marshall mcluhan










[image from 1st video below]

heard his name/quotes often. first real intro to him here, from this tweet:’Now, what about the Future?’ McLuhan in 1965 – looking fw to David Orrell McLuhan Lecture at@transmediale (transmediate):

CBC TV – Take 30 (Program) – McLuhan predicts ‘world connectivity’ 1965

talking networked individualism.. ginormously smallness

the sort of dialogue among all the elements of our world that is going on.. w/o benefit of bureaucratic blessing or unofficial blessing.. the kind of exchanges/interchanges of imitry of awareness of peoples of the world.. this is the pattern of ed i think will resort to more and more

instead of locating people in a particular space,.. they will moved to ie: germany/china to learn those things.. physically and perhaps circuitry

why do the wheels keep hurrying us downtown.. it’s the filing cabinet.. obsession with the contents of the file: documents, contracts, data..

all could just as easily be available via circuit at home

telephone enables to conduct business anywhere..

we still have this obsessional compulsive drive to fit into patterns/classifications which says our job is down here.. that’s why we’re terrified when automation threatens to integrate us.. so that all the old fragmentary jobs go back into a circuit, a wholeness…

makes me think of document everything and this tweeted link (same day)

– – – –

The World is a Global Village (CBC TV)

age of book – alone w/the book – we are no longer alone

with it – we’ve understood completely… but in older booker culture.. people were not with it they were away from it by themselves w/own pov…

the world is now like a continually sounding tribal drum. everybody gets the message all the time.

tribal – away from individual man. tribal man created by new electronic media.. re-tribalizing..

no longer so concerned with self-definition.. more concerned with what the group knows.. feeling with it..

books are still very important but role is changing

books were our first teaching machine.. we had to see each other on the page.. but now there are many ways

book is no longer king – no longer one thing at a time.. but everything at once

not a line but a field

teenager vs adolescence (self, real life begins with adulthood).. same as diff between book culture and electronic era

– – –

Full lecture: The medium is the message – 1977 part 1 v 3

tv creates another form of awareness – involvement/subjective

literacy as a form of awareness – objective

5 min – reading is actually an activity of rapid guessing (rada) – good reader – quick decision-maker

nature of art – sets a trap for your attention

? – how does this jive with Oscar‘s – ignore the public

8 min – alternative to violence is dialogue (rather than self-expression – violence is kind of self-expression)

quest for identity follows with this banging into other people.. always a violent quest

11 min – the new show – star war –

violence in a large sense – in sense of abrasive encounters

12 min – city as classroom

13 min – the game requires a public (whole cross section of the community) to have meaning..



– – –

Full lecture: The medium is the message – 1977 part 2 v 3

rear view mirror – not – out of date…  but rather – you don’t see what has gone past.. you see what is coming.. the foreseeable future.. not the past at all

nostalgia – kind of review mirror if you like.. but also of things to come..

when people have been stripped of their private identities they develop huge nostalgia

clown – a person w/a grievance.. medieval he was the voice of grievance.. telling king exactly what was wrong with society..

clown costumes (fad) of today is trying to tell us their grievances.. ie: streakers,, beards (?)

q: should we be telling youth value to make..? and answer was yes…


hidden aspects of media should be taught… absolute power over user when invisible.. sooner we can teach the effects of these forms the sooner we can have some sort of reasonable ecology among the media themselves

what is desperately needed is a kind of understanding of the media that would permit us to program the whole environment so that literate values wouldn’t be wiped out by new media… if you understand the nature of these forms you can neutralize some of their adverse effects and foster some of their beneficent effects..we’ve never reached this level of awareness. i have been working on that for a long time.. finnegan’s wake – actors in the play are the media themselves

effect of instant replay on game of football – now audience no longer interest only in effect of play.. but the nature (process) of the play. an unexpected effect.

extends also to …future of ed.. requires we pay much attention to the media we’re employing.. as forms of study.. not necessarily the hardware and skill but awareness of the nature of the operation

q: on going out for privacy and coming home for social

a: this inside-outside on meditation.. we have gone very far to the east since tv –

jane austin: people go outside to be alone just to prove their inner resources, that they don’t need people.. romantic movement based on this psychic development

hawthorne – this going outside to be alone as undermining democracy.. aristocracy at its greatest form

advertisers tend to study figures not the ground.. count noses rather than what’s behind them


– – –

Full lecture: The medium is the message – 1977 part 3 v 3

q: what would be your advertising campaign

a: i put them on.. anyone who puts people on does so by hurting them.. pointing them to things they have ignored.

