Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Discarnate Man Walking ...




"The global village is populated with 'discarnate' human beings who no longer exist as physical presences; instead the electronic or discarnate person is simply an image or an information pattern, nothing more ... "- Marshall McLuhan


"The effects of discarnate existence are intricate and complex, for if the discarnate world is one of high involvement, it is also a world of profound irony and intellectual distancing. This paradox has to be seen to some extent as a consequence of living at the intersection between participation with the electronic media on the one hand, and the decline of an older, private identity on the other. The electronic world, which McLuhan suggests has retrieved myth and simultaneity, has also displaced private personal identity and thus erased some of the older typographical qualities of seriousness, clarity, linearity and the value of public discourse.

Many of the results of the tension of this paradox are discomforting. We are courted with images. We know at some level that we are being lied to by the advertising images that we consume and that much of televisual information is decontextualized and fragmented. We even congratulate ourselves on our ability to see through the hokum of PR image management. We pride ourselves on our mental superiority. At the same time, our direct and intense involvement with images makes us vulnerable to its exhortations. Unlike discursive language, images do not make arguments or state propositions; they convey a mood, a feeling, a sense of well or ill-being without a clear cut articulation of any issues. The image world is essentially ironic. Like other forms of irony, images say what they do not entirely mean. Nobody is obliged to take them literally, and this creates a false sense of detachment. It is a paradoxical form of perception which can be identified as detached involvement. Images make us think we are detached when we feel highly involved." - Joe Galbo (Communication, York University, Toronto), "McLuhan and Baudrillard: Notes on the Discarnate, Simulations and Tetrads" in McLUHAN STUDIES: Explorations in Culture and Communication, Vol.1, No.1, 1991, p.105

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