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Marshall McLuhan on the Cool Medium of Comics

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 7:44am

Superman, Supergirl & Krypto (Art by Curt Swan, 1962)

McLuhan’s Cool Comics

by Guy Leshinski   –   Sept. 28, 2005

In his first book, 1951’s The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan reproached the Man of Steel, calling Superman’s crime-fighting tactics “the strong-arm totalitarian methods of the immature and barbaric mind.” He was more favourable a few years later when surveying the medium as a whole. He devoted an entire chapter of his seminal book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man to unpacking the intangible ways comics ape and infect our culture. (Marymount Manhattan College professor Kent Worcester and Toronto writer Jeet Heer include this chapter in their erudite anthology
Arguing Comics.)

 Superman Cover, Oct. 1967

McLuhan saw comics as extensions of the woodcut and photographic media, “a world of inclusive gesture and dramatic posture.”

“[T]he modern comics strip and comic book,” he wrote, “provide very little data about any particular moment in time, or aspect in space, of an object. The viewer, or reader, is compelled to participate in completing and interpreting the few hints provided by the bounding lines.” These are qualities of what McLuhan termed “cool” media, lo-fi creations that force us to fill in the blanks. They contrast with “hot” media like film, which make the viewer “a passive consumer of actions.” Comics, in his words, are cool.

He scrutinized Mad magazine, which, at the time Understanding Media was published in 1964, was hitting its stride as an agent of screwball subversion. To McLuhan, Mad was “a ludicrous and cool replay of the forms of the hot media of photo, radio and film.”

Mad is a kind of newspaper mosaic of the ad as entertainment, and entertainment as a form of madness.” It exploited the fact that ads, according to McLuhan (who considered Hollywood movies ads for popular culture), were “not meant for conscious consumption,” so that “any ad consciously attended to is comical.”

“The comic strip and the ad, then, both belong to the world of games, to the world of models and extensions of situations elsewhere.”

McLuhan clearly had a soft spot for funnybooks. He contrasted the genteel fine-art world with popular art like comics, “the clown reminding us of all the life and faculty that we have omitted from our daily routines.” He saw in Al Capp’s classic strip Li’l Abner and its “predicament of helpless ineptitude” a “paradigm of the human situation, in general.” And he cautioned that the rise of television, an even more inclusive medium, devalued comics as purveyors of far-flung drama.

All this came decades before the growth of the graphic novel and the Western embrace of comics stories and techniques from France, Japan and elsewhere. McLuhan studied the nascent comic form, its melding of words and pictures, divorced from its content — which he argued was a medium of its own.

In this way, comics haven’t changed in the time since McLuhan published his definitive works. His theories are as provocative to the comics fan as they are to the technophile, even if, like the medium itself all these years, his writing on comics is mostly ignored. (Source:


The best book by far for understanding comics is Scott McLeod’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1993), which was, as acknowledged by its title, influenced by Marshall McLuhan.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a comic (a graphic novel technically) on everything about comic. First published in 1993, it is one of the most famous works of Scott McCloud, American comic artist and author. In this book, McCloud digs deep into almost all comic aspects: the history, vocabulary, the underlying principles, the various elements and how they work. It presents detailed graphical explanation on comics as a form of art and communication medium.

Since its publication, Understanding Comics has gained huge success commercially and critically. Well-known comic and graphic novel authors and artists such as Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Garry Trudeau, and Art Spiegelman expressed their praises for this seminal work of McCloud’s.

Providing abundant knowledge into the world of comic (and graphic novel), from the definitions, history, technicalities, theories, methods, concepts, styles, elements, and many others, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art has become one of the most important and influential works in the modern comic industry.    ( )

Here’s a sample of the book’s approach as read aloud by a Mr. Koch:

Part I of Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics.”

Categories: Blog

A Posthumously Published Book by Walter J. Ong, SJ – Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word & Digitization

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 7:28pm

The following is from an essay by a former student of Ong, Dr. Thomas J. Farrell, as an introduction to Ong’s thought and body of scholarship by way of prefacing this last book of his former teacher. Follow this link read Dr. Farrell’s whole essay

Ong’s incomplete sixth book-length study has now been posthumously published as the book Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization, edited by Thomas D. Zlatic and Sara van den Berg (Cornell University Press, 2017). Just to be clear, hermeneutic means interpretation. Ong left the incomplete manuscript in the Ong archives at SLU [Saint Louis University]. Professors Zlatic and van den Berg retrieved the incomplete manuscript from the Ong archives and edited it for publication, with an editorial apparatus to assist readers. This book is a primer in Ong’s thought. As a primer, it could be titled Ong for Dummies. As a primer in his thought, it could serve as a gateway for new readers to enter into the rich world of Ong’s thought in his 400 or so publications.

Professor Zlatic received his Ph.D. in English from SLU in the 1970s. Over the years, he has published numerous essays in which he draws on Ong’s thought, including “Faith in Pretext: An Ongian Context for [Melville’s] The Confidence-Man” in the book Of Ong and Media Ecology (Hampton Press, 2012, pages 241-280). In Ong’s posthumously published book, Zlatic supplied the three essays “Language as Hermeneutic: The Evolution of the Idea and the Text” (pages 123-146), “Language as Hermeneutic: An Unresolved Chord” (pages 147-180), and “Picturing Ong’s Oral Hermeneutic” (pages 195-201).

Professor van den Berg is currently a professor of English at SLU. She is the senior editor with Thomas M. Walsh of SLU of the book Language, Culture, and Identity: The Legacy of Walter J. Ong, S.J. (Hampton Press, 2011). She supplied the introduction to Ong’s posthumously published book (pages 1-8).

Perhaps I should explain that for years Fr. Ong suffered from Parkinson’s disease. At about the same time, Pope John-Paul II also suffered from it. I imagine that Ong’s decision to stop working on the drafts that Professors Zlatic and van den Berg have collated and edited for publication was based on the impact of Parkinson’s on him. In general, Ong loved to revise whatever he was writing. For him, revision was a labor of love. But the devastating impact of Parkinson’s undoubtedly made this labor of love unsustainable.

Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization

By Walter J. Ong, SJ

Edited & with Commentaries by Thomas D. Zlatic & Sara van den Berg

Cornell University Press

Language in all its modes—oral, written, print, electronic—claims the central role in Walter J. Ong’s acclaimed speculations on human culture. After his death, his archives were found to contain unpublished drafts of a final book manuscript that Ong envisioned as a distillation of his life’s work. This first publication of Language as Hermeneutic, reconstructed from Ong’s various drafts by Thomas D. Zlatic and Sara van den Berg, is more than a summation of his thinking. It develops new arguments around issues of cognition, interpretation, and language. Digitization, he writes, is inherent in all forms of “writing,” from its early beginnings in clay tablets. As digitization increases in print and now electronic culture, there is a corresponding need to counter the fractioning of digitization with the unitive attempts of hermeneutics, particularly hermeneutics that are modeled on oral rather than written paradigms.

In addition to the edited text of Language as Hermeneutic, this volume includes essays on the reconstruction of Ong’s work and its significance within Ong’s intellectual project, as well as a previously unpublished article by Ong, “Time, Digitization, and Dalí’s Memory,” which further explores language’s role in preserving and enhancing our humanity in the digital age.

For a Table of Contents, Reviews &Detailed Information see the Cornell University Press page at

Walter J. Ong (1912–2003) taught at Saint Louis University for thirty years. His many books include Orality and Literacy, Rhetoric, Romance, and Technology; Interfaces of the Word; and Fighting for Life, the latter three from Cornell University Press.

Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He is the proud author of the book Walter Ong’s Contributions to Cultural Studies: The Phenomenology of the Word & I – Thou Communication (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2000; 2nd ed. 2009, forthcoming).

Categories: Blog

A Catholic Media Trinity: Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong & Andy Warhol

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 7:28pm

Marshall McLuhan & Walter Ong seated to his left

By Nick Ripatrazone   –   Dec. 27. 2017

“I make probes,” wrote Marshall McLuhan. “I don’t explain—I explore.” In 1967 he published The Medium Is the Massage, an eccentric journey into how our senses experience electric media. That same year, Walter Ong, S.J.—whose graduate thesis adviser happened to be McLuhan—released The Presence of the Word, a dense but visionary take on our evolution from oral to electronic communication. Also in 1967 Andy Warhol created a silkscreen portfolio of Marilyn Monroe. “The more you look at the same exact thing,” Warhol said, “the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.”

McLuhan, Ong and Warhol offered a profound vision of media, a Catholic vision. Their Catholicism was not incidental to their theories and their art; it was their structure, their spirit and their sustenance. Fifty years later, their simultaneous creations feel somehow both particular to their moment and prescient. We might even call them transcendent.

All oracles must divine from somewhere, and McLuhan’s source was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. Teilhard had conceived of the “noösphere,” an evolutionary phase in which a “thinking skin” covers the world. This “stupendous thinking machine” of a collective consciousness sounds much like a biological internet. Now imagine how Teilhard’s wild theory sounded to an academic like McLuhan, a literary scholar seeking patterns and connections in the history of media and communication…

Unlike McLuhan, Ong is primarily concerned with the mode of sound: “The electronic processes typical of today’s communications world are themselves of their very nature infravisible—not even truly imaginable in terms of sight.” Although the electronic age awakened us to the profound differences between the “old oral culture and the culture initiated with writing and matured with alphabetic type,” he channels McLuhan to say that “simultaneity is a mark of both early oral culture and of electronic culture Primitive life is simultaneous in that it has no records, so that its conscious contact with its past is governed by what people talk about.”

