Blog

A Review of B.W. Powe’s Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 06/29/2014 - 12:24pm

   Philip Marchand | June 27, 2014 

One of the striking features of B.W. Powe’s 1981 A Climate Charged: Essays on Canadian Writers — signalling the arrival of a distinctive voice in Canadian criticism — was that author’s facility in combining erudite argument with the evocation of personality. In the 1981 book, for example, there are sharply observed portraits of Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye.

Powe as novelist remains more or less in the background of Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy, but he does not disappear. Powe begins his study with a reference to the initial introduction of Frye and McLuhan at a meeting of the English Department of the University of Toronto in 1946, and then declares, “I like to imagine their first conversation.”

Throughout this work, Powe’s imagination helps to conjure McLuhan and Frye as solitary outlaws, to use a previous Powe term. The men had their different missions. McLuhan, the media guru, “wrote a detailed history of the technological future,” Powe observes. Frye, the consummate literary critic, “offered up the content of our imaginations.” To Frye, McLuhan was besotted by the electronic environment; to McLuhan, Frye was a library rat. But it is the argument of Powe’s book that the thought of both men was ultimately complementary and converging. “Their deepest concerns were how texts (of the world, of literary invention) make us and how we in turn make and receive more meaning,” Powe writes.

The undoubted difference between the two men in temperament, and their inevitable rivalry, was rubbed raw by differences in religion. McLuhan was a devout Catholic and Frye a heretical Protestant, but according to Powe, both were attuned to what Powe calls the Spirit — the pattern beyond all patterns, accessible to perceptive spiritual explorers.

Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/oj9pnex .

 Apocalypse and Alchemy


Categories: Blog

Cheche Lazaro named as 2014 Marshall McLuhan fellow, Philippines

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 10:51am

By , June 26, 2014

Veteran broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro has been awarded the prestigious Marshall McLuhan Fellowship from the Canadian Embassy for her excellence in the media industry.

Cheche Lazaro receives her plaque as the 2014 Marshall McLuhan fellow from the Canadian Embassy’s Political and Economic Relations Counsellor James Christoff. Xianne Arcangel

Lazaro’s selection as the 18th McLuhan fellow was announced Thursday at the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism seminar organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Democracy.

Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Nancy Carvajal, who broke the story on the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund last year, was chosen as the CMFR’s Outstanding Journalist of 2013. She was the first recipient of the award.

Canadian Embassy Political and Economic Relations Counsellor James Christoff, who presented the award, said Lazaro “[has a name] that is synonymous with excellence in the industry and exemplifies the best in the profession.”

“She has a long history of acclaimed journalistic work in various media platforms, a courageous approach in fleshing out the most important issues of the day, and a relentless thirst to share knowledge with her colleagues,” he said.

Lazaro is the founding president of Probe Productions Inc. She has worked as a reporter and producer of television programs such as “The Probe Team”, the youth-oriented educational show “5 and Up”, “Gameplan” and “Cheche Lazaro Presents” over her storied career spanning nearly three decades.

Among the accolades she has received are the KBP Golden Dove Awards, Gawad CCP para sa Telebisyon, University of the Philippines’ Gawad Plaridel, Catholic Mass Media Awards (Hall of Fame), and the Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Philippine Movie Press Club.

Surpise recognition

Lazaro said she considers winning the award as a “pleasant surprise” since she thought the recognition was exclusively given to print journalists.

“Many people who have won the Marshall McLuhan award are [what I consider] ‘super journalists’ whom I admire,” she told GMA News Online.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship, named after the world-renowned Canadian communication scholar, is the Embassy of Canada’s flagship media advocacy initiative.

Launched in 1997 to encourage responsible journalism in the Philippines, the Fellowship underlines Canada’s belief that strong media is essential to a free and democratic society.

The fellowship consists of a two-week familiarization tour and lecture at Canadian media and academic organizations. The fellow will also be invited to give a lecture at select Philippine universities.

Other finalists for the award were Carvajal, PDI reporter Joey Gabieta, GMA Network reporter Steve Dailisan, Rappler.com news editor Miriam Grace Go and freelance journalist Jake Soriano.

Each of the finalists received a P20,000 honorarium. Carvajal received an additional P30,000 as part of her citation. KG/BM, GMA News (Source http://tinyurl.com/okyhxvl )


Categories: Blog

Cheche Lazaro named as 2014 Marshall McLuhan fellow, Philippines

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 10:51am

By , June 26, 2014

Veteran broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro has been awarded the prestigious Marshall McLuhan Fellowship from the Canadian Embassy for her excellence in the media industry.

Cheche Lazaro receives her plaque as the 2014 Marshall McLuhan fellow from the Canadian Embassy’s Political and Economic Relations Counsellor James Christoff. Xianne Arcangel

Lazaro’s selection as the 18th McLuhan fellow was announced Thursday at the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism seminar organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Democracy.

Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Nancy Carvajal, who broke the story on the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund last year, was chosen as the CMFR’s Outstanding Journalist of 2013. She was the first recipient of the award.

Canadian Embassy Political and Economic Relations Counsellor James Christoff, who presented the award, said Lazaro “[has a name] that is synonymous with excellence in the industry and exemplifies the best in the profession.”

“She has a long history of acclaimed journalistic work in various media platforms, a courageous approach in fleshing out the most important issues of the day, and a relentless thirst to share knowledge with her colleagues,” he said.

Lazaro is the founding president of Probe Productions Inc. She has worked as a reporter and producer of television programs such as “The Probe Team”, the youth-oriented educational show “5 and Up”, “Gameplan” and “Cheche Lazaro Presents” over her storied career spanning nearly three decades.

Among the accolades she has received are the KBP Golden Dove Awards, Gawad CCP para sa Telebisyon, University of the Philippines’ Gawad Plaridel, Catholic Mass Media Awards (Hall of Fame), and the Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Philippine Movie Press Club.

Surpise recognition

Lazaro said she considers winning the award as a “pleasant surprise” since she thought the recognition was exclusively given to print journalists.

