Pages Festival + Conference 2014: Exploring the Evolving Word to Digital, Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 02/15/2014 - 2:04pm

… or, as I call it, The Gutenberg Galaxy Disrupted …

Pages Festival and Conference 2014 Unbound

 Pages Festival + Conference: Unbound

Exploring the Evolving Word to Digital

March 13th-15th, 2014

 We are in the midst of the greatest transformation in cultural production and dissemination in centuries. The digital age has created a seismic shift, challenging the existing models of creation and distribution of artistic fare.

The Pages Festival + Conference embraces new technology and is proud to present the first of  multiple mixed media events that will combine the finest contemporary Canadian writers with practitioners from digital media and other art forms. Featuring multi-layered presentations at the Randolph Academy Theatre (736 Bathurst St.) as part of the Festival, and seminars, workshops and panel discussions on diverse topics as part of the Conference at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Ave.), The Pages Festival + Conference is rapidly becoming the hub of conversation and buzz about the evolving word. 

The Conference part of the Festival will open on Friday 14th March, with a keynote by Bob Stein on “The Future of the Book is the Future of Society” at 9.00 am (see )

 Bob Stein in 2009

Bob Stein has been engaged with electronic publishing full-time since 1980, when he spent a year researching and writing a paper for Encyclopedia Britannica – “EB and the Intellectual Tools of the Future.”  In 1984 he founded The Criterion Collection, a critically acclaimed series of definitive films, which included the first supplementary sections and director commentaries and introduced the letterbox format. He also founded the Voyager Company, which in 1989 published one of the first commercial CD-ROMs, The CD Companion to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In 1992 Voyager published the first electronic books, including Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.

In 2004 The MacArthur Foundation provided a generous grant with which Stein founded the Institute for the Future of the Book, a small think & do tank aimed at exploring and influencing the evolution of new forms of intellectual expression. In 2005 the Institute published the first “networked books,” which were instrumental in the recognition of the important shift to social reading and writing as discourse moved from printed pages to networked screens. In late 2010 Stein founded a new company, SocialBook, Inc. with the ambitious goal of building the first viable post-print publishing platform.

This keynote will be followed by panel discussions on poetry, children’s books, graphic novels, self-publishing, educational and scholarly publishing, and film/drama.

Find more information about Bob Stein here full 3-day festival & conference program can be found at .

Bob Stein’s Voyager CD-ROM Publishing Company published the CD-ROM of “Understanding McLuhan” (1996) on “the ideas and life of media guru Marshall McLuhan”; it includes the complete texts of “Understanding Media” and “The Gutenberg Galaxy,” video clips, testimonials and search engines. You can view a demo video of it here .

Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan: One of 50 Canadians Who Changed the World

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 02/13/2014 - 9:02pm

50 Canadians Who Changed the World Ken McGoogan. HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 (329p) ISBN 978-1-44340-930-8 McGoogan, author of How the Scots Invented Canada, sets out to combat Canadian modesty by highlighting 50 notable Canadians, limiting himself to Canadians born in the 20th century and whose efforts had global impact. To demonstrate the breadth of endeavors, McGoogan looks at six fields: activists such as Kenneth Galbraith, Romeo Dallaire and Maude Barlow; visionaries such as Marshall McLuhan and Jane Jacobs; artists such as Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood; humanitarians such as Craig Kielburger and Stephen Lewis; performers such as Russell Peters, and Leonard Cohen; and finally pure and applied scientists such as John Polanyi, David Suzuki and Mike Lazaridis. A limited page count forces brevity; none of the figures are discussed in any depth. The author takes this even farther when he crams graphic novelists Joe Shuster, Dave Sim and Chester Brown into one chapter and stem cell researchers into another while wasting space on the inanimate robotic spacearm. Unfortunately, the author also focuses only on the positive aspects of the figures; readers unfamiliar with the people profiled get no hint of Sim’s repellent misogyny and only passing references to RIM’s meltdown under Lazaridis. Canada’s great figures are grand enough to warrant a more in-depth and critical approach. (Source: ) ***** Ken McGoogan on Marshall McLuhan in How the Scots Invented Canada (2010): In the beginning was the alphabet. And the alphabet gave rise to the printing press. And the printing press taught linearity, sequentiality, and compartmentalization, which together spawned industrialization. The newly standardized environment, epitomized by the assembly line, encouraged left-brain single-mindedness, and that created Modern Man. So it began, the gospel according to Marshall McLuhan.

Before he was done, this Scottish Canadian visionary would anticipate the World Wide Web and social networks like Facebook. As the apostle of the electronic era, McLuhan predicted the emergence of a world of instantaneous information: speed, volume, multidirectionality, interactivity. The medium was the message. By changing our world, electronics would transform us as human beings. We would find ourselves juggling contradictions, multiple perspectives, and plural identities. To cope, we would activate the right side of the brain. We would become more complex. - McGoogan, Ken (2010). How the Scots Invented Canada. Toronto: HarperCollins, p. 366.

Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan as Educationist, Part 7: Media Literacy, Lifelong Learning & the Training of Perception

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 8:51pm

Media Literacy - Classic TV commercials

This is an excerpt from a copyright article of the same title published by me, Alex Kuskis, in (2011) Explorations in Media Ecology, 10(3&4), pp. 313-333. This is Part 7 and additional excerpts from this essay will be published in future postings. The first 6 portions of this essay can be found in earlier postings to this blog.

10. Media Literacy

Marshall McLuhan held that new media are new languages: “Radio and TV aren’t audio-visual aids to enhance or to popularize previous forms of experience. They are new languages. We must first master and then teach these new languages” (McLuhan, 1969, p. 133). Why? Because: “Without an understanding of media grammars, we cannot hope to achieve a contemporary awareness of the world in which we live” (McLuhan & Carpenter, 1960, ix-xii). The traditional literacy of reading and writing is no longer sufficient; pictorial & electronic forms of literacy have to be imparted, as well as print.

11. “Learning a Living”

McLuhan anticipated that learning and work would become increasingly interrelated: “… it is becoming clear that the main “work” of the future will be education, that people will not so much earn a living as learn a living…. Industry and the military, as well as the arts and sciences, are beginning to consider education their main business” (McLuhan & Leonard, 1967, 25).

12. Curriculum Issues

Three curriculum-related issues occur in McLuhan’s writings on education. First, he felt that education must be involved in the training of perception: “The electric age is the most primitive age, in the sense of the hunter world … the only alternative to instruction is the training of perception” (McLuhan, 1972, p. 526). Second, figure/ground analysis would provide one of the tools: “The interaction between the object, or figure, & its ground enables one to experience meaning which is the relation of the situation to oneself” (McLuhan, Hutchon, & McLuhan, 1977, p. 16). That’s what “City as Classroom” is largely about. Third, McLuhan stressed the value of arts education. If artists possess “integral awareness”, as he often insisted, that sensitizes them to hidden media environments, then arts are worth cultivating in education: “… the learning process & the creative process … once reserved for scholars & geniuses we now know to be a character of all human perception.” (McLuhan, 1956, 9)

Figure 2

 Fig. 2: Multistable image of dogs and phone based on a diagram provided in McLuhan’s City as Classroom.

Categories: Blog

New Book Announcement: Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: Apocalypse & Alchemy

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 02/06/2014 - 8:15pm

Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye are two of Canada’s central cultural figures, colleagues and rivals whose careers unfolded in curious harmony even as their intellectual engagement was antagonistic. Poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher B.W. Powe, who studied with both of these formidable and influential intellectuals, presents an exploration of their lives and work in Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy.

Powe considers the existence of a unique visionary tradition of Canadian humanism and argues that McLuhan and Frye represent fraught but complementary approaches to the study of literature and to the broader engagement with culture. Examining their eloquent but often acid responses to each other, Powe exposes the scholarly controversies and personal conflicts that erupted between them, and notably the great commonalities in their writing and biographies. Using interviews, letters, notebooks, and their published texts, Powe offers a new alchemy of their thought, in which he combines the philosophical hallmarks of McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” and Frye’s “the great code.”


  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue: The Juncture of Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye in 1946
  • Intentions and Overview, Apocalypse and Alchemy in McLuhan and Frye
  • Presences and Signatures: These Figures in their Ground
  • The Critical Conflict Between McLuhan and Frye
  • The Harmonies in Two Seers: Orchestrations and Complementarities
  • Alchemy, Synergy in the Thinking of McLuhan and Frye
  • The Lessons of Two Teachers: Guidance and Signs
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

 Author  Excerpts from ‘The Spectral Ball of Theory’  B.W. Powe is an associate professor and the Creative Writing Program coordinator in the Department of English at York University.


