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marshall mcluhan

Marshall McLuhan
This nOde last updated May 7th, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
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McLuhan, (Herbert) Marshall

McLuhan (me-kl¡´en), (Herbert) Marshall
1911-internal link1980
Canadian cultural critic and communications theorist who maintained that the method of communicating internal linkinformation has more influence on the public than the information itself. His books include _The Medium is the Message_ (1967).

McLuhan, (Herbert) Marshall

McLuhan, (Herbert) Marshall (1911-1980), Canadian writer, whose unorthodox theories on communications sprang from his conviction that electronic media themselves have an impact far greater than that of the material they communicate. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, McLuhan was educated at the universities of Manitoba and Cambridge. Later he taught at various universities in the United States and Canada.

McLuhan is best known for coining the phrase "the medium is the message," which became popular in the 1960s. He argued that in each cultural era the medium in which information is recorded and transmitted is decisive in determining the character of that culture. McLuhan also believed that the linking of electronic information media would create an interconnected "global village." As a scholar of the effects of technology on human society, McLuhan is regarded as one of the most important 20th-century communications theorists. He has, however, been criticized for subscribing to technological determinism. McLuhan's books include _The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man_ (1951), _The Gutenberg Galaxy_: _The Making of Typographic Man_ (1962),  _Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man_ (1964),  _The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects_ (1967), and _War and Peace in the Global Village_ (1968).

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Baraka: Sonic Massage McLuhan - Anomaly 12inch gatefold on Brunswick (1972)


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"Civilization is entirely the product of phonetic literacy. internal linkAs it dissolves with the electronic revolution, we rediscover a tribal integral awareness that manifests itself in a complete shift in our sensory lives....This new electronic environment itself constitutes an inner trip, collectively, without benefit of drugs. The impulse to use internal linkhallucinogens is a kind of empathy with the electronic environment."

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It is the weak and confused who worship the pseudosimplicities of brutal directness.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. The Mechanical Bride, "The Tough as Narcissus" (1951).


The school system, custodian of print culture, has no place for the rugged individual. It is, indeed, the homogenizing hopper into which we toss our integral tots for processing.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. The Gutenberg Galaxy, "Cervantes Confronted Typographic Man in the Figure of Don Quixote" (1962).


Darkness is to space what silence is to sound, i.e., the interval.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. Through the Vanishing Point, "Toward a Spatial Dialogue," ch. 16 (1968; written with Harley Parker, 1968).


For tribal man space was the uncontrollable mystery. For technological man it is internal linktime that occupies the same role.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. The Mechanical Bride, "internal linkMagic that Changes Mood" (1951).

The Media

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium-that is, of any extension of ourselves-result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. Understanding Media, ch. 1 (1964).
Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan

Mental Illness

internal linkSchizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of literacy.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. The Gutenberg Galaxy, "Typographic Man Can Express But Is Helpless to Read the Configuration of Print Technology" (1962).


Where the whole man is involved there is no work. Work begins with the division of labor.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. Understanding Media, ch. 14 (1964).


Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America- not on the battlefields of Vietnam.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. Quoted in: Montreal Gazette (16 May 1975).


Where the whole man is involved there is no work. Work begins with the division of labor.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. Understanding Media, ch. 14 (1964).

Sales and Marketing

Today the tyrant rules not by club or fist, but, disguised as a market researcher, he shepherds his flocks in the ways of utility and comfort.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian communications theorist. The Mechanical Bride, Preface (1951).

The internal linkSage of Toronto . . . spent several decades marveling at the numerous freedoms created by a "global village" instantly and effortlessly accessible to all. Villages, unlike towns, have always been ruled by conformism, isolation, petty surveillance, boredom and repetitive malicious gossip about the same families. Which is a precise enough description of the global spectacle's present vulgarity.
Guy Debord (b. 1931), French Situationist philosopher. Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, ch. 12 (1988; tr. 1990), of Marshall McLuhan's notion of the "global village."

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"Myth is the mode of simultaneous awareness of a complex group of causes and effects."    - McLuhan -  _The Medium is the Massage_

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"In cultures that give much less stress to the visual sense,  "rational" connectedness exercises much less authority. Paradox and symbolic juxtaposition are accepted as  natural expression. One need go no further than internal linkJapanese flower arrangement, which is acheived by means of the spaces between the flowers. In an electronic world where all-at-onceness is inevitable and normal, we have rediscovered an affinity for the discontinuity of Oriental art and expression which is most enthusiastically felt in the teen-age world today. Of course, Van Gogh, Gauguin and others anticipated the discontinuous internal linkelectronic modes of internal linkperception by their internal linkimmediate awareness of the new environment.