“Many people who have won the Marshall McLuhan award are [what I consider] ‘super journalists’ whom I admire,” she told GMA News Online.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship, named after the world-renowned Canadian communication scholar, is the Embassy of Canada’s flagship media advocacy initiative.

Launched in 1997 to encourage responsible journalism in the Philippines, the Fellowship underlines Canada’s belief that strong media is essential to a free and democratic society.

The fellowship consists of a two-week familiarization tour and lecture at Canadian media and academic organizations. The fellow will also be invited to give a lecture at select Philippine universities.

Other finalists for the award were Carvajal, PDI reporter Joey Gabieta, GMA Network reporter Steve Dailisan, Rappler.com news editor Miriam Grace Go and freelance journalist Jake Soriano.

Each of the finalists received a P20,000 honorarium. Carvajal received an additional P30,000 as part of her citation. KG/BM, GMA News (Source http://tinyurl.com/okyhxvl )


Categories: Blog

Harold Innis: From Staples Thesis to Communication Studies

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:44am

COURTESY OF U OF T ARCHIVES B1972-0003/034(01) 0003

Harold Innis (1894-1952)canoeing on the Peace River, 1924

Harold Innis’s fur trade research in the summer of 1924 launched a celebrated academic career

By Susan Pedwell

When Harold Innis set off to explore the history of the fur trade in Alberta’s Peace River basin, he was limping from a shrapnel wound that had ripped open his leg at Vimy Ridge. But by the time the junior assistant professor returned to U of T, he was able to throw away his cane.

A summer in the northern hinterland did more than restore Innis’s health. It prompted the political economist to give Canadians a new vision of their country. Then, our jagged landscape was seen as an obstacle to overcome. Innis countered that Canada developed because of its geography, not in spite of it.

In his “staples thesis,” he argued that Canada’s exports of fur, timber, fish, fossil fuels and other commodities shaped its cultural and political development. Innis was the first to point out that Canada’s economic reliance on producing raw materials made it vulnerable to the whims of Britain, the U.S. and other manufacturing nations.

In his long career, Innis also wrote seminal books on communication, inspiring Marshall McLuhan to the point that McLuhan became his intellectual disciple.

This year, Innis College, U of T’s only college to be named after a scholar, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by honouring its namesake. One event planned for November will feature communication theorists who, as Innis did, have a vision to share. Janet Paterson, the college’s principal, points out that many of Innis’s programs continue to further the scholar’s legacy. “The college reflects some of Harold Innis’s far-reaching ideas on communication with its vibrant programs in film, writing and rhetoric, and urban studies.” (Source: http://tinyurl.com/lz56ybk )

On January 23, 1964, the University of Toronto’s Board of Governors (now known as Governing Council) approved the creation of a new college to be named after the distinguished Canadian scholar Harold Adams Innis. Innis College opened its doors to its first undergraduate class of about 250 students in September 1964.


Categories: Blog

Harold Innis: From Staples Thesis to Communication Studies

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:44am

COURTESY OF U OF T ARCHIVES B1972-0003/034(01) 0003

Harold Innis (1894-1952)canoeing on the Peace River, 1924

Harold Innis’s fur trade research in the summer of 1924 launched a celebrated academic career

By Susan Pedwell

When Harold Innis set off to explore the history of the fur trade in Alberta’s Peace River basin, he was limping from a shrapnel wound that had ripped open his leg at Vimy Ridge. But by the time the junior assistant professor returned to U of T, he was able to throw away his cane.

A summer in the northern hinterland did more than restore Innis’s health. It prompted the political economist to give Canadians a new vision of their country. Then, our jagged landscape was seen as an obstacle to overcome. Innis countered that Canada developed because of its geography, not in spite of it.

In his “staples thesis,” he argued that Canada’s exports of fur, timber, fish, fossil fuels and other commodities shaped its cultural and political development. Innis was the first to point out that Canada’s economic reliance on producing raw materials made it vulnerable to the whims of Britain, the U.S. and other manufacturing nations.

In his long career, Innis also wrote seminal books on communication, inspiring Marshall McLuhan to the point that McLuhan became his intellectual disciple.

This year, Innis College, U of T’s only college to be named after a scholar, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by honouring its namesake. One event planned for November will feature communication theorists who, as Innis did, have a vision to share. Janet Paterson, the college’s principal, points out that many of Innis’s programs continue to further the scholar’s legacy. “The college reflects some of Harold Innis’s far-reaching ideas on communication with its vibrant programs in film, writing and rhetoric, and urban studies.” (Source: http://tinyurl.com/lz56ybk )

On January 23, 1964, the University of Toronto’s Board of Governors (now known as Governing Council) approved the creation of a new college to be named after the distinguished Canadian scholar Harold Adams Innis. Innis College opened its doors to its first undergraduate class of about 250 students in September 1964.


Categories: Blog

Digital Teens

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 11:40am

Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School

Marshall McLuhan CSS

This article purports to be about teenagers after Marshall McLuhan died, which was in 1980. More accurately, it focuses on Canadian students attending a Toronto Catholic high school named after Marshall McLuhan that exists in an affluent middle class neighborhood in one of the most multicultural large cities in North America. Although some non-Catholics are admitted under certain conditions, the faith-based approach to education, mandatory school uniforms and curriculum informed by Catholic religious and social beliefs, is only partially representative of teenagers today.

The Teenager, After McLuhan LINDA BESNER JUNE 16, 2014 Marshall McLuhan—whose Understanding Media turns 50 this year—described how media shaped the evolution of the teenager. What about teenagers these days? At Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, the student body is addressed as “Marshall.” Marshall cheers its rugby team, the Rebels, and does community service through clubs with names like “Grooving with the Seniors.” Marshall comes to school dressed in a uniform of black and white, the colours of print on paper.

On Marshall’s website, the administration declares its intention to train students to follow the example of the school’s namesake—to be vessels of revelation. “As Marshall McLuhan did, we strive to embody the highest goals of the Catholic intellectual tradition using our faith to understand our search for oneness, goodness and truth.” Like McLuhan, the students of MSCSS will learn to look beyond the immediate present to see the deep patterns that will shape our future. “Our students’ voices will be prophetic ones in the 21st century.”