“Bruce Powe is a rare intellectual figure in the Canadian landscape. He has the sensibility and eloquence of a literary critic, and the power of persuasion of a cultural critic, definitely in the same league with the Canadian giants of the twentieth century.” - Francesco Guardiani, Dept. of Italian, University of Toronto

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Program: Culture & Technology Lecture Series, University of Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 02/05/2014 - 5:14pm

During 2013-2014, in a student-led initiative, the iSchool’s Coach House Institute (CHI) is hosting a series of lectures and discussions addressing cultural specificities in our understanding of information. The aim is not be to focus on culturally diverse uses of information, but instead to investigate the nature of information itself–and to ask whether, and if so how, fundamental theories of information incorporate, accommodate, or abstract away from the diverse epistemic and ontological commitments of varied communities.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Sandy Pearlman – Tuesday, Feb. 11 – 7 pm – Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Title : “As The Age of Saturation Encounters Asymptopia, Or, As You Like It” 

Abstract: “We can prove that some line – namely, an Asymptote, constantly approaches another by showing what will be the case if the progression is continued as far as one pleases… Even so there are Asymptote figures in geometry where an infinite length makes only a finite progress in breadth.” – Gottfried Leibniz

“So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time.” – The Eagles

The invention and evolution of the analog photographic, motion picture and sound reproduction technologies, which characterized the media of most of the 20th century, and which remain, either, with us still or even counter-intuitively resurrected in our 21st century present, strikingly and synchronously coevolved with the development of the 19th century Romantic Symphony and its characteristically saturated sonorities. As if, in the case of sound recording, these technologies were embedded with optimization factors for the reproduction, amplification and glorification of those romantic sonorities, which became characteristic of not only the symphonic music of the 19th century, but, the film and popular music of most of the 20th century as well — including most spectacularly the technologically incarnated folk music known as heavy metal. This trend line persisted until the last twenty years of the 20th century when the decisive proliferation of newer digital media technologies created under the imperatives of the Nyquist/Shannon/Weaver information theoretics, which were (never forget!) originally developed to solve all the problems entailed in the long distance telephonic transmission of specifically speech changed absolutely everything. At that point, Saturation encounters Asymptopia and a new set of perceptual limits is imposed upon the new genus of Digital Media Objects. From that point on, everything gets really strange or really bad, depending upon your perspective… As for As You Like It, Rosalind was the grand mistress of perception after all. And perceptual theory is the key to the puzzle of this lecture. Never forget that Rosalind, “can do strange things”. As for the rest of the story see you at the lecture.
Sandy Pearlman is currently Dean’s Visiting Professor for Interdisciplinary Innovation at the University of Toronto and Visiting Professor at McGill University. Over the years, Pearlman has taught and created provocative new courses at the Music, English, Religious Studies, Law and Management faculties. A relentless brainstormer on the future of media in general, and the ever-tightening embrace of Music by Technology and Technology by Music in particular. Producer, creator, songwriter, manager and theorist for some of the most important bands and musical trends of the last 30 years (among them Blue Oyster Cult, Clash, Black Sabbath, and Pavlov’s Dog), Pearlman is variously blamed and/or lauded for the launch of such cultural trends as Heavy Metal, Occult Rock, Goth, Punk, and New Wave. Described by the Billboard Producer’s Directory as “the Hunter Thompson of rock, a gonzo producer of searing intellect and vast vision,” Pearlman has embarked upon an all-encompassing project for the construction of a “Grand Unified Field Theory of the Future of Music,” a substantial component of which is the parallel emergence of the “Paradise of Infinite Storage” and new hybrid analog-digital codecs for music and media objects in general – perhaps the most disruptive game changer yet. (Source: )

Bernd Frohmann – Tuesday, Feb. 25 – 7 pm – Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

 Title: “Document, Index, Trace, and Death: Briet’s Antelope Lessons”  

Abstract: The first third of this paper is about my concept of documentality, which I think avoids some dead ends in thinking about documentation in general. I take speech as my example of how the documentality of even such a seemingly ephemeral phenomenon can emerge and be strengthened, in this case through the modes of materialization of utterance provided by Aristotelian rhetoric, which, I also argue, are relevant to important contemporary verbal performances.

The rest of the paper is about what I call “Briet’s antelope lessons”. I argue that from her brief discussion of the “vêture” of documents cascading from her now-famous antelope, we learn that its ambiguous connection to those documents poses a specific problem pertaining to the documentality of things. How is the fate of the primary document (the antelope) related to its secondary documents (its vêture”)? And how are connections between documents and their referents established, maintained, and severed? Briet’s antelope lessons direct us to such questions. Four case studies are presented as illustrations of this problem: the gardens of Villandry, the glass flowers of Harvard’s Ware Collection, practices of telepresence, such as Second Life and webcam sexual activities, and the Visible Human Project.
Bernd Frohmann is Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information Studies at The University of Western Ontario. He is the author of “Deflating Information: From Science Studies to Documentation” (University of Toronto Press, 2004) and various articles and book chapters on information and documentation studies. His current research interests are in contemporary media studies. (Source: )

Categories: Blog

The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan ;-)

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 02/05/2014 - 2:04pm

Second Nature Journal has just posted the very funny Ballad of Marshall McLuhan, which is well-known to McLuhan scholars and students, but not so much by the general public (see ). Immersed as we in the East are in Snowmageddon, I’m re-publishing this to help dispel the winter gloom……….AlexK

The Ballad of Marshall Mcluhan from Randall Acronym on Vimeo.

This introduction to Marshall McLuhan might be the funniest one you’ll find.

The song: The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan
The band: The Vestibules
The album: Radio Free Vestibule


Once upon a time there was a town
A town where chaos reigned.
Lawlessness was everywhere
And there was no cohesive theory existing which properly explained the mass media and their impact on society and man’s thinking.

And then one day a stranger came riding into town.
And all the townsfolk gathered around and asked his name.
Well he tipped his hat and he said “Marshall, Marshall McLuhan.”


Well they gave him a star and put it on his chest
And gave him his own office with his name on the door.
Well wouldn’t you know the very next day a fight broke out in the last chance saloon.
It was an argument concerning the externalization of the senses and its subsequent effect on on man’s psychological make up.
It was about to come to blows, when Marshall stepped in,
And he said, “Boys, a theory of cultural change is impossible without knowledge of the changing sense ratio affected by various externalizations of our senses.

Marshall McLuhan
You’re such a groovy thinker and
We really dig what you say
Cuz you have the best insights into mass media
This side of the Rio Grande.

Well then came the fateful day
When a tall dark man all dressed in black came riding into town.
All the townsfolk ran inside and locked their doors and hid.
And the bad man stood in the town square and he called out for Marshall McLuhan.
He said, “Marshall, I don’t agree with your description of television as a tactile medium in the context of a visual notion of causality.”

So Marshall shot him.

Marshall McLuhan
You’re such a groovy thinker and
We really dig what you say
Cuz you have the best insights into mass media
This side of the Rio Grande.

Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan.

The Vestibules’ website is at


Categories: Blog

Academic Conference: Technology, Rhetoric, & Cultural Change: Walter J. Ong, S. J. in the Age of Google, Facebook, & Twitter

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:21pm

  Walter Ong, S.J. (1912-2003)

Gonzaga University will host an interdisciplinary conference Feb. 7-8 celebrating the work of Jesuit scholar and teacher Walter J. Ong, considered among the foremost theorists of rhetoric in the 20th century. The conference is titled, “Technology, Rhetoric, and Cultural Change:  Walter J. Ong, S. J. in the Age of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.”

A student of Marshall McLuhan and Perry Miller, Ong’s dissertation on the importance of Peter Ramus, a 16th century logician who developed a deeply influential pedagogy, brought him an international audience. Over the course of his long career, Ong published several books and hundreds of essays, most arguing that the technology of human communication is reflected, however indirectly, in human consciousness.

This conference will celebrate Ong’s legacy and the tradition of Jesuit scholarship. As enthusiasts of new media daily claim its transformative status, the conference will also explore – using the lens of Walter Ong’s scholarship – these powerful new communication tools and the emerging world they promise.

February 7-8, 2014 – Gonzaga University Spokane, WA


 Friday, February 7, 2014 - Jepson Center, Jepson Faculty Lounge (ROOM 239)

5:00 pm: Opening reception

Introduction: Kirk Besmer, Gonzaga University

Welcome by Patricia O’Connell Killen, Academic Vice-President, Gonzaga University

Jepson 120 (Hogan Classroom) - 6:00 pm: Plenary Session

The Van Christoph Lecture: Introduction: Tim Clancy, Gonzaga University

Sara Van Den Berg, Director of the The Ong Center for Language, Media and Culture, St. Louis University

The State of Ong Scholarship

8:00 pm: No host dinner.  Luigi’s Italian Restaurant (Downtown Spokane: 245 W. Main Ave.)

Saturday, February 8, 2014 - All sessions will meet in the Jepson Center

Jepson Lobby - 8:30-9:15 am: Continental Breakfast

9:15-10:45 am: Orality and Literacy

Session 1A: Ong and Writing/Literature - Jepson 120 (Hogan Classroom)

Moderator: Paul De Palma, Gonzaga University

Kateland Wolfe, Georgia State University – Does Changing the Distance Between the Audience and the Text Change the Amount of Control the Audience has over the Text?