Our digital world is simultaneous, absolute, overwhelming in possibility. What does that mean for communion with others? “The fragmentation of consciousness initiated by the alphabet has in turn been countered by the electronic media which have made man present to himself across the globe, creating an intensity of self-possession on the part of the human race which is a new, and at times an upsetting, experience. Further transmutations lie ahead.”

McLuhan &Warhol

Warhol surrounded himself with Catholic artists, photographers, poets and managers: Fred Hughes, Gerald Malanga, Paul Morrissey, Bob Colacello, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe and Vincent Fremont. The same year he created the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” spectacles, Warhol created a silkscreen series of Marilyn Monroe. The portfolio’s varying shades and colors take an endlessly recycled face and imbue transformative life. There is something vaguely liturgical in Warhol’s recursive method.

This is not to say that such pop work was devotional; Warhol saved that for his Last Supper sequence. Alexandre Iolas commissioned Warhol to create a series based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work. For an artist who had made the mundane mystical—think soup cans and soda bottles—this was a different context. It was a print masterpiece resurrected, an artistic word made flesh: draped in camouflage, silkscreened, infused with layers of pop and piety. Warhol created over 100 takes on Leonardo’s creation, his repetition suffused with the rhythm of prayer. McLuhan did not live to see it, but he would have appreciated it”…

These are 3 segments from a longer article which you should read in full at:

See also the following on this blog:-

Teilhard de Chardin’s Concept of Noosphere & His Influence on Marshall McLuhan  –

McLuhan & Ong on the Cultural Shift From Orality to Literacy –

Andy Warhol & Marshall McLuhan: The Artist & the Visionary

Categories: Blog

Season’s Greetings & Happy New Year to Subscribers & Readers of the McLuhan Galaxy

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 12/19/2017 - 6:15pm

Marshall McLuhan, his mother Elsie and younger brother Maurice (“Red”)

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

– Marcellus to Horatio and Bernardo, after seeing the Ghost: (Hamlet, I, i)

Gutenberg Man at leisure – Books, the Toronto Star & a Canadian beer in its stubby bottle
Categories: Blog

Include Me Out: The Reversal of the Overheated Image by Marshall McLuhan, December, 1968, Playboy

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 6:15pm

The December 1968 Edition of Playboy Magazine that contains Marshall McLuhan’s essay, Include Me Out: The Reversal of the Overheated Image  

Most people who have an interest in Marshall McLuhan are aware of the 1969 Interview of McLuhan published by Playboy Magazine, but they might not know about the December 1968 essay Include Me Out: The Reversal of the Overheated Image. Here is the full text of that essay and, if you wish, you can download that entire Playboy issue from

Include Me Out: The Reversal Of The Overheated Image

by Marshall McLuhan
Playboy, December 1968

Mind your media, men, or you’ll find yourselves catching
a cold environment—and suffering from overexposure.
“The bark is still there, but the molars are gone.”
The Avis ad reads: “We try harder.”
The Electric Circus ad reads: “We try softer.”

The big reversal of our time is the flip from a service environment of “hardware” to a service environment of “software.” By 1820, well before the telegraph became commercial, England had achieved hardware service environments on a considerable scale. Not just the press and cheap books (“The true university of these days is a collection of books”—Carlyle) but a national postal service based on hard-surface post roads. The application of steam power to printing and manufacture, to boat and train, was well under way. All of these environmental services were tied into metropolitan concentrations and marketing based on uniform pricing and currency. (The LSD of those days meant an outer trip—pounds, shillings and pence: hard money.

The acceleration of hardware technologies assured centralization of power and management, just as the much greater electronic speed-up today ensures the reverse pattern in business and politics, in culture and education, in war and peace. Mechanical, industrial or hardware service environments—print, post, rail or plane, for example—are “hot” because they are tightly tied together as bureaucratic organizations. On the other hand, software environments of information are pervasive, unobtrusive and as decentralized as telephone or radio. Hardware is specialized, requiring much fragmentation of skills. Software is generalized, requiring an interrelated awareness of whole environments. The new word is “ecology.” The organization chart is gone. Today, the higher a man climbs in an organization, the less he has to do with its operation. By the time he reaches the top, he’s a dropout, like L. B.J. Had Robert Kennedy survived the assassin’s bullets and been a Presidential candidate in November, he would automatically have become President. As a cripple, he would have been much “cooler.” F. D. R., as a cripple, was not a mere leader. He was an emperor. Seated in his wheelchair, he acquired the imperial status of Buddha or Raymond Burr’s Ironside. A man standing on his two feet can be a leader. That’s a hot image. But he must shout, trying to find an audience. An emperor, seated in state, doesn’t need to find an audience. He gives audience. He wears his audience, the whole nation, as his mask of power.

Of course, even this posture, pushed to an extreme, defeats itself by reversal. Milton understood this very well in presenting his image of Satan in the opening of book two of Paradise Lost: “High on a throne of royal state, which far/Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,/Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand/Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,/Satan exalted sat, by merit rais’d/To that bad eminence…”As Antony Jay put it in Management and Machiavelli: “The emperor is the stage beyond the creative leader, the position that a few creative leaders graduate to, and this ability to . . . harness the most powerful and influential people to the common cause is the distinguishing feature.” The emperor, that is to say, creates new environments. These are the emperor’s new clothes. They are invisible, because people are able to see only something their own size. Environments surround them and numb them, eluding the perception of all except little Peter Pans.Today, private business can become an invisible environment so large as to be the equivalent of a national state. As makers of service
environments, businesses shape and educate our perceptions invincibly and invisibly. The Greek word for environment is perivallo —”to hit from all sides at once.”

In this age of information environments of electric software, it is the service environments that have become the teaching machines. Education and culture
have become the major part of the business enterprise itself, flipping the entire image of business. One sees ads such as: “ADOPT A COLLEGE.” Business can now take over public education, even though Government is not allowed to assist private education. The laws preventing public subsidies to private educational institutions belong to the old hardware service environment of the pre-electric age. Now that the environment itself has become a major teaching machine, the image of learning has been reversed. The learner becomes hunter, explorer, not consumer. In the electric age, education can no longer be goal-oriented, not in the world of total field information and systems engineering.

Peter Drucker, who has had several diverse careers, says: “Here I am, fifty-eight, and I still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up.” He recommends, for all career men, an abrupt change into a totally different career at the age of 40. Language professors would switch to engineering or medicine, and vice versa.

The children in Watts were heard to say: “Why should we go back to school and interrupt our education?” Our 19th Century school and college systems, based on fragmented subjects and classified data, which derive from the old hardware environment, cannot relate to the new integral electric environments of information.

Sir Francis Drake put a girdle around the world in the 16th Century, but Sputnik enclosed the world in a man-made environment of information, turning it into an old nose cone, a piece of Camp, an archaeological museum. Joyce called it the “Willingdone museyroom.” The allusion to Wellington draws attention to the fact that war and weaponry have been the major drives in creating this planetary museum of artifacts. The willing aspect of the phrase expresses Joyce’s concern with the “burning would” that “is come to dance inane.” Men seem to be impelled by an inner drive that jitters them into
the most self-destructive situations. Macbeth’s fear was his “burning would” that drove him to Dunsinane. Radio in the 1920s created a totally new kind of world environment, substituting the ear for the eye, as it were. This was one of the great reversals of imagery in all human history. Literacy had extended the power of the eye, giving it dominance over the other senses. Phonetic literacy created visual, “rational” space. Never had any culture experienced this kind of space until Fifth Century Athens.

Eric Havelock’s Preface to Plato comments at length on the revolution by which the new literati, led by Plato, attacked the educational establishment of the bards. Homer and Hesiod had long been the educators of the Greek youth, teaching them “history as she is harped.” Plato simply denounced this program in the interest of “abc-ed-mindedness.” Joyce’s quip here draws attention to the inevitable price paid for visual dominance over the senses: “an eye for an ear.” W. H. Auden said, “A professor is a man who talks in
other people’s sleep.” The absent-minded professor is simply a sensory specialist with a fixed point of view, in space and in time. In a literate culture, even semiliterate scientists ape this form of literacy, taking great “precautions of a public kind” in order to appear as precise and correct as any grammarian.

The new world environment of radio evoked a unique creative re-sponse from the American Negro. Jazz is not only close to speech, song and dance but it is syncopated. The world of the ear offers none of the continuity and connectedness known only to the eye. The discontinuities of the electric “space-time” had received much advance billing in the arts before Einstein. Lewis Carroll’s Alice flipped out of the hardware world of visual space, of visual uniformity and connectedness, when she went Through the Looking-Glass.

But the telegraph press itself had, even earlier, reversed the pattern of the old book and editorial image. At electric speeds, a point of view is meaningless, even in a newspaper. News items are necessarily unconnected except by a date line. The newspaper mosaic has no story line. Like syncopated jazz or poetic symbolism, it is discontinuous. Negro jazz was quickly accepted in the capitals of the world. Paradoxically, the Negro integrated the world before anybody ever thought of integrating him. In the TV age, the Beatles seem to have made the most effective response to this “cool” medium. They have
gone Oriental, even as the East goes West. The Negro brought in evangelical folk music, but the bottom-wagging Twenties did not seek any inner trip. The Twenties accepted the dominance of the ear, of song and dance, over literacy and civilization. Even the highbrow arts of the Twenties were “Jung and easily Freudened,” and moved enthusiastically toward retribalization of society. The famous family of Stein (Gent and Ep and Ein) presents a good cross section of the new tribalism created by the radio environment.