McLuhan saw the teenager of the 1960s as a new kind of person. Before television, McLuhan said, there was adolescence—a period in which young people waited on the outskirts of the adult world for their real lives to start. But teenagers were living their real lives already, and their experience was the embodiment of both humanity’s future and its past.

Back then, it seemed as if teenagers could change the course of history. New ideas about civil rights, sexual liberation, and non-traditional lifestyles were threatening to upend society. Part of their power was economic; young people in the 1960s could walk out of high school into well paying jobs, or, should they choose, get a relatively cheap university education. But Marshall believed the change in communications technologies was leading to a generation of retribalized, collectivized, globalized citizens. In 1969, he told Playboy, “Our teenage generation is already becoming part of a jungle clan” … 

Some contemporary commentators have interpreted his remarks to predict an increasingly segmented, fragmented society made up of tiny factions which alternately war with or ignore each other. But others (the administration of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School seemingly among them) saw McLuhan’s idea of a “tribal” global culture as an expression of the unity—the oneness—of humanity. If print had created the individual—people immersed themselves, alone, in books—television was breaking down the individual and rejoining humanity into one pulsating mass of awareness. Teenagers would inherit a collective inner world shaped by global factors. Everyone would be connected. Read the rest of the article at http://tinyurl.com/mr95s8f .

The homepage of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School is http://tinyurl.com/mm5u86l 

Marshall McLuhan Logo

Some articles about the Digital or Net generation:-

The Net Generation Goes to College - http://tinyurl.com/ll3b8zw

Teens and Technology 2013 - http://tinyurl.com/pkdsqv3

Busting the myth of tech-savvy youth - http://tinyurl.com/l7qbwc5


Categories: Blog

Digital Teens

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 11:40am

Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School

Marshall McLuhan CSS

This article purports to be about teenagers after Marshall McLuhan died, which was in 1980. More accurately, it focuses on Canadian students attending a Toronto Catholic high school named after Marshall McLuhan that exists in an affluent middle class neighborhood in one of the most multicultural large cities in North America. Although some non-Catholics are admitted under certain conditions, the faith-based approach to education, mandatory school uniforms and curriculum informed by Catholic religious and social beliefs, is only partially representative of teenagers today.

The Teenager, After McLuhan LINDA BESNER JUNE 16, 2014 Marshall McLuhan—whose Understanding Media turns 50 this year—described how media shaped the evolution of the teenager. What about teenagers these days? At Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, the student body is addressed as “Marshall.” Marshall cheers its rugby team, the Rebels, and does community service through clubs with names like “Grooving with the Seniors.” Marshall comes to school dressed in a uniform of black and white, the colours of print on paper.

On Marshall’s website, the administration declares its intention to train students to follow the example of the school’s namesake—to be vessels of revelation. “As Marshall McLuhan did, we strive to embody the highest goals of the Catholic intellectual tradition using our faith to understand our search for oneness, goodness and truth.” Like McLuhan, the students of MSCSS will learn to look beyond the immediate present to see the deep patterns that will shape our future. “Our students’ voices will be prophetic ones in the 21st century.”

McLuhan saw the teenager of the 1960s as a new kind of person. Before television, McLuhan said, there was adolescence—a period in which young people waited on the outskirts of the adult world for their real lives to start. But teenagers were living their real lives already, and their experience was the embodiment of both humanity’s future and its past.

Back then, it seemed as if teenagers could change the course of history. New ideas about civil rights, sexual liberation, and non-traditional lifestyles were threatening to upend society. Part of their power was economic; young people in the 1960s could walk out of high school into well paying jobs, or, should they choose, get a relatively cheap university education. But Marshall believed the change in communications technologies was leading to a generation of retribalized, collectivized, globalized citizens. In 1969, he told Playboy, “Our teenage generation is already becoming part of a jungle clan” … 

Some contemporary commentators have interpreted his remarks to predict an increasingly segmented, fragmented society made up of tiny factions which alternately war with or ignore each other. But others (the administration of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School seemingly among them) saw McLuhan’s idea of a “tribal” global culture as an expression of the unity—the oneness—of humanity. If print had created the individual—people immersed themselves, alone, in books—television was breaking down the individual and rejoining humanity into one pulsating mass of awareness. Teenagers would inherit a collective inner world shaped by global factors. Everyone would be connected. Read the rest of the article at http://tinyurl.com/mr95s8f .

The homepage of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School is http://tinyurl.com/mm5u86l 

Marshall McLuhan Logo

Some articles about the Digital or Net generation:-

The Net Generation Goes to College - http://tinyurl.com/ll3b8zw

Teens and Technology 2013 - http://tinyurl.com/pkdsqv3

Busting the myth of tech-savvy youth - http://tinyurl.com/l7qbwc5


Categories: Blog

Ryerson University hosts Media Ecology Association’s 15th Annual Convention

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 10:32am
Ryerson Campus

International conference to explore role of cultural and creative industries in a techno-centric society

 June 17, 2014

On Thursday June 19, Ryerson University will host the Media Ecology Association’s annual convention, a first in Toronto. The four day convention,Confronting Technopoly: Creativity and the Creative Industries in Global Perspective, will probe how creativity and the cultural or creative industries might evolve in relation to technology. Conference highlights include:

Keynote Speaker – Ronald J. Deibert
Paul Kennedy, longtime host of CBC radio’s IDEAS will introduce keynote speaker Ronald J. Deibert, an expert on issues related to technology, media, and world politics who will give a talk entitled “The Geopolitics of Cyberspace.”  – Saturday, June 21, 4:15 p.m., Ryerson Library

Commemoration and Reception – Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan’s commitment to Ryerson and influential work in Understanding Media will be honored with a formal room dedication and commemoration, with remarks Donald J. Gillies and Eric McLuhan. — Thursday, June 19, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Communications Centre, 80 Gould Street