Jennifer Matsuda, Independent Scholar - Orality, Writing, Print and Beyond: E-mail Demonstrated as a Literary Genre in Voltaire’s Heart (2005) and The Silence of Galileo (2009) by Luis Lopez Nieves

Iryana Matluska, Minsk State Linguistic University – Cultural and Thematic Dominants in Modern Media Discourse: A Case Study of American, Belarusian and British On-line Publications

Session 1B: Orality - Jepson 122

Moderator: Kirk Besmer, Gonzaga University

Kris Morehouse and Heather Crandall, Gonzaga University – Virtual Grief

Thomas Zlatic, St. Louis University - The Persistence of Memory

Paul Soukup S.J., Santa Clara University – Ong and Hermeneutics

10:45-11:00 am: Break (refreshments provided)

11:00-12:30 am: Language and Philosophy

Session 2A: Language Studies - Jepson 120 (Hogan Classroom)

Moderator: John Caputo, Gonzaga University

F. X. Sligo, Massey University - Liminal Literacy and Occupational Orality: How Workplace Oral-Experiential Cultures Set Limits to Literacy

Maria Kathrina Bautista Diaz and Hong Ngoc, Truong, Chiao Tung University – Asynchonous Academic and Cultural Mediation in the Context of Computer Mediated Communication: A case study between Chinese and French e-mails

Paul De Palma, Gonzaga University - Ongian Implications for Automatic Speech Recognition

Phillipa Mules, Aukland University - Spoken Word as Pedagogical Tool: Walter Ong and a Framework for an Oral Pedagogy

Session 2B: Ong and Philosophy - Jepson 122

Moderator: Kirk Besmer, Gonzaga University

Dan Bradley, Gonzaga University - Walter Ong and Edmund Husserl: The Rise of Literacy and the Genetic Constitution of the Life-World

Thomas Zlatic, St. Louis University - Aphorisms and Metaphysics

Tim Clancy S.J., Gonzaga University - The World as Hypertext

12:30-1:30 pm: Brown bag Lunch: Jepson Lobby (catered)

1:30-3:00: Ong in Context

Session 3A: Applications - Jepson 120 (Hogan Classroom)

Moderator: Heather Crandall

Duang Tran, Loyola Marymount University - Faith and Contemporary Contexts for American Catholic Higher Education

Jael Cooper, Gonzaga University - Leader Identification and Audience Response: A Consideration of the Rhetoric of American Folk Music

James Jarc, Gonzaga University - Mobiliteracy: Applying Ong’s Psychodynamic Characteristics to Users of Mobile Communication Technology

Stephen McFadden, Aaliyah Miller, and Elizabeth Weber, Gonzaga University – Operation Reintegration: Assessing and Meeting the Needs of Post-Deployed Military

Session 3B: Secondary Orality - Jepson 122

Moderator: Tim Clancy, Gonzaga University

Pavel Schlossberg, Nobuya Inagaki, Gonzaga University - Education after the Gutenberg Parenthesis: The Presence of Secondary Orality in Online Education

Charla Markham Shaw, University of Texas at Arlington – Creating Super Mom: Secondary Orality and Pinterest

Will Cooney, Gonzaga University - Singularity through Oral Residue

3:00-3:30 pm: Break (refreshments provided)

3:30-4:30: Concluding Plenary Session - Jepson 120 (Hogan Classroom)

Introduction: Paul De Palma

Randolph Lumpp, Regis University - Going Global with Walter Ong: The Society and the Site

John Caputo, Gonzaga University - Walter Ong: How the Seamless Web of Technology is Restructuring Consciousness

360° view of the campus of Gonzaga University

Categories: Blog

“We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t a fish”

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 02/02/2014 - 6:25pm

Marshall McLuhan frequently used the fish being unaware of water metaphor as a comment on humans going about their lives, oblivious of the environments created by their technologies, especially media technologies, until these produce disturbances or problems, such as pornography, spam or privacy invasion, or until someone of  ”integral awareness,” notably artists, shock us into awareness of the subliminal environment. Then we see the environment as the heretofore hidden ground, previously obscured by the figures that held our attention because they were patently obvious……..AlexK

“One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in.” ― Marshall McLuhan, War & Peace in the Global Village (1968)

“Media effects are new environments as imperceptible as water to a fish, subliminal for the most part.” - Counterblast (1969, p. 22)

“I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible. This problem is doubly acute today because man must, as a simple survival strategy, become aware of what is happening to him, despite the attendant pain of such comprehension.” – Marshall McLuhan, Playboy Interview, 1969

“…all I can say in this particular medium” by Mort Gerberg, published in ‘The New Yorker’, March 20, 1995, p. 66


The New Yorker: “Because I’ve already said all I can say in this particular medium.” by Mort Gerberg, March 20, 1995, p. 66. © Condé Nast. From Mort Gerberg’s official website .

The following discussion is republished from the Quote Investigator Blog, which seeks to explore the origins of notable quotations: :

Who First Created this Quotation?: Marshall McLuhan? Albert Einstein? Pierce Butler? James C. Coleman? John H. Fisher? John Culkin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Sometimes an individual embedded in a particular culture or environment can become blind to the prevailing norms within his or her domain. I have heard a figurative expression that illustrates this predicament. Here are three versions:

We don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.
I don’t know who discovered water, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.
The fish will be the last to discover water.

These words are often credited to the communication theorist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan, but I have not found a good citation. Could you examine this saying?

Quote Investigator: Marshall McLuhan did use a version of this saying in 1966, but he did not claim coinage; instead, he attributed the words to an anonymous “someone”. He also used the expression in later speeches. Detailed citations for McLuhan are given further below.

An entertaining precursor was published in a 1915 novel titled “The Cheerful Blackguard”, but in this instance a fish did discover water. The discovery was a figurative analogy leading to a discussion of human behavior. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Once upon a time there was an inventive fish, who discovered water.
Some day, perhaps an inventive man may discover love, the atmosphere our souls breathe. And other men will tell him, “How you’ve changed!”

In 1936 Albert Einstein wrote a compact three-paragraph essay titled “Self-Portrait”. It was published in English in 1950 together with a set of other essays in the volume “Out of My Later Years”. Einstein envisioned a fish that was oblivious to the surrounding water: 2

Of what is significant in one’s own existence one is hardly aware, and it certainly should not bother the other fellow. What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?

The passage above caught the attention of some book readers. For example, in 1950 Einstein’s two sentences were reprinted in the “New York Times” when “Out of My Later Years” was reviewed. 3

In 1954 a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate held a hearing about the United Nations and invited testimony form a lawyer named Pierce Butler. His written remarks mentioned fish and the non-detection of water: 4

So men who have developed in a climate of thought use their customary responses when practical necessities transfer them to new regions. It has been said that men are governed by their imaginations, but it would be more accurate to say that they are governed by their lack of imagination. It wasn’t fish who discovered water.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1960 a psychology textbook titled “Personality Dynamics and Effective Behavior” by James C. Coleman was published. The author used an expression that matched the third example listed by the questioner; however, the attribution given was anonymous: 5

Curiously enough, the individual is usually so deeply immersed in his culture that he is scarcely aware of it as a shaping force in his life. As someone has remarked, “The fish will be the last to discover water.” People who know no other cultural patterns but their own tend to regard them as God-given and intrinsically right.

In 1966 the first edition of “A Linguistic Guide to Language Learning” by William G. Moulton was published. The foreword was written by John H. Fisher, Executive Secretary of the Modern Language Association. It was dated March 28, 1966, and Fisher employed a concise instance of the adage: 6 7

No fish ever discovered water and no monolingual speaker ever understood the unique qualities of his own language.

In April 1966 “Ramparts” magazine printed an article titled “Understanding Marshall McLuhan” by Howard Gossage. The saying appeared in the text, but it was credited to a follower of McLuhan named John Culkin [Professor John Culkin, SJ of Fordham University] and not to McLuhan himself: 8

In the ordinary course of events, we are not aware of our environment any more than a fish is aware of his. As Father John Culkin of Fordham, a leading McLuhanite, says, “We don’t know who it was discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.”

In November 1966 Marshall McLuhan attended a symposium called “Technology and World Trade”, and during a discussion period he employed an instance of the saying, but he specified an anonymous attribution: 9

Dr. McLuhan: … Someone said once, “We don’t know who discovered water but we are pretty sure it wasn’t a fish!” We are all in this position, being surrounded by some environment or element that blinds us totally; the message of the fish theme is a very important one, and just how to get through to people that way is quite a problem.

We have from the moment of birth a fear of the new environment. We always prefer the old one.

The next day at the same symposium another speaker assigned the expression directly to McLuhan: 10

Marshall McLuhan was here yesterday. You know he talks about how we don’t see the environment we’re in. The comment he made that I think best captures this notion is, “I don’t know who discovered water but I’m sure it wasn’t a fish.”

