Sunday, March 13, 2011

PROMPT: “Let me write the songs for the people and I care not who writes their laws”

At the National Conference on Canadian Goals (9-12 September, 1964) McLuhan calls attention to the Beatles as figures of significant authority in the electric age. A song, he notes, creates a pattern for participation and involvement. It is the means for shaping and controlling the feelings of an entire society. A law, by contrast, McLuhan asserts, is a very specialised and limited form of control.

Perhaps, had he lived through the 1980s, McLuhan would have turned his attention to Michael Jackson—the king of pop and Captain EO—who usurped the Beatles. He may even have considered the point of intersection (boundary line?) as realised in the Jackson/McCartney’s duet about the possession of the mysteries of the Dogon:
Every night she walks right in my dreams

Since I met her from the start

I'm so proud I am the only one

Who is special in her heart

The girl is mine

The doggone girl is mine

I know she's mine

Because the doggone girl is mine
It is interesting to think what he would have said, particularly since his own meditations on the Dogon had intensified in the late 1970s. References to the Dogon in McLuhan’s work can be found in: Place and Function of Art in Contemporary Life, the Global Village (cf. Griaule and Dieterlen, and Douglas Fraser's African Art as Philosophy) and in the archive notes for the re-write of his Nashe thesis (includes special reference to Barbara DeMott’s The Spiral and the Checkerboard in Dogon Ritual Life).

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