Performance  - Innis’s Foray
Award-winning actor Eric Peterson will play the title character in this one act play by novelist, playwright and journalist, Rick Salutin. — Friday, June 20, 12:15 p.m., Ryerson Library

A full program listing can be found at http://www.media-ecology.org/activities/index.html

WHAT: Fifteenth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association:
Confronting Technopoly: Creativity & the Creative Industries in Global Perspective WHEN: Thursday, June 19 – Sunday, June 22, 2014 WHERE:  Ryerson University, Toronto, ON

Crest

Mente et Artificio (With Mind and Skill)


Categories: Blog

Ryerson University hosts Media Ecology Association’s 15th Annual Convention

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 10:32am
Ryerson Campus

International conference to explore role of cultural and creative industries in a techno-centric society

 June 17, 2014

On Thursday June 19, Ryerson University will host the Media Ecology Association’s annual convention, a first in Toronto. The four day convention,Confronting Technopoly: Creativity and the Creative Industries in Global Perspective, will probe how creativity and the cultural or creative industries might evolve in relation to technology. Conference highlights include:

Keynote Speaker – Ronald J. Deibert
Paul Kennedy, longtime host of CBC radio’s IDEAS will introduce keynote speaker Ronald J. Deibert, an expert on issues related to technology, media, and world politics who will give a talk entitled “The Geopolitics of Cyberspace.”  – Saturday, June 21, 4:15 p.m., Ryerson Library

Commemoration and Reception – Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan’s commitment to Ryerson and influential work in Understanding Media will be honored with a formal room dedication and commemoration, with remarks Donald J. Gillies and Eric McLuhan. — Thursday, June 19, 5:30 p.m., Rogers Communications Centre, 80 Gould Street

Performance  - Innis’s Foray
Award-winning actor Eric Peterson will play the title character in this one act play by novelist, playwright and journalist, Rick Salutin. — Friday, June 20, 12:15 p.m., Ryerson Library

A full program listing can be found at http://www.media-ecology.org/activities/index.html

WHAT: Fifteenth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association:
Confronting Technopoly: Creativity & the Creative Industries in Global Perspective WHEN: Thursday, June 19 – Sunday, June 22, 2014 WHERE:  Ryerson University, Toronto, ON

Crest

Mente et Artificio (With Mind and Skill)


Categories: Blog

Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 06/17/2014 - 7:55pm

On the eve of our Media Ecology Association convention in Toronto, here’s a timely NY Times Sunday Book Review piece addressing a fundamental media ecology concern……..Alex

Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?

JUNE 17, 2014

 Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. Fifty years ago, Marshall McLuhan suggested that the electronic image had supplanted the written word. This week, Dana Stevens and Rivka Galchen discuss whether we are living in a new revolutionary age, or just a continuation of the old one.

By Dana Stevens

What would the creator of the phrase “global village” have to say about its current incarnation, the Internet?

To read “Understanding Media” in 2014 is to wish McLuhan, who died in 1980 at the age of 69, were still available in theater lobbies for consultation. The book is a structural maze whose repetitiveness, rhetorical vagueness and propensity for brazen self-contradiction will drive your inner editor to contemplate rash acts. But flashing out of the murk at regular intervals are aphoristic bursts of uncannily prescient wisdom about the history and future of the various technologies of human communication — what McLuhan refers to in the book’s subtitle as “the extensions of man.” After a while you get accustomed to the terrain of McLuhan’s mind — a place of dizzying shifts and precipitous drops, crammed to bursting with false etymologies and weirdly inapposite literary references, where making sense is less important than making big, bold connections. “The electric light is pure information.” “Print technology transformed the medieval zero into the Renaissance infinity.” “Einstein pronounced the doom of continuous or ‘rational’ space, and the way was made clear for Picasso and the Marx Brothers and Mad.” These sweeping, oracular pronouncements don’t always lend themselves to paraphrase or rational explanation. Rather, they function as invitations to readers to use these ideas as tools in their own thinking about media, which perhaps explains why McLuhan later called his mantra-like formulations “probes.”

By Rivka Galchen

The written word is dying. Even if it never entirely expires, other mediums of expression are consuming the limited oxygen.

 The written word has been dying for so long!!! Exclamation points have finally revealed themselves as the sleeper cells of Image?! Image, which is so much better at getting us to buy something? You’ve read this argument before. Then we say that kids these days, they never read — they never read! — or, kids these days, they heart reading, and their tweets are Wildean epigrams, and Kanye West is a god of language . . . although that’s not written language, it’s . . . sometimes we get lost, it’s difficult to stay on point in conversation, especially because a terrible death blow was dealt to conversation, by literacy. It’s true, literacy has made conversational dum-dums of us all. Look at how witty the dialogue is in Shakespeare . . . most everybody back then could follow that sort of thing . . . and now we can’t, not only because we don’t speak Elizabethan English, but because we spend so much time reading . . . time that could be spent conversing, bantering . . . and that’s why the Elizabethans could have nuanced merry wars and everyone could follow and think up quick wordplay responses, because back then, talking was most all there was for most people to do . . . so we were better at it.

Those are two out of context quotes. Read the full article at http://tinyurl.com/okhnrap  .


Categories: Blog

Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 06/17/2014 - 7:55pm

On the eve of our Media Ecology Association convention in Toronto, here’s a timely NY Times Sunday Book Review piece addressing a fundamental media ecology concern……..Alex

Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?

JUNE 17, 2014

 Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. Fifty years ago, Marshall McLuhan suggested that the electronic image had supplanted the written word. This week, Dana Stevens and Rivka Galchen discuss whether we are living in a new revolutionary age, or just a continuation of the old one.

By Dana Stevens

What would the creator of the phrase “global village” have to say about its current incarnation, the Internet?

