EDMONTON – Famed philosopher Marshall McLuhan always cherished his Edmonton birthplace even though he moved away at age four, his son Michael said Thursday.
“I’m not sure if he came back that often, but he talked about Edmonton all the time when I was child,” McLuhan said.
“He loved the wide-open skies and would talk about being a Prairie boy … I just think he always held Edmonton very close to his heart.”
McLuhan, 60, was making his first visit to the city in which his father was born in 1911 to take part in the grand opening of the family home as an arts facility and historic site.
The communications theorist and literary critic who coined such phrases as “the medium is the message” lived in the Highlands two-storey until his family moved to Winnipeg in 1915.
With help from the city, Arts Habitat Edmonton bought the house for $475,000 last year from its longtime owners, and plans to do $75,000 in renovations.
The non-profit group has painted the Arts and Crafts-style structure’s interior with colours from when it was built in 1910 and put up family photographs from McLuhan cousin Stuart MacKay, who lives in Edmonton.
“The intention of buying it was to preserve the house in Highlands and also to honour the McLuhan mandate,” Arts Habitat project co-ordinator Katherine Kerr said.
There’s space for a studio in the garage and the three former upstairs bedrooms will be rented out as artist offices.
One of those spaces holds the McLuhan TV Wall, five screens running interviews with the famed philosopher, an episode of the Andy Griffith Show from the 1960s and closed-circuit video of the people who walk into the room.
Other versions of this installation have been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Edmonton International Airport.
“I think McLuhan was getting the sense of the all-pervasiveness of the television screen that people didn’t understand when they were watching these friendly, funny shows,” said University of Alberta Prof. Marco Adria, who helped assemble the display.
“This technology was bound to become us.”
In future, parts of the home will also be rented out for small events. It’s open for a public drop-in Friday from noon to 7 p.m.
Michael McLuhan, a photographer who lives with his wife north of Toronto near Owen Sound, presented for the opening 54 unpublished photos of his father shot by Henri Dauman for Life Magazine in 1966.
He described his dad, a longtime University of Toronto professor who died in 1980, as a classic workaholic.
“He would get up at four or five in the morning and start his reading. He would come home at six and frequently have his secretary in tow so he could dictate, sometimes while he was lying down.”
The McLuhan home in Winnipeg and the two in Toronto are in private hands. Michael is thrilled the Edmonton house, at 11342 64th St., will be available to the public.
Although he’s the executor of his father’s estate, he hasn’t read all his books, but said his complex ideas were discussed so much growing up that he doesn’t have to.
“I certainly appreciate it now more than when I was 15 … It was inculcated at a very young age around the dinner table. It was the wallpaper of our lives.” http://tinyurl.com/cknmadb
Photo by Alex Kuskis
The past two decades, beginning with the public’s use of the Internet in 1994 and continuing with the emergence of notebook computers, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, blogs, wikis, Twitter, and social media, has seen the most rapid evolution of communications and its impact on every aspect of society from commerce to education and from culture to government. Digital media are impacting every aspect of our lives, but they are more in control of us than we are of them. The ideas of Marshall McLuhan, scholar, social critic, literary critic, poet, and artist, can provide the kind of guidance we need, but sadly he is misunderstood by most. This book posits that McLuhan holds the key to our understanding of the new digital media. Marshall McLuhan was one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. This book will set the record straight and provide a guide to and insights into the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. This book is the medium and Marshall is the message.
This book is an expansion of an earlier lecture by Bob Logan, the text of which was published on this blog here http://tinyurl.com/ce6noez .