When radio married the movies, when the movies started to talk, the reversal of imagery from the new heating-up process fed the drive toward the reverse TV image. The extreme coolness and tactility of TV has received its most impressive testimonial in a new painting by Salvador Dali. It appears on the cover of TV Guide for June 8, 1968. Two TV screens appear on two thumbnails. The thumbs are widely separated, looking like cracked sculpture (tactile space is the space of the interval, the icon, the contour). With the advent of TV, the old hardware world began to crumble. Radio and movies had at first seemed to provide the old mechanized world with a hotted-up image even more glamorous than before. It was the moment of reversal. Even sex has flipped. Hollywood photography hotted-up glamor and kisses and long-stemmed American beauties. Skirts were at the knee: “She rolls her stocking at the knee/And when she sits down, you can see/ There ain’t no flies on Auntie.” The greatly improved photography of the Sixties has pushed the sex image all the way into nonsex. The gatefold cuties in PLAYBOY are
sculptural and cool, as nudes must be. As photography goes hi-fi, visual qualities yield to texture and tactility. The hot becomes cool. The detached image, full of visual fantasy and desire (“dreams that money can buy”) becomes an aesthetic object of multi-sensuous involvement. Real cool. The miniskirt is not hot or sexy. It is a tribal costume, long worn by boys, men and women alike. It is not a fashion.

No more disconcerting reversal of image could be imagined. The worlds of reversals created by speeded-up information movement affect every sphere of life. Each could do with a book. There already is a book on The De-Romanization of the Roman Church. When it took months for bishops to travel to Rome and back, the consensus of the faithful, which is called “papal infallibility,” was totally different from the same image in the jet age. In the  old hardware world, “all roads led to Rome.” In the jet age, there are no roads. Rome is in our sitting room as much as Vietnam. The new participation of the faithful in the decision-making process exceeds even the fragmentation of Protestant literacy. Rome seems to be set to perform a judo flip, by which all the schismatic churches fling themselves back into her arms. It is well known that leaders no longer come up from inside an operation, commercial or political. The old bureaucratic structures of big business and civil service are too fragmented to produce leaders. The leader has to be a “dark horse” from outside the old type of structure. Today, the only person who can run a big business is one who has had much involvement in a small business. It is the same with the big city. Big cities were created by the old hardware of steamship and railway. They were highly centralized structures, like the huge armies of World War One. The motorcar tore the big cities apart—into suburbs. The jet planes simply bypassed the cities, leaving them to become ghettos. It is said that three times the
population of Chicago leaves O’Hare Airport each year.

The decentralization of war came with radio in World War Two. Churchill and Roosevelt were big tribal chieftains who used the fireside as the firing line. World War Two decentralized via radio into guerrilla tactics. As for World War Three, a student of mine wrote: “The Vietnam war is the first world war ever fought on American soil.” Thanks to TV, parents have seen their sons killed on the seven-o’clock news. In a word, a hot war cannot be endured on a cool me-dium. This also applies to politics. In all countries, the
party system has folded like the organization chart. Policies and issues are useless for election purposes, since they are too specialized and too hot. The shap-ing of the candidate’s integral image has taken the place of discussing conflicting points of view. The world of education presents the same kind of reversal. Institutions established to prepare students for goals by specialist courses and credits are being rejected and even defied by their clients. The TV generation wants participation in the educational process. It does not want packages. The students want problems, not answers. They want probes,
not exams. They want making, not matching. They want struggle, not goals.They want new images of identity, not careers. They want insights, not classified data.

At IBM, a favorite slogan is “Information overload = pattern recognition,” or sudden structural awareness. A recent report about a dilemma in the Pentagon concerned the excessive influx of data collected by agents of the CIA and others. So great is the unread backlog that even the Pueblo can get lost in the IN basket. There is imminent danger of pattern recognition even in the Pentagon, the biggest filing cabinet in the world. The new Reading Dynamics or “high-speed reading” tends to build on the principle of overload as pattern recognition. The faster one reads, as every exam crammer has discovered, the more one perceives and the more one retains. (But, of course, there is the
exception: “I’ll never forget what’s-his-name.”)

The information theorists are fond of pointing out that a telephone book contains no information. There are too many data and no patterns. In the electric environment of fast-changing, total-field information, a fixed point of view is as useless as a specialty. Today, the training of an engineer or a doctor is obsolete upon graduation. The result is that the artist replaces the bureaucrat. The ivory tower supplants the control tower. Electronic man becomes a hunter, a prober once more. He begins to live by “feedforward,” not “feedback.” (The Eskimo hunter proved by far the best jet-engine
mechanic at Gander in World War Two.)

As Antony Jay points out, when you are on an economy drive, remember: “Economy does not need an actuary, it needs a visionary.” In any operation where excellence and integrity are at stake, budgets are irrelevant. The bureaucrat will insist upon cheaper pencils and carbon paper, sending out messages such as that received by the deep-sea diver: “Surface at once. The ship is sinking.” The principle of reversal of image and structure that accompanies every amplification of power applies everywhere, from trivial
matters such as dance bands, reduced from 40 instruments to five by electric amplifiers, to the very pattern of human identity, reduced by data banks and computer memories to insignificance. The more that is publicly recorded about the actual existence of any person, the more he is diminished in his private existence. Like any public entertainer, he becomes his admirers or his recorders. By a commodius vicus of recirculation, this flips us back to the Circus, in which music is no longer for listening to but for merging

                 The first page of the essay in Playboy, illustrating the layout & graphics. (Click on image for an expanded view.)

Categories: Blog

Imaginations 8-3: Special Issue on Marshall McLuhan & the Arts

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:14pm

“The artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society”. —Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964)

Editors | Adam Lauder and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

This special issue exploring “Marshall McLuhan and the arts” encourages new approaches to the study of McLuhan’s influential theses on perception, design, and the built environment as well as the artist’s changing role in postindustrial society. Submissions try to excavate previously unknown, or lesser-known, narratives and linkages, and/or engage contemporary resonances and possibilities for intersection with current critical theories and debates.

Recent years have been witness to McLuhan’s re-emergence as a major interdisciplinary thinker whose writings bridge the study of communication, culture, and technology. The computational, materialist and sensorial foci of his thought offer suggestive alternatives to approaches and assumptions embedded in the linguistic turn. Our volume includes papers that explore his work on design, perception, and visualization as well as how his insights continue to inform or otherwise connect up with current art and design production as well as theories about their place and meaning in contemporary culture…

Marshall McLuhan and the Arts after the Speculative Turn | Adam Lauder and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

Printing a Film to Make it Resonate: Sorel Etrog and Marshall McLuhan’s Spiral | Elena Lamberti

Mansaram and Marshall McLuhan: Collaboration in Collage Art | Alexander Kuskis

Critique, texte et art contemporain. Repenser l’héritage de Marshall McLuhan aujourd’hui | Adina Balint

Songlines, not Stupor: Cheryl L’Hirondelle’s nikamon ohci aski: songs because of the land as Technological Citizenship on the Lands Currently Called “Canada” | Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, May Chew, and Daina Warren

McLuhan’s Photographic Gestalt (and the project of the object world) | Tom McGlynn

L(a)ying with Marshall McLuhan: Media Theory as Hoax Art | Henry Adam Svec

Marshall McLuhan’s Counterenvironment within the Stream of Defamiliarization | Kenneth Allan

Our World: McLuhan’s Idea of Globalized Presence as the Prehistory of Computational Temporality | Mohammad Salemy

Assembling the (Non)Human: The Animal as Medium | Jody Berland

The Designscapes of Harley Parker: Print and Built Environments | Gary Genosko

This issue is located at


Guest Editors: Jaqueline McLeod Rogers and Adam Lauder
Editor-in-Chief: Sheena Wilson
Managing Editors: Brent Ryan Bellamy
English Substantive and Copy Editor: Shama Rangwala
French Translator: Ève Robidoux-Descary
French Editor: Dominique Laurent
Web Editor: Brent Ryan Bellamy
PDF Layout and Design: John Montague
Featured Image: Tom McGlynn, Painted-Over Crosswalk, Jersey City, 2016

8-3 Full Issue PDF Coming Soon |

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #4: Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news & challenges of accountability in the new media

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 9:48pm

Date & Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Rogers Communications Centre (The Venn RCC 103), 80 Gould Street, Ryerson University, Toronto

Description: Join the McLuhan Salons series, and Philippine correspondent for Reuters and McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism, Manny Mogato. Mogato will present the topic: “Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news and challenges of accountability in the new media” in which he discusses the spread of fake news in the Philippines and how this undermines the news media’s role. His presentation would also like to discuss the question: “In a time when human rights and other fundamental freedoms in the Philippines are under the spotlight, what should journalists do to respond to the threats of fake news and the lack of accountability by purveyors of false information?”

Welcome remarks:
Janice Neil, Ryerson University
Paolo Granata, University of Toronto

Special Guests:
Michael McLuhan, Executor Marshall McLuhan Estate
Carlo Figueroa, Public Affairs Officer, Embassy of Canada

This event is presented by the University of St. Michael’s College, Book & Media Studies Program at the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and Ryerson School of Journalism. We are grateful for the support of the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson Rogers Communication Centre, as our venue partner.