In March 1967 McLuhan delivered a speech at the University of Toronto that included the following line: 11

A wit has said we don’t know who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.

The anthropologist Edmund Carpenter released “They Became What They Beheld” in 1970, and it included an instance of the adage with an attribution to Culkin: 12

“We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re certain it wasn’t a fish.” John Culkin

In 1974 “The Atlantic” magazine published a profile piece titled “The Adman Who Hated Advertising: The Gospel According to Howard Gossage” by Warren Hinkle. Note that the April 1966 citation given previously was from an article written by Gossage. The author of the profile indicated that Gossage used the expression himself: 13

“…we don’t know who discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.” That was another of Gossage’s favorite quotations, a line of absolutely Delphic ambiguity. It came from his McLuhan Period, when he was schlepping McLuhan around the country, introducing him as Mohammed to his friends ruling the media mountains.

The article in “The Atlantic” also stated the following:

The fish-didn’t-discover-water line Gossage, after his fashion, occasionally credited to McLuhan, when the great man was in need of explanation, but the more frequent quotee was Father John Culkin, then a Jesuit and a McLuhanite, now an ex-Jesuit but I suspect still a McLuhanite. Culkin may even have said that, but primary authorship was as difficult to trace in quotations favored by Gossage as the authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Different versions of the saying continued to circulate. Here is an instance in an Oregon newspaper in 1976: 14

She thinks parents sometimes are like trees in a forest, or fish “which would be the last to discover water, because they are totally immersed in it.”

In conclusion, Marshall McLuhan did use a version of this saying in speeches by 1966, but he credited “someone” or “a wit”. The underlying idea can be expressed in many ways. Albert Einstein employed a version of the idea in a 1936 essay.

The adamant statement “It wasn’t fish who discovered water” was written by Pierce Butler in 1954. In 1960 James C. Coleman wrote, “The fish will be the last to discover water”, but he attributed the words to “someone”. In 1966 John Culkin was credited with a version that closely matched the first example given by the questioner: “We don’t know who it was discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.”


  1. 1915, The Cheerful Blackguard by Roger Pocock, Quote Page 335, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Google Books Full View) link 
  2. 1995, Out of My Later Years by Albert Einstein, Chapter 2: Self-Portrait (Essay dated 1936), Start Page 5, Quote Page 5, Citadel Press Book: Carol Publishing Group. New York. (Amazon Look Inside) 
  3. 1950 May 27, New York Times, Books of the Times, (Review of Albert Einstein’s essay collection “Out of My Later Years”), by Charles Poore, Quote Page 28, Column 6, New York. (ProQuest) 
  4. 1954, Review of the United Nations Charter, Hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-third Congress, second session, Proposals to amend or otherwise modify existing international peace and security organizations, including the United Nations, Part 6, (Hearings held June 19, 1954, prepared statement by Pierce Butler), Start Page 813, Quote Page 816, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (HathiTrust) link link
  5. 1960, Personality Dynamics and Effective Behavior by James C. Coleman, Including Selected readings prepared by Alvin Marks, Quote Page 59, Column 2, Scott, Foresman and Company, Chicago, Illinois. (Verified with scans) 
  6. 1970, A Linguistic Guide to Language Learning by William G. Moulton (William Gamwell Moulton), Second Edition, (First edition was published in 1966), (Foreword by John H. Fisher, Executive Secretary, Modern Language Association; dated March 28, 1966), Start Page vii, Quote Page vii, Published by Modern Language Association of America, New York. (Verified on paper in 1970 edition) 
  7. 1966-67 Winter, The Florida FL reporter: Foreign Language Journal, Edited by Alfred C Aarons, In Cooperation with the MLA FL Program, “Quote Unquote”, Quote Page 12, Column 2, Published by Florida FL reporter, North Miami Beach, Florida. (Verified on paper) 
  8. 1966 April, Ramparts, Volume 4, Number 12, Understanding Marshall McLuhan by Howard Gossage, Start Page 34, Quote Page 37, Published in San Francisco, California. (Verified on paper) 
  9. 1967, Technology and World Trade: Proceedings of a Symposium, Held November 16-17, 1966, Morning Session: November 16, 1966, Questions From The Floor, (Quotation spoken by Marshall McLuhan during discussion period), Quote Page 29, Conference Sponsored by U.S. Department of Commerce and National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Bureau of Standards Miscellaneous Publication, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (HathiTrust) link link
  10. 1967, Technology and World Trade: Proceedings of a Symposium, Held November 16-17, 1966, Morning Session: November 17, 1966, (Speaker Peter G. Peterson, President Bell & Howell Company, Chicago, Illinois), Start Page 83, Quote Page 91, Conference Sponsored by U.S. Department of Commerce and National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Bureau of Standards Miscellaneous Publication, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (HathiTrust) link link
  11. 2005, Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews: Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Edited by Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines, (Two part Marfleet Lectureship delivered at the Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto by Marshall McLuhan on March 16 and 17, 1967), “Canada, The Borderline Case”, Start Page 105, Quote Page 106, McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto, Ontario. (Google Books Preview) 
  12. 1970, They Became What They Beheld by Edmund Carpenter, Page title: The Islander, (Epigraph for page), unnumbered page, Published by Outerbridge & Dienstfrey, New York, Ballantine Books, Inc., New York. (Verified on paper) 
  13. 1974 March, The Atlantic (Atlantic Monthly), Volume 233, Number 3, “The Adman Who Hated Advertising: The Gospel According to Howard Gossage” by Warren Hinkle, Start Page 67, Quote Page 69, Column 1,Published by the Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper) 
  14. 1976 November 25, Oregonian, Children at play are learning about life by Fran Jones, Quote Page K1, Column 5, (GNB Page 54), Portland, Oregon. (GenealogyBank) 

“Fish don’t know water exists till beached.” – Culture is Our Business, (1970, p. 191)

Categories: Blog

Remembering Liss Jeffrey (1951-2008), McLuhan Scholar, Educator, Media Practitioner, Activist

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 01/31/2014 - 6:11pm

I was pleased to see that the recently published Volume 2 of the International Journal of McLuhan Studies honored the late Dr. Liss Jeffrey of Toronto by being dedicated to her memory (see the 3rd posting below this one). Thanks to Editorial Director Matteo Ciastellardi and his staff for doing so. Liss would have been an enthusiastic supporter of this journal, as she was of all things McLuhan-related. She has a rightful claim to be remembered among the second generation of the Toronto School of Communication. It’s a good time to remind those who knew her, as well as those who didn’t, about her life and accomplishments…….AlexK

Liss Jeffrey (1951-2008)

Energetic McLuhan disciple broadcast the power of new media

After a youth spent battling authority, she became a journalist and a media visionary

NOREEN SHANAHAN   –   Special to The Globe and Mail   –   February 23, 2009

TORONTO – ‘At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images.” When Canadian media luminary Marshall McLuhan wrote these words, it was as though he foretold the work of his disciple, Liss Jeffrey. Ms. Jeffrey was director of the McLuhan Global Research Network at the University of Toronto. She taught graduate seminars in “Understanding McLuhan and Media,” “Communications, History, Theory and Technology” and “New Media and Policy.” But this barely scratched the surface. Friends and colleagues sometimes referred to her as a force of nature when speaking of her work history.

In 1997, Ms. Jeffrey directed a new media and policy think tank called the byDesign eLab. It provided a public space network used to advance civic participation, community development and cultural content creation. This work was done through the national not-for-profit group Electronic Commons/Agora Électronique.

Mary Elisabeth Jeffrey was born in Kenya. Always in a hurry, she walked at six months and spoke full sentences at a year. Her father, Paul Jeffrey, was a businessman who worked for Massey-Harris (later Massey-Ferguson). He moved his family to Durban, South Africa, while Liss was still a toddler. As the story goes, she enticed their Zulu servants into teaching her to dance. When the family was transferred to Paris, Liss quickly learned French; she held onto the language the rest of her life.

The Jeffrey family hailed from a long line of Canadian missionaries. Her great-grandfather spent his life working in Indochina. Her grandfather was head of a mission in Vietnam, where her father was born and raised. The missionary tradition ended when he decided to pursue a future in business, but it continued to affect Ms. Jeffrey’s life, both personally and professionally. In 1954, the family returned to Canada and settled in Toronto’s upscale Forest Hill neighbourhood. Liss was a brilliant child, although one with an attitude that often required her parents to “take tea” with the headmistress at the private girl’s school, Bishop Strachan. Once, her Grade 7 teacher became so annoyed with Liss’s interruptions that she said, “If you think you can teach this class better than I can, you can come up and teach it.” She did.

“She had endless battles with authority,” said her sister, Jennifer Deacon. “She was always challenging, always pushing the edge, which was uncomfortable for the teachers and for the headmistress, who was a very formidable lady … finally, she had to leave because it was either the teachers or Liss.”

