Monday, January 14, 2008

"Tomorrow is our permanent address"

McLoon and Bucky One of the things I most regretted about not having the complete Tale of The Tribe course with Bob - we never really got to discuss Marshall McLuhan.

He seems well out of fashion. For all his analysis of media, he probably appears difficult. Partly because of his teasing approach - trying to make you think!

Bobby has offered the complete version of McLuhan's Wake (with Laurie Anderson doing narrator). [but note Glandmaster's technical comment below, about the site].

I choose to watch/listen to it right now as I write. I'll probably go and buy it, so I can show it on friends' DVD players (you see! We do end up buying things, even when we can look at it online). Oh, yeah - you have to set 90 minutes aside, like a docu-movie.

In the 60s he amused me greatly. He seemed as good as Dylan at winding up journalists. He gave great soundbyte...he got slogans. He apparently gave Leary "Turn on, tune in, Drop out" (or the idea for it).

English teachers often seem to have done far more than teach one simple subject (mine did, for sure - he even understood why I had to drop out, and even wished me luck - unlike all the other teachers). I didn't know he came from a Roman Catholic position (I have my own prejudices - most of my heroes seem like lapsed Catholics - Leary, RAW, Lilly, Joyce, etc). I can't read Lord of the Rings for just that subtext from Tolkien. I didn't know it when I tried to first read it in 1972. I just felt mysteriously ill, and queasy, as I do with the Harry Potter books (which seem curiously old-fashioned with their boarding schools and 'magic powers' - but, as so often, I feel quite out-of-synch with many people. Apparently UK citizens have turned religious again, just to get their kids into the best schools. (sigh)

-There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
Marshall McLuhan

Guinea Pig B
“How can we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?” — R. Buckminster Fuller

Check out John Cage talking about both of them.

McLuhan seemed curiously old-fashioned and straight, and also 'hip' at the same time. A great teacher. Whether he really 'stole' a lot of it from Bucky and Korzybski still seems an open question - perhaps we might call him a populariser.

The Phantom Captain
(click to read whole article quoted below)

But there is some evidence that this idea of the extension of man, identified by many as the core concept of McLuhan's philosophical stance, may have come from the transcendentalist Bucky. From 1960 to 1970, Constantin Dioxides, an engineer, architect, and urban planner and the founder of the Athens Technological Institute in Greece, organized summer cruises complete with cutting edge guests such as Margaret Mead, and Jonas Salk.

Many, including McLuhan, were guests more than once, but only Fuller was invited on every single trip for twelve years in a row. In The Synergetics Dictionary, under McLuhan, notes such as these were made by Fuller: "Marshall McLuhan told me the first day he met me - on one of the early Dioxide cruises - 'I am your disciple.' He held up copies of No More Secondhand God and Nine Chains to the Moon and said to me 'I've joined your conspiracy!"'

Only integrity is going to count

In his notes, he writes: "McLuhan has never made any bones about his indebtedness to me as the original source of most of his ideas. The 'Global Village' was indeed my concept. I don't think he has an original idea. Not one McLuhan says so himself. He's really a great enthusiast, a marvelous populariser and teacher. He has an irrepressible sense of the histrionic, like no one I've known since Frank Lloyd Wright."

Indeed, in Nine Chains to the Moon, a passage reads: "Through the leverage gained by his inanimate instrument extensions of self, he has attained an extended mechanical ability far in excess of his own integral mechanical energy content ability." He goes on to claim that the idea of "man backing up into his future" appears in his books and that Fuller's concept of the "Mechanical Extensions of Man" is the basis for McLuhan's talk of the "Electrical Extensions" of man.

Open source - interesting and relevant post...

At that time, I was cavorting with known anarchists like the composers John Cage and Udo Kasemets. I had been a fan of Cage, Bucky Fuller, Marshal McLuhan and William S. Burroughs since my teens; in retrospect, I was probably a powderkeg in search of a terrorist. As an unabashed advocate of free and unfettered information sharing, free software appealed to my young mind, it held an almost Kabbalistic hope: "You may pay for knowledge, but you should never charge for it.". Community currencies would prevail over the economics of scarcity; I devoted myself to learning, promoting and participating in the Free Software Revolution.

1 comment:

Glandmaster said...

I cant get that divx site to work without completly taking over my browser (no I dont want a site branded yahoo toolbar...) and killing my bandwidth - the dl speeds are a lot slower than bt too. Speaking of McLuhan and bt:

Some interesting bits and pieces.


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