The McLuhan Salon series is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to register online at:

This year’s McLuhan Fellow is Manny Mogato, correspondent for Reuters. A journalist for more than thirty years, Mr. Mogato is the first Filipino correspondent for an international news agency to receive the McLuhan Fellowship. Perhaps one of the most veteran Filipino journalists writing for the foreign press, he started his career in during the last few years of the Marcos dictatorship. During the turbulent democratic transition under the administration of Corazon Aquino, he covered the defense and military beats and became part of the presidential press corps during the Ramos presidency in 1992. In 1997, he was assistant news editor of the Manila Times until it was closed down due to political pressure from then President Joseph Estrada. He later joined Reuters.
Mr. Mogato has been an active member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) which elected him as its president three times and a member of the board for more than 12 years. As a journalist, he has covered conflicts and insurgencies, health concerns, human rights, international affairs, politics, and general news assignments. He has also been teaching as a professorial lecturer at the University of the City of Manila.
Last May, he and the Reuters team in Manila received the Special Merit Award – English Multimedia Category in the Human Rights Press Awards for their multimedia series, “Duterte’s War,” detailing the current Philippine president’s campaign against illegal drugs. The event was co-organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association with Amnesty International Hong Kong. Mr. Mogato won the McLuhan Fellowship for his excellent reportage of issues surrounding human rights and international diplomacy.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship is the Embassy of Canada’s flagship public diplomacy initiative in the Philippines. Launched in 1997, this is an advocacy to encourage responsible journalism in the Philippines with the belief that a strong media is essential to a strong democratic society.
Every year, the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility(CMFR) assists the Embassy in choosing a Filipino journalist whose work has contributed to positive changes in the social arena or at least has raised the level of public discourse in a relevant issue usually concerning governance and human rights.

The program provides the winner with a two-week study tour to Canada including at least three major cities. This will be an opportunity for the winner to interact with his media counterparts, and to discuss significant current issues on governance with Canadian government officials, academic interlocutors and members of civil society. The winner will also have the chance to visit as a fellow at the McLuhan Institute in Toronto. Upon the return of the awardee to the Philippines, a series of forums is organized by the Embassy to be held in five key cities around the country to enable the journalist to share his experiences in Canada with students of communication and members of the local and community media.

Aside from contributing to good governance by raising transparency in the public arena, the McLuhan Fellowship also aims to create in the long-term a critical group of influential media personalities with good knowledge and interest in Canadian issues or at least the values Canada stands for: democracy, good governance, and human rights.

Rogers Communication Centre

Categories: Blog

The Movement is the Medium in the Dance Work “Wells Hill”, Inspired by McLuhan & Glenn Gould

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 8:12pm

Blending light, sound, video projections, and movement, Wells Hill explores the prescient ideas of Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould. (Photo by David Cooper)

In 1962, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan effectively predicted the Internet. In The Gutenberg Galaxy, he wrote about an electronic age when technology would unite people in a “global village” where everyone had equal access to information. Two years later, in his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he went on to talk about how the method of communication would become the most influential fact of the electronic age. Hello, smartphones: by 2017, we know more than ever that “the medium is the message.” 

As a dance artist, Vanessa Goodman feels that one of the most eerily prescient things McLuhan said was that technology would become an extension of our physical selves. Consider the way we jump to attention when our cellphone buzzes in our pocket. “With what we’re experiencing now, I feel there’s a strong relevance to revisit what he said,” the Action at a Distance artistic director tells the Straight over the phone before rehearsal at SFU Woodward’s. “So much of what he predicted has come true.”


In fact, Goodman has devoted three years to exploring those ideas physically, sonically, and visually in her multimedia Wells Hill.

But Goodman’s fascination with the theorist goes far beyond the artistic and into the realm of the personal. She grew up in the Toronto house where McLuhan once lived—the Tudor-style residence at 29 Wells Hill Avenue.

“My parents were always interested in art: my dad owned a jazz club for a short while, my mom was an art conservator. And I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know it was Marshall McLuhan’s house,” Goodman says, recalling that her parents never painted over a basement wall where McLuhan’s son Michael had scrawled his name.

She also clearly remembers the day a commemorative plaque was dedicated at the house site. “That’s when they revealed to my family just how many amazing people had come to the house and met with Marshall in his study. And one was Glenn Gould.”

Here’s where the story gets even more bizarre. It turns out that Goodman’s parents had also lived in Gould’s former Toronto apartment before she was born. “It was one of those weird moments and intersections,” says the choreographer, who explores the way McLuhan and Gould’s theories intersected and contradicted throughout Wells Hill—and the way they altered how we consume art and information. (Photo below by Ben Didier)

Flashforward to a few years ago, and Goodman was relaying that anecdote to Michael Boucher, director of SFU’s Cultural Programs & Partnerships, when he encouraged her to take on the two icons and their complex concepts in her next work. At first, Goodman, who had just won the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, admits she felt trepidation. “They’re both such prolific characters and icons in their own right,” she says. “But when I started to read their material, I realized I could apply these theories to create dance. I began to find my way through: my medium is movement and my message is that I’m interested in embodiment.”

Goodman slowly began building the work, integrating low-fi and high-tech elements, from the electronic soundscore by Scott Morgan (of Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman to projections that include sometimes glitched-out black-and-white footage of McLuhan and Gould speaking. (Goodman collaborated with Ben Didier and Milton Lim on the projections.) For those video elements, she applied multiple processes, working from original film of the two men, and then employing everything from an old cathode-ray projector to VHS recording.

“I like to use older technology to make something new,” Goodman says. “I even made a lo-fi hologram for this [version].

“It’s always my goal to make an immersive environment—to make the room dance,” she adds, bringing to mind her 2014 work with the Contingency Plan, What Belongs to You, which created an ethereal, ever-moving environment with just sheets of plastic and a few hundred balloons. “That’s always my puzzle.”

Wells Hill has evolved since shorter versions appeared at the Chutzpah Festival, the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and Small Stage. It features seven dancers: Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, Alexa Mardon, and Bevin Poole. And Goodman says she’s now split the new, full-length rendition into two distinct sections. “The piece works chronologically: the first part is pre-Internet and the second is post-Internet—or at least, where we are today,” Goodman says. “So the second is the hyperspeed essence of our consumption of information today.”

Staging the work at Simon Fraser University, where she earned her degree at the School for the Contemporary Arts, brings her full circle: she presented a short, early work there in 2010 when the Woodward’s site opened its Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. But the program is also part of Celebrate Canada 150+, and joins the international DanceHouse presentation series.

“DanceHouse has been incredibly influential to me: it’s inspired me to study abroad and study with some of those companies,” Goodman says. “They have actually blown my mind with some of their programming, so I’m pinching myself that I’m part of that.”

And the real house that she grew up in? Although it doesn’t make its way into Wells Hill in any literal fashion, it still plays a huge role in Goodman’s personal life. “It’s where I go when I go there to visit family,” she says. “I still sleep in the same bed.”

SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, DanceHouse, and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts present Wells Hill at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre from Friday to Sunday (November 24 to 26).
(Source: )

Categories: Blog

Action At a Distance: Wells Hill – Experimental Dance Theatre Inspired by Marshall McLuhan & Glenn Gould

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 8:34pm

Action At a Distance: Wells Hill

Nov. 24 & 25 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 26, 2017, at 2 p.m. | Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU Gold Corp Centre for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

According to Vanessa Goodman, a “weird Canadiana moment” inspired her latest work.

The Vancouver-based choreographer grew up in a Toronto house once inhabited by Marshall McLuhan and his family. At a 2011 commemorative plaque ceremony for the house, the McLuhans informed the Goodmans that Glenn Gould, among others, would visit to speak to the esteemed Canadian media critic.

“This struck me,” said Goodman. “Coincidentally, my parents lived in the same apartment building that Gould lived in before they moved into the house.”

This week, Goodman and her company Action at a Distance present the world premiere of Wells Hill. It’s a contemporary dance piece informed by the ideas and philosophies of the two Canadian cultural icons.

Part of the choreographer’s approach has been to look at how technology has influenced not just our thoughts and actions but also our physical movements.

“McLuhan predicted that technology was going to be an extension of our nervous system,” she said.

“And today we have these Pavlovian responses to our devices. Something lights up, like a notification, and we are automatically drawn to it. Our movements are so predetermined by our interactions with technology. For me, there’s a logic to finding those connections through dance.”

Gould’s ideas about performance, as well as excerpts from his recordings, are also incorporated.

In coming up with the piece, Goodman collaborated with seven dancers. They are Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, Alexa Mardon and Bevin Poole.

“I gave them an excerpt of text by McLuhan, and I asked them to transpose it into emojis on their cellphone,” she said. “From there, I tasked them with developing those emojis into gestural phrases. And from there we developed them into larger movement phrases.”

Goodman has structured Wells Hill in two parts — pre- and post-internet.

“In the second half, the language of the piece is strongly linked to these emoji phrases, these new ways that we’re figuring out how to communicate. McLuhan was generating a lot of inspiration for his theories from Renaissance pamphlets. In a sense, we’re going back in time to use pictorial images to describe how we’re feeling emotionally. So there is that through-line in there.”

Goodman is also working with lighting designer James Proudfoot, projection artists Ben Didier and Milton Lim, and composers Scott Morgan (who records under the name Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman.

SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs commissioned the piece, which is co-presented by DanceHouse and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts. The recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, Goodman has created works for the Dancing on the Edge Festival, The Gwaii Trust, and Vancouver Biennale. The Canada Dance Festival, The Magnetic North Festival, The Dance Centre, and The Chutzpah! Festival have all presented her work.

Although its original inspiration is in ideas, Wells Hill also works on a more visceral level.

“At its core, it’s really about the medium, which is the movement, and the message, which is that at the end of the day we have our bodies,” Goodman said.