She transferred to Forest Hill Collegiate in Grade 12. As a result, her final high-school years were spent among people who supported and appreciated her. As a teenager, she was invited to host a televised political forum on TVOntario called With Liss Jeffrey. On this show, she interviewed political figures from a youth perspective. Her confidence soared when she applied to and was accepted by Harvard-Radcliffe. In 1973, she graduated with one of the highest honours, an AB magna cum laude, in social relations.

Toronto writer Susan Cole, who met Ms. Jeffrey at high school, described her friend as a “cyclone.”

“She was a force to contend with and sometimes it wasn’t easy to be in the eye of her storm, but often it isn’t easy to be in the eye of a visionary storm,” she said. In 1971, Ms. Cole joined Ms. Jeffrey at Harvard. Before she had time to settle into her dorm room, she was urged to join a women’s collective organized by Ms. Jeffrey. The group challenged Harvard’s male hierarchy – only one in five students was female. “Liss had unbelievable energy. To be around her was to be around one big intense vibration that was both challenging and inspiring,” said Ms. Cole. “I would claim that the Harvard campus was never the same.”

Back in Toronto after graduation, Ms. Jeffrey became a journalist, working at the newly started CITY-TV under the direction of Moses Znaimer. In 1976, she became the first producer of the investigative public-affairs program The Shulman File, hosted by Dr. Morton Shulman. She also worked with Stephen Lewis on a show called 4 Quartets. While attending a 1984 New Year’s Eve party, Ms. Jeffrey met her future husband, Fraser McAninch. Meanwhile, she attended York University and graduated in 1987 with a master’s degree in environmental studies and communication and media analysis. She and Mr. McAninch were married at her sister’s farm in Unionville, Ont., in 1989.

In 1995, Ms. Jeffrey co-curated an original exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, “Watching TV,” as acting director of the MZTV Museum of Television. The same year, she wrote the summary report on “Women in and Behind the Media: 1984-1994,” for the Canadian delegation to a UNESCO conference in Beijing.

In 1997, she launched “Canada by Design: Building a Canadian Knowledge Nation Using New Media and Policy” through the University of Toronto’s McLuhan Program, which she so ardently supported. She organized the 12-part visionary speaker series and announced her intention to have two federal cabinet ministers make presentations.

“Knowing better than to contradict her, I suggested that perhaps this was a tad ambitious as the series was beginning within weeks,” colleague Gale Moore said. “No, she assured me, they would come, and come they did – the minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, and the minister of industry, John Manley, both gave talks, along with other prominent figures from the media and corporate world.”

Once again, she leapt back into the fray of academia. In 1998, she received her PhD in communications from McGill University.

Her doctoral thesis was called “The Heat and the Light of Marshall McLuhan: A 1990s Reappraisal.” This led directly into her work as founding director of the McLuhan Global Research Network.

As a media visionary, Ms. Jeffrey often spoke about Canada’s struggle to maintain a space for cultural diversity, public access to new information technologies, and the transformative effects of new media. Under her guidance, the eLab and the McLuhan Program designed and ran Canada’s first online public consultation, to form part of the official federal public record. This was called the New Media Forum, and set up on behalf of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Ms. Jeffrey served as a Canadian expert on the Council of Europe’s New Information Technologies project in 1991, and contributed to the Culture Committee’s “Cultural policy for the new millennium: public access and freedom of expression” initiative. With the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development, byDesign eLab led a civil-society partnership that hosted the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade eDialogue with citizens on directions for Canada’s foreign policy.

The Foreign Policy eDialogue won Canada’s best of content category for e-government in the national phase of the World Summit on the Information Society awards, and was showcased at the Canada Pavilion in Geneva in December, 2003.

Ms. Jeffrey continued working her vision until her last breath was drawn. She presented at a conference in Guelph, Ont., advising on global issues and the Internet, two months before her death.

“Liss was a giver and what mattered most were ideas,” said Gale Moore. “Not only ideas, but ideas combined with action -visionary pragmatism, she proclaimed, was her philosophy. … And through it all, she never wavered in her belief that is possible to change the world.”

Mary Elisabeth Jeffrey was born in Nakuru, Kenya, on June 28, 1951. She died Dec. 18, 2008, in Toronto from cancer. She was 57.  (Source: )


A media practitioner more than an academic, unfortunately Liss never found time to convert her McGill PhD dissertation, The Heat and the Light of Marshall McLuhan: A 1990s Reappraisal” (1998), into a book. However, the following essay offers a précis of her thesis, The Heat & the Light: Towards a Reassessment of the Contribution of H. Marshall McLuhan (1989): .

Categories: Blog

Explorations in Media Ecology, Volume 12 Published by Intellect Ltd.

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 01/30/2014 - 12:37am

EME Editor Paul Grosswiler announces that Explorations in Media Ecology {EME} 12:1&2 (2013) is in the mail to MEA members. EME 12.3&4 (2013), with a special section on Probing the Boundaries of Media Ecology, guest-edited by Rob MacDougall, Peter Zhang and Bob Logan, is ready to be distributed soon. Both issues of EME volume 12 have been posted online at the publisher Intellect’s website .

EME VOLUME 12 ISSUE 1-2     –     Table of Contents

Editorial   –   Paul Grosswiler


Telepresence and the ethics of digital cheating   –   Brett Lunceford

The message is the mode: Modes in digital media and media theory   –   Eric Jenkins

Reconfigurations: Unfolding the spaces of mobile listening   –   Helma Sawatzky

Locative Communication: Place as a medium?   –   Macello Medeiros

Baguio city and the politics of space: Creativity and innovation in a globalizing world   –   Anna Christie K. Villarba-Torres

Eighteenth-century mapping of Cape Breton Island   –   Erna MacLeod

Screening the future: Ground/figure relations and media inheritance in WALL-E   –   Norman Taylor


Merging pedagogies and converging media: Classical~meets critical in the digital age   –   John J. Jasso

Book Reviews

Amor Technologiae: Marshall McLuhan as Philosopher of Technology   Toward a Philosophy of Human-Media Relationships, Yoni Van Den Eede (2012) Brussels, Belgium: ASP VUB Press, 517 pp., ISBN: 978-9057181870, p/bk,  29.95   –   Laureano Ralon

Titanic Century: Media, Myth and the Making of a Cultural Icon, Paul Heyer (2012) Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 211 pp., ISBN 978-0-313-39815-5, h/bk, $48.00   –   Alex Kuskis

Media Environments, Barry Vacker (ed.) (2010) San Diego, CA: Cognella, 546 pp., ISBN: 978-1935551348, p/bk, $142.50   –   John Blewitt

Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell, Katie King (2012) Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 392 pp., ISBN: 978-0822350729, p/bk, $25.95   –   Meghan Dougherty

Note: Abstracts & pdfs of articles for Volume 12, Issue 1-2 can be found at 

 EME VOLUME 12 ISSUE 3-4     –     Table of Contents

Special Section: Probing the boundaries of Media Ecology


Guest editors Robert C. MacDougall, Peter Zhang, and Robert K. Logan

Mind and media: Exploring the Freud-McLuhan connection   –   Adriana Braga and Robert K. Logan

Georg Simmel as unrecognized media ecologist   –   Corey Anton

The ecological approach of J.~J. Gibson   –   Robert C. MacDougall

Gregory Bateson and Paul Watzlawick: From the ecology of mind to the pragmatics of media ecology   –   Lance Strate

Things come in fours: Comparing Marshall McLuhan s Tetrad and Claude L vi-Strauss s Canonical Formula   –   Robert K. Blechman

Silvan Tomkins as media ecologist   –   Phil Rose

Foucault and Heidegger on mediation and subjectivity   –   Blake Seidenshaw

Media ecology and techno-ethics in Paul Virilio   –   Peter Zhang

Opening the media-ecological black box of Latour   –   Yoni Van Den Eede

Media ecology, the biology of Stuart Kauffman and Terrence Deacon s Incomplete Nature: Much Ado About Nothing   –   Robert K. Logan


Political sex scandal as an outgrowth of television culture: Moving the phenomenon beyond its sensational roots   –   Hinda Mandell

Hyper-capitalism, not the medium, is the message: Communication technologies and culture   –   Flora Keshishian

Book Reviews

Understanding Jacques Ellul, Jeffrey P. Greeman, Read Mercer Schuchardt and Noah J. Toly (2012) Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 174 pp., ISBN: 978-1610974318, p/bk, $21.00   –   Arthur Hunt

Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind, John Foley Miles (2012) Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 312 pp., ISBN:-13: 978-0252078699, p/bk, $27.00   –   Frank Dance

On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age, Oren Meyers, Motti Neiger and Eyal Zandberg (eds) (2011) New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 296 pp., ISBN: 978-0230275683, h/bk, $95.00   –   Brant Burkey

Note: Abstracts & pdfs of articles for Volume 12, Issue 3-4 can be found at . 


