Friday, September 30, 2011

PROBE: Pulp Theory

"It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous..."

McLuhan's Unconscious from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

Intro to Kroker from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

question technology from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

Buzz Mashes MuM24

McLuhan Under Maui from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

Data Trash from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

Arthur Kroker Rules from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

media fast, fast media from BobDobbsTown on Vimeo.

INVENTORY: 3 Acoustic Spaces

Monday Night Seminar Space by Lewis Kaye by mcluhan2011eu

McLuhan and Parker Through The Vanishing Point by Lewis Kaye by mcluhan2011eu

Thompson_Parker_McLuhan by Lewis Kaye by mcluhan2011eu
These three audio files form part of a multimedia installation THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT by the Canadian digital artists Lewis Kaye and David Rokeby. ( copyright Lewis Kaye.

The files are designed for both the Marshall McLuhan Salon installation and stand-alone listening. You can listen to these files on any sound system, but because they use binaural recordings they are best experienced with headphones, ideally with your portable MP3 player or mobile phone at the sound installation outside the Marshall McLuhan Salon itself. You can read more about the installation here:

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Northrop Frye
154. Technology somehow defined to people who they were, or at least how they saw themselves, in addition to its impact on what they produced. - Peter Drucker

155. The interaction between the "medium" and the "message" is more profound than McLuhan's aphorism has it; neither determines the other, but each shapes the other. - Peter Drucker

156. McLuhan has become known -- and may even see himself -- as the pop culture's Thoreau. - Peter Drucker

157. McLuhan's most important insight is that technology is an extension of man rather than "just a tool." It is not "man's Master." - Peter Drucker

158. Man alone is capable of purposeful non-organic evolution; he makes tools. - Alfred Russel Wallace

159. The human body is the magazine of inventions... All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

160. Printing, like writing, was obsolesced (not obsoleted) by new media. - M.M./B.N.

161. Today, we can predict with certainty that the future of economics is politics, and of politics show business. - B.N. and M. McLuhan

162. Aphorisms, representing a knowledge broken, do invite men to inquire farther; whereas Methods, carrying the show of a total, do secure men, as if they were at farthest. - Francis Bacon

163. McLuhan favoured "aphorisms" to stimulate fresh discovery rather than "methods" to consolidate old knowledge. - B.N.

164. He was celebrated for the wrong reasons in the sixties, and then neglected for the wrong reasons later, so that a reassessment of McLuhan's work and its value is badly needed. - Northrop Frye

PROBE: Upside Down Glasses

"Although it has not been specially studied, there is still the mystery of the Stratton glasses which draw attention to the human habit of turning the world right-side-up, although, in fact, we receive it on the retina upside-down. When first put on, the Stratton glasses turn the world upside down for the wearer. However, after a few hours the wearer finds that the world flips right-side-up again. Then, when he removes the glasses, the world goes upside down again and remains so for a few hours. It was this factor that prompted my question to Al Sheppard, but it appears that sensory psychologists have not studied the Stratton glasses effect in outer space where a state of weightlessness makes right-side-up meaningless.
I want to draw attention at one to a similarly drastic reversal of figure-ground conditions for all of us at the present time. Electronically, we live in a world of simultaneous information in which we share images that arrive instantly from all quarters at once. If acoustic space is a sphere whose centra is everywhere and whose margin is nowhere, this character of acoustic space now extends to all information structures experienced in environments constituted by electric technology. That is, Western and civilized man long accustomed to private and individual outlook and similar legal and political structures, now finds himself acoustically environed. It is as if the little boy in the aeroplane cabin were suddenly to experience himself situated in a boundless and silent surround, "wishing upon a star," as it were. The orientation of the visual man, with his private outlook and individual point of view and personal goals, would all seem to be somewhat irrelevant in the electronic environment. There is another feature of this simultaneous environment with its instant access to all pasts and all futures alike, communication takes place not by mere transportation of data from point to point. It is, in effect, the sender who is sent, and it is the sender who becomes the message, as it were.
The electric and simultaneous world began to manifest its patterns and influences on our awareness by the middle of the 19th century. There is a strange property about innovation and change that can be stated by saying that effects tend to precede the causes. Another way of putting it is to say that the ground tends to come before the figure. In a recent issue of Scientific American (March 1973) the piece on "Bicycle Technology" explains how "the bicycle quite literally paved the way for the automobile."

from - Marshall McLuhan, Reading and The Future of Private Identity

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MoMday Night Seminar 25: Available for FREE Download

McLuhan on Maui 2011 MoMday night Seminar 25. Sept 26, 2011. Available for FREE download here.

Brief outline of themes and topics as they were TWEETED in [sur]real time:

