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Marshall McLuhan - A Prophet for the Modern Age

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posted on May, 7 2005 @ 09:27 PM
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The methods by which the masses are controlled are extensive and compllicated, but not impossible to understand and separate oneself from. That is what Marshall McLuhan's work was all about, deciphering the effects of media, language, and religion, so that we can take that information with us, and use it to determine what media we want to continue to expose ourselves and our children to. I am surprised that he has pretty much zero mention on the site here, yet I think there are a great many things that we can learn from him. He predicted the internet 30 years its widespread existence, and its effects on humans, and wrote a number of "probes" on the effects of media on humans, and the way our civilization has built itself around those effects.


Marshall Mcluhan:
He was a man of idioms and idiosyncrasies, deeply intelligent and a soothsayer. He had prescient knowledge of the Internet. Although educated in literature, Marshall McLuhan was known as a pop philosopher because his theories applied to mini-skirts and the twist. For his ability to keep up with the cutting edge, one colleague called him "The Runner." Critics said he destroyed literary values. Today, McLuhan’s ideas are new again, applied to the electronic media that he predicted.


The "content" of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph.

All media are active metaphors in their power to translate experience into new forms.

The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.

We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.

In the name of "progress," our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the work of the old.

The world is a global village.

The effect comes before the cause.

"We have laid out our own electric networks on a global scale by cable, by telegraph, by radio, by all sorts of electric means. These circuits are loaded with data that move instantly and which have become indispensable to all decision makers in business, in education, and in politics. These circuits have a peculiar character not just of connecting us with one another but of involving us with one another. It is because of the speed. With circuitry the feedback occurs at the same moment the event occurs."


Here are some things to get started, I suggest google search on pdf files / basic web search to go further.

Information Page

Sample of McLuhan's Writing

70s PlayBoy Interview

edit:
perhaps I should propose a few questions to provoke discussion here, after all thats what we are here to do in the first place.

McLuhan has suggested that TV along with other modern communications mediums would succeed in "binding time", in that it causes people to focus on marching forward quickly while ignoring past traditions / values etc. Essentially this has already been done, with modern societies that instead of centering themselves around tradition, have repositioned real culture into a sort of side-interest, with small fringe groups still being truly involved, and few others spectating. Religion is morphed into a ritualistic gathering of people, many of whom don't even know each other.

So one question might be (actually theres a few in here): Is this effect of technology on people driving humans toward a culture of non-culture, where the only values that we hold are written in a bank book? Are we already there? Will people eventually be willing to "sacrifice" things they never thought they would have in the sake of progress? Is this too fargone to reverse?

[edit on 7-5-2005 by benign]




posted on May, 8 2005 @ 10:16 AM
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I begin to think that my University of Hawaii years were entirely significant, a world class education including an interview with Marshall McCluhan. Back then one of our Political Future Studies classes allowed all of its students to produce the first college level course for credit on local Public Television.

One thing impressed me, considering the outstanding press that McCluhan had received. He was not particularly exciting as his literature. He seemed to be an ordinary college professor. Nonetheless this feeling of having a great gift of many people we interviewed in that semester stays with you. This was the early 1970s on a campus that included studies of concurrent social changes. One of the things that may impress people here is that the tuition at that time was $115.00 per semester. I think a consortium of privatization began to balloon after my graduation. You could then work an odd summer job and provide your own way.

We had very high quality professors who were happy to visit from Harvard, Berkley, and other places. But these days it seems our leaders ruined what was once a low cost and high quality education, instead substituting the chains of heavy loans followed by diminished vocational opportunities.

Perhaps some of McCluhan's theories were applied too well by big business, which recognized command and control at an unprecedented basis. Many of the rest of us slept through this coup de etat at Universities around the nation. Kids could object to war, but when it came to tuition hikes there was little or no opposition. Perhaps all those antiwar groups were just Cointelpro anyway.

But McCluhan is one of many reasons I treasure my nearly free education even more these days. If I paid 50 thousand dollars for it I would have just been at the start of life bankrupt. As it was the treasure is far greater in my mind today. I can only thank my government for not corrupting itself so greatly as for this education issue until the early 1970s. I never went to graduate school because the tuition price gouge had begun. I did better than that later, much better.



posted on May, 8 2005 @ 03:01 PM
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Yes I'm paying 50k to go to school right now.