Artists tend to have this power to probe and explore new environments even when most people are unhappy and uneasy about them. Theirs is not so much the power to foresee as the readiness to recognize that which is immediately present. Newspaper arrangement in the telegraph age displays many of the symbolic and unconnected features of the most advanced art.

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The visual sense in high definition permits division and subdivision in various modes. Perhaps the most familiar of these patterns is classification. The world of bureacracy is the extreme example of visual organization of enterprise based on specialism and classification. It is a world very much threatened by the computer for the same reason that the continuous story line in the arts is incompatible with electronic speeds.

"Come into my parlor," said the computer to the specialist."

  - Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker, "Through the Vanishing Point"

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William Gibson

Groping for models of contemporary space that evade or pervert the Cartesian coordinate system, we would do well to recall Marshall McLuhan's distinction between visual and acoustic space. For McLuhan, "visual space" did not refer to the sensual dimension encountered through human vision, but specifically to the linear, logical, and sequential internal linkperceptual and cognitive array constructed by Western Renaissance perspective, linear type, and ultimately alphanumeric characters. We know it from Descartes and from internal linkWilliam Gibson:  a homogenous space organized by an objective coordinate grid that simultaneously produces an apparently coherent individual subject who maintains control over his or her unique point  of view. Not only do we "naturally" overlay this panoptic grid onto the far more ambiguous    field of actual vision, but we have embraced it as the dominant conceptual image of space itself.

On top of its value as an alternative, refreshingly non-visual model of cyberspace, McLuhan's  notion of acoustic space opens up a historical and cultural dimension of cyberspace that has often been overlooked: the musical spaces produced predominantly or wholly through electronic means. After all, from the invisible landscapes of internal linkCage and internal linkStockhausen to the analog explorations of dub reggae producers and synthesizer wizards in the 1970s to the internal linkdigital soundscapes that shape the internal linkambient, jungle, and hip-hop of today, a significant portion of electronically-mediated music has been explicitly concerned with constructing virtual spaces.

- Erik Davis - _Roots and internal linkWiresinternal linkPolyrhythmic Cyberspace and the Black Electronic_

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Marshall McLuhan

 Real name
   Herbert Marshall McLuhan
   Date of birth
   21 July 1911,
   Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
   Date of death
   31 December internal link1980. (stroke)

Actor filmography

   1.Annie Hall (vhs/pal)atomjacked inventory cache(1977) .... Himself
  ... aka Anhedonia (1977) (USA: working title)

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"The twentieth century encounter between alphabetic and electronic faces of culture confers on the printed word a crucial role in staying the return to the Africa within..." - Marshall McLuhan - _The Gutenberg Galaxy_

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"The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a internal linkmoment of truth and revelation from which new form is born. For the parallel between two media holds us on the frontiers between forms that snap us out of the Narcissus-narcosis. The moment of the meeting of two media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary internal linktrance and numbness imposed by them on our senses"

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"Marshall McLuhan was correct to see that planetary human culture, the global village, would be tribal in character.  The next great step toward a planetary holism is the partial merging of the technologically transformed human world with the archaic internal linkmatrix of vegetable intelligence that is the Overmind of the planet."
internal linkTerence McKennainternal link_Archaic Revival_atomjacked inventory cache 

Terence McKenna - the force will be with you, always... The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna

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The poet, the artist, the sleuth - whoever sharpens our internal linkperception tends to be anti social; rarely "well-adjusted," he cannot go along with currents and trends.  A strange  bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are.  This need to internal linkinterface, to confront environments with a certain anti-social power,  is manifest in the famous story, "The Emperor's New Clothes"  "Well adjusted" courtiers, having vested interests, saw the Emperor as beautifully appointed.  The anti-social brat, unaccustomed to the old environment, clearly saw that the emperor "ain't got nothin' on."
- _The Medium Is The Massage_atomjacked inventory cache

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film _Steal This Movie_ (vhs/ntsc)atomjacked inventory cache (2000) directed by Robert Greenwald

Vincent D'Onofrio (_Full Metal Jacket_ (vhs/ntsc)atomjacked inventory cache) as Abbie Hoffman, Janeane Garofolo as Anita Hoffman

"we have become irrevocably involved with and responsible for each other... the medium is the message!" - Abbie
"McLuhan and eggs... wow..." - Anita
"you ever been to Wall Street?" - Abbie

Steal This Movie - McLuhan and eggs... Steal This Movie directed by Robert Greenwald

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PLAYBOY: What do you mean by "acoustic space"?