“Anytime I start to feel overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information that’s out there on these two individuals (McLuhan and Gould), I come back to what my entry-point is, which is the physical, emotional conversation with the bodies, and the stagecraft. That is the base layer for the whole work.” Source:

Marshall McLuhan’s Last House at 3 Wychwood Park, Toronto

Upon his return [in 1968 from his academic year at Fordham University in New York], the McLuhan family—with most of their six children grown and moved out—relocated from their quiet Tudor-style house at 29 Wells Hill Avenue, near Casa Loma, to 3 Wychwood Park.                                                             The McLuhans’ home was an Edwardian mansion designed by Eden Smith (who had built his own home on the same street) in a wooded area that had been conceived as an artists’ retreat at the turn of the 20th century by landscape painter Marmaduke Matthews. It was described as “baronial” by one visitor impressed by its oak paneling and high ceilings. As Marchand says, McLuhan loved the house dearly and “enjoyed showing it off to visitors with a simple-hearted pride.” Intellectuals and politicians and others were frequent guests, discussing ideas at the dinner table or outside on the elegant stone terrace. “Anybody who came to visit had a tour of the park,” McLuhan’s daughter Elizabeth told the Globe and Mail in 2008. “Nobody left without a walk around.”
It was McLuhan’s ritual that he and wife Corrine walked around the park daily. McLuhan was particularly fond of the park’s pond—created by Taddle Creek surfacing briefly on its southeasterly course through the city. He described the neighbourhood lovingly in a 1969 letter to a friend: “Our house is No. 3 and is the only house on a lovely pond in the heart of Toronto….The pond ripples outward into a heavily treed neighbourhood of twenty-two acres and fifty-four houses. The Park has no ‘roads’ or sidewalks, but simply these ‘Viconean’ circles of homes and people in a most unusual, dramatic relationship.”
Wychwood Park deeply affected McLuhan’s view of urban community. In Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding (Stoddart, 1997), W. Terrence Gordon quotes McLuhan as writing:

Previously, I have only lived on streets, which sometimes have the quality of neighbourhood, but lineality is not compatible with community. The community character of Wychwood Park is a direct result of the circular compositioning of the houses, resulting from Wychwood pond. When houses interface by their circular or oval compositioning, a kind of social resonance develops that does not depend upon a high degree of social life or visiting among the occupants. Rather, there occurs a sense of theatre, as if all the occupants were, in varying degrees, on a stage. Something of the sort happens in any small village, and builders and planners could easily achieve rich community effects (even without a pond) simply by locating dwellings in non-lineal patterns.”

So McLuhan and neighbours, like architect Colin Vaughan, reacted strongly when they learned that proposed concrete apartment high-rises to be built on Davenport Road, immediately south of the park, threatened their neighbourhood. After seeking guidance from Jane Jacobs, who lived nearby in the Annex, they took their fight to City Hall. Ultimately, however, McLuhan and company were unsuccessful in convincing city council to halt the plans. (Source:

Categories: Blog

The Medium is the Massage Multiple Media Website

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 11:33pm


This unique website that is dedicated to Marshall McLuhan’s best-selling book is comprised of 6 sections:-
1. The Lecture, which offers an audio capture of Marshall McLuhan’s lecture as delivered on May 7, 1966, at The Poetry Center of the 92nd Street YM-YWHA for the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. McLuhan titled his lecture “The Medium Is the Massage”, a play on his famous aphorism, “the medium is the message”. You can hear the full lecture of 1 hour, 8 minutes by following this direct link This is followed by a large selection of quotes from the lecture, starting with these first 3:-
“I have been introduced quite recently as Canada’s revenge on the United States. You know, from the land of the DEW Line, the early-warning system.”

“[But, this is one of my themes tonight, as it were,] the artist as early-warning system for new media.

“[Another main theme of course will be that] the medium is the massage and not the message—it really works us over, it really takes hold and massages the population in a savage way.


2. The Book which provides a large selection of quotes from the book “The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel. It was published in March 1967 and became a bestseller with a cult following. Reversing the usual publishers’ procedure, a hardcover volume of the book was published after the paperback. More info via Wikipedia.

“The medium, or process, of our time—electric technology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.”

Direct link to this Book section:

3. The Film “This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage”, an experimental documentary produced by Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni, narrated by actor Edward Binnes and broadcasted on NBC TV (19 March 1967). For more information see my posting on this blog at

Here is the YouTube video of the film: 

Direct link to this Film section:


4. The Magazine 4th edition of the multimedia magazine Aspen (1967) designed by Quentin Fiore and edited by and devoted to sixties media visionary Marshall McLuhan. Voluminous documentation of “Aspen Magazine – The McLuhan Issue” its contents is available via

Some quotes from Aspen Magazine #4 on Marshall McLuhan:

“McLuhan was able to say ‘The medium is the message’ because he started from no concern with content.” — John Cage, “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)”

“A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are.”— Marshall McLuhan

Direct link to the Magazine section:


5. The Record (Audio) section contains the LP recording of “The Medium is the Massage” by Marshall McLuhan, released by Columbia Records in March 1967, conceived and coordinated by Jerome Agel, and produced by John Simon. Listen to Side A and Side B via

“Drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey.”— James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”

“This last week was like a total breakdown.”— Franz Kafka, “Diaries”

There ain’t no grammatical errors in a non-literate society.— Marshall McLuhan, see also “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man”, p. 238

Direct link to the Record section:


6. The Website section where all the quotes by Marshall McLuhan and others are listed from “The Medium is the Massage” (the lecture, the book, the film, the magazine and/or the record, single and remix).

“And the nun thanked the lad who replied: That’s all right Madame, any relative of Batman is a friend of mine!”

“The mass media are turning the globe into a village and catapulting 20th century man back to the life of the tribe.”— Marshall McLuhan


—John Cage, “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)”

Direct link to the Website section:

 The Back Cover Link to the Homepage:
Categories: Blog

Camille Paglia on Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:24pm

A media creature through and through, Paglia has been cavorting in the limelight of network TV and sold-out lectures ever since her 1991 book, Sexual Personae (the first of two volumes), poked the eye of both conservatives and liberals. Intrigued by Paglia’s intellectual resemblance to Marshall McLuhan – patron saint of Wired magazine – Stewart Brand, the author of The Media Lab, caught up with Paglia in the court of a San Francisco hotel. [This interview by Stewart Brand occurred in 1993.]

Camille Paglia Speaks; Stewart Brand mostly listens

Brand: Have you mapped your success against Marshall McLuhan’s? Remember how that happened? Here was a guy, like you he was on the fringe of academia, Catholic oriented, basically a literary creature. He starts holding forth in an epigrammatic way about culture and media, and suddenly AT&T and everybody else wants to talk to him. Paglia comes along, does what you’ve done…

Paglia: Influenced by McLuhan. Neil Postman, who I had the Harper’s magazine discussion with, said something that was very moving to me. He said at the end of that evening, “I was a student of Marshall McLuhan and I have never been with someone who reminded me more of McLuhan. When you were sitting with McLuhan in the middle of the night, all you would see was the tip of his cigar glowing, and you would hear him making these huge juxtapositions. Even his writing never captured the way McLuhan’s mind worked. Your mind works exactly the same, the way you bring things together and they ssssizzle when you bring them together.”

Brand: So you read McLuhan in college.

Paglia: McLuhan was assigned in my classes. Everyone had a copy of his books. There were so many things that were happening at that moment – McLuhan, Norman O. Brown, Leslie Fiedler, Allen Ginsberg. There was enormous promise of something that was going to just blast everything open in cultural criticism. What the heck happened? It wasn’t just a conservative administration in the ’70s and ’80s. That’s not it. It was a failure on the part of the ’60s generation itself. You feel it a little bit in “Blow Up,” or just like reading about Jimi Hendrix and the way the women looked, the way the groupies looked – how fabulous the groupies were. They were so sexy and so ballsy! It was amazing how those ’60s chicks talked. This was the real feminism. Even women got less powerful. We have had a general cultural collapse.

Brand: What did you make of McLuhan?

Paglia: We all thought, “This is one of the great prophets of our time.” What’s happened to him? Why are these people reading Lacan or Foucault who have no awareness at all of mass media? Why would anyone go on about the school of Saussure? In none of that French crap is there any reference to media. Our culture is a pop culture. Americans are the ones who have to be interpreting the pop culture reality.

When I was in England earlier this summer for the release of the Penguin paperback of Sexual Personae, I was having fits because of no TV there. I felt like I was in prison. Then I got to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam was better because they had everything on satellite. That was interesting in a kind of sociological way. They have German TV and Italian TV and French TV, but it is still not equivalent to what we have. What we have is total domination by the pop culture matrix, by the mass media matrix. That’s the future of the world.

Brand: Is pop culture and mass media the same thing?

Paglia: For me, yes. I teach a course called “Mass Media.” I think that it should be required for every liberal arts graduate – the whole history of mass media, traced from the 1830s newspapers all the way to today.

The whole interview, published in Wired, is worth reading and can be found here:

Stewart Brand

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #3: 2017 Harold Innis Lecture: Crisis in the Media

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 6:46pm

Dear All,
We are happy to team up with the Harold Innis Foundation at Innis College. On the evening of November 7, award-winning journalist and political commentator Andrew Coyne will deliver the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture: Crisis in the Media: Causes, Consequences and Cures. Coyne is a national affairs columnist for Postmedia News and a Fellow at University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance.

