2003) by John Bishop & Harald Prins – Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! returns Edmund Carpenter’s visionary work to the center of visual anthropology and media ecology. A maverick who explored the borderlands between ethnography and media over fifty years, Carpenter looked at the revolutionary impact of film and photography on tribal peoples. He opened the Pandora’s box of electronic media with delight and horror, embracing it even as he recoiled from its omnipotence. The documentary dives into the tensions between art and anthropology, film and culture. Using extensive interviews with Carpenter and footage from his fieldwork, the film evokes the insights and ironies of his classic book of the same name. He comments on his wide-ranging fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic and Papua New Guinea, concepts of authenticity and truth in media and art, the relationship between anthropology and surrealism, and the impossibility of preserving culture. Much of the film is built around his 1969-70 New Guinea footage, never seen before, which includes a riveting scene of an Upper Sepik River tribal initiation in which a crocodile skin pattern is cut into the initiate’s skin. Coinciding with the current McLuhan renaissance, Carpenter is now being claimed as a pioneer in the emerging field of Media Ecology, and his once-exotic ideas about electronic media seem perfectly obvious in light of the World Wide Web. It captures that moment in anthropology when exploring the many ways media transform cultures was fresh and alive and hold promise for a new generation. (Source: https://goo.gl/WA2uve )

Kandangan Initiation – 5-minute excerpt from the film:-

An Annotated transcript of the film (PDF): https://goo.gl/tbv4XJ

See also on this blog: 

NY Times Obituary: Edmund Carpenter, Archaelogist & Anthropologist: https://goo.gl/4qdlqN

Lance Strate’s Reflections on the Passing of Ted Carpenter: https://goo.gl/WNLzbJ


Categories: Blog

Call for Papers: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, Saint Mary’s College Of California, June 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:14pm

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CALL FOR PAPERS: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association

Technology, Spirituality, Ecology

 Saint Mary’s College Of California

JUNE 22-25, 2017

Saint Mary’s College of California is proud to host the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA). Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is one of the oldest colleges in the western U.S. with the original location in San Francisco and now located on a 420-acre campus in the Moraga Valley, 20 miles east of San Francisco. The convention will be held from June 22 through 25, 2017.

Media Ecology is a wide tent whose history, perspectives, and scholarly interests incorporate a broad array of academic and professional disciplines focusing on “the study of media environments and the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs” (Lance Strate, 1999). This interdisciplinary approach towards the exploration of media as environments fosters a rich discourse of investigation, and each MEA convention provides a unique opportunity for academics and professionals to come together in a relaxed, convivial and intimate environment that encourages deep conversations alongside activities that encourage friendship and fun.

The theme for the 18th annual MEA Convention is Technology, Spirituality, Ecology.  This tri-part theme provides a confluence of topics that represent major global concerns in the contemporary age. This is probably best articulated in the papal encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si, when he stated that “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature” (para. 47).

With this as context, we invite paper and panel proposals that address one or more of the three core themes. Although we encourage submissions that touch upon or align with, the convention theme, papers, abstracts, and panel proposal submissions from all areas of Media Ecology are welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish their papers to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s). The top papers will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology. All submissions will be acknowledged. The language of the convention is English.

Please submit all papers, panels, and proposals to the convention coordinator Lori Erokan at <lerokan@stmarys-ca.edu>.

Submission deadline: January 15, 2017

Questions can be sent to the Convention Chair, Ed Tywoniak at <tywoniak@stmarys-ca.edu>.

Guidelines for Submission

For manuscripts eligible for MEA award submissions:

  1. Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)
  2. Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional
    affiliation and other contact information.
  3. Include a 150 words abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA or Chicago style.
  4. Papers should be written in English.

For Paper and Panel Proposals:

  1. Include title, 250 words abstract, and contact information with your
    proposal
  2. Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme
  3. Presenters should be prepared to deliver their papers in English.
  4. Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal that wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send completed paper to the convention planner by June 1, 2017.

Note that campus housing will be available at reasonable rates, along with a variety of off-campus lodging options. Specific information on housing, transportation, places of interest and other logistics will be available shortly on the convention website and the official MEA website.

For more on the Media Ecology Association, visit http://www.media-ecology.org

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