An Observation by Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan in Annie HallA photo of McLuhan and Woody Allen in Annie Hall

“Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it, everything affects everything all the time.” — Marshall McLuhan

Douglas Copeland, author of Generation X, describing his biography of Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980):

“Half a century before Facebook, Twitter and ‘information overload,’ McLuhan presages the end of print culture and the rise of ‘electronic inter-dependence’ with uncanny accuracy, outlining not only the technological developments of this revolution but the complex shifts in social cognition that it begets.

“More than anything, it paints McLuhan as a masterful dot-connector and voracious cross-disciplinary thinker, a curious octopus if you will — the kind of intellectual disposition at the root of our own mission.

“One must remember that Marshall arrived at these conclusions not by hanging around, say, NASA or I.B.M., but rather by studying arcane 16th-century Reformation pamphleteers, the writings of James Joyce, and Renaissance perspective drawings. He was a master of pattern recognition, the man who bangs a drum so large that it’s only beaten once every hundred years.”

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5 responses to “An Observation by Marshall McLuhan

  1. I was at that taping in New York as a student/Archivist of Marshall’s.

  2. Are we in an “oral society?”

  3. with to a return to an oral/aural society, then “hot” media, as McLuhan described it, would be more dominant and influential (think Hitler on radio vs JFK on the “cool” medium of TV). Trump’s use of twitter, to me, is a return to communication via a hot medium.

  4. McLuhan said that the medium is the message, but he also said that the medium is the MASSAGE. Watch out!