Tuesday, August 2, 2011

McLuhan Asserting the JOY of Mere Existence

As the McLuhan McCentenary gathers momentum, and the would-be accountants and scribes-cum-bureaucrats turn McLuhan into an academic fixture, simplify him, and make him boring… it helps to keep in mind MM’s notes to his old friend the Don after the publication of The Medium is the RearView Mirror:
     "As for the book in general, Don, I think you take me too "seriously." It is really more fun to join the quest for discoveries than to try to classify and evaluate the processes in which I am involved. You are, in a sense, trying to translate me into an academic fixture. Perhaps that is what I mean by "serious." On page 222 you refer to my retaining Joyce as my major authority. Please consider that there can be no "authority" where the game is discovery. You do tend to overlook the fact that my books are intended as fun books. Certainly I have no system or theory that I would not scrap instantly in favour of better means of discovery. I was staggered by your page 259 where you suggest that I lack a full understanding of the drama of human relations. I hasten to confess this state as entirely applicable to me. I have been amazed at the range of the current drama and perhaps have been mesmerized rather than illuminated. There is a phrase of Aristotle's: Causae ad invicem causae sunt. This is the drama that I am involved in, and it is very difficult to find a beginning, middle, or end except in the most arbitrary way. What I have found is an enormous enjoyment and thrill in experiencing the events that are on every hand. It seems to me that this steady enjoyment of these events is a sufficient value system insofar as it asserts the joy of mere existence. Naturally it does not rule out the possibility of moral Judgments, in particular, existential situations, and you know that I am not averse to these in private. But we have surely suffered an enormous deluge of this sort of thing in public, which is directly proportional to lack of awareness of what's really going on." 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is quite a nice post