I never thought of it that way, that maybe McCluhan's theories were exploited by the corporations, that maybe by predicting it, he helped enable it. It seems that the press was not completely under their ownership until after his time. Thats one of those double-edged-sword situations, if he didn't formulate these ideas, we might not be awake as we are now, but then again, if he didn't give these concepts to the mass marketing gurus of the world, they probably would have thought of this stuff by themselves.



posted on May, 8 2005 @ 04:09 PM
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A fact that might interest you is that most of McLuhan's writings are kept into the special collection of the Royal Canadian Library in Ottawa, and that what's available everywhere else are only a portion of his writings... selected by his university and the government who took them over as "national heritage". Only scholars with precise motives can have access to tis special collection.

I also find that it's totally crazy that universities like Berkeley had ridiculous tuition fees in the '60s and it raised to like the 35000s-40000s $ of today. And what's crazier is how many people and the elite are just taking it as granted and accepting that as it's logical or natural to charge some preposterous sums of money for higher education... $%?@# bunch of sheeps!!! The US constitution CLEARLY STATES that this kind of education MUST be accessible to any US citizen, therefore government must insure that anybody will be able to pay themselves university studies if universities are charging rates that are too high for the poor or the average citizen. Your education system has been blatantly ripped off from the population by the elite!





[edit on 8/5/05 by Echtelion]



posted on May, 8 2005 @ 10:23 PM
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A US Citizen's taxes pays for black budgets, weapons, and 40 dollar toilet seats in the white house.

The amount of money that it would take to revamp the entire American Education system is absurd in itself. There are individuals out there who could fix things like this with one day's worth of income. And they could do so without skipping a step.

But thats the wonderful thing about money, once you create it, no one can live without it.


Erasing History

Why anyone would want to keep even a fraction of his ideas away from public eyes is beyond me.

Thats almost humorous, ..."national heritage".... I definitely don't think that his ideas were patriotic or nationalist in any way, in fact they were the complete opposite.

So what precise motives do these scholars have to have in order to gain access? I'll just take a wild guess and assume that the motives are acceptable and beneficial to whatever entity maintains control of the writings.

[edit on 8-5-2005 by benign]



posted on May, 9 2005 @ 01:28 AM
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Thats almost humorous, ..."national heritage".... I definitely don't think that his ideas were patriotic or nationalist in any way, in fact they were the complete opposite.


Writings don,t have to be patriotic to be deemed as national heritage... the government made it a national heritage about the same way as he would do to a building, or a natural reserve. But here it's being used as a device to control access to the writings, for protecting the intellectual property. There might have been a contract between the university where Mcluhan was working and the Federal governement in order to retain some of his books. Not all books written by university teachers or researchers go out of a faculty... universities have themselves a way to restrain knowledge to the very "elected few" (post-grad students and teachers), so it doesn't surprise me very much, even if that's revolting.

I guess you can have access to this special collection with the same motives than in every special collection of any major library: by being on an academic research or study which is related in some ways to McLuhan's work, as an example... Special collections are not only for controversial books or writings that the authorities would'nt want you to read, sometimes it's jsut because they are very rare and old books which could be easily destroyed if placed into the public section of a library. But McLuhan's writings obviously fall into the category of "controversial" books, since they don,t have any real historical value themselves.

[edit on 9/5/05 by Echtelion]

[edit on 9/5/05 by Echtelion]



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 05:07 AM
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Originally posted by Echtelion


Thats almost humorous, ..."national heritage".... I definitely don't think that his ideas were patriotic or nationalist in any way, in fact they were the complete opposite.


Writings don,t have to be patriotic to be deemed as national heritage... the government made it a national heritage about the same way as he would do to a building, or a natural reserve. But here it's being used as a device to control access to the writings, for protecting the intellectual property. There might have been a contract between the university where Mcluhan was working and the Federal governement in order to retain some of his books. Not all books written by university teachers or researchers go out of a faculty... universities have themselves a way to restrain knowledge to the very "elected few" (post-grad students and teachers), so it doesn't surprise me very much, even if that's revolting.

I guess you can have access to this special collection with the same motives than in every special collection of any major library: by being on an academic research or study which is related in some ways to McLuhan's work, as an example... Special collections are not only for controversial books or writings that the authorities would'nt want you to read, sometimes it's jsut because they are very rare and old books which could be easily destroyed if placed into the public section of a library. But McLuhan's writings obviously fall into the category of "controversial" books, since they don,t have any real historical value themselves.

[edit on 9/5/05 by Echtelion]

[edit on 9/5/05 by Echtelion]


Yep exactly what I was getting at..

"They don't have to burn the books they just remove em"




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