As we are about to enter the second decade of this brave new millennium, what could be more appropriate than to remember with affection, and pride, Marshall McLuhan, the only major prophet the human race has ever produced with a sense of humour? He taught us, among other things, by telling jokes. And how right he was most of the time, and how modest his unscholarly “probes.” He certainly never made any extravagant, boastful claims. He occasionally said that he was horrified by the implications of some of his observations. But he never said it with any emphasis.
Therefore, the world must be excused for remembering him as the man who proclaimed that the medium was as important as the message. But surely for all those interested in conveying matters of significance, that is a bad thing, not a good thing. Also, his interest, for example, in advertising as a form of communications no more and no less significant than other literary forms, and his jokes such as his quip that one could easily survive by reading only the left page in any book, quite naturally led the humourless world to believe that he actually believed that the ways things were said were as important as the content of what was being said.
Was his very considerable influence on the media in the last half century one of the factors responsible for the almost universal dumbing down that has occurred?
A story written in 2008 by Eric Koch that relates directly to understanding McLuhan has been posted on the Stories page.