Last week, at the CBC’s license renewal hearings before the CRTC in Ottawa, in a discussion of the relative merits of children learning from conventional TV screens and from tablets, one of the commissioners mentioned Marshall McLuhan’s writings.
Exodus 31:18: When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
Exodus 32:16: The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
Exodus 32:19: When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.
McLuhan: People are beginning to understand the nature of their new technology, but not yet nearly enough of them – and not nearly well enough. Most people still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world. Because we are benumbed by any new technology – which in turn creates a totally new environment – we tend to make the old environment more visible; we do so by turning it into an art form and by attaching ourselves to the objects and atmosphere that characterized it.
Source: Playboy interview, 1969