MCLUHAN: I mean space that has no center and no margin, unlike strictly visual space, which is an extension and internal linkintensification of the eye. Acoustic space is organic and integral, internal linkperceived through the simultaneous interplay of all the senses; whereas "rational" or pictorial space is uniform, sequential and continuous and creates a closed world with none of the rich internal linkresonance of the tribal echoland. Our own Western internal linktime-space concepts derive from the environment created by the discovery of phonetic writing, as does our entire concept of Western civilization. The man of the tribal world led a complex, kaleidoscopic life precisely because the ear, unlike the eye, cannot be internal linkfocused and is internal linksynaesthetic rather than analytical and linear. Speech is an utterance, or more precisely, an outering, of all our senses at once; the auditory field is simultaneous, the visual successive. The models of life of nonliterate people were implicit, simultaneous and discontinuous, and also far richer than those of literate man. By their dependence on the spoken word for internal linkinformation, people were drawn together into a tribal mesh; and since the spoken word is more emotionally laden than the written--conveying by intonation such rich emotions as anger, joy, sorrow, fear--tribal man was more spontaneous and passionately volatile. Audile-tactile tribal man partook of the internal linkcollective unconscious, lived in a internal linkmagical integral world patterned by myth and ritual, its values divine and unchallenged, whereas literate or visual man creates an environment that is strongly fragmented, individualistic, explicit, logical, specialized and detached.
Information in formation


PLAYBOY: How can you be so sure that this all occurred solely because of phonetic literacy--or, in fact, if it occurred at all?

MCLUHAN: You don't have to go back 3000 or 4000 years to see this internal linkprocess at work; in Africa today, a single generation of alphabetic literacy is enough to wrench the individual from the tribal web. When tribal man becomes phonetically literate, he may have an improved abstract intellectual grasp of the world, but most of the deeply emotional corporate family feeling is excised from his relationship with his social milieu. This division of sight and sound and meaning causes deep psychological effects, and he suffers a corresponding separation and impoverishment of his internal linkimaginative, emotional and sensory life. He begins reasoning in a sequential linear fashion; he begins categorizing and classifying data. As knowledge is extended in alphabetic form, it is localized and fragmented into specialties, creating division of function, of social classes, of nations and of knowledge--and in the process, the rich interplay of all the senses that characterized the tribal society is sacrificed.

PLAYBOY: But aren't there corresponding gains in insight, understanding and cultural diversity to compensate detribalized man for the loss of his communal values?

MCLUHAN: Your question reflects all the institutionalized biases of literate man. Literacy, contrary to the popular view of the "civilizing" process you've just echoed, creates people who are much less complex and diverse than those who develop in the intricate web of oral-tribal societies. Tribal man, unlike homogenized Western man, was not differentiated by his specialist talents or his visible characteristics, but by his unique emotional blends. The internal world of the tribal man was a creative mix of complex emotions and feelings that literate men of the Western world have allowed to wither or have suppressed in the name of efficiency and practicality. The alphabet served to neutralize all these rich divergencies of tribal cultures by translating their complexities into simple visual forms; and the visual sense, remember, is the only one that allows us to detach; all other senses involve us, but the detachment bred by literacy disinvolves and detribalizes man. He separates from the tribe as a predominantly visual man who shares standardized attitudes, habits and rights with other civilized men. But he is also given a tremendous advantage over the nonliterate tribal man who, today as in ancient times, is hamstrung by cultural pluralism, uniqueness and discontinuity--values that make the African as easy prey for the European colonialist as the barbarian was for the Greeks and Romans. Only alphabetic cultures have ever succeeded in mastering connected linear sequences as a means of social and psychic organization; the separation of all kinds of experiences into uniform and continuous units in order to generate accelerated action and alteration of form--in other words, applied knowledge--has been the secret of Western man's ascendancy over other men as well as over his environment.

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