To read “Understanding Media” in 2014 is to wish McLuhan, who died in 1980 at the age of 69, were still available in theater lobbies for consultation. The book is a structural maze whose repetitiveness, rhetorical vagueness and propensity for brazen self-contradiction will drive your inner editor to contemplate rash acts. But flashing out of the murk at regular intervals are aphoristic bursts of uncannily prescient wisdom about the history and future of the various technologies of human communication — what McLuhan refers to in the book’s subtitle as “the extensions of man.” After a while you get accustomed to the terrain of McLuhan’s mind — a place of dizzying shifts and precipitous drops, crammed to bursting with false etymologies and weirdly inapposite literary references, where making sense is less important than making big, bold connections. “The electric light is pure information.” “Print technology transformed the medieval zero into the Renaissance infinity.” “Einstein pronounced the doom of continuous or ‘rational’ space, and the way was made clear for Picasso and the Marx Brothers and Mad.” These sweeping, oracular pronouncements don’t always lend themselves to paraphrase or rational explanation. Rather, they function as invitations to readers to use these ideas as tools in their own thinking about media, which perhaps explains why McLuhan later called his mantra-like formulations “probes.”

By Rivka Galchen

The written word is dying. Even if it never entirely expires, other mediums of expression are consuming the limited oxygen.

 The written word has been dying for so long!!! Exclamation points have finally revealed themselves as the sleeper cells of Image?! Image, which is so much better at getting us to buy something? You’ve read this argument before. Then we say that kids these days, they never read — they never read! — or, kids these days, they heart reading, and their tweets are Wildean epigrams, and Kanye West is a god of language . . . although that’s not written language, it’s . . . sometimes we get lost, it’s difficult to stay on point in conversation, especially because a terrible death blow was dealt to conversation, by literacy. It’s true, literacy has made conversational dum-dums of us all. Look at how witty the dialogue is in Shakespeare . . . most everybody back then could follow that sort of thing . . . and now we can’t, not only because we don’t speak Elizabethan English, but because we spend so much time reading . . . time that could be spent conversing, bantering . . . and that’s why the Elizabethans could have nuanced merry wars and everyone could follow and think up quick wordplay responses, because back then, talking was most all there was for most people to do . . . so we were better at it.

Those are two out of context quotes. Read the full article at http://tinyurl.com/okhnrap  .


Categories: Blog

Erik Davis on Acoustic Cyberspace

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 06/15/2014 - 7:58pm

Davis erik 2008 rauner michael.jpg Erik Davis

A talk delivered at the Xchange conference, Riga, Latvia, November 1997

Today I’d like to talk about some abstract ideas, some images, some open-ended notions about acoustic space. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between electronic sound and environments, on the Internet or in music. I won’t talk about the various technologies involved; instead, I’ll try to get at some of the deeper issues about sound and the ways it constructs subjectivities and can act as a kind of map.

A good place to start is with a distinction that Marshall McLuhan draws between visual space and acoustic space. McLuhan used the notion of visual space as a way to describe how Western subjectivity has been organized on a technical basis since the Renaissance. McLuhan argued that Renaissance perspective not only provided a powerful new way of organizing the visual field (in terms of representation), but also engendered a very specific form of subjectivity. He didn’t just associate this subjectivity with the point-of-view produced by Renaissance perspective painting—he related to it also to print technologies and to the new form of the book. In essence, he argued that the self that comes down to us from the Renaissance—the “molar” self of the modern West, as some have called it—is a visual self.

Renaissance perspective thus serves as a pictorial analogy for a much more general phenomenon—the power to create a distinct, single point of view that organizes thought and perception along linear lines. This is related to print technologies—and print culture—because, according to McLuhan, these technologies inculcate within us a habit of organizing the world in a linear, atomized, and sequential fashion. Central to this visual space is the axiom or assumption that “different” objects, vectors, or points are not and cannot be superimposed; instead, the world is perceived as a linear grid organized along strictly causal lines.

McLuhan contrasts this construction of visual space, and the kind of subjectivity associated with it, with what he calls “acoustic space.” Acoustic space is the space we hear rather than the space we see, and he argued that electronic media were submerging us in this acoustic environment, with its own language of affect and subjectivity. Acoustic space isn’t limited to a world of music or sound; the environment of electronic media itself engenders this way of organizing and perceiving the other spaces we intersect. (Read the rest of this essay at http://www.techgnosis.com/acoustic.html ).

Erik Davis is the author of Techgnosis: Myth, magic + mysticism in the age of information: http://techgnosis.com/techgnosis/techgnosis.html

 Read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Davis .

Visual versus Acoustic Space. Source: Gordon A. Gow, “Spatial Metaphor in the Work of Marshall McLuhan,” 75


Categories: Blog

Erik Davis on Acoustic Cyberspace

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 06/15/2014 - 7:58pm

Davis erik 2008 rauner michael.jpg Erik Davis

A talk delivered at the Xchange conference, Riga, Latvia, November 1997

Today I’d like to talk about some abstract ideas, some images, some open-ended notions about acoustic space. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between electronic sound and environments, on the Internet or in music. I won’t talk about the various technologies involved; instead, I’ll try to get at some of the deeper issues about sound and the ways it constructs subjectivities and can act as a kind of map.

A good place to start is with a distinction that Marshall McLuhan draws between visual space and acoustic space. McLuhan used the notion of visual space as a way to describe how Western subjectivity has been organized on a technical basis since the Renaissance. McLuhan argued that Renaissance perspective not only provided a powerful new way of organizing the visual field (in terms of representation), but also engendered a very specific form of subjectivity. He didn’t just associate this subjectivity with the point-of-view produced by Renaissance perspective painting—he related to it also to print technologies and to the new form of the book. In essence, he argued that the self that comes down to us from the Renaissance—the “molar” self of the modern West, as some have called it—is a visual self.

Renaissance perspective thus serves as a pictorial analogy for a much more general phenomenon—the power to create a distinct, single point of view that organizes thought and perception along linear lines. This is related to print technologies—and print culture—because, according to McLuhan, these technologies inculcate within us a habit of organizing the world in a linear, atomized, and sequential fashion. Central to this visual space is the axiom or assumption that “different” objects, vectors, or points are not and cannot be superimposed; instead, the world is perceived as a linear grid organized along strictly causal lines.