MoM NOW: Signing off. Thanks all. The recording from MoMday 25 will be posted at the MoM site for FREE download:
MoM NOW: inventory: PANIC kids having a PANIC teenage-hood [these are themes and observations here at MoM25 MoM NOW: Derrida...purposeful lays out visual/acoustic dynamic of #McLuhan and reverses it [thing u had to do in the 90s as an intellectual]
MoM NOW: @buzzcoastin and his role.
MoM NOW: KROKER dancing on the toes of the PoMos (based on having done his 20yrs of homework). All poets must labor!
MoM NOW: The last page of War and Peace...(as far as MM went?), as intro to KROKER (also see MM's From Cliché to Archetype).
MoM NOW: The contextual differences between McLuhan and Kroker. By Kroker there is no time happening. McLuhan's age you could still see
MoM NOW: Music as ground and how society reflects music. Music rules in the quantum age. Punk, sampler, heavy metal economy etc...
@chipbody AK : In a fully tragic sense, McLuhan's final legacy was this: he was the playful perpetrator, and then victim, of a sign-crime.
MoM NOW: Mise en abyme and anamorphosis cf metaphors after the fractal.
MoM NOW: Today, analog media adopt the same/similar postures that "humans" did in the 60s & 70s.
mbytz RT @marsHAL9000 @chipbody AK : "McLuhan was then, in the end, trapped in the "figure" of his own making."
MoM NOW: services of human stubborn-ness vs viral positivity. Strategies people would adopt if they don't like being swallowed by virtuality
MoM NOW: McLuhan on the databanks (in 1970s) people would adopt amnesia as a counter-strategy/rebellion.
MoM NOW: Kroker's criticism of the NEW AGE, mantras and crystals. We're not new age...
MoM NOW: Kroker no longer applies [but is worth considering to get us from McLuhan to the PRESENT]
MoM NOW: KROKER is the poet of the @chipbody. New theme...cell phones and its effects on the Hollywood scene cf Kroker.
MoM NOW: KROKER as bi-modern vs paramodern.
MoM NOW: NOW from #McLuhan's Wake to KROKER...cynical seduction and televisual subjects. EXIT from Modernism to Pomo PRIMITIVES
MoM NOW:The man of the inner trip, & inner encounter..."life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards"--Kierkegaard
MoM NOW: The e-politics of cyber-delic bohemia and what some of these figures did when they became aware of disservices of 90s scene
MoM NOW: Mondo 2000 Vs WIRED, R. U. Sirius and C-Theory...figures swept up by the utopian 90s.
MoM NOW: Kroker works FAST, took the fad word and built a manifesto around it...Now that's active living in the present (in trad. of MM)
MoM NOW: Comparing #McLuhan and #Kroker's discourse. Mondo 2000, Jaron Lanier (90s context). Popular memes of virtuality (fad word)
MoM NOW: Mumble Core (film), un-conscious knee jerk reactions to being documented from birth. Remixing and resampling new identities.
MoM NOW: THE camCorder kids, Kroker suggests, will go vague (in 90s). NOW these kids are in college. Denial of chemical body precision.
MoM NOW: digital re-ordering of false memory opens the door on camcorder as WAY of doing philosophy [these are themes at MoM25]
MoM NOW: cam corders role in the extermination of memory [erasure]...and what is the future for these cam corder kids?
MoM NOW: cam corder as viral weapon in the oedipal struggle!? editing and re-editing the family story of the disappeared excremental family
MoM NOW: Rodney King, the excremental family, surveillance of undocumented dimensions of the self and family ... and effects thereof
MoM NOW: ... Surveillance and crash (re phases of TV). The Cam-corder and cancer, what happens to the population under these conditions
MoM NOW: Kroker...and virtual space growing bodies. Kroker on the 90s TV landscape and excremental TV: sacrificial, disciplinary...
MoM NOW: The blatant transformation of the web...anyone could notice it. Watershed shift. Current theme... labor under digital conditions.
MoM NOW: @PaulLev should be at MoM25. : ) Good conversation on post-McLuhan criticism.
MoM NOW: Kroker is good for understanding the squared version of McLuhan's simulated vision. Still groping for a new language & new metaphors
MoM NOW: Question...explain the youth protests on WALL STREET now. [We will return to that]
MoM NOW: Kroker (post-McLuhan) on intellectual violence!
MoM NOW: Communication AS TRANSFORMATION. [sound intrusion...the mis-educated imagination of Marshall #McLuhan.
MoM NOW: #McLuhan in 1970s..."the goal is not to communicate" (just when everyone was propping up communication as solution).
MoM NOW: beyond the merely technological. And this is why #mediaecology has become acceptable. We are post-media
MoM NOW: Moving at warp speed into another geography of culture...of beyonding and recombinant cultures...
MoM NOW: p. 154 Kroker running through the phases..bring us to post-Baudrillard. The politics of post-sacrificial violence.
MoM NOW: Looped ears, partitioned hearing, accelerated ear-drums, digidesigned ears...the education of the cynical ear as education program
MoM NOW: A culture of quantum fluxuation ... where we are at now. EVERYTHING has disappeared. This is KROKERS starting point.
MoM NOW: Trying to preserve the order of the real? Kroker says we are beyond alienation and reification (cf Lucaks sp? & ruling concepts).
MoM NOW: phase (1) beyond simulation, the society of the wave-form. Genes (leaving"*us*) merging with data.
MoM NOW: [@youngblood bings in] Kroker's relationship to Baudrillard and criticism of. "We are beyond simulation..."
MoM NOW: The ground is a technical environment that has come alive. NOW the stages that Kroker lays out. P. 53 of Spasm.
MoM NOW: Virtuality and Mimesis. Kroker mimes the situation with PANIC WRITING. There is no outside virtuality. Ironic distancing/emersion
MoM NOW: Sign sliding, ambiguity and ambivalence...the mimetic dimension of Kroker's language to SHOW the bi-modern polarity
MoM NOW: DataTrash and Spasm...BoB pointing out the tactile interface between man and machine (cf. Kroker's (mis-) use of his own body terms
ime TWEETS from MoMday 25. Current theme is post-#McLuhan and Arthur Kroker.
Kroker describes what happens to everyone when they are online. MM does not address the "andriod meme." Kroker has the LANGUAGE
#MoMday 25 is underway.

PROBE: The Architecture(s) of Fantasy

"What may emerge as the most important insight of the twenty-first century is that man was not designed to live at the speed of light. Without the countervailing balance of natural and physical laws, the new video-related media will make man implode upon himself. As he sits in the informational control room, whether at home or at work, receiving data at enormous speeds — imagistic, sound, or tactile — from all areas of the world, the results could be dangerously inflating and schizophrenic. His body will remain in one place but his mind will float out into the electronic void, being everywhere at once in the data bank. Discarnate man is as weightless as an astronaut but can move much faster. He loses his sense of private identity because electronic perceptions are not related to place. Caught up in the hybrid energy released by video technologies, he will be presented with a chimerical “reality” that involves all his senses at a distended pitch, a condition as addictive as any known drug. The mind, as figure, sinks back into ground and drifts somewhere between dream and fantasy. Dreams have some connection to the real world because they have a frame of actual time and place (usually in real time); fantasy has no such commitment." (McLuhan & Powers, 1989, p. 97)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MuM 25: Post-Vague

MoMday Night Seminar 24: Available for FREE Download

McLuhan on Maui 2011 MoMday night Seminar 24. Sept 19, 2011. Available for FREE download here.

Brief outline of themes and topics as they were TWEETED in [sur]real time:
MoM NOW: We're at the 2hr mark. Recording is now at end. See you all next week. THANK YOU. @Bob Dobbs was on form

MoM NOW: Kroker technologizes the simple sense of seeing, shows the fractal is superseded by anamorphosis...Ion as anamorphic phenomenon
MoM NOW: [themes under discussion] The telematic matrix and the neo-medievalism for the new age, theme parks, the hysterical male
MoM NOW: p. 142 (again)...Combinatorial politics for the network body and the Clinton hologram [exploring Kroker's language for the 90s]
MoM NOW: Taking it back to basics... what does it mean to question technology (going to Heidegger) and then back into Kroker.
MoM NOW: Images of convulsion in the media net, .TIFF psychology, Tiff personalities, virtual personalities (para-modernist psychology)
MoM NOW: Adobe Photoshop optics (in the 90s), Kroker's def of the virtual, the virtual elite[Kroker's Gibson-esque vocab] See @GreatDismal
MoM NOW: Spasm, the hysterical male, the possessed individual, Marilouise Kroker, ...[and a voice intrudes]
MoM NOW: @robbwindow are you listening in? When are you getting in there with your questions and insights
MoM NOW: The legacy of culture the the grievance of 70's-90s literate feminists, Madonna and the post-feminist 80s, the slowness of academia
@spell says 'Munton' could be Mun ton, Mun-ton, Mutton, Minting, Mountain, Mounting, Munition, Mouton, Monotone or Monotony.
MoM NOW: McLuhan and Tom Wolfe (who never got it?), But how come that Kroker never taught McLuhan? Darkmatter's rage at Kroker

[TWITTER is/was currently overloaded so the recovery of [ssur]real time TWEETS of this session have not been recovered]

Monday, September 26, 2011


Marshall McLuhan

  1. "The World is a Global Village," May 18, 1960

    Medium: Television
    Program: Explorations
    Episode: Teenager
    Broadcast Date: May 18, 1960
    Hosts: Alan Millar, John O'Leary
    Guest(s): Marshall McLuhan
    Duration: 8:44

    The book is no longer "king," says Marshall McLuhan, a professor at the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College. McLuhan studies the effects of mass media on behaviour and thought. In this CBC report on the teenager, he discusses how our youth facilitate the global shift from print to electronic media. Television has transformed the world into an interconnected tribe he calls a "global village." There's an earthquake and no matter where we live, we all get the message. And today's teenager, the future villager, who feels especially at home with our new gadgets — the telephone, the television — will bring our tribe even closer together.

