Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Selections, er, Attributed to Marshall McLuhan

...certainly capturing his thought at any rate, according to 'Wired' magazine---see link below

On Media Matrix: "The real message of media today is ubiquity. It is no longer something we do, but something we are part of. It confronts us as if from the outside with all the sensory experience of the history of humanity. It is as if we have amputated not our ears or our eyes, but ourselves, and then established a total prosthesis - an automaton - in our place.

Is the book dead?

The book is not dead. When the book is finally freed from its aura of authority and its "soulfulness," it will return as a convenient interface. Just as the advent of printing created a market for medieval culture, the advent of the Net will build an audience for book authors. The body of the book, to misparaphrase a Frenchman, will be liberated from the soul of the book. In the age of electronic communication, invest in books. This is sound advice for people whose ears have replaced their eyes.

Sven Birkerts [author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age], an unintentionally funny writer, has been worrying that electronic networks might cause the popular audience for James Joyce to shrink. Last time I dropped by the Parma Barnes & Noble outlet (which recently replaced a musty store full of paperbacks, proving that books are a growth industry), I noticed that Finnegans Wake was selling just about as many copies as it always did.

In the emerging global village, isn't it imperialistic to expect everyone to have the same values (ours), obey the same laws (ours), and communicate in American English?

America is no longer a global power - it's a global brand.


America as a brand stands for liberty, money, and sex. That three-way combo is hard to beat. Certain countries have successfully transformed themselves into brands already. Take France. Can you imagine a world without French wine, French cheese, French "culture" (a fuzzy amalgam of books, fashion, and accent), or French "romance" (mostly public displays of affection, kisses on crowded streets, et cetera)? France earns vast amounts of money from its Frenchness, which has little to do with France as a military or bureaucratic structure, except to the extent that the French state functions as an overgrown tourist bureau, which is increasingly the case.

America should take a lesson in global branding. To succeed as a brand, America should shrink its army, reduce its diplomatic corps, cut back its public participation in political meetings and summits. This will allow American products, from movies to soft drinks to computers, to become far, far more valuable and powerful.

What did you make of that media black hole, the O. J. trial?

'Marcia Clark asked the jury to follow drops of blood down the sidewalk, just like letters on a page, or like a sequence of dots or periods. But the jury was in the cool tactile world of television, where everything happens at once, not the hot world of print, where things follow logically, so they did not want to tack a sentence on at the end of the periods. A verdict of innocent is easier, cooler, than a verdict of guilty, because no proof is required to find somebody innocent. They found O. J. not guilty, but they found the idea of proof very guilty. Nothing can be proved on TV. Of the five criminal trials that were popular over the last few years, only the one that was not on TV - Mike Tyson's - resulted in a conviction. All the other defendants were on TV and were not convicted. [Source: Wired]


Note: "While studying the trivium at Cambridge, in 1937 McLuhan converted to Roman Catholicism. It was a shock to his mother who thought that Harvard went down the drain. He taught thereafter only in Catholic institutions, at St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution then reputed to be the finest Catholic university in America from 1937 to 1944, and at Assumption College in Canada. McLuhan's doctoral dissertation, completed in 1942, dealt with the rhetoric of Thomas Nashe (1567-1601). McLuhan was devout throughout his life, but his religion remained a private matter. In 1939 McLuhan married Corinne Keller, a drama and speech teacher; they had six children. As a father McLuhan was impatient and he believed in corporal punishment. His son Eric became a paid assistant to him in 1965. The real McLuhan died on December 31, 1980---Wikipedia

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