comic is always registration of a grievance.

tv politics don’t permit much interest in policy or party.. but candidate must have charisma – looking like a lot of other people – acceptable/interesting people  — radio politics (completely different) – package deal

tv primarily concerned with complex process – much less able to deal with packages.. more processes. radio far more a package medium.. the definite and rapped up message..

the main development in these electric media is the loss of private identity – mass man means man as related to all other men simultaneously.

the commercial sponsor of the media is naturally more sensitive to the audience than anybody.. a sponsor who ignores the audience… creates a great many unpopular shows..

w/o phonetic alphabet you don’t have euclidean space.. ie: orient – no euclid.. neither is there any individual/private identity in the orient. .. the lineal nature of the left hemisphere – visual is lineal.. acoustic is a sphere.. center is everywhere, margin is nowhere.. simultaneous sound.. space of sound bubble i rock music.. right hemisphere.. people who play it by ear.. as opposed to those who have a strong bias of pov and play by eye and logic. right.. no bottom line interested only in quality…… not an either/or.. various degrees


wikipedia small





Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher ofcommunication theory and a public intellectual. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.

McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message and the global village, and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence began to wane in the early 1970s. In the years after his death, he continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles. With the arrival of the internet, however, interest in his work and perspective has renewed.


In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called “electronic interdependence“: when electronic media replace visual culture with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a “tribal base.” McLuhan’s coinage for this new social organization is the global village.


Key to McLuhan’s argument is the idea that technology has no per se moral bent—it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual’s and, by extension, a society’s self-conception and realization:

Is it not obvious that there are always enough moral problems without also taking a moral stand on technological grounds? […] Print is the extreme phase of alphabet culture that detribalizes or decollectivizes man in the first instance. Print raises the visual features of alphabet to highest intensity of definition. Thus print carries the individuating power of the phonetic alphabet much further than manuscript culture could ever do. Print is the technology of individualism. If men decided to modify this visual technology by an electric technology, individualism would also be modified. Toraise a moral complaint about this is like cussing a buzz-saw for lopping off fingers. “But”, someone says, “we didn’t know it would happen.” Yet even witlessness is not a moral issue. It is a problem, but not a moral problem; and it would be nice to clear away some of the moral fogs that surround our technologies. It would be good for morality.


Though the World Wide Web was invented almost thirty years after The Gutenberg Galaxy, and ten years after his death, McLuhan prophesied the web technology seen today as early as 1962:

The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind. (1962)

Furthermore, McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the term “surfing” to refer to rapid, irregular and multidirectional movement through a heterogeneous body of documents or knowledge, e.g., statements like “Heidegger surf-boards along on the electronic wave as triumphantly as Descartes rode the mechanical wave.”

twitter at some point.. then twitter/facebook/wordpress/google/hangouts/ftf/et al – surf


The Medium Is the Massage, published in 1967, was McLuhan’s best seller, “eventually selling nearly a million copies worldwide.” Initiated byQuentin Fiore, McLuhan adopted the term “massage” to denote the effect each medium has on the human sensorium, taking inventory of the “effects” of numerous media in terms of how they “massage” the sensorium.


need to return.. much to study here 


via Thomas..

David Morley: After Techno-Globalisation: Virtual and Material Geographies

aka: marshal take two:

all at once ness… global system of instaneity

domestication of elsewhere – global familiar

12 min – on tech having variable uses.. depending on context, culture, … ie: old cell phones for throwing

what i’m interested in is the way the new tech’s continually get domesticated… trying to propose a way of how we inhabit that world.. how we weave these tech’s into our lives..

22 min – tech’s finding more simbioses – dancing along together… finding ways to live alongside… we live and will continue to live in these mixtures… all these media eras.. are mixed

34 min – on mobile making us more intensely local

old definitions of communications… movement of info/persons/commodities


40 min – the cloud is very material.. cyberspace is not beyond geography

45 min – on electricity now banal…  it’s just there.. but we depend on it heavily

58 min – on geographic journeys.. san paulo – helicopters going roof to roof

the amount of waiting.. is a very good indicator of social status…

but not just people… the key to global economy is container shipping… globalization is time space compression to increase speed.. but containers are being built to go slower.. because cheaper fuel costs…

allan sekula – shipping –

1:03 – if we think about the city.. mobility w/in city.. and role of media w/in the city.. (cultry & mcarthy) electronic media saturates everyday spaces..

the emerging picture is not of collapse of place .. but more subtle integration of other places and agents into the flow of everyday life.. – a game of echoes … not the substitution.. but the reflection… between material and virtual… realm.