Categories: Blog

transmediale & The Embassy of Canada in Berlin present the 2014 McLuhan Lecture

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 01/25/2014 - 8:20pm
HandoutDouglas Coupland Douglas Coupland McLuhan Lecture 2014: Space Junk Time: Tue, 28.1. 18:30h – 20:00h     –     Doors open: 18:00

Event start: 18:30 (please present a valid photo-ID at the door and allow sufficient time for Embassy security)

Embassy of Canada, Leipziger Platz 17, 10117 Berlin

In English; free admission, please register via:

The transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture invites a Canadian cultural figure, whose work expands on McLuhan’s media theories in the context of contemporary culture and society. This year, the Canadian writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland will deliver the lecture, entitled Space Junk. Following his iconic writings on the first digital workers Microserfs in the 1990s to the digital natives of JPod (2006) and his biography of McLuhan You Know Nothing of my Work! (2011), Coupland will use his unique way of expressing ideas—almost a form of stand-up comedy—to explore the ultimate fate of our junk data and where hyperdigitization will take us in the end. As he alternates between the sacred and the profane, a new form of discourse emerges that engages both academic and populist spheres. (Source: )

On transmediale’s 2014 programme:

Douglas Coupland is a Canadian novelist, visual artist and designer. His first novel in 1991 was Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. He has published thirteen novels, a collection of short stories, seven nonfiction books, and a number of dramatic works and screenplays for film and television. Coupland’s novels and visual work synthesize high and low culture, web technology, religion, and changes in human existence caused by modern technologies.

Read this article, Douglas Coupland – Never Left Art School, on his life & art: ttp://

Categories: Blog

International Journal of McLuhan Studies, Volume 2: Education Overload: From Total Surround to Pattern Recognition

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 01/25/2014 - 12:33pm
IJMS - Issue 2This issue was published in 2013, but I only just received my copies, published in 2013 on the occasion of Marshall McLuhan’s 102nd birthday. It’s theme of education in the Internet Age, the impact of electronic education having been observed by Marshall McLuhan from the 1950s on, is timely and important, as the disruptive forces of the New Media have finally reached education. Published in Barcelona by the Digital Culture Research Program at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), an open and online university (see ). They, of all educationists, should have been aware that in the Internet Age one can study or teach from any country to any country, as I do, living in Canada but teaching online for a university in the US. Unfortunately, they shipped my journal copies to my US university, thereby delaying my receiving them. This is just one minor shift within the massive (paradigm) shift that is happening now in education at all levels. Shift happens! I assume that this issue will eventually be available online, as Volume 1 already is; see . I will advise readers of this blog when that happens……..Alex Kuskis


This issue is dedicated to the memory of my friend and colleague Dr. Liss Jeffrey (1951-2008), McLuhan scholar, educator, visionary

Learning in Digital Media

R. S. Contreras., I. G. Medina


Learning in Digital Media; the Legacy of McLuhan and his Impact on Formal Education. The works of McLuhan have a continuing influence upon academia and it is enough to substitute ‘electronic media’ by ‘digital media’ in his work so that his conclusions are still valid. Today, the education system faces an explosion of information and knowledge and a distribution of social knowledge, but also faces a fight for changing the linear speech and the frame normalized of formal technicians. This is the inheritance that is being left to the students; a legacy where the formal surroundings of education generate evaluation systems with standard criteria that legitimate the knowledge but that punish more than stimulate the creativity of the student. McLuhan was able to anticipate the inexorable transit to a new age, which some texts named as the ‘Information Age’, and also anticipated that education, amongst other things, would transform adopting technologies of electronic communication. These works were criticized in their time (Gambino, 1972), and today also we can find critics on the use of technologies in the learning process, an example is the International Center of Research for the Development (Fonseca, 2005) that mentions the need to surpass this magic vision that the introduction of technologies improves education by itself. Díaz A. (2006), bases his criticisms on the risks of implementing transformations that do not have a conceptual or strategic basis. For education to adopt new communication technologies a paradigm change is required, that reflects not only modifications on a methodological level, but it also changes the culture and the organization of education itself. During the 80s, attention was given to the needs of teachers; in the 90s the attention was given to the interaction, now however this decade requires a pronunciation on the effects that bring new technologies in the learning system and the organization of the formal surroundings of education. (Source: ).


Categories: Blog

Classic McLuhan Studies: Digital Humanism: The Processed World of Marshall McLuhan(1984)

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 01/07/2014 - 6:24pm

Dear Followers & Readers: Please be advised that there will be no new postings on the McLuhan Galaxy blog until the last week of January, while I escape the Siberian weather to a warmer place.

[cover] Digital Humanism: The Processed World of Marshall McLuhan

 was originally published as Chapter 3 (pp. 52 – 86) of -

Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant

 by Arthur Kroker
©1984, New World Perspectives, CultureTexts Series

 Montreal: New World Perspectives, ISBN 0-920393-00-4
Published simultaneously in the USA by St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0-31278-832-0

Note: Marshall McLuhan was never the technotopian that contemporary technophiles like to portray. To read McLuhan is to discover a thinker who had a decidedly ambivalent perspective on technoculture. Thus, while McLuhan might be the patron saint of technotopians, his imagination is also the memory that should haunt them. 

Digital Humanism: The Processed World of Marshall McLuhan

Arthur Kroker

Processed World

Not the least of McLuhan’s contributions to the study of technology was that he transposed the literary principle of metaphor/metonymy (the play between structure and process) into a historical methodology for analysing the rise and fall of successive media of communication. In McLuhan’s discourse, novels are the already obsolescent content of television; writing “turned a spotlight on the high, dim Sierras of speech;”8the movie is the “mechanization of movement and gesture;”9 the telegraph provides us with “diplomacy without walls;”10 just as “photography is the mechanization of the perspective painting and the arrested eye.”11 To read McLuhan is to enter into a “vortex” of the critical, cultural imagination, where “fixed perspective” drops off by the way, and where everything passes over instantaneously into its opposite. Even the pages of the texts in Explorations, The Medium is the Massage, The Vanishing Point, or From Cliche to Archetype are blasted apart, counterblasted actually, in an effort to make reading itself a more subversive act of the artistic imagination. Faithful to his general intellectual project of exposing the invisible environment of the technological sensorium, McLuhan sought to make of the text itself a “counter-gradient” or “probe” for forcing to the surface of consciousness the silent structural rules, the “imposed assumptions” of the technological environment within which we are both enclosed and “processed”. In The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan insisted that we cannot understand the technological experience from the outside. We can only comprehend how the electronic age “works us over” if we “recreate the experience” in depth and mythically, of the processed world of technology.

All media work us over completely. They are so persuasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.12

And McLuhan was adamant on the immanent relationship of technology and biology, on the fact that “the new media… are nature”13 and this for the reason that technology refers to the social and psychic “extensions” or “outerings” of the human body or senses. McLuhan could be so universal and expansive in his description of the media of communication – his studies of communication technologies range from writing and speech to the telephone, photography, television, money, comic books, chairs and wrenches – because he viewed all technology as the pushing of the “archetypal forms of the unconscious out into social consciousness.”14When McLuhan noted in Counter Blast that “environment is process, not container,”15 he meant just this: the effect of all new technologies is to impose, silently and pervasively, their deep assumptions upon the human psyche by reworking the “ratio of the senses.”

All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical.16

Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change, MEN CHANGE.17

For McLuhan, it’s a processed world now. As we enter the electronic age with its instantaneous and global movement of information, we are the first human beings to live completely within the mediated environment of the technostructure The “content” of the technostructure is largely irrelevant (the “content” of a new technology is always the technique which has just been superseded: movies are the content of television; novels are the content of movies) or, in fact, a red herring distracting our attention from the essential secret of technology as the medium, or environment, within which human experience is programmed. It was McLuhan’s special genius to grasp at once that the content (metonymy) of new technologies serves as a “screen”, obscuring from view the disenchanted locus of the technological experience in its purely “formal” or “spatial” properties. McLuhan wished to escape the “flat earth approach” to technology, to invent a “new metaphor” by which we might “restructure our thoughts and feelings” about the subliminal, imperceptible environments of media effects.18

In this understanding, technology is an “extension” of biology: the expansion of the electronic media as the “metaphor” or “environment” of twentieth-century experience implies that, for the first time, the central nervous system itself has been exteriorized. It is our plight to be processed through the technological simulacrum; to participate intensively and integrally in a “technostructure” which is nothing but a vast simulation and “amplification” of the bodily senses. Indeed, McLuhan often recurred to the “narcissus theme” in classical mythology as a way of explaining our fatal fascination with technology, viewed not as “something external” but as an extension, or projection, of the sensory faculties of the human species.

Media tend to isolate one or another sense from the others. The result is hypnosis. The other extreme is withdrawing of sensation with resulting hallucination as in dreams or DT’s, etc… Any medium, by dilating sense to fill the whole field, creates the necessary conditions of hypnosis in that area. This explains why at no time has any culture been aware of the effect of its media on its overall association, not even retrospectively.19

All of McLuhan’s writings are an attempt to break beyond the “Echo” of the narcissus myth, to show that the “technostructure” is an extension or “repetition” of ourselves. In his essay, “The Gadget Lover”, McLuhan noted precisely why the Greek myth of Narcissus is of such profound relevance to understanding the technological experience.