    • At the time of this interview McLuhan was working on The Gutenberg Galaxy, in which the idiom "global village" first appeared. It was his most prominent book next to Understanding Media (1964).
    • McLuhan warned that the future global village would be wrought with violence. He figured the electronic process would force people to "re-tribalize," placing excessive stress on individuals and traditional identities.
    • He wrote a draft of The Gutenberg Galaxy in less than a month and the book was published shortly after in 1962. It examines the effects of the printing press on thought and space. McLuhan maintained it lessened the need for manuscripts, put monks and scribes out of work and developed a correct spelling usage.
    • His first book, The Mechanical Bride , published in 1951, maintained that advertisers exploited images of women to sell products.

  2. McLuhan Predicts World Connectivity

    Medium: Television
    Program: Take 30
    Broadcast Date: April 1, 1965
    Hosts: George Garlock, Paul Soles
    Guest(s): Marshall McLuhan
    Duration: 3:25

    We waste too much time racing from home to office, says Marshall McLuhan, an English professor at the University of Toronto who's becoming known internationally for his study on the effects of media. Society's obsession with files and folders forces office workers to make the daily commute from the suburbs to downtown. McLuhan says the stockbroker is the smart one. He learned some time ago that most business may be conducted from anywhere if done by phone.

    McLuhan's prescient knowledge: In the future, people will no longer only gather in classrooms to learn but will also be moved by "electronic circuitry."

    • McLuhan's prediction of a world connected by electronic circuits came true in 1995 when people around the globe began using the Internet, a secret computer network developed by the U.S. Defense Department in the 1970s.
    • After completing a Masters of Arts degree at the University of Manitoba (1934) and a literature degree at Cambridge University (1936), McLuhan was unable to find work at a Canadian university. He left for the United States in 1936, accepting a position at the University of Wisconsin and a year later moved to the University of St. Louis. • In 1939 McLuhan started his MA at Cambridge and by 1943 he completed his PhD in literature.
    • McLuhan originally considered studying engineering but decided against it when he excelled in literature.
    • McLuhan moved back to Canada in 1944 to teach at Assumption College, now the University of Windsor. Two years later he accepted a position at the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College, where he remained until he retired in 1979 after suffering a stroke.
    • During his time at St. Michael's, he took a one-year sabbatical from 1967 to 1968, accepting a chair at New York's Fordham University.

  3. A Pop Philosopher

    Medium: Radio
    Program: Other Voices
    Broadcast Date: June 22, 1965
    Host: Jim Guthro
    Guest(s): Marshall McLuhan
    Duration: 5:26

    The world's first expert on pop — the culture of mini-skirts and hula hoops — discusses his theories on "hot" and "cool" media. Marshall McLuhan adapted these references from the TV jargon "high" and "low definition." High definition means well-defined, sharp and detailed visually, such as a map. Low definition refers to indistinct images scanned by the eye, with which the viewer is left to fill in the blanks, such as a sketch. McLuhan says television is a cool or low definition medium, offering little information but the user participates with most of his senses. He explains that a book is a hot or high definition medium, presenting the user with lots of information at a level of lower sensory participation. Another of McLuhan's pop idioms "the medium is the message" borrows from the era's abstract artists who place the highest importance on the medium with which they work.

    According to McLuhan, television is the canvas for a new environment of all human association and perception.

    • McLuhan exemplified hot media as: radio, print, photographs, movies and lectures; and cool media as: the telephone, speech, cartoons, TV and seminars.
    • The CBC says McLuhan first verbalized the term "the medium is the message" in 1959 at a Vancouver cocktail party he attended after hosting a symposium on music and the mass media. But McLuhan said he coined the phrase two years earlier at a radio conference.
    • Attempting to calm those alarmed by the coming of TV, he said his words were, "You have nothing to fear at all. Your medium is unique, and the medium is the message and will relate to any new medium."

  4. McLuhan for the Masses

    Medium: Radio
    Program: Speaking of Books
    Broadcast Date: March 12, 1967
    Host: Robert Fulford
    Guest(s): Dennis Braithwaite, Robert Gray, Thelma McCormack, Dean Walker
    Duration: 8:00

    In 1967, University of Toronto English professor Marshall McLuhan publishes a book entitled The Medium Is the Massage. McLuhan, a punster who is comfortably self-mocking, makes a play on his own phrase "the medium is the message."

    The famed phrase was first published in his 1964 book Understanding Media. But his critics call the work a cop-out, simply a consumer version of the earlier publication.

    Toronto Daily Star columnist Robert Fulford (pictured left) disagrees, saying the book is very much in McLuhan's style. "You don't need to read all of it. You read bits and pieces. You [can] start in the middle of his book and go to the back."

    • The term "a McLuhanism" was coined to describe the professor's use of aphorisms. Lying on a couch watching television, McLuhan once explained a McLuhanism, "There's a sign hanging on a Toronto junkyard, which reads: 'Help beautify junkyards: Throw something lovely away today.' This kind of bizarre, would-be cynical and paradoxical sort of remark has, I think, some of the characteristics of a McLuhanism."
    • McLuhan's son Eric said his father used aphorisms and puns in order to preserve grammar and rhetoric. It was an attempt to warn of the destruction of literature even though his critics believed he promoted it.
    • In his 1998 book, McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand claimed "writing books was not McLuhan's forte" and suggested the professor relied on assistants and co-authors to piece together his notes for publication.
    • One biographer called 1967 the unofficial Year of McLuhan. That year, he was offered endless corporate speaking invitations, including from IBM, the American Marketing Association and AT&T, as well as three honorary doctorates to add to the two he already had. In March, NBC aired a report called "This is Marshall McLuhan," and he signed contracts with New York publishers for his books Culture is Our Business and From Cliché to Archetype.

  5. The Destroyer of Civilization

    Medium: Radio
    Program: CBC Monday Evening
    Broadcast Date: July 8, 1974
    Hosts: Malcolm Muggeridge, George Woodcock
    Duration: 1:33

    British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge and Canadian historian George Woodcock (pictured left) discuss civilization and literature tonight in Vancouver. Does television mean the end of the book? Immediately, Marshall McLuhan's philosophies are brought into the discussion. They speak of McLuhan's theory that literature is finished. Muggeridge and Woodcock suggest that disseminating this idea contributes to the demise of the book and that McLuhan is an "actual destroyer of our civilization."