McLuhan contrasts this construction of visual space, and the kind of subjectivity associated with it, with what he calls “acoustic space.” Acoustic space is the space we hear rather than the space we see, and he argued that electronic media were submerging us in this acoustic environment, with its own language of affect and subjectivity. Acoustic space isn’t limited to a world of music or sound; the environment of electronic media itself engenders this way of organizing and perceiving the other spaces we intersect. (Read the rest of this essay at http://www.techgnosis.com/acoustic.html ).

Erik Davis is the author of Techgnosis: Myth, magic + mysticism in the age of information: http://techgnosis.com/techgnosis/techgnosis.html

 Read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Davis .

Visual versus Acoustic Space. Source: Gordon A. Gow, “Spatial Metaphor in the Work of Marshall McLuhan,” 75


Categories: Blog

“Lines of Thought” – McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology in Conjunction with the 15th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association in Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 9:13pm

Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

Friday June 20th

Reception 6:00-7:15 p.m.

Lines of Thought, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Curators: John Oswald & Dominique Scheffel-Dunand

An evening presenting McLuhanesque thinkers in a unique combination of soliloquies and dialogues, probing afresh the interaction of technology and culture in the 21st century. The live audience will be invited to respond and interact electronically.

This event is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s iconic text Understanding Media, and to pay tribute to McLuhan by nourishing conversations on the new world views that are shaping contemporary imagination and shouldering questions on what matters now and next.

6:00-7:15 Welcome Reception
Sponsors: St. Michael’s College & The Faculty of Information Coach House Institute – University of Toronto.
Welcoming remarks: Seamus Ross, Dean of the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Domenico Pietropaolo, Principal, St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto
Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, Director, Faculty of Information, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto
Special Guest: Howard R. Engel, Director, The Marshall McLuhan Initiative, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba

7:30-9:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Lines of Thought

Participants: Sandra Braman (Author of Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power & Poet); Liz Dowdeswell Thought leader & practitioner in international development); Arsinée Khanjia (Armenian-Canadian actress and producer who often works with her husband, Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan); Derrick de Kerckhove (McLuhan translator and scholar & Professor); Abdul Khan (Global leader in Information & Communication for Development);Joshua Meyrowitz (Author of No Sense of Place & Professor); David Nostbakken (Media entrepreneur & McLuhan Centenary Fellow); John Oswald (Media artist & Composer);Sandy Pearlman (Music producer and creator & Professor);Greg Power (Public Relations & Communications Professional); David Rokeby (Artist in Visual and video art); Dominique Sheffel-Dunand (Director, McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology & Professor)

Sponsors: St. Michaels’ College in the University of Toronto, the Faculty of Music & The Faculty of Information Coach House Institute at the University of Toronto

MEA Conference participants & all others are requested to RSVP by June 18, 2014 to confirm your attendance via: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lines-of-thought-tickets-3298286263

UM-ban1.jpg (28080 bytes) UM-ban2.jpg (8063 bytes) UM-ban3.jpg (11501 bytes) UM-ban4.jpg (18776 bytes)

How to Get to Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto 

Subway Directions: Most people will be taking the subway from Ryerson to the University of Toronto. From Dundas Station take the train southbound towards Downsview to Museum Station, then refer to map on page 20 of the MEA Conference Program. Especially if shared between a group of people, taking a taxi may also be a reasonable possibility. Because it will be rush hour, delegates should leave themselves plenty of time for the trip. The one-way subway fare is $3 CDN, so it will cost $6 to go there and back.


Categories: Blog

“Lines of Thought” – McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology in Conjunction with the 15th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association in Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 9:13pm

Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

Friday June 20th

Reception 6:00-7:15 p.m.

Lines of Thought, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Curators: John Oswald & Dominique Scheffel-Dunand

An evening presenting McLuhanesque thinkers in a unique combination of soliloquies and dialogues, probing afresh the interaction of technology and culture in the 21st century. The live audience will be invited to respond and interact electronically.

This event is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s iconic text Understanding Media, and to pay tribute to McLuhan by nourishing conversations on the new world views that are shaping contemporary imagination and shouldering questions on what matters now and next.

6:00-7:15 Welcome Reception
Sponsors: St. Michael’s College & The Faculty of Information Coach House Institute – University of Toronto.
Welcoming remarks: Seamus Ross, Dean of the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Domenico Pietropaolo, Principal, St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto
Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, Director, Faculty of Information, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto
Special Guest: Howard R. Engel, Director, The Marshall McLuhan Initiative, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba

7:30-9:30 p.m. Plenary Session: Lines of Thought

Participants: Sandra Braman (Author of Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power & Poet); Liz Dowdeswell Thought leader & practitioner in international development); Arsinée Khanjia (Armenian-Canadian actress and producer who often works with her husband, Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan); Derrick de Kerckhove (McLuhan translator and scholar & Professor); Abdul Khan (Global leader in Information & Communication for Development);Joshua Meyrowitz (Author of No Sense of Place & Professor); David Nostbakken (Media entrepreneur & McLuhan Centenary Fellow); John Oswald (Media artist & Composer);Sandy Pearlman (Music producer and creator & Professor);Greg Power (Public Relations & Communications Professional); David Rokeby (Artist in Visual and video art); Dominique Sheffel-Dunand (Director, McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology & Professor)

Sponsors: St. Michaels’ College in the University of Toronto, the Faculty of Music & The Faculty of Information Coach House Institute at the University of Toronto

MEA Conference participants & all others are requested to RSVP by June 18, 2014 to confirm your attendance via: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lines-of-thought-tickets-3298286263

UM-ban1.jpg (28080 bytes) UM-ban2.jpg (8063 bytes) UM-ban3.jpg (11501 bytes) UM-ban4.jpg (18776 bytes)

How to Get to Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto 

Subway Directions: Most people will be taking the subway from Ryerson to the University of Toronto. From Dundas Station take the train southbound towards Downsview to Museum Station, then refer to map on page 20 of the MEA Conference Program. Especially if shared between a group of people, taking a taxi may also be a reasonable possibility. Because it will be rush hour, delegates should leave themselves plenty of time for the trip. The one-way subway fare is $3 CDN, so it will cost $6 to go there and back.