The youth Narcissus (narcissus means narcosis or numbing) mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image. The nymph Echo tried to win his love with fragments of his own speech, but in vain. He was numb. He had adapted to his extension of himself and had become a closed system. Now the point of this myth is the fact that men at once become fascinated by any extension of themselves in any material other than themselves.20

Confronted with the hypnotic effect of the technological sensorium, McLuhan urged the use of any “probe” – humour, paradox, analogical juxtaposition, absurdity – as a way of making visible the “total field effect” of technology as medium. This is why, perhaps, McLuhan’s intellectual project actually circles back on itself, and is structured directly into the design of his texts. McLuhan makes the reader a “metonymy” to his “metaphor”: he transforms the act of “reading McLuhan” into dangerous participation in a radical experiment which has, as its end, the exploration of the numbing of consciousness in the technological massage. Indeed, to read McLuhan is to pass directly into the secret locus of the “medium is the massage”; to experience anew the “media” (this time the medium of writing) as a silent gradient of ground-rules.

No less critical than George Grant of the human fate in technological society, McLuhan’s imagination seeks a way out of our present predicament by recovering a highly ambivalent attitude towards theobjects of technostructure. Thus, while Grant writes in William James’ sense of a “block universe” of the technological dynamo, seeing only tendencies towards domination, McLuhan privileges a historically specific study of the media of communication. In an early essay (1955), “A Historical Approach to the Media”, McLuhan said that if we weren’t “to go on being helpless illiterates” in the new world of technology, passive victims as the “media themselves act directly toward shaping our most intimate self-consciousness”, then we had to adopt the attitude of the artist.21 ”The mind of the artist is always the point of maximal sensitivity and resourcefulness in exposing altered realities in the common culture.”22 McLuhan would make of us “the artist, the sleuth, the detective” in gaining a critical perspective on the history of technology which “just as it began with writing ends with television.”23 Unlike Grant’s reflections on technology which are particularistic and existential, following a downward spiral (the famous Haligonian “humbug”) into pure content: pure will, pure remembrance, pure duration, McLuhan’s thought remains projective, metaphorical, and emancipatory. Indeed, Grant’s perspective on technology is Protestant to the core in its contemplation of the nihilism of liberal society. But if Grant’s tragic inquiry finds its artistic analogue in Colville’s To Prince Edward Island then McLuhan’s discourse is more in the artistic tradition of Georges Seurat, the French painter, and particularly in one classic portrait, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. McLuhan always accorded Seurat a privileged position as the “art fulcrum between Renaissance visual and modern tactile. The coalescing of inner and outer, subject and object.”24 McLuhan was drawn to Seurat in making painting a “light source” (a “light through situation”). Seurat did that which was most difficult and decisive: he dipped the viewer into the “vanishing point” of the painting.25 Or as McLuhan said, and in prophetic terms, Seurat (this “precursor of TV”) presented us with a searing visual image of the age of the “anxious object.”26

Now, to be sure, the theme of anxiety runs deep through the liberal side of the Canadian mind. This is the world of Margaret Atwood’s “intolerable anxiety” and of Northrop Frye’s “anxiety structure.” But McLuhan is the Canadian thinker who undertook a phenomenology of anxiety, or more precisely a historically relative study of the sources of anxiety and stress in technological society. And he did so by the simple expedient of drawing us, quickly and in depth, into Seurat’s startling and menacing world of the anxious, stressful objects of technology. In his book, Through the Vanishing Point, McLuhan said of Seurat that “by utilizing the Newtonian analysis of the fragmentation of light, he came to the technique of divisionism, whereby each dot of paint becomes the equivalent of an actual light source, a sun, as it were. This device reversed the traditional perspective by making the viewer the vanishing point.”27 The significance of Seurat’s “reversal” of the rules of traditional perspective is that he abolished, once and for all, the medieval illusion that space is neutral, or what is the same, that we can somehow live “outside” the processed world of technology. With Seurat a great solitude and, paradoxically, a greater entanglement falls on modern being. “We are suddenly in the world of the “Anxious Object” which is prepared to take the audience inside the painting process itself.”28 Following C. S. Lewis in The Discarded Image, McLuhan noted exactly what this “flip” in spatial perspective meant. Rather than looking in according to the traditional spatial model of medieval discourse, modern man is suddenly “looking out. ” “Like one looking out from the saloon entrance onto the dark Atlantic, or from the lighted porch upon the dark and lonely moors.”29 The lesson of Seurat is this: modernity is coeval with the age of the “anxious object” because we live now, fully, within the designed environment of the technological sensorium.30 For McLuhan, we are like astronauts in the processed world of technology. We now take our “environment” with us in the form of technical “extensions” of the human body or senses. The technostructure is both the lens through which we experience the world, and, in fact, the “anxious object” with which human experience has become imperceptibly, almost subliminally, merged.31

Now, McLuhan often remarked that in pioneering the DEW line, Canada had also provided a working model for the artistic imagination as an “early warning system”32 in sensing coming shifts in the technostructure. Seurat’s artistic representation of the spatial reversal at work in the electronic age, a reversal which plunges us into active participation in the “field” of technological experience, was one such early warning system. It was, in fact, to counteract our “numbing” within the age of the anxious object that McLuhan’s literary and artistic imagination, indeed his whole textual strategy, ran to the baroque. As an intellectual strategy, McLuhan favoured the baroque for at least two reasons: it privileged “double perspective and contrapuntal theming;” and it sought to “capture the moment of change in order to release energy dramatically.”33 There is, of course, a clear and decisive connection between McLuhan’s attraction to Seurat as an artist who understood the spatial grammar of the electronic age and his fascination with the baroque as a method of literary imagination. If, indeed, we are now “looking out” from inside the technological sensorium; and if, in fact, in the merger of biology and technology which is the locus of the electronic age, “we” have become the vanishing points of technique, then a way had to be discovered for breaching the “invisible environment”34 within which we are now enclosed. For McLuhan, the use of the baroque in each of his writings, this constant resort to paradox, double perspective, to a carnival of the literary imagination in which the pages of the texts are forced to reveal their existence also as a “medium”, was also a specific strategy aimed at “recreating the experience” of technology as massage. Between Seurat (a radar for “space as process”) and baroque (a “counter-gradient”): that’s the artistic strategy at work in McLuhan’s imagination as he confronted the subliminal, processed world of electronic technologies.

Continue reading at:

Notes1. H. A. Innis, Empire and Communications, Toronto: University of Toronto Press,1972, pp. 1-2.

2. M. McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 1964, p. 2.

3. The image of the “probe” runs through all of McLuhan’s writings, fromUnderstanding Media to The Medium is the Massage.

4. M. McLuhan, “Catholic Humanism & Modern Letters”, Christian Humanism in Letters, Hartford, Connecticut: St. Joseph’s College, 1954, p. 78.

5. M. McLuhan, Counter Blast, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969, p. 42.

6. The relationship of Empire, Inc. to the Canadian imagination was first developed by Michael Dorland in a brilliant essay, “Power, TV & the National Question: A Reproach”, Symposium on Television & Popular Culture, Queen’s University, March 2, 1983.

7. McLuhan’s most vivid description of the “technological sensorium” is provided in his writing, The Medium is the Massage. (with Quentin Fiore), New York: Bantam,1967, p. 26.

8. M . McLuhan, Counter Blast, p. 14.

9. For McLuhan’s extended analysis of the movie as a “mechanizing” medium see “The Reel World”, Understanding Media, pp. 284-296.

10. McLuhan also described the telegraph as a “social hormone”,Understanding Media, pp. 246-257.

11. M. McLuhan, Counter Blast, p. 16.

12. M. McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, p. 26.

13. M. McLuhan, Counter Blast, p. 14.

14. Ibid., p. 31.

15. Ibid., p. 30.

16. Ibid., p. 26.

17. Ibid., p. 41.

18. Ibid., p. 14.

19. Ibid., pp. 22-23.

20. M. McLuhan, Understanding Media, p. 51.

21. M. McLuhan, “A Historical Approach to the Media”, Teacher’s College Record, 57(2), November, 1955, p. 110.

22. Ibid., p. 109.

23. Ibid., p. 110.

24. M. McLuhan, Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting, New York: Harper and Row, 1968, p. 181.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid., pp. 24-25.

27. Ibid., p. 24.

28. Ibid., p. 25.

29. Ibid., p. 24.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., p. 181.

32. The arts as “radar feedback” is a major theme of Understanding Media. See particularly the introductory comments, pp. vii-xi.