    • George Woodcock (1912-1995) was a Canadian historian, journalist and author who made radio documentaries for the CBC in the 1960s and 70s. He was well-known for his books on the history of anarchism. As a champion of literary values he founded the journal Canadian Literature in 1959. Woodcock refused the Order of Canada because he said he only accepted awards given by his colleagues and peers.
    • British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) worked in various capacities, including as a Washington correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and an editor for the Calcutta Statesman. He was known as an insightful media personality whose commentary often took on a cynical tone.
    • By the 1970s universities around the world invited McLuhan to guest lecture. He began travelling tirelessly but not without developing "a deep dislike of travel and dislocation of all sorts."
    • Speaking engagements included trips to the Bahamas, Fiji, Greece, Monte Carlo, New York, Puerto Rico and Switzerland.
    • Even though McLuhan had become famous globally, he had many critics. The New York Herald Tribune's review of Understanding Media stated that his work lacked quality.
    • Once, McLuhan tried to patch up an interview he suspected had not gone well with the Manchester Guardian. After the interview McLuhan said to the reporter, "We are fellow literates." The reporter replied, "I hope not."

  6. Growing up at the McLuhans'

    Medium: Television
    Program: 90 Minutes Live
    Broadcast Date: Dec. 13, 1977
    Host: Peter Gzowski
    Guest(s): Marshall McLuhan
    Duration: 6:59

    In Peter Gzowski's undergraduate days, freshmen slipped copies of Marshall McLuhan's The Mechanical Bride under dormitory doors. The fascination was with the raunchy title, says Gzowski, because the book published in 1951 was more about advertising and less about sex. Gzowski is an adoring interviewer today, having much respect for the professor who is the only academic in the world right now studying the effects of media. They speak about politics and Gzowski attempts to find out whether McLuhan failed grade six.

    • The title of McLuhan's first book The Mechanical Bride (1951) was inspired by Marcel Duchamp's painting The Bride Striped by Her Bachelors, Even.
    • Marshall's younger brother Maurice McLuhan told Derrick de Kerckhove, a student and assistant of the professor's, in a 1980 CBC Radio documentary that Marshall had failed grade six.
    • At the time of this clip, McLuhan remained a devout Roman Catholic, attending mass daily, though in a 1972 diary entry he wrote: "Cat-gut and cat-calls cum Gregorian. The mass gets longer, limper, lumpier."
    • McLuhan converted to Catholicism in university at the age of 25 after a friend asked him why he was not in the Church.

  7. Medium: Radio
    Program: IDEAS
    Episode: Marshall McLuhan: What If He Is Right?
    Broadcast Date: Nov. 17, 1980
    Host: Derrick de Kerckhove
    Guest(s): Pierre Elliott Trudeau
    Duration: 2:11

    Both are intellectual, witty and iconoclastic. It's not surprising Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Marshall McLuhan are friends. In one letter to Trudeau, McLuhan wrote there was a subconscious reason the former prime minister has grown a beard while in Opposition. McLuhan believed it was because Trudeau wanted to cool his image several degrees. Trudeau agrees and explains how McLuhan suggested looking for a razor if he wanted to "hot up" his political image again.

    • McLuhan was also friends with Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and corresponded with Yousuf Karsh, Ann Landers and Ezra Pound.
    • McLuhan applied his hot and cool media theories to political candidates. He said Trudeau was "cool" because he had charisma and grace, whereas American president Richard Nixon who lacked charm, especially on television, was "hot."
    • Democrat Al Gore grew a beard and put on weight after Republican George Bush defeated him in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

  8. Homage to the Runner

    Medium: Radio
    Program: Stereo Morning
    Broadcast Date: Jan. 6, 1981
    Reporter: Sam Solecki
    Duration: 4:09

    "The Runner's" race ends on Dec. 31, 1980. Marshall McLuhan has died of a stroke in his sleep. His colleague Sam Solecki names him The Runner, the only one "on the move" while other professors published their "usually dull papers." The long-limbed McLuhan used to stride about the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College, flanked by students and faculty attempting to keep up with his constant flow of ideas.

    Solecki points out McLuhan was born in the early 1900s with the generation of giants — Donald Creighton, Robertson Davies, Northrop Frye — and says, "without him, our intellectual life will not only be duller but radically impoverished."

    • McLuhan had already suffered a stroke in the fall of 1979 that left him without most of his motor functions.
    • On the evening of his death, McLuhan had dinner guests and was in "great spirits," afterward smoking cigars and watching television.
    • When Marshall was eight years old, his paternal grandfather, James McLuhan, also died of a stroke. Marshall was often compared to his grandfather who was described as a person of remarkable intelligence with an insatiable curiosity, enjoying everything from philosophy to the polka.

  9. Understanding McLuhan

    Medium: Television
    Program: CBC Television News
    Broadcast Date: June 14, 1995
    Reporter: Mike Wise
    Guest(s): Paul Benedetti, Derrick de Kerckhove
    Duration: 1:33

    In 1995 Marshall McLuhan's idea of an interconnected world run by a circuitry system is no longer just a theory. A new medium called "the Internet" sounds a lot like McLuhan's ideas of world connectivity. In the 1960s the media theorist and University of Toronto professor predicted a system similar to the Internet. Derrick de Kerckhove, once a student and assistant of McLuhan's, says the information highway has caught up with us. In this CBC TV clip, de Kerckhove explains: "I think that McLuhan had predicted that. Had we all read McLuhan carefully ... we'd probably be faster and better, more ready to get on with it."

    • As early as 1964 McLuhan predicted there would be a "discarnate experience" with the electronic age. He believed people would develop relationships through electronic means alone.
    • In January 1996 Wired magazine listed Marshall McLuhan under its masthead with the job title "Patron Saint."
    • Derrick de Kerckhove worked with McLuhan at the University of Toronto's Centre for Culture and Technology.
    • The professor founded the Centre for Culture and Technology in 1963. After his death the centre remained open, run by his disciples, including de Kerckhove.
    • De Kerckhove has since translated McLuhan's From Cliché to Archetype into French.

Terence McKenna on Marshall McLuhan
  1. Riding Range with Marshall McLuhan(Duration: 60 minutes)
    Presented: At The Esalen Institute, Big Sur CA. (1995)
  2. Marshall McLuhan: Shamans Among the Machines (Duration: 60 minutes)
    Recorded 1999

The Medium is the Massage

1. Side A

2. Side B

Tracks 1-2 From the LP "The Medium is the Massage"
(Columbia Records, late 1960s)

The Medium is the Massage; with Marshall McLuhan.
Long-Playing Record 1968.
Produced by John Simon.
Conceived and co-ordinated by Jerome Agel.
Written by Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel.
Columbia CS 9501, CL2701.

The Medium is the Massage From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a book co-created by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel. It was published by Bantam books in 1967 and became a bestseller and a cult classic.

