Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marshall McLuhan born 100 years ago

Marshall McLuhan would have reached the age of 100 today, if he had lived this long...

The official MM website

You might enjoy this illustrated article that Bobby Campbell created for the Maybe Quarterly

Bobby C on MM


michael said...

His corporeal body no longer performs speech acts in the sensual-sensory space-time continuum, but McLoon lives on in other senses, not census.

MM wrote rather poorly and didn't enjoy it, his books never came out the way he wanted 'em to. BUT his speech acts were, by all accounts, amazing. So... no wonder (?) he privileges spoken word in tribal acoustic space over visual space?

The odd thing about that - and there are many odd things about McLOON the Mad Professor - he preferred the print to all other.

I recently read, in Val Ross's book You Can't Read This: moveable type invented in Korea at the same time Gutenberg did this deal, 15th c. Weird!

Ron Rosenbaum says, because Jack Nicholson was reading early Mac-a-loon, that the late 1960s films Head and The Trip were influenced by MM's ideas. See The Secret Parts of Fortune, p.393

MM gave Leary pointers, influenced the Yippies, and the San Francisco psychedelic newspaper, The Oracle.

I find that his idea of "probes" is still avant-garde; when I talk about it as investigative technique, people have a tough time understanding it.

Just as Leary admitted that RAW uses and understands his ideas better than he himself does, so I think we can this about MM's ideas and Kenner, Theall, Levinson.

From Marchand's bio:
"McLuhan liked to refer to TS Eliot's remark that the content of a poem is like the piece of meat the thief throws to distract the guard dog. The poet uses content to distract the reader so that the magic of the poetic form can do its work subconsciously." -pp.ix-x

MM vs Lester Bangs: "McLuhan missed it: we're not a global village, we're a global outpatient clinic."

"Where flash becomes word and silents selfloud." - FW, 267

Bogus Magus said...

So many people I know say that their ‘English teacher’ had the most influence on their education, that I find it hard to dismiss as a coincidence.

My own 'English teacher' (he had Irish roots) said we had to tackle just three texts at the end of a couple of years, for our exams, but if we thought we could just read those three, then we had ‘another think coming’ (in the vernacular). He assured us that we also needed to read texts written at the same time, other texts by the relevant authors (of course), but we also needed the context of history, the means of communication available (theatre, pamphlets), the zeitgeist (e.g. French and American Revolutions, the First World War), etc.

The English teacher could fulfil his (or her) brief on texts, while introducing cultural and media studies (in my day these disciplines didn’t exist). To me the English teacher I had seemed like a generalist – able to range over politics, sociology, religion, and get us to roam across the mental and social landscape.

If I could have studied Maslow and McLuhan I would probably not have dropped out in 1964. A few years later I could have opted for anthropology...

McLuhan (as you said, Michael) seemed better on his feet, as a lecturer and debater – in the acoustic realm. And he found (or rather, created) his own niche.

michael said...

Wilson has a very wide interpretation of what Anthropology covers, which I find really innaresting. He thought McLuhan was anthropological - humans and their communcation systems!, what is more about anthro than that? - and in the RAW talk about FW and Joseph Campbell he says that Joyce was the "greatest anthropologist who ever lived."

I like the approach your teacher had: the general total picture of the milieu. That's just always made sense to me; from age 14 the idea that one class/area of study had nothing to do with the others - that seemed crazy-making to me.

And I've rebelled and been militant about that ever since.

The narrow-specialist thing seems to be winning right now, and we're all losing for it.


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