1:04 – rather than cyberspace, cyberspaces… virtual overlayed on the actual

1:05 – on fb causing ie: arab spring…talking about the ability of tech to being magical..

1:11 – encourage you to think in a more everyday way…

revolution of everyday life.. ness

tech’s have most power perhaps.. when we’re least conscious of them.. when they’re most banal.. least visible to us.. many of us have been cyborgs for a very long time.. ie: glasses, watches, ..


from Lewis Mumford’s myth of the machine (v 2 – pentagon):


electronic entropy

perhaps another fate is actually in store for mankind.. perhaps homo sapiens will come to a quicker end by a shorter route.. already indicated/expressed w psychedelic extravagance by marshall mcluhan and his followers.. the seemingly solid older megamachine w its rigid limitations and predictable performance might give rise to he exact antithesis: an electronic anti megamachine programmed to accelerate disorder, ignorance and entropy.. .. souls seek total ‘liberation ‘for organization, continuity and purpose of any sort, in systematic de building, dissolution, and de creation.. ironically, such a return to randomness would, according to probability theory, produce the most static and predictable state possible: that of unorganized ‘matter’

carhart-harris entropy law


mcluhan appears to believe this has already happened, ..mankind as a whole will return to the pre primitive level, sharing mindless sensations and pre linguistic communion..  in the electronic phantasmagoria that he conjures up, not alone will old fashioned machines be permanently outmoded but nature itself will be replaced:


psychiatry reveals he true nature of this promised state. what is it but the electronic equivalent of the dissociation and subjective inflation that takes place under lysergic acid and similar drugs? in so far as mcluhan’s conception correspond s to any existential reality, it is that of an electronically induced mass psychosis..  not surprisingly, perhaps, now that the facilities for instantaneous communication have planetary outlets, symptoms of this psychosis are already detectable in every part of the planet. in mcluhan’s case, *the disease poses as the diagnosis..

*as too.. money as disease.. could be temp placebo (not sure entropy is a disease)

as it happens, the proposal to confine man to a present time cage that cuts him off from both past/future did not originate in the present age, nor is it dependent upon an exclusive commitment to electronic communication.. the ancient name for this form of exerting centralized control is ‘the burning of the books’..  in china 213 bc has been repeated at intervals as the ‘final solution’ when censorship and legal prohibition such as still prevail in totalitarian countries fail..

but it remained for mcluhan to picture as tech’s ultimate gift a more absolute mode of control: *one that will achieve total illiteracy, w no permanent record except that officially committed to the computer, and open only to hose permitted access to this facility..  this repudiation of an independent written and printed record means nothing less than the erasure of man’s diffused, multi brained collective memory: it reduces all human experience into that of the present generation and the passing moment..  the instant record is self effacing..  in effect, if not in intention, this would **carry mankind back to a far more primitive state than any tribal one: for pre literate peoples conserved a large part of their past by cultivating extraordinary memories and maintaining by constant repetition – even at the cost of creativity and invention – the essential links to their own past..

on the cancerous ness of *literacy

**thinking more in terms of getting back to the not yet scrambled ness of a child.. so deeper to our essence.. rather than to some time period.. no cost to creativity.. actually led/induced by  daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city

for this *‘instant revolution’ to be successful, the **burning of the books must take place on a ***worldwide scale and include every form of permanent record open to public view


more like.. **burning of ie: utopia of rules ness.. aka: supposed to’s.. of school/work.. to get us back/to an undisturbed ecosystem

***has to be everyone – freed up – rather than everything burned.. ie: if we focus on burning things.. they’d play like bad starfish ness


by concentrating upon mcluhan’s errors one can clear the board of a large mass of similar mis statements

(talked about his focus on burning books and student protests.. and his denigration of printed word and his hostility to typographical man)

by turns the steamboat/railroad/postal-system/telegraph/airplane.. have been described as instruments that would transcend local weaknesses, redress ineq’s of natural and cultural resources and lead to a worldwide political unity ‘the parliament of man, the federation of the world’..  once tech unification was established, human solidarity, progressive’ minds believed, would follow..  in the course of 2 centuries, these hopes have been discredited..  there is no reason whatever to think that radio and tv will enable us to fare better, until they themselves become the instruments of wiser human decisions and embrace every aspect of life..  not limiting themselves to those that conform to the pentagon of power

ie: tech as it could be..