The book itself is 160 pages in length and composed in an experimental, collage style with text superimposed on visual elements and vice versa. Some pages are printed backwards and are meant to be read in a mirror (see mirror writing). Some are intentionally left blank. Most contain photographs and images both modern and historic, juxtaposed in startling ways.

The book was intended to make McLuhan's philosophy of media, considered by some incomprehensible and esoteric, more accessible to a wider readership through the use of visual metaphor and sparse text. In its artistic approach it is considered cutting edge, even by today's standards.

The book's title is actually a mistake according to McLuhans' son, Eric. The actual title was "The Medium is the Message" but it came back from the printer with the first "e" in message misprinted as an "a". McLuhan is said to have thought the mistake to be supportive of the point he was trying to make in the book and decided to leave it be. Later readings have interpreted the word in the title as a pun meaning alternately "massage, "message," and "mass age". Its message, broadly speaking, is that historical changes in communications and craft media change human consciousness, and that modern electronics are bringing humanity full circle to an industrial analogue of tribal mentality, what he termed "the global village". By erasing borders and dissolving information boundaries, electronic telecommunications are fated to render traditional social structures like the Nation state and the University irrelevant. Prejudice and oppression are also doomed by the unstoppable pressure of instant, global communication.

While today it looks like a black and white copy of Wired magazine, and its prose reads more or less like boilerplate for any of the heady techno-utopian pronouncements of the 1990s, it should be noted that it presaged the development of the original ARPANET by two years, and preceded the widespread civilian use of the Internet by almost twenty. For this and other reasons McLuhan is often given the moniker "prophet."

There is also an LP based on this book, put out by Columbia Records in the late 60s and produced by John Simon, but otherwise keeping the same credits as the book.


Marshall McLuhan on the Dick Cavett Show in December 1970

Marshall McLuhan appeared on the Dick Cavett Show in December of 1970 along with Truman Capote and Chicago Bears running back, Gayle Sayers. Both Capote and Sayers participated in the discussion with McLuhan.

This recording was made on reel-to-reel audio tape in 1970 and directly transferred to computer in 2005. Unfortunately, the exact date of the show was not noted, except that the show did take place before Christmas.

Speaking Freely hosted by Edwin Newman features Marshall McLuhan 4 Jan 1971, Public Broadcasting/N.E.T.

"Where would you look for the message in an electric light?" Spend nearly an hour with University of Toronto professor of English, Marshall McLuhan, as he discusses electronic technology, transportation, and communications. Also probing the issues of acoustic and personal space, McLuhan expresses his thoughts about print media and where it's headed. Author of several books including The Medium is the Message, Canadian-born McLuhan was also director of the Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. Originally aired on PBS-TV, 4 January, 1971 at 8:00 p.m. (Philadelphia, PA area), McLuhan appeared on "Speaking Freely," hosted by NBC's Edwin Newman.

Download the file. Take notes. Observe how current and relevant much of McLuhan's message is in today's Internet world.

Marshall McLuhan Issue of Aspen Magazine

PROBE: Archetypalization

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" I can now put cliché to archetype in a few words :

Cliché = ground minus figure.

Archetype = figure minus ground.

The book is how each process one another instantly."

- McLuhan note to Carl Williams, 17 February 1971

"Another theme of the Wake [Finnegans Wake] that helps in the understanding of the paradoxical shift from cliché to archetype is 'past time are pastimes.' The dominant technologies of one age become the games and pastimes of a later age. In the 20th century, the number of 'past times' that are simultaneously available is so vast as to create cultural anarchy. When all the cultures of the world are simultaneously present, the work of the artist in the elucidation of form takes on new scope and new urgency. Most men are pushed into the artist's role. The artist cannot dispense with the principle of 'doubleness' or 'interplay' because this type of hendiadys dialogue is essential to the very structure of consciousness, awareness, and autonomy."

INVENTORY: Unpublished Tetrads from Laws of Media

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In 1988, during editorial meetings preparing Laws of the Media for the press, some painful decisions had to be taken. The book was too long. Something had to go, and the obvious place to make cuts was the fourth chapter, the large collection of "laws." The first chapter had already lost about 40-50 pages, with salutary results. The second, third and fifth chapters were tight and left alone. The fourth, though, had many dozens of examples of the four "laws" as they applied to the widest range of topics.

In conference with the editors, the decision was taken to leave in the final manuscript only enough to illustrate the versatility of the four "laws" as they relate to human innovation. First, since the book was conceived as a successor to Understanding Media, "laws" were included for each of the media in that earlier book. That done, additional "laws" were included that illustrated the range of their flexibility and some of the topics related to their nature and application.

Following are a few of the "laws" from the original manuscript (1978) that were omitted from the published Laws of Media in the interest of saving paper and keeping down the cost of the book. In the top right corner of several reproduced below there appears the words "private body" or "corporate body": in the original manuscript, most of the "laws" had this notation (omitted from the version eventually published). Its purpose was to indicate whether the topic was an extension of the body private or public. Occasionally, an additional prompt appeared : this was to indicate the part of the body extended.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rebel Without A Pause : A Defense of McLuhan Against His Admirers

Rebel Without A Pause :

" Every society honors its live conformists
and its dead troublemakers."

But the pressures of the challenge wrought by the new electronic media have been not only intense but extremely challenging to the self-definition of the Academy, and so anyone like McLuhan appearing to preach the new gospel of the electronic faith would seem to them not only an apostate but the incarnation of Satan himself. As a result, both individual and concerted efforts were brought to bear in trying to suppress McLuhan’s new doctrine and to stanch its spread. At the University of Toronto in particular, the reaction to McLuhan’s celebrity was most intense. It got to the point that McLuhan warned his graduate students to erase any trace of his work in their theses and dissertations for fear of reprisals by their review committees. According to Eric McLuhan, “there were at least two concerted efforts (quiet ones, of course) to collect enough signatures to have his tenure revoked.” Such efforts would seem to put the lie to the shopworn contention of the Academy that the rationale for the institution of tenure is the protection of freedom of thought; in reality, there is no more hidebound apparat devoted to thought control than the self-perpetuating survival of the medieval guild known as the academic tenure committee.
Much of the criticism seemed validated in the minds of McLuhan’s critics by several characteristics of his approach that went decidedly against the academic grain. The fact that McLuhan developed, or intensified, these characteristics specifically as part of his point that traditional modes of learning were dead served only further to madden his detractors. One of these characteristics was the peculiarly gnomic nature of his pronouncements, formed specifically in imitation of the aphoristic style of Francis Bacon in probing the contours of any question, as distinguished from adopting a fixed point of view and proceeding linearly from there. A second was his often blithe attitude toward strict factual accuracy; as he once stated to Richard Kostelanetz, “If a few details here and there are wacky,…[i]t doesn’t matter a hoot.” Another was his refusal to explain himself any further than his original pronouncement; he was often taken to say to a objector, “OK, if you didn’t like that one, here’s another one.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

PROMPT: Smoke and Mirrors

Buzz Reads War and Peace in the Global Village

PROBE: Monster Magnet

Q : Is television a monster?