Join us for the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture! Further details and registration below. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Cheers! Paolo Granata

Crisis In The Media: Causes, Consequences &  Cures

On the evening of Tuesday, November 7, political commentator and journalist Andrew Coyne will deliver the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture, entitled “Crisis in the Media: Causes, Consequences and Cures.”

Andrew Coyne is a national affairs columnist for Postmedia News and a Fellow at University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance. Since graduating from U of T (BA 1983 Trinity College) and the London School of Economics, Coyne has led an expansive, award-winning career in journalism. He has contributed to such publications as Maclean’s, The Globe and MailThe New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalNational Review, and The Walrus.

  • November 7, 2017
    • 7:00 pm – Lecture
    • 8:00 pm – Q&A moderated by Innis College alumnus, Toronto Star journalist, and former managing editor for The VarsityJaren Kerr
    • 8:30 pm – Reception
  • Innis Town Hall | 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto
  • This is a FREE event, but online registration is required. | 

    Register for this free event at:

  • For more information contact the Innis Alumni Office at

This event is part of an annual lecture series, hosted by the Harold Innis Foundation, featuring acclaimed thinkers, whose discourse echoes that of Harold Adams Innis himself. Innis was one of Canada’s original thinkers, a professor of political economy at the University Toronto, and author of seminal works on economic history, media, and communications theory. His work contributed to the foundation of what is known as the Toronto School of communications theory, and in his writings he explored the role of the media in shaping culture and society.

 Harold Innis (1894 – 1952)

Categories: Blog

Library & Archives Canada, U of Toronto Libraries & Others Applaud Addition of Marshall McLuhan Documents to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 11:56am

Library & Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario

By Gary Price, November 1, 2017

It is with great enthusiasm that Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL), and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) today welcomed news that the documentary heritage of Marshall McLuhan has been accepted for inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s prestigious Memory of the World Register.

The nomination for the inclusion of Marshall McLuhan’s legacy into the Memory of the World Register was made jointly by LAC and UTL with the support of CCUNESCO. The documentary heritage that will become part of the Memory of the World is comprised of his archival collection preserved at LAC and his research library held at UTL. Dating from the time of McLuhan’s undergraduate studies to his death, the documents include a wealth of correspondence and manuscripts of writings: books, articles, essays, and lectures.

Marshall McLuhan’s marginalia in his copy of Finnegans Wake, Fisher Library (click on image for expanded view)

Quick Facts

  • The Marshall McLuhan archival collection is preserved by LAC, and his research library is held at UTL’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The two collections are interlinked.
  • Marshall McLuhan’s personal archive and library comprise approximately 50 metres of archival documents in multiple media and 6,000 published items (mainly books), many heavily annotated in his hand.
  • In over half a century after their publication, Marshall McLuhan’s books have sold over one million copies and have been translated into at least 17 languages.


Gary Price is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a library in the University of Toronto, constituting the largest repository of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada. (Wikipedia)

Categories: Blog

Highly Recommended: The Critical Edition of Understanding Media, Edited by Terrence Gordon

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 7:15pm

Most readers who are interested in Marshall McLuhan own a copy of his most important book Understanding Media (1964) in one of its several editions, either in hardcover or paperback. So they probably feel that they don’t need another edition. However, I recommend the Critical Edition, edited by Terry Gordon, for its additional features which are worth the price of the book by themselves. Besides the full text of Understanding Media, these include:-

  • McLuhan’s Introductions to both the First and Second editions the book;
  •  An Essay on the Ryerson Experiment (1960) the purpose of which was “to provide the ‘same’ information in the identical wording, to four similar audiences, each of which had the ‘same’ motivation to seek out and remember the information presented. Given the same objective examination on that information, would the only systematic remaining, namely the different media used, make a statistically significant difference to the average scores of those audiences?” The four different mediums used were: television, radio, live lecture, printed text;
  • A short essay on how McLuhan’s Report on Project in Understanding New Media (1960) was transformed into  Understanding Media (1964);
  • An essay on the Critical Reception of Understanding Media by Terrence Gordon;
  • Plus introductions to all the sections, a Glossary, List of McLuhan publications and Indices.

Gingko Press’s Listing:

Understanding Media The Extensions of Man (Critical Edition) Edited by W. Terrence Gordon When first published, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media made history with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and life in the twentieth century. This edition of McLuhan’s best-known book both enhances its accessibility to a general audience and provides the full critical apparatus necessary for scholars. In Terrence Gordon’s own words, “McLuhan is in full flight already in the introduction, challenging us to plunge with him into what he calls ‘the creative process of knowing.” Much to the chagrin of his contemporary critics, McLuhan’s preference was for a prose style that explored rather than explained. Probes, or aphorisms, were an indispensable tool with which he sought to prompt and prod the reader into an “understanding of how media operate” and to provoke reflection.In the 1960s McLuhan’s theories aroused both wrath and admiration. It is intriguing to speculate what he might have to say 40 years later on subjects to which he devoted whole chapters such as Television, The Telephone, Weapons, Housing and Money. Today few would dispute that mass media have indeed decentralized modern living and turned the world into a global village.

This critical edition features an appendix that makes available for the first time the core of the research project that spawned the book and individual chapter notes are supported by a glossary of terms, indices of subjects, names, and works cited. There is also a complete bibliography of McLuhan’s published works.

W. Terrence Gordon is Associate General Editor of the Gingko Press McLuhan publishing program, author of the biography Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding and McLuhan for Beginners.

Reaction to the first edition was as highly charged as the book itself: “Marshall McLuhan is now a power in more than one land.” — The New Statesman  “Infuriating, brilliant and incoherent.” — Commonwealth Review  “His critics are infuriated by his ideas … but some think he foretells our real future.”
— Richard Schickel, Harper’s   “The medium is not the message …” — Umberto Eco   “What if he is right?” — Tom Wolfe   640 pages, Hardcover, 5 1/4” x 7 1/2” (133 x 191 mm),
English    –    ISBN: 978-1-58423-073-1     $ 24.95 About the Editor: W. Terrence Gordon was born in Montreal in 1942. He studied at the University of Toronto, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He is the author of 17 published books and over 130 articles in the fields of linguistics, pedagogy, rhetoric, semiotics, and intellectual history. Since 1972, Gordon has been on the faculty of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, teaching courses in linguistics, translation, the role of radio in World War II, and, of course, the work of Marshall McLuhan. Author of the highly successful McLuhan for Beginners, W. Terrence Gordon has edited a critical edition of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media and McLuhan’s doctoral thesis, The Classical Trivium.

(Source: )

Sample Text From The Ryerson Media Experiment

The Ryerson Media Experiment in the maximized testing of the media was made possible by the following people:

  1. Roy Low, Department of Physics
    Carl Williams, Department of Psychology
    Isabel Macbeth, School of Radio & Television –
    James Peters, Department of English
    Gerald Kane, Depart of Radio
    William Sokira, Department of Radio
    Geofrey Jamieson, Department of Television

Mass Media and Learning – an Experiment


A seminar on culture and communication has frequent cause to concern itself with the mass media.  The experiment here reported was the culmination of our first year effort.  While in a very real sense an interdisciplinary product, the responsibility for the design, analysis and presentation of results fell to the psychologists in the seminar as being most familiar with the techniques involved.

Most research on mass media is concerned with either of two objectives:  studies of the influence of one medium on attitude changes, and consumer research designed ultimately to help sell soap or whatnot.  Little if any work has been done on the degree to which various media facilitate or impede learning, if indeed they have any influence at all.  The question does not occur readily because the mass media themselves are seldom seen as educational devices.  The silent assumption that mass media exist primarily for entertainment and propaganda, which underlies most such research, automatically excludes research with an educational bias.


In its most general form, the problem investigated can be stated thus:  Is learning affected by the channel over which information comes?  If so, how and to what extent?  While we usually assume that television, for instance, is more compelling than radio in securing our attention, we also assume that we can easily compensate psychologically for this differential advantage.  Whenever our attention is really aroused, we can and do attend to the radio address, news or weather report with the firm conviction that we will end up with all the information we require.  An extra effort of attention, we assume, will easily make up for the fact that we could have gleaned the same information with less effort over television.

With these considerations in mind, the experiment was designed to provide the “same” information in the identical wording, to four similar audiences, each of which had the “same” motivation to seek out and remember the information presented.  Given the same objective examination on that information, would the only systematic difference remaining, namely the different media used, make a statistically significant difference to the average scores of those audiences?  Television and radio were obvious choices for an experiment on mass communication.  Since they are often contrasted with “real” situations, a “live” lecture audience was added.  The fourth medium chosen was the printed page since it is widely regarded as the essential carrier of Culture – with a capital C – and is most often thought of as being threatened by the newer media in terms of its continued existence…

Note: The full text of Report on Project in Understanding New Media (1960) can be downloaded from this blog here:

Categories: Blog

McLuhan in New York: The Video of the Event, October 13, 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 6:31pm

Harley Parker, Ted Carpenter, Marshall McLuhan, John Culkin, SJ (Click on image for enlarged view)

McLuhan in New York, sponsored by Fordham University and St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto at Fordham University, 13 October 2017

From Fall 1967 to Spring 1968, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan spent one academic year in New York City as the Albert Schweitzer Chair of the Humanities at Fordham University, invited by John Culkin S.J., Chair of the Department of Communications at Fordham. McLuhan in New York took the city by storm. The vibrant New York intellectual and artistic vortex provided the right kind of environment to germinate McLuhan’s provocative and unconventional ideas, to capture the city’s imagination. McLuhan’s impact at Fordham was also instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to the idea that technological engagement plays a fundamental role in the structuring of human perception.