Categories: Blog

The 15th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association – Final Program

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 8:45pm

2014 Official Program

CONFRONTING TECHNOPOLY:
CREATIVITY AND THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

RYERSON UNIVERSITY – JUNE 19-22, 2014

Download the full Program in PDF from http://media-ecology.org/activities/2014MEAProgram.pdf

You may Like the conference on our Facebook page here http://tinyurl.com/lkn8at3

CONVENTION HASH TAG: #MEA2014

Photo of Media Ecology Association

THE CONVENTION AT A GLANCE (Download full Program for detailed schedule)

Thursday, June 19
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge (LIB 72)
9:00-9:30 a.m. – Opening ceremony LIB 72
9:45-11:00 a.m. – Session 1.1
11:15-12:30 p.m. – Session 1.2
2:00-3:15 p.m. – Session 1.3
3:45-5:00 p.m. – ‘Addressing Technological Trauma’ – 50th Anniversary Memorial Plenary Session for Understanding Media LIB 72
5:30-7:00 p.m. – Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room: Commemoration and Reception RCC
7:30-9:00 p.m. – Featured Speaker: Joshua Meyrowitz LIB 72

Friday, June 20
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 2.1
10:30-11:45 a.m. – Session 2.2
1:15-12:15 p.m. – Short Lunch Break
12:15-1:00 p.m. – ‘Innis’s Foray’ – Rick Salutin and Eric Peterson LIB 72
1:15-2:30 p.m. – Session 2.3
2:45-4:00 p.m. – Session 2.4
4:15-5:15 p.m. – Plenary Session: Early Days of the Toronto School of Communication LIB 72
6:00-7:00 p.m. – Welcome Reception: Walter Hall, University of Toronto
7:00-9:00 p.m. – Featured Event: ‘Lines of Thought’ – Walter Hall, University of Toronto

Saturday, June 21
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 3.1
10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. – General Business Meeting (all welcome) LIB 72
11:45a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Lunch Break
1:15-2:30 p.m. – Plenary Session: Technics and the Sacred LIB 72
2:45-4:00 p.m. – Session 3.2

4:15-5:30 p.m. – Keynote Speaker: Ronald J. Deibert LIB 72

6:00-8:00 p.m. – Buffet Dinner Bond Place Hotel

7:00-8:00 p.m. – President’s Address/Awards Ceremony Bond Place Hotel
8:00p.m.-12:00 a.m. – Social

Sunday, June 22
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 4.1
10:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m. – Session 4.2
12:00-12:15 p.m. – Closing Remarks


Categories: Blog

The 15th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association – Final Program

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 8:45pm

2014 Official Program

CONFRONTING TECHNOPOLY:
CREATIVITY AND THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

RYERSON UNIVERSITY – JUNE 19-22, 2014

Download the full Program in PDF from http://media-ecology.org/activities/2014MEAProgram.pdf

You may Like the conference on our Facebook page here http://tinyurl.com/lkn8at3

CONVENTION HASH TAG: #MEA2014

Photo of Media Ecology Association

THE CONVENTION AT A GLANCE (Download full Program for detailed schedule)

Thursday, June 19
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge (LIB 72)
9:00-9:30 a.m. – Opening ceremony LIB 72
9:45-11:00 a.m. – Session 1.1
11:15-12:30 p.m. – Session 1.2
2:00-3:15 p.m. – Session 1.3
3:45-5:00 p.m. – ‘Addressing Technological Trauma’ – 50th Anniversary Memorial Plenary Session for Understanding Media LIB 72
5:30-7:00 p.m. – Marshall McLuhan Seminar Room: Commemoration and Reception RCC
7:30-9:00 p.m. – Featured Speaker: Joshua Meyrowitz LIB 72

Friday, June 20
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 2.1
10:30-11:45 a.m. – Session 2.2
1:15-12:15 p.m. – Short Lunch Break
12:15-1:00 p.m. – ‘Innis’s Foray’ – Rick Salutin and Eric Peterson LIB 72
1:15-2:30 p.m. – Session 2.3
2:45-4:00 p.m. – Session 2.4
4:15-5:15 p.m. – Plenary Session: Early Days of the Toronto School of Communication LIB 72
6:00-7:00 p.m. – Welcome Reception: Walter Hall, University of Toronto
7:00-9:00 p.m. – Featured Event: ‘Lines of Thought’ – Walter Hall, University of Toronto

Saturday, June 21
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 3.1
10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. – General Business Meeting (all welcome) LIB 72
11:45a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Lunch Break
1:15-2:30 p.m. – Plenary Session: Technics and the Sacred LIB 72
2:45-4:00 p.m. – Session 3.2

4:15-5:30 p.m. – Keynote Speaker: Ronald J. Deibert LIB 72

6:00-8:00 p.m. – Buffet Dinner Bond Place Hotel

7:00-8:00 p.m. – President’s Address/Awards Ceremony Bond Place Hotel
8:00p.m.-12:00 a.m. – Social

Sunday, June 22
8:00-9:00 a.m. – Meet and greet at Starbucks/POD 60 Lounge LIB 72
9:00-10:15 a.m. – Session 4.1
10:30 a.m.-11:45 p.m. – Session 4.2
12:00-12:15 p.m. – Closing Remarks


Categories: Blog

Timothy Leary, Marshall McLuhan & Electronic Media

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 06/08/2014 - 12:08pm

This essay was previously published here, but was taken down by request, pending publication by BoingBoing, where it  just appeared this week. This is a short excerpt and readers should follow the link at bottom to read the full essay, especially the previously unpublished letter from Marshall McLuhan regarding Timothy Leary. The full essay can be found at http://tinyurl.com/p5geazq .

Timothy Leary & Marshall McLuhan, turned on & tuned in

Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein tell the fascinating tale of McLuhan and Leary’s friendship, and present an unpublished letter from the Leary Archives.