MM : "Yes. It’s literally a tribal monster like the Minotaur from Greek mythology trapped in a maze of sensation. This Bull-man monster swallowed humans lost in the maze. And that’s exactly what TV does. Our young are fed to the Minotaur every day of the year."— McLuhan, "McLuhan on the Evils of TV”


"Know-how is so eager and powerful an ally of human needs that it is not easily controlled or kept in a subordinate role, even when directed by spectacular wisdom. Harnessed merely to a variety of blind appetites for power and success, it draws us swiftly into that labyrinth at the end of which waits the minotaur. So it is in this period of passionate acceleration that the world of the machines begins to assume the threatening and unfriendly countenance of an inhuman wilderness even less manageable than that which confronted prehistoric man." – McLuhan, Mechanical Bride.

This is a MoM 'reProbe' ... Find the initial probe here :

PROBE: Hammer

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PROBE: Revelling in the Quantum Foam

“If you were drunk, and it was the middle of summer, Saturday night about 11:30, and you had your comfortable clothes on, and you were in a small beer joint dancing, and it's crowded (temperature about 82°), and the local Rock & Roll combo (Ruben and The Jets) is playing Green Onions (or something that sounds just like it... all full of parallel fifths moving monotonously through a root progression I, IIb, IV, IIIb... or something like that, over & over again), and the guitar player goes to take a solo and stomps his fuzztone into action and turns his amplifier all the way up so his guitar squeals and screams and sounds absolutely vicious, and he bends and mangles the strings & starts to really get it on, gyrating and going totally berserk and playing his ass off and everythin'... if you were drunk, and all this was going on, and you were out there dancing and sweating and really feeling the music (every muscle & fiber of your being, etc., etc.) and the music suddenly got louder and more vicious... louder and viciouser than you could ever imagine (and you danced harder and got sweaty & feverish) and got your unsuspecting self worked up into a total frenzy, bordering on electric Buddha nirvana total acid freak cosmic integration (one with the universe), and you were drunk & hot & not really in control of your body or your senses (you are possessed by the music), and all of a sudden the music gets EVEN LOUDER... and not only that: IT GETS FASTER & YOU CAN'T BREATHE (But you can't stop either; it's impossible to stop) and you know you can't black out because it feels too good... I ask you now, if you were drunk and all this stuff is happening all over the place and somebody (with all the best intentions in the world) MADE YOU STOP so he could ask you this question: "Is a force this powerful to be overlooked by a society that needs all the friends it can get?" Would you listen? “ – Frank Zappa.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

PROBE: Dali's Tactile Bullseye

"The cover of the June 8 - 14 TV Guide is a Dali masterpiece. It manifests in detail the tactile quality of the TV image. The extension of the central nervous system via electricity is environmentally indicated in the upper right corner by a segment of brain tissue. The two thumbs with the TV images on the nails are carefully separated to indicate the "gap" or interval constituted by touch. The age of tactility via television and radio is one of innumerable interfaces or "gaps" that replace the old connections, legal, literate and visual."

- McLuhan letter to Pierre Trudeau, June 12 1968

Research :
Special Thanks to Scott Woods' McLuhansandbox

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PROBE : Sells Like Spleen Ear It

"The Frye approach to criticism as a science turns from the training of taste and discrimination by literary means to the collective producer-orientation of the new mass media of the electronic age. The archetypal approach is in the groove of collective conformity and of group dynamics...

Professor Frye has interpreted the message of the new media aright. Print had in the sixteenth century commanded private interpretation. The fixed stance of the private silent reader, identical with perspective in painting, suggested subliminally the need for an individual view point in all matters...

For four centuries we have been conditioned by the printed word as snap-shot of the postures of the individual mind. Segmental analysis of all motion, mental and industrial, has long been for us the norm of education and of civilized life. But in recent decades Western culture has spawned totally new techniques of snap-shotting the postures of the group mind. "


Inside Blake and Hollywood
by Marshall McLuhan


-Frye, Northrop. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947.

-Tyler, Parker. Magic and Myth of the Movies. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1947.

There is a sufficient similarity of approach to the subject in these two books to justify their being bracketed for discussion. They serve to remind us again that one of the principal intellectual developments of the past century or so has been the supplanting of linear perspective by a multi-locational mode of perception. Among critics of Picasso this new mode is sometimes referred to as a "circulating point of view" in which a view from above may suddenly become a view from everywhere at once. When this mode appears in a work of philosophy (as it does for the first time in E. Gilson's The Unity of Philosophical experience) the possibilities for compression and for organic interrelation of facts, pressures, and ideas is altogether a new thing. It represents a real advance in the tools of intellectual analysis. And that this new way of making and also of deciphering ideographs should be inseparable from the achievement of Vico and Freud is only natural. For it has come about through the awareness of the unity of mythopoeic activity in history and art, and it has given modern man a sense once more of the simultaneity of all history seen at the psychological and intellectual level, as well as of the close bonds between all members of the human family past and present.

Blake's view was that "history as linear time is the great apocrypha of mystery which has to be rejected" since "the whole of human life is seen and understood as a single mental form" (340). The linear view of history began with Petrarch and Leonardo da Vinci and ended with Gibbon and Hume. So obsessive a metaphor as that of the linear perspective is important enough to deserve some explanation, especially since we are now deep in the process of extricating ourselves from it. For it still holds firmly among such inheritors of eighteenth-century rationalism as the sociologists and the Marxists.

Briefly, the linear metaphor grew up in connection with the medieval notion of the translatio studii, the continuous transmission of culture from Greece to Rome, from Rome to Britain and to the court of Charlemagne. So that Abelard could regard Paris in the Twelfth Century as the lineal descendant and the sole legatee of Athens. This notion of translatio studii, however, was curiously jolted by the quarrel which developed between the new scholastic theology and the traditional patristic or humanist theology. The quarrel began in the Twelfth Century between Abelard and St. Bernard. Two hundred years later Petrarch had reduced and confused the matter to merely nationalist terms. The schoolmen, whom he regarded as the barbarians or the Goths and Huns of learning, had met with no opposition outside Chartres, Orleans, and Italy. L. J. Paetow summed it up concisely: "Now the lowest ebb in the study of ancient classical literature occured in the century which preceded Petrarch. So low it was that he and his contemporaries believed that the dry and barren period on which they had fallen must have extended back for centuries to the last days of classic Latin literature." It is only in this context that Petrarch's celebrated statement about his being a man placed between two ages makes sense. And it is this passage which focuses that sense of linear perspective which still ruled the imagination of Gibbon.

E. Gilson discusses the entire question in chapter X of his revision of La Philosophie au Moyen Age, explaining in its context (728) Petrarch's statement that he was "placed on the frontier of two peoples looking both backwards and forwards." The supposition has been that these "two peoples" were those of the Middle Ages and those of the Renascence-those of a dead past and a living future. But Petrarch refers to a living past and a dead future, exactly as Gibbon does. Behind him he saw a great antiquity followed by centuries which gradually relinquished the ancient inheritance. Before him he could see only a period in which the already dim and blurred memories of antiquity were to pass into a final night of oblivion.