On Friday, October 13th, 2017, Fordham University at its at Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan hosted a public event with Eric McLuhan, Paul Levinson, and John Carey, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of McLuhan’s intellectual presence in New York City. The initiative’s goal was not only to pay homage to McLuhan and his intellectual legacy, but also to probe how McLuhan’s work is still pertinent to the general understanding of our media environment today.

The “McLuhan in New York” event is presented by the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York and the Book & Media Studies Program at the St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Estate of Marshall McLuhan.


Eric McLuhan, Independent scholar: The Lost Tetrads

Paul Levinson, Fordham University: The Omnipotent Ear

John Carey, Fordham University: The Responsive Chord, 2017 (Foward to)

Welcoming words:                                                                                                            Jacqueline Reich, Fordham University                                                                                Paolo Granata, University of Toronto

Video by Hopeton Campbell; Thanks, Claudia Rivera and Chris Vicari

Note: The audio problems have been corrected between 1hr 19 min 37 and 1hr 23 min 18 sec on this version of the video.


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FEEDBACK #1 – Marshall McLuhan & the Arts – A Touring Project, with Programs in The Hague, Berlin, Paris & Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 7:40pm
Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh (1967) (c) Karsh Estate
With Marshall McLuhan (CA), Peter Blegvad (UK), Disnovation(SW/DE), Harun Farocki (DE), Darsha Hewitt (CA), Mogens Jacobsen (DK), Willy Lemaitre (CA), !mediengruppe Bitnik(DE), MRZB (IT), Christof Migone (CA), Reynold Reynolds(US), Thomas Bégin (CA), Wolfgang Spahn (DE), Hito Steyerl(DE), Stephanie Syjuco (PH) & Angela Washko (US).
Exhibition: 22.09.2017 — 19.11.2017
Opening + performance: Thomas Bégin & Wolfgang Spahn
Friday 22.09.2017, 8 PM
2 locations: West Museumkwartier, Lange Voorhout 34 West; Groenewegje 136

Extras: 2-day Symposium Feedback 28.09 & 29.09
1-day Symposium Man and His World 21.10
1-day Symposium Radical Transdiciplinary Academics 5.11
Workshop Wolfgang Spahn 31.10
Workshop Reynold Reynolds 15.11 — 18.11
Museumnacht open air cinema 21.10
Book presentation Reynold Reynolds 19.11

Recursive exhibition and symposium project. Celebrating the synthetic practices of the Toronto School, featuring the radical experimental publishing work of Marshall McLuhan as art. Feedback brings artists, designers, scholars, and thinkers together to probe, encounter and contest the light-speed electronic information environments we inhabit today.

Exploding out of the wreckage of World War II the early cyberneticists Norbert Wiener and Claude Shannon, sketched out a future where even thinking could be automated. In the electronic information of global instantaneous mass-communication of the satellite and TV age, Marshall McLuhan saw the end of the rational tradition of enlightenment Humanism, and the emergence of a ‘Global Village’ and ‘Global Theatre’ where people would be caught up in their interconnectivity and develop new social art forms.

The pace of technological transformation, automation and globalization have resulted in massive human migration, precaritization, displacement and new transitional modes of existence. The Internet, built to maintain command and control of the US military in an extreme emergency has become a commercialized infrastructure where unprecedented new forms of communication and exchange are emerging. Publics are formed and dissolved algorithmically according to need, no longer at the level of opinion or knowledge, but according to advanced social cybernetics of politics and the advertising economy. The medium is the message.

Feedback is the second in a series of projects (first was Without Firm Ground, Flusser and the Arts, March 2006), which explore the potential for a synthesis of philosophy and theory in works of arts to fathom and understand the accelerating pace of social transformation brought on by technological and scientific progress. The exhibition will feature fourteen provocative and invigorating propositions from drawing to sound sculpture, from online performance actions to obsessive hardware hackery, which grapple with the substance of the information machine we live in.

Installed across two locations visitors will discover the series of Dew-line newsletter and Explorations journals, archive materials, video documentation of McLuhan and works by young artists from all over the world.

Marshall McLuhan (CA, 1911 – 1980) had already noted in the 1960s that the speed and pervasiveness of electronic communication were superseding the rational and reflective abilities of literacy. The technologies that brought us here are built through rational disinterested scientific method, but generate an immersive environment where we lose grasp of private identity and long for a pre-literate togetherness in a ‘Global Village’. His ‘Global Village’ came to exemplify the uncritical Summer of Love communality of the Hippies, but it was a misappropriation and misunderstanding of McLuhan’s meaning. For McLuhan, the ‘Global Village’ was a place of violent terror, where there was constant surveillance and where privacy was ‘merely ignored’, as he frankly describes in a famous interview with Canadian talk show host Mike McManus.
McLuhan rose to prominence as perhaps the most famous cultural critic of his age with an analysis that directly engaged with the transformations emerging with the introduction of electronic technologies. His involvement was gestural, reason alone would not suffice to grapple with the contemporary conditions, there was a techno-cultural revolution afoot, which was completely disrupting how human beings had perceived the world for hundreds of years.

Curators: Baruch Gottlieb & Marie-José Sondeijker
DEW Line Newsletter exhibit co-curated with Graham Larkin
Explorations exhibit co-curated with Michael Darroch with additional documentation from Simon Rogers.

The project Feedback #1, Marschall McLuhan and the Arts in The Hague is the first station of the exhibition symposia and workshops touring program, which will include programs in Berlin (2018), Paris (2018), Toronto (2019).                                           (Thanks to Paolo Granata)

See list & bios of participating artists here:

West Museumkwartier

Categories: Blog

New Book Announcement: Medien verstehen – Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 4:53pm

EnglishMedia in its historical and technical diversity was the promise that Marshall McLuhan had given over 50 years ago with Understanding Media. Our digitally altered present requires the book to be read again today and to be examined against the background of current technical developments. The subject of the anthology is, (a) McLuhan’s idea of media as “environments”, his idiosyncratic language and argument, as well as his acceptance of the technical comprehension of perception…

German: Medien in ihrer historischen und technischen Vielfalt zu verstehen, das war das Versprechen, das Marshall McLuhan vor über fünfzig Jahren mit Understanding Media gegeben hatte. Unsere digital veränderte Gegenwart erfordert, das Buch heute erneut zu lesen und vor dem Hintergrund aktueller technischer Entwicklungen zu hinterfragen. Gegenstand des Sammelbandes sind u. a. McLuhans Idee von Medien als „Umwelten“, seine eigenwillige Sprache und Argumentation sowie seine Annahme der technischen Verfasstheit von Wahrnehmung.

The Editors

Till A. Heilmann(Dr.Phil.) researches and teaches at the Department of Media Science at the University of Bonn. Research focus: digital image processing; Algorithms and computer programming; North American and German-speaking media science. Selected publications: “Innis and Kittler: The Case of the Greek Alphabet”, N. Friesen (eds.): Media Transatlantic, 2016, pp. 91-110; “On the precedence of the operational chain in media science and at Leroi-Gourhan”, International Jahrbuch für Medienphilosophie 2 (2016): 7-29; “Data processing in ‘capture’ capitalism. On the expansion of the exploitation zone in the age of informal surveillance, “Zeitschrift fur Medienwissenschaft 2 (2015): 35-48.

Jens Schröter (Prof. Dr. phil.) is a professor of media culture at the University of Bonn: research interests: digital media; Photography; Intermediality; three-dimensional images; Media theory and value criticism; Audiovisual and audiovisual culture. Selected Publications: Handbuch Medienwissenschaft (als Hg.), 2014; 3D. History, Theory and Aesthetics of the Technical-Transplane Image, 2014; Auditive media cultures. Techniques of listening and practices of sound design (as Hg. With A. Volmar), Bielefeld: Transcript 2013. Wired. The Wire and the Fight for the Media, 2012.

The Publisher  – meson press publishes research on digital cultures and networked media. Our open access publications challenge contemporary theories and advance key debates in the humanities of today. We combine a rigorous peer-review with hybrid formats and collaborative production methods. As a cooperative, meson press is organized in a participated setup. This allows scholars to take part in a publishing venture by academics for academics and for everyone else who is curious about theory. In the hybrid environment of today’s scholarly publishing, form follows function in a new manner. (Source )                                                (Thanks to Norm Frisen for this.)

Categories: Blog

McLuhan at Fordham: Panelists Look Back 50 Years Later

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 4:29pm

Marshall McLuhan in the March 1967 Saturday Review

 Fordham News   –   October 16, 2017

Twentieth-century media theorist Marshall McLuhan spent just one academic year at Fordham—his 1967-68 tenure as Albert Schweitzer Chair of the Humanities. But that year was a heady one, for both McLuhan and for a nation that would soon undergo profound cultural and political changes, panelists said on Oct. 13 at Fordham.

The University and New York City served as twin incubators for the Canadian philosopher and new media scholar’s always evolving theories, said McLuhan’s son, Eric. “It was a magical year,” he said. “Everything we predicted in ‘67 or ‘68 has come true.” 

Global Interconnectedness

Eric McLuhan joined two of his father’s protégés—Fordham communication professors John Carey, Ph.D., and Paul Levinson, Ph.D.,—at the Lincoln Center campus for a look-back, on the 50th anniversary of McLuhan’s tenure at the University. He referenced his father’s conception of the global village, a term the elder McLuhan coined to denote the interconnectedness of people throughout the world via ever-evolving technology; i.e., what became known decades later as the World Wide Web.