Man is about to make use of that fabulous electrical network he carries around in his skull” – Timothy Leary & Richard Alpert, 1963

“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 (From a previously unpublished letter, full text below.)

There is no other 1960s intellectual figure whom Timothy Leary came to admire more than Marshall McLuhan. He considered McLuhan’s famous statement – “The medium is the message” — the most important cultural insight of the ‘60s, a decade saturated with insightful and lasting one-liners, some of the most famous coming from Leary’s own brain. Leary has even credited the world’s foremost media theorist with giving him the pep talk that resulted in his own famous mantra: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

In 1964, when LSD was fast becoming a national issue on a trajectory that eventually made it the most vilified drug of the decade, McLuhan’s treatise Understanding Media became (alongside The Tibetan Book of the Dead) the latest roadmap for Leary’s positioning on the subject that had increasingly preoccupied him since he and Richard Alpert had been forced out of Harvard, where they had been doing groundbreaking research on psilocybin, LSD and DMT during the early 1960s.

McLuhan argued that all media are “extensions” of our human senses, bodies and minds, that “amplify and accelerate existing processes.” It was the medium itself, regardless of the content, that was the message. Read the full essay here: http://tinyurl.com/p5geazq .

See also Leary, McLuhan and Electronic Technology here: http://tinyurl.com/kzoy9oz .


Categories: Blog

Timothy Leary, Marshall McLuhan & Electronic Media

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 06/08/2014 - 12:08pm

This essay was previously published here, but was taken down by request, pending publication by BoingBoing, where it  just appeared this week. This is a short excerpt and readers should follow the link at bottom to read the full essay, especially the previously unpublished letter from Marshall McLuhan regarding Timothy Leary. The full essay can be found at http://tinyurl.com/p5geazq .

Timothy Leary & Marshall McLuhan, turned on & tuned in

Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein tell the fascinating tale of McLuhan and Leary’s friendship, and present an unpublished letter from the Leary Archives.

Man is about to make use of that fabulous electrical network he carries around in his skull” – Timothy Leary & Richard Alpert, 1963

“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 (From a previously unpublished letter, full text below.)

There is no other 1960s intellectual figure whom Timothy Leary came to admire more than Marshall McLuhan. He considered McLuhan’s famous statement – “The medium is the message” — the most important cultural insight of the ‘60s, a decade saturated with insightful and lasting one-liners, some of the most famous coming from Leary’s own brain. Leary has even credited the world’s foremost media theorist with giving him the pep talk that resulted in his own famous mantra: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

In 1964, when LSD was fast becoming a national issue on a trajectory that eventually made it the most vilified drug of the decade, McLuhan’s treatise Understanding Media became (alongside The Tibetan Book of the Dead) the latest roadmap for Leary’s positioning on the subject that had increasingly preoccupied him since he and Richard Alpert had been forced out of Harvard, where they had been doing groundbreaking research on psilocybin, LSD and DMT during the early 1960s.

McLuhan argued that all media are “extensions” of our human senses, bodies and minds, that “amplify and accelerate existing processes.” It was the medium itself, regardless of the content, that was the message. Read the full essay here: http://tinyurl.com/p5geazq .

See also Leary, McLuhan and Electronic Technology here: http://tinyurl.com/kzoy9oz .


Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan, Media, & the Ecology of the Digital Age

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 06/07/2014 - 2:29pm

Marshall’s Media Ecologies

For four decades, Marshall McLuhan has been the Bob Dylan of the communication academy. In the late 1960s, Tom Wolfe entertained the thought that McLuhan might be “the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov . . . the most famous man his country ever produced.” Woody Allen gave him a cameo in the movie Annie HallWired magazine named him its “patron saint,” and bands from Genesis to Radio Free Vestibule have written him tributes. He is more than an intellectual; he is an icon. But Marshall McLuhan, who passed away in 1980, always seemed an unlikely candidate for oracular status.

Born in Alberta, Canada, in 1911, McLuhan was what every concerned father calls a “permanent student.” He received his first undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1933 and took ten years to get his Ph.D. He was a professor his entire professional life, a bookish man with a love for classic literature and an unholy affection for James Joyce’s treatise Finnegan’s Wake; but McLuhan was also Delphic—a prophet for the electronic age—and his aphoristic predictions transcended the academy to seize the imagination of the mainstream.

To oversimplify, McLuhan’s great insight was to see media in its broadest sense: as ecology. The word “medium” (from which “media” was derived), refers to “an intervening substance through which something else is transmitted or carried on.” And that’s the key. McLuhan’s claim was that the intervening substances we use—phonetic letters, radio broadcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, and whispers—are just as important as the messages they convey.

As McLuhan famously put it, the medium is the message; and if, as he claimed, all media are extensions of man, then we are not just the passive recipients of media but a critical part of media itself. This makes media an ecosystem—like a marsh, savannah, or swamp—that surrounds us, consumes us, and works us over in every imaginable way. McLuhan writes, “Environments are not passive wrappings, but are, rather, active processes which are invisible. The ground rules, pervasive structure, and overall patterns of environments elude easy perception.”

And the advent of electronic media in the twentieth century may be the biggest shock to that ecosystem in at least 500 years. McLuhan comments, “The new media are not ways of relating us to the old ‘real’ world; they are the real world and they reshape what remains of the old world at will.”

Whereas the printed word is just an extension of the eye, and the spoken word an extension of the ear, McLuhan claimed that electronic media are an extension of man’s central nervous system—all inclusive and limitless, interactive and multi-sensory. Their nature—light, electricity!—grants them power to impact not simply individual locales, but entire nations in real time, transforming the world from a mass of separate villages to one global village with shared experience and imagery.

Obviously, McLuhan’s volumes of work are too extensive and nuanced to treat comprehensively in one essay, but his basic analysis forces us to ask questions. What are our environments and their boundaries? How do we identify these complex interactions and view our ecosystem in new and interesting ways?

This is an extract from a longer essay titled Marshall McLuhan, Media, & the Ecology of the Digital Age in SALVO Magazine. Read the rest here: http://tinyurl.com/llzdteu ,


Categories: Blog
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