Here, at any rate, is the origin of the metaphor of simple linear perspective which yields in Vico to a complex genetic metaphor that becomes the intellectual means of being simultaneously present in all periods of the past and all mental climates of the modern world as well. For Vico contains Wordsworth, Freud, and Malinowski by anticipation in answering the question: "Exactly how do people so remote in time or culture or condition as Lucy Gray or Ivanhoe or a neurotic or a Trobriander feel? What is the world they know?"

Professor Frye takes us inside Blake in this way. Fearful Symmetry supplants entirely the work of Middleton Murry and Foster Damon, and of the other exegetists of Blake. For having installed himself inside Blake he does a detailed job of exploration and is able to speak of current issues as we might suppose Blake would have spoken. And, indeed, "the voice of the bard" is heard with typical emphasis on most contemporary matters, artistic and political. It is at once clear that Blake was a great psychologist with clear insight into the mechanism of human motives and of historical periods-his own included. And his psychological insights grew into an all-embracing system which was nothing short of ferocious in its rationalistic completness.

That is the paradox of Blake-that he so largely became the image of the thing he hated and fought, namely Lockean rationalism and abstraction. In Professor Frye's words:

Blake was, it is obvious, so conscious of the shape of his central myth that his characters become almost diagrammatic. The heroism of Orc or the ululation of Ololon do not impress us as human realities, like Achilles or Cassandra, but as intellectual ideographs. It all depends on whether the reader has a taste for this kind of metaphysical poetry or not... what there is in Blake is a dialectic, an anatomy of poetry, a rigorously unified vision of the essential forms of the creative mind piercing through its features to its articulate bones (145).

Unlike Vico and Joyce but like Freud, Blake mistook a psychology for metaphysics and theology. His rigorous monism had no place for "the many" save as modes of primal, divine energy. The created world is a part of fallen god-head and is essentially evil. Existence and corruption are the same. This makes for simplicity, intensity and inclusiveness of outlook, but it may not have been of as much use to Blake the poet as he himself supposed. It made Blake an encyclopedic allegorist but it also led him to attach a final rather than a provisionary value to his allegorical imagery. That is, Blake was not so much concerned with the visual and dramatic character of his imagery as with its intellectual meaning. So that reading Professor Frye is a more satisfactory thing for most of Blake than reading Blake himself. The great poetic allegorist like Dante proceeds by simile, although the entire work is a huge metaphor. Blake proceeds by metaphor or identity of tenor and vehicle and ends up with a work which requires a key to open. His intellectual structure is not realized dramatically in the "major" poems but has to be set beside them. Professor Frye does not regard this as a defect since his business in his book is exegesis and not criticism:

No student of Blake can fail to be deeply impressed by the promptness with which Blake seized on the machine as the symbol of a new kind of human existence developing in his own time. His poetry is an imaginative mechanism designed to fight the machine age; it has the "wheels within wheels" of Ezekiel's vision which will reverse the direction of the "wheel without wheel with cogs tyrannic Moving by compulsion each other..." (359).

Professor Frye's inside view of Blake in which every part of the bard's thought is seen to have a strict etiolation and coherence is perhaps in need of some further development from the outside. Blake is psychologically in the tradition of patristic allegory unbroken from Philo of Alexander to the Cambridge Platonists, and he needs to be closely compared and contrasted with Vico. But much gratitude is due to Professor Frye for having brought into a conclusive focus all the elements of Blake's thought and feeling.

Parker Tyler is the first American to give serious attention to popular culture as it is expressed by Hollywood and Magic and Myth of the Movies is a sequel to The Hollywood Hallucination. Mr. Tyler substitutes perception for abuse or passivity-the only current attitudes to Hollywood as to all popular culture. Just how it has been possible for those who regard Joyce and Eliot with respect to exempt themselves from a rigorous evaluation of every phase of commercial culture is perhaps only to be explained by the obsession with mechanistic abstraction which an industrial society imposes. For example, the Ford motor company has in its museum working models of all locomotives and all motor cars ever made. But it has no record of production methods employed in the manufacture of its early cars-a fact which rightly shocked S. Giedion. However, the kind of repercussion which every phase of the technological world may have on the artist and on the modes of our sensibility is illustrated frequently in Moholy-Nagy's Vision in Motion. Aropos of the seemingly disparate themes of Joyce and Ford cars, he points out on page 350, for example, that "one can find in Joyce's writings analogies to contemporary technological terms... manifolded word agglutinations (often constructed from German, Hungarian or other composites...) ... similar to the industrial process of assemblage..." Joyce, of course, was extremely conscious of scores of inter-related analogies in the modes of his artistic activity. And Eliot is explicit:

It was here, in the kitchen in the passage,
In the mews in the barn in the byre in the market place
In our veins our bowels our skulls as well
As well as in the plotting of potentates.

Committed to an atomistic conception of himself and society, the American intellectual doesn't really credit these things. Movies aren't avant garde; therefore they are insignificant. This, in a word, is why the avant garde has to be imported. So Mr. Tyler's books have been given a gentle brush-off in spite of his showing that vulgar and commercial entertainment is often of great psychological complexity and that there is nothing in high art which doesn't appear in some confused mode in low art.

A major postulate of Mr. Tyler is illustrated in his statement that:

The rudimentary camera trick, for instance, that of appearing and disappearing persons, which occurs in the wink of an eye, is a visualization of the correspondence between matter and spirit that was a cardinal tenet in the beliefs of primordial savages. (255-56)

This sets The Golden Bough right in the Hollywood Bowl. It further implies that every mode of technology is a reflex of our most intimate psychological experience. The pointillage of Seurat is a derivative of Humean association psychology and exfoliates again in modern wire-photos. Movie technique has obvious relations with the panoramic devices of Scott and Tolstoy. And the close-up, as well as darkroom projection, can be traced back to the Rembradt "point of light" school in the same way. If this should seem "merely mechanical" it can be shown that the entire conception of characterization in novel and drama since the mid-Eighteenth Century is similarly based on sensationalism divorced from any scheme of social and moral references. That is merely another point of view from which to observe the "picturesque" characters of modern fiction from Clarissa onwards. They stand in a palpitating focus of self-awareness.

It is in this sort of way that Mr. Tyler takes us inside Hollywood with its mushrooming symbolism. Exuberance of semi-conscious and uncontrolled symbols on one hand, and shrewd technical and commercial control on the other. For all the conscious intellectual activity of an industrial society is directed to non-human ends. Its human dimensions are systematically distorted by every conscious resource while the unconscious and commercially unutilized powers struggle dimly to restore balance and order by homeopathic means.