That particular academic year, McLuhan and his team of collaborators—son Eric, University faculty member John Culkin, S.J., the painter Harley Parker, and the anthropologist Ted Carpenter—conducted seminars, showed films and assigned independent projects to students that would echo and expand on McLuhan’s thinking. His ideas about technology and society were most conspicuously outlined in his aphoristic declaration that “the medium is the message.” For the students and their mentors, the semester amounted to a theater of experimentation, exploration, and prognostication.

Eric McLuhan suggested that his father’s prescience continues to resonate today, 37 years after his passing. It has never been more evident during an epoch when “fake news,” “media bubbles” and “social media” dominate the discourse, panelists agreed.

A Million Isolated Villages

Carey, who studied under McLuhan, recalled an instance when McLuhan said his theories were works in progress. He said, ‘Don’t take everything I say as gospel. A lot of what I say I’m just testing the waters and I may disagree with myself a week later,’” Carey said.

He suggested that McLuhan would likely have revised his conception of the global village given the ubiquity of the internet, which McLuhan had foreseen some 30 years before its advent.

“He talked about the fact we were in a global village, that essentially we were all getting the same thing and that meant we were one village even though we were the world,” Carey said. “I think the Internet has totally shattered that. We’re not in a global village anymore. We’re in a million isolated villages of our own choosing. And I think he would observe that were he here.”

Inside Looking Out

Paul Levinson, Marshall McLuhan, and Eric McLuhan in 1978.
(From McLuhan in an Age of Social Media)

Although McLuhan’s tenure in the media capital of the world was short, it shaped him profoundly, his son said. From his home base in Toronto, McLuhan was able to peer into the United States regularly and see his neighbors “more clearly than the people involved in it could see themselves.”

“Now he found himself on the inside looking out, and he learned a lot,” he said.

Levinson, the author of Digital McLuhan and McLuhan in an Age of Social Media (the latter first published in 1999), said McLuhan was always probing. He was a person who declined to make value judgments, preferring instead to keep exploring.

During a Q and A, Levinson was unequivocal in response to a questioner asking who, today, has inherited McLuhan’s mantle as a far-sighted inquisitor.

“It’s ipso facto impossible for there to be another McLuhan,” Levinson said.

Richard Khavkine  Source:

Categories: Blog

Gerald O’Grady, Marshall McLuhan and Spiral Perception

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:22pm

Gerald O’Grady, Ph.D.

Founder/Director of Media Study (Buffalo) and Initiator/Director of Center for Media Study (S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Dr. O’Grady came to the University at Buffalo in 1967 as a medieval specialist in the Department of English. He had become interested while at Rice University in Texas with the new media as a code of communication; at UB he was the initiator and Director of the Center for Media Study in 1972, and he founded the independent, not-for-profit media center Media Study (Buffalo).

His concept of the wide-ranging effects and possibilities for “new media” was universal in scope, presciently forecasting that with the advent of film, video and television cameras, broadcast industries and computer technologies there was to be a dramatic change in the way people throughout the world would receive information, do business and communicate with each other. He was particularly sensitive to the need for artists to be supported and to work with the advanced thinkers of the scientific communities to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas that would enable the flourishing of the new art forms…. His mission was the preparation of artists and teachers of media whose mode of personal expression would grow from a cross-disciplinary base of general education, and further, to bring the public an awareness and understanding of a new era of media literacy.

Gerald O’Grady, Ph.D., was the founder and Director of two public-service organizations: The Media Center in Houston, Texas and the Center for Media Study at the University at Buffalo (then known as the State University of New York at Buffalo) and Director of its Educational Communications Center which served 128 departments. Most recently, he has been Visiting Scholar in the Department of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University where, as Fellow of the W.E.B. DuBois. Institute for Afro-American Research, he worked on the Films of the American Civil Rights Movement.

He has produced documentaries on arts and on social issues for PBS, and his projects have been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Markle Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1979, Dr. O’Grady has edited, independently published and contributed essays to over 30 catalogues for film retrospectives or series including The Films of the Civil Rights; Remembering Malcom X; and Czech Filmaking, 1963-1990 for Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater; on the Brazilian filmmaker Nelson Pereiros dos Santos for the Film Society of the Lincoln Center; on Theo Angelopoulos for the Museum of Modern Art in New York; on Dziga Vertov for the Collective for Living Cinema (NY); on MIZOGUCHI Kenji for the Cinématheque Ontario (Toronto); on David MacDougall for Media Study/Buffalo; and Articulate Energy: The Emergence of the Abstract Film in America for Harvard University and Anthropology Film Archives.

In 1974, O’Grady coordinated the November 21-22 conference entitled “Educational Communication Centers and the Television Arts” which was conducted at the State University of New York at Albany. The conference host was William Mulvey, director of SUNY at Albany’s Educational Communications Center. The purposes of the gathering, as set forth in the program, were threefold: first, to present the latest developments in the video arts and their related technologies and systems; secondly, to suggest ways in which the facilities of communication centers within colleges and universities might be prepared to serve developing video artists on their own campuses and surrounding communities; and finally, to indicate ways in which centers might stimulate activity in all of the arts and humanities.” Presentations included: O’Grady on defragmenting overspecialized media course by engaging interdisciplinary processes in contemporary media education; Mulvey on educational productions; Steina Vasulka screened videotapes “illustrating the history of the generated image”; Filmmaker and Video Artist, Tom Dewitt showed his new work “Fall”; and Gerd Stern, president of Intermedia Systems Corporation, talked on “the present state of communications systems and some possible directions for evolution” … (Read the rest at )

What the above account does not mention was the influence of Marshall McLuhan on Gerald O’Grady, who started his academic career as a medievalist in English literature (like McLuhan) but switched to media and film studies after his encounter with Marshall McLuhan around 1967. In this segment of a video O’Grady discusses his late 1960s encounter with Marshall McLuhan whose perceptual mode was a spiral in form, influenced by Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists. On spiral perception see The Spiral Structure of Marshall McLuhan’s Thinking by Izabella Pruska Oldenhof and Robert K. Logan. (Available at )

Categories: Blog

Recently Published: A New McLuhan Book From Brazil

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 10/14/2017 - 8:54pm

It is great to see Marshall McLuhan’s influence continuing to spread outward from the English-speaking world to other countries where books by and about him are being published in their local languages. On September 17 I announced two new books about McLuhan having been published in Poland, following on my announcement of the first Polish translation of The Gutenberg Galaxy on August 17. Now we can add Brazil to the list.

McLuhan and Cinema

was published in the spring in a dual language edition, Portuguese on one side, English on the other, by Wilson Oliveira Filho.

With a preface written by Eric McLuhan and Andrew McLuhan, Wilson Oliveira Filho
UNESA’s professor, researcher and coordinator of Audiovisual Production undergraduate course launched at MEA (Media Ecology Association) 18th annual convention the bilingual book “McLuhan e o cinema “/” McLuhan and cinema” by the Brazilian publish house Verve. In Brazil, the book was launched at Oi Futuro art Gallery in Rio de Janeiro with a video homage to McLuhan and his galaxy of thoughts. The book covers from McLuhan’s performance on Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”, references to Cronenberg’s characters to live audiovisual performances ( live cinema and Vjing art), and web audiovisual phenomena like YouTube. The book tries to draft McLuhan as a cinema theorist and how the media thinker helped us to understand films beyond the message, the moving medium beyond narratives and the image of McLuhan as a media-film-ecologist. Wilson is also a musician and a multimedia artist. With his partner, Márcia Bessa created in 2012 the DUO2x4 developing several artworks in Brazil.

The following is an excerpt from the Preface to the book written by Eric and Andrew McLuhan:
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Marshall McLuhan, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964) appeared over half a century ago, and movies and cinema have been transformed many times in that period. This book is an attempt to comment on some of these transformations, building on the original observations by
Marshall McLuhan.

Let’s take stock of some of those changes. Within a decade of the appearance of Understanding Media, it was obvious that movies on television had quite a different effect from movies in the theatre. It was discovered that the difference was in no way related to the size of the screen. The movie on television had the effect of television – not that of film. The effect, in other words, was not produced by the content, but by the way in which the new medium acted directly on the sensibilities of the audience; and so
movies made from novels did not have the effect of the novel, any more than movies on television had the effect of movies.

One of the classic examples of the film effect familiar to everyone is the roller-coaster ride: as the camera in the front car ascends the first and steepest hill, suspense builds. Then it reaches the climax and begins its downward acceleration, and every member of the audience feels the result in the pit of the stomach. Some people even become nauseous. The same scene, shown on television, has no such dramatic effect whatever. Experiments with side-by-side presentations of this scene on large television screens and film images of exactly the same proportions have demonstrated that screen size is not a factor…                                                                                                                                                                                                            **********

Table of Contents

Preface 9

Introductory Note – Don’t explain; explore and… be grateful 13

introduction Presenting an image of McLuhan 15

1. The gliding camera as an extension of man: McLuhan extending Vertov 37

2. “Tommy, can you hear me?”: memory, sensoriality, and the extensions 52

3. McLuhanian characters and objects in David Cronenberg 71

4. “Boy, if life were only like this!”: the screen is the message 89

5. Documentary beyond the rear-view mirror: on McLuhan’s Wake 109

6. Networked-memory: YouTube, a McLuhanian archive beyond images and things 121

7. McLuhan-Performer: extending/understanding live cinema 136

Conclusion Cinema as McLuhan’s extension 157

References 164

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