for this problem mcluhan and his technocratic contemporaries have a simple solution. it is to replace human autonomy in every form by an up-to-date electronic model of the megamachine

? really?

mcluhan: ‘once we have surrendered our sense/nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease of our eyes/ears/nerves, we don’t really have an rights (read autonomy) left’.. this latter point might well be taken as a warning to disengage ourselves as soon as possible..  for mcluhan it leads, rather to a demand for unconditional surrender.. mcluhan: ‘under electric technology the entire business of man becomes learning and knowing’ .. apart from the fact that this is apathetically academic picture of the potentialities of man,the kind of learning and knowing that mcluhan becomes enraptured over is precisely that which can be programmed on a computer: ‘we are not in a position to transfer the entire show to the memory of a computer’.. no better formula could be found for arresting and ultimately suppressing human development


audio visual tribalism (mcluhan’s ‘global village’) is a humbug.. real communication, whether oral or written, ephemeral or permanent, is possible only between people who share a *common culture – and **speak the same language..

rather who share a *common daily curiosity

and **not true.. today we can facil ie: 7b daily idio-jargons

and though this area can and should be enlarged by personally acquiring more language and extending one’s cultural horizon thru travel and active person intercourse, the notion that it is possible to throw off all these limits is an electronic illusions.. this illusion ignores the most characteristic feature of all organic forms, biological or cultural – their acceptance of limitations for the sake of ensuring the best life possible

i think we just haven’t ever gone deep enough.. it’s not about tech taking us there.. (which it can now – tech as it could be).. it’s about knowing where the deep est there is.. ie: the essence of  us (ie: almaas holes law; maté basic needs).. deep enough to resonate with all of us today


what is needed is a technology so varied, so many sided, so flexible, so responsive to human need, that it can serve every valid human purpose.. the only true multi medium remains the human organism itself.

right.. so let’s use tech to listen to and facil that.. everyone.. everyday..

it is only at a high stage of individuation, made possible at first by he pained or carved image, the written symbol and the printed book, that true freedom – the *freedom to escape from the passing moment and the present visible place, to challenge past experience or modify future action – can be achieved. to be aware only of immediate stimuli and immediate sensation is a **medical indication of brain injury

and the need to *escape.. is an **indication of social injury/ill (krishnamurti measure law et al) .. we weren’t made to want to escape.. we just need to get our environ back to where we see/hear each other and ourselves.. ie: hari rat park law; holmgren indigenous law; et al

mcluhan’s ideas about the role of electronic tech have been widely accepted, i suggest, because they magnify and vulgarize the dominant components of the power system in the very act of seeming to revolt against its regimentation.. in treating the planet as a ‘tribal village’ by instant electronic communication, he has, in fact, united the crippling limitation of a pre lit culture, which made the scattered, farming population of the world and easy prey to military conquest and exploitation, w the characteristic historic mischief of ‘civilization’: the subjugation of a large population for the exclusive benefit of ruling minority

? mcluhan was for this..? i’m so confused..

so far from there being any spontaneous communication under this regime, these electronic media are already carefully controlled to make sure that ‘dangerous’ that si unorthodox views do not slip thru. such a system permits neither colloquy nor dialogue, as in genuine oral intercourse: what takes place is forth greater part only a meticulously arranged monologue, even if more than one person is present on the screen. a population entirely dependent upon such controlled oral communication, even though it reached every human soul on the planet, would not merely be at the mercy of the dominant minority but would become increasingly illiterate and soon mutually unintelligible.. thus once again the parallel between the pyramid aged and our own forces itself upon the observer: here in prospect is actually the electronic tower of babel..  instant planetary communication, conducted on these principles, would bring about eventual excommunication from an identifiable community

begs a diff sort of instant planetary communication.. tower of babel in the idio-jargon sense.. excommunication from identifiable community.. in the sense that no community would/could be identifiable (marsh label law et al).. all would be morphing/accepting of whoever/whenever.. et al.. ongoingly changing


from David Weinberger‘s everyday chaos:


why have we so insisted on turning complex histories into simple stories? marshal mcluhan was right: the medium is the message. we shrank our ideas to fit on pages sewn in a sequence that we then glued between cardboard stops. books are good at telling stories and bad at guiding us thru knowledge that bursts out in every conceivable direction, as all knowledge does when we let it

huge.. reading/writing ness as control..

this comes at the price of the comforting illusion of comprehension, as ai has been teaching us


let go


society of spectacle