It is for this reason that Hollywood dominates the psychic life of America. It provides the night-dream actuality. Mr. Tyler's great merit is that he explores the multiple modes of the movie night-dream as it is his limitation seldom if ever to emerge from that dream. He is quite frank about his purpose not to "analyze the best movies as the artistic best but as the mythological best," and like Mr. William Empson he has no technique of evaluation of the products he explores. Nor does he consider many of the moral, social or political wherefores of Hollywood's deep artistic anemia. Thus in discussing the anomalous excellence of S. Ansky's The Dybbuk he can find no criterion for placing the essential Hollywood impotence. He rightly finds The Song of Bernadette repulsive but his tools of analysis do not carry him to the point where he can isolate the cliché and timidity as rooted in the death of all intellectual impulse. This in turn is related to Mr. Tyler's lack of expressed awareness of the perennial uses and necessity of art in maintaining social viability. He does a fine job of reading the enigmas of the fever chart from the movies but of the positive function of popular art for good or ill he says nothing.

But this should not be too disturbing since there has been no lack of critics who have proclaimed the uplifting qualities of the movies without having noticed anything whatever of what was going on in them. Mr. Tyler is right, therefore, to concentrate attention on the complexity and eminent snideness of movie art as preliminary to opening up a plenary critique.

Have with You to Madison Avenue or The Flush-Profile of Literature

by Marshall McLuhan

[Unpublished review of Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism]

It is natural for the literary man to underestimate the relevance of Professor Frye's archetypal approach to literature. The man of letters expects the literary form to offer a good deal of private consumer satisfaction, and there is nothing private or consumer-oriented in Professor Frye's approach. The Frye's approach to criticism as a science turns from the training of taste and discrimination by literary means to the collective producer-orientation of the new mass media of the electronic age. The archetypal approach is the groove of collective conformity and of group-dynamics, which may explain why a uniquely opaque and almost unreadable book should have become a book-of-the-month choice.

In the same way, the off-Madison Avenue of the run-of-the-mill graduate student finds it quite unimportant that he does not understand Professor Frye. He knows that Frye is "with it" and that group participation or togetherness in the aura of such leadership is far more satisfying than private interpretation,

Professor Frye has interpreted the message of the new media aright. Print had in the sixteenth century commanded private interpretation. The fixed stance of the private silent reader, identical with perspective in painting, suggested subliminally the need for an individual viewpoint in all matters. Hamlet confronted by his father's ghost asserts that "thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain." Then he snatches his "tables": Meet it is I set it down, that one may smile and smile and be a villain; At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark."

It had occurred to Montaigne that the snap-shotting of the impressions of the mind was the real message of the printed and written form. Shakespeare certainly made that point in this scene, even joking over the Montaigne technique of doubt, "At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark." For four centuries we have been conditioned by the printed word as snap-shot of the postures of the individual mind. Segmental analysis of all motion, mental and industrial, has long been for us the norm of education and of civilized life.

But in recent decades Western culture has spawned totally new techniques of snap-shotting the postures of the group-mind. Statistical charts of group postures reached a kind of lyric pause or "moment out of time" with the discovery of the "flush-profile" which put the shaky intuitions of individual students of public attitudes on a scientific basis. The flush-profile which hoicks the poet out of his ivory tower and puts him in the partners' room of B.B.D. and O., as it were, is derived from the data of the city water engineer. At program breaks the additional water used in toilet-flushing was seen to provide a reliable archetype of the group posture of mind for that program.

Now it is obvious that such an archetype or profile of collective awareness offers small consumer satisfaction in itself. And Professor Frye would disclaim the notion that even the most diaphanous archetype could afford consumer satisfaction to a reader. These profiles or nuclear models of collective postures are not literary bon-bons for passive savoring but rather scientific data suited to the austere producer-oriented mind, data necessary to the public relations engineer and the shaper and ruler of societies. Like Sputnik they have a hook in outer space whence they relay signals to us, blip calling unto blip in the universe of the pictorialized word.

It is natural, therefore, that Professor Frye should have betaken himself to the anthropologist and to the folk-lorist for his profiles of literature. These students of pre-literate man provide the scientific archetypes or snapshots of the postures of collective man which now recommend themselves to many keen spirits in the post-literate age of conformity and of global stereotypes. For the characteristic mode of learning and knowing since the telegraph offers a pattern of instantaneous inter-cultural x-ray, very different from the enclosed spaces of literature. Man is no longer monad but nomad.

A literary man describing a people past or present adopts a slant, a point of view. He selects. He structures his image with syntactical bonds of perspective in the style of Hume, Gibbon, or Macaulay. But a century ago, with the photograph, there came new presentation. The photo, as William Ivins explains in Prints and Visual Communication, permits total statement without syntax. And the student of pre-literate man found this kind of non-personal recording of collective social behaviour very needful. Not the personal point of view, nor the partiality of perspective and self-expression, but the catalyst role of the non-personal chemical medium became the natural bias of the social sciences and symbolist artists alike.

That is why the archetypal profiles of literature offered as a new science of criticism may strike literary people as too much like the world of Mighty Mouse, of Space Cadet, and of the Madison Avenue portraitist of public postures. They are not quick to see that Professor Frye has devised a kind of nomadic bookcase for the cosmic man of today who is inevitably a mental D.P. A bedouin's rug of timeless patterns which include all possible arrangements of human experience is indispensable equipment today.

Seen from the split-level picture-window House of Archetypes, the receding world of Western literature may look appallingly like a silent movie on a late TV show. But for those who recognize the importance of aligning all education with the dynamics of the new mass media, the deft and decent burial of literature provided by the Anatomy of Criticism will come as an exhilirating climax to the slower-paced preliminaries of the literary centuries.

Professor Frye is not, perhaps, sufficiently cognizant of one major resource adjacent to his enterprise. The world of ancient and medieval rhetoric was vibrant with archetypes referred to as "the figures of rhetoric." These figures are, it is true, postures only of the individual mind which had become accessible to observation and control after phonetic writing. The written word arrested the mental and verbal flux of the fast-talking Mediterraneans and gave them the means of classifying hundreds of mental postures such as chiasmus, catachresis, and scatalogie. These figures or postures of the mind were like so many whales left immobilized amidst the shallows and sands of the written word. And in due time their odor began to be abroad in the land. Writing, however, as a means of capturing, or perhaps of fashioning, the postures of the individual mind has proved to be fatally committed to the fostering of individual expression and eloquence. It is flawed by preference for the humanistic and might well prove to be but a feeble prop for a scientific enterprise such as that of Professor Frye. As it is, even without the aid of such a pipe-line of natural gas from the farther shores of rhetoric, Frye has secured a vehicle which by-passes all rhetorical expression of this personal type, and makes possible the deploying of the total resources of pre-literate culture on to the Madison Avenue testing ground. This in turn will greatly hasten the mopping up of remnants of private awareness and expression such as now give a confused and unsettled character to the literary and educational scene. So that what has here begun as a momentary flush-profile of literary postures will develop into a genuine chain reaction, and the remnants of a decadent form of personal expression can be dispatched down the drain.