33. M. McLuhan, Through the Vanishing Point, p. 21.

34. M. McLuhan, Counter Blast, p. 31.

Arthure Kroker Dr. Arthur Kroker

Arthur Kroker is Canada Research Chair in Technology, Culture and Theory, Professor of Political Science, and the Director of the Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture (PACTAC) at the University of Victoria. He is the editor with Marilouise Kroker of the internationally acclaimed scholarly, peer-reviewed journal CTheory and Critical Digital Studies: A Reader (University of Toronto Press). His recent publications include The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nihilism: Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Marx (University of Toronto Press) and Born Again Ideology: Religion, Technology and Terrorism. In addition to the recent Japanese translation of The Will to Technology, eleven of Dr. Kroker’s books have been published in translation including German, Italian, Japanese and Croatian. Dr. Kroker’s current research focuses on the new area of critical digital studies and the politics of the body in contemporary techno-culture. (

Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan as Educationist, Part 6: Shift Happens

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/06/2014 - 7:15pm


This is an excerpt from a copyright article of the same title published by me, Alex Kuskis, in (2011) Explorations in Media Ecology, 10(3&4), pp. 313-333. This is Part 6 and additional excerpts from this essay will be published in future postings.

5. Shift of Educational Emphasis from Hardware to Software

By hardware McLuhan meant things like buildings, campuses, classrooms, books. By software he meant the “soft side” of education: pedagogy, curricula and content, not just in books, but also on TV, film, computers and other media. He wrote that: “The present educational arrangements are … hardware, inherited from earlier centuries….You live unconsciously in a new environment of electric ‘software’ or information” (McLuhan, 1968, pp. 51-52). One possible reason for the survival of the lecture is that schools and campuses are equipped with lecture halls and classrooms are outfitted with lecterns and blackboards. These legacy spatial arrangements are not mere containers, but are “constitutive”, influencing and shaping what goes on within them. McLuhan anticipated and encouraged moving away from education being limited by such legacy hardware systems  toward the incorporation of TV, films and other media, along with a reform of curriculum.

6. A Redefinition of Teacher Roles

McLuhan thought that teachers (and some parents to an extent) still lived mentally in a nineteenth century world; they were: “… still civilized people who belong to the old visual culture”, that is, the print culture of books, newspapers  and magazines (McLuhan, 1972, p. 525). That print culture assigned teachers to  roles as transmitters of knowledge through classroom instruction (“chalk-and-talk”), lectures, demonstrations, textbook reading assignments, assigned homework, and examinations in a teacher-centred, as opposed to learner-centred system. Teacher’s roles needed to be redefined because of the new electronic media environment; today this redefinition of teachers is sometimes described as a shift from being a “sage on stage” to a “guide on the side”: guiding, leading & supporting learners, but not didactically pushing content or teaching to the test. Teachers would guide students with a discovery learning/collaborative project approach: “… teacher can go from team to team, giving direct help… as needed, focusing his or her attention on the aptitudes & difficulties of individuals, & performing the teacher’s essential function of charting the course of student’s explorations” (City as Classroom Teacher’s Guide, 1977b).

7. Elimination of Subjects and/or Interdisciplinarity

McLuhan endorsed interdisciplinarity at the university level especially, the incorporation and juxtaposition of knowledge from multiple disciplines. He argued that the taxonimization of knowledge into separate subjects and separate academic departments resulted in organizational silos which inhibited new knowledge emergence. He wrote: Specialization won’t work any more as a means of learning. The only technique today for obtaining depth is by interrelating knowledge …. When a man attempts to study anything, he crosses the boundaries of that field almost as soon as he begins to look at it” (McLuhan, 1966).

8. The Use of Instructional Media, Not Just Books

The book-dominated educational world must also embrace TV, films, records, audio tapes, video, and other media, collectively known as instructional media. “In the future basic skills will no longer be taught in classrooms. They can be taught by gramophone records or by tape records or video tape playback machines. When video tape becomes available to the ordinary household as it will shortly, there will be a revolution in education” (McLuhan, 1966, p. 38). The instructional technologies McLuhan mentions have mostly changed now, but he would have advocated the use of today’s new digital media, rejecting “the old sterile system where education begins and ends in a book” (McLuhan, 1969a). He also predicted the Internet and its use as a learning platform: “A worldwide network of computers will make all of mankind’s factual knowledge available to students everywhere in a matter of minutes or seconds” (McLuhan & Leonard, 1967, p. 24). That he would have insisted upon the Internet’s use in education is clear from his insistence that: “education must always concentrate its resources at the point of major information intake.” (McLuhan, 1955)

9. Reform of Assessment

Marshall McLuhan insisted that school grading, based on competition, is useless: “… our whole system of grading is useless in the schools…. if you live in a community where the information levels are very high – [from electronic media] – then the idea that you should use your school system as a means of eliminating half or three quarters of the community from higher education is ludicrous” (McLuhan, 1966, p. 39).


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Dr. Arthur Porter (1910-2010), Acting Director for the Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto (1967-68)

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 01/02/2014 - 7:59pm
Arthur Porter

Dr. Arthur Porter of University of Toronto’s Industrial Engineering Department assumed the directorship of the Centre for Culture & Technology during McLuhan’s visiting professorship at Fordham University in 1968 and was responsible for securing the Coach House for the Centre. Porter provided this autobiographical account of himself:-

I was born in Ulverston, England, on December 8, 1910. While studying at the University of Manchester, I helped build a differential analyzer—one of the world’s first analogue computers. We used a Mecanno construction set.

In 1937, I accepted a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I helped build the Rockefeller differential analyser—the most ambitious analogue/digital computer built to date. It was used extensively for projects during the Second World War. I also co-developed the Porter-Stoneman converter system, automating the process of feeding data into the analyzer.

In 1949, I accepted a position with Ferranti Canada and worked on the DATAR system. DATAR combined data from a convoy of ships’ sensors, providing a single ‘overall view’ that allowed the commander to make better-informed decisions. Soon afterwards, in the early 1950s, I was one of six Canadians selected to work on Project Lamp Light. My data processing expertise was crucial to this top-secret North American air defence initiative.

In 1958, I became Dean of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. There, along with Norman Moody and Dr. William Feindel, I established Canada’s first biomedical research program. In 1962, I moved to the University of Toronto to chair their new Industrial engineering department—one of the first in the world. While there, I also helped establish the University’s biomedical program.

During the late 1960s, I was involved in projects that bridged the gap between culture and science. I was the first acting director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Culture and Technology. I also chaired the Science and Technology Advisory Committee when Montreal hosted the World’s Fair—Expo 67.

In 1969, I wrote Cybernetics Simplified—one of the first books to provide an overview of how computers work. I resigned from academic life in 1975 to Chair the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning. This report continues to influence Ontario’s renewable energy policies. Source:


Marshall McLuhan wrote the Forward to Arthur Porter’s (1969). Cybernetics Simplified. New York: Barnes & Noble. Here is the opening paragraph:- “This is a much needed book. It helps to build a bridge between ‘The Two Cultures’ whose separation plagues C.P. Snow and many others. The very word ‘cybernetics’ is a useful clue to the central meaning of the electronic revolution. The speed-up of information movement  creates an environment of ‘information overload’ that demands pattern recognition for human survival. It was natural therefore, for the first explorers of this field to use a term from navigation. In economics it has become natural to speak of the decision-making of tomorrow as taking place in a word economy. Instant access to and retrieval of information creates entirely new economic and political situations. The new information environment created by the new electric technologies is quite imperceptible and can only be discovered by special inventories of changing trends and changing human responses to the new environment.”  (p. v) Photograph of Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera’s mural PIED PIPER ALL, Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera’s mural “Pied Piper All,” the Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale. Source: University of Toronto Archives/Robert Landsdale Photography Ltd. fonds/B1998-0033 [691172-12]
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“The Truth Shall Make You Free” – Today in History – Dec. 31

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 12/31/2013 - 6:30pm
Today in History – December 31 Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980)

In 1980, Canadian communications theorist and writer Marshall McLuhan died at age 69. His revolutionary and often misunderstood communications theories have been compared to the works of Darwin and Freud for their universal importance. McLuhan established worldwide recognition in 1964 for his book “Understanding Media,” which studied the changes in human perception caused by electronic communications. He coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” (Surce: )

[Marshall McLuhan's] tombstone is a modest flat copper plate in a quiet part of Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill, Ontario – often almost covered by weeds and grass. But it did not obscure his big lettering: “The truth shall make you free.” If McLuhan’s grave was in any other part of the world there would be tour buses driving up daily to visit the burial site of this worldwide famous icon and seer. His funeral Mass was celebrated on a cold winter day in January 1981, at Holy Rosary Church in Toronto, which acknowledged his Scottish heritage, had one bagpiper pipe his body into the church and out afterwards before a good sized crowd of worshippers. (Source: )

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

Addendum: Michael McLuhan reports that his father’s memorial marker was designed by Romanian-Canadian sculptor Sorel Etrog, who was a friend & collaborator of Marshall McLuhan. On Sorel Etrog and his relationship with Marshall McLuhan, see the following posting on this blog: .

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