Saturday, June 11, 2011

Significant Tetrads by M. McLuhan


[ Marshall McLuhan, et cetera , June, 1977 ]

"These ratios also extend to the four irreducible relations in technology. For example:

1. THE LAWS OF EQUILIBRIUM :

(A) Any input amplifies or intensifies some situation (inflates)

(B) Obsolesces existing homeostasis or balance

(C) Recreates an older mode of equilibrium (e.g., Eliot – “Auditory Imagination”)

(D) When pushed to its limits, the system reverses its modalities

2. METAPHOR :

(A) Enhances awareness of relations

(B) Obsolesces simile, metonymy, connected logic

(C) Retrieves understanding, "meaning" via replay in another mode

(D) Reverses into Allegory

3. TETRAD :

(A) Intensifies awareness of inclusive structural process

(B) Obsolesces logical analysis and "efficient causality"

(C) Retrieval mode: Metaphor

(D) Reversal: technology (hardware) becomes word (software)

4. VERBUM (utterance) :

(A) Intensifies and crystallizes percept - as word (thing)

(B) Obsolesces the merely sensory via perceptual interplay

(C) Retrieval: transference of power from things to word-as-vortex

(D) Reverses into the conceptual (replay of meaning-minus-the-experience )

5. SPOKEN WORD (mirror of the mind: CANON is mirror of the voice, when one voice repeats or reflects what another has stated) :

(A) "Speak that I may see thee." (Title of book by Harold Stahmer)

(B) Obsolesces the subhuman

(C) Retrieves past experience

(D) Group awareness and class structure

6. SLANG :

(A) Intensifies the new

(B) Obsolesces conventional vagueness, spectrum of meanings

(C) Retrieves unconventional primal gesture

(D) Reverses into cliché

7. TALKING DRUM :

(A) Enhances resonant interval, rhythm

(B) Obsolesces the merely vocal

(C) Retrieves gesture and dance

(D) Reverses into song, sob, or scream

8. MIRROR (“mirari” - to wonder) :

(A) Enhances ego by repetition and self-advertisement; echo-matching of a figure-MINUS-its-ground; instrument for SELF-portraiture (Rembrandt, etc.); adjunct of phonetic literacy via visual intensity; (print has the same effect for the user - i.e., self-advertisement)

(B) Obsolesces the corporate mask and corporate appearance (costume): dress replaces costume

(C) Retrieves the mode of Narcissus (magic, metamorphic tunnel vision); mirror as sitter, painter as audience and as admirer

(D) Reverses into "making" process as outlook becomes insight

9. PRINTED WORD :

(A) Amplifies private authorship, the competitive, goal-oriented individual; (letters are an extension of the teeth, the only lineal and repetitive part of the body; as Harold Innis explains, writing on paper leads to military bureaucracies)

(B) Obsolesces slang, dialects, and group identity; separates composition and performance, divorces eye and ear

(C) Retrieves tribal elitism, charmed circles, the "neck verse"; (print makes everyone a reader, and Xerox makes everyone a publisher)

(D) With flip from manuscript into mass production via print, there comes the corporate reading public and the "historical sense"

10. RADIO :

(A) Enhances simultaneous access to the entire planet: "On the air you're everywhere!"

(B) Obsolesces wires and cables and physical bodies; end of rational and lineal; end of Euclidean space; end of Western Time and Space

(C) Retrieves tribal ecological environments - trauma, paranoia, and the primacy of the right hemisphere of the brain; (radio was the hidden ground to the figure of the retrieved Prohibition of drug abuse in the television age)

(D) World reverses into "talking picture" - audience as actor participating in its own actor-experience"


- Marshall McLuhan, et cetera , June, 1977, pp.177-78

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