- Publication Date: September 24, 2013
- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: Key Publishing House Inc (Sep 24 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1926780523
- ISBN-13: 978-1926780528
- List Price: CDN $32.95
- Advance Reviews
“Misunderstandings occur with respect to McLuhan’s published ideas because he engaged in exploration rather than exposition, eschewed a point of view, worked from ground to figure and backwards from effects to causes, putting the onus on readers to fill in background information and construct their own understandings. The latter makes his writing a cool medium, demanding that readers fill in what is missing and arrive at their own conclusions. A reading of the totality of his intellectual output clarifies his intentions considerably”. - Alexander Kuskis, publisher of The McLuhan Galaxy blog, Gonzaga University, Canada
“In this slim volume, Robert K. Logan resituates the thought of Marshall McLuhan—fending off misunderstandings and misplaced critiques—by highlighting McLuhan’s three major influences, by reviewing the his five major ‘conceptual tools,’ and by summarizing four interrelated breakthroughs. In identifying the origin of some of McLuhan’s ideas and showing the relevance of McLuhan’s thought today, Logan does a great service to media ecology and McLuhan studies. He brings many of McLuhan’s insights to wider audiences and to contemporary situations.” —Corey Anton, Grand Valley State University, USA
“McLuhan Misunderstood is a courageous and brilliant guide to the exploration of the complex works of the famous Canadian scholar. Robert K. Logan—himself a close collaborator of Marshall McLuhan—offers a clear and comprehensive position about the most controversial topics in McLuhan’s work.” —Adriana Braga, Pontifical Catholic University, Brazil
“McLuhan Misunderstood reveals a secret that scientists know very well: any brilliant insight stems from a fallacy—misunderstanding leads to knowledge. By reversing McLuhan’s cryptic style, Robert K. Logan replays his mentor, explains what McLuhan explored, merges “two cultures” and definitely marshals a flurry of insights that allow us to understand McLuhan’s heuristic thinking as a way to reshape our brand new human ecology.” —Paolo Granata, University of Bologna, Italy
““Media determinist!” “Technophile!” “Luddite!” Marshall McLuhan has been misunderstood—even in contradictory ways—as few others. Robert Logan brilliantly sets the story straight as he grounds the contexts we need for a proper understanding of McLuhan. In a lucid, yet detailed fashion Logan explains McLuhan’s cryptic and capturing one-liners, including how his work predicted and even explains social media.” —Mogen Olesen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
“Professor Robert Logan has devoted much of his late career to clarifying certain aspects of McLuhan’s general media theory. He is partly responsible for dissipating the charges of technological determinism that were laid upon McLuhan throughout the 1970s and 1980s. What’s more, Logan’s recent book does an incredible job upgrading McLuhan for the digital age. Although many of McLuhan’s insights were meant to interpret communication phenomena in the electronic age, Professor Logan convincingly shows that much of what the man had to say about TV could also be applied to today’s media environment, characterized by digital interactive media, fractured attention, and information overload. McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight proves that classic authors and their works are beyond categorization, irreducible to a single message, and inexhaustible in the possibilities of being; it demonstrates that McLuhan’s thought—much like the media of communication he sought to understand—is alive and in constant flux.” —Laureano Ralon, Figure/Ground Communication Blogger, Canada
“Understanding media is not easy. Back in the 1960s Marshall McLuhan opened our eyes up and expanded our vision of the media ecology. Understanding McLuhan has never been easy either (“I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say” said McLuhan. Just imagine the rest). Thanks to Bob Logan now we can get closer to a full understanding of McLuhan’s complex and amazing vision of contemporary culture.” —Carlos A. Scolari, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
“More than anyone else, Robert K. Logan has kept Marshall McLuhan’s thought alive over the generations. And now that the academic landscape seems finally ready for a thorough rereading of McLuhan’s work, we are deeply fortunate to have professor Logan still here with us to clarify and help us understand it. With stunning lucidity, scholarly precision and good humor, Bob Logan makes McLuhan’s thinking accessible to readers of the 21st century. His book impressively shows, and with apparent ease, how many of McLuhan’s ideas still hold relevance today. It is an essential introduction and an absolute must read for everyone interested in one of the most intriguing and provocative thinkers of recent intellectual history.” —Yoni Van Den Eede, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
“Not only does Bob Logan’s McLuhan Misunderstood not misunderstand McLuhan, and sets the record straight, but the book provides one of the best understandings of McLuhan around. Logan worked with Marshall McLuhan in the 1970s, and is one of the very few scholars who obtained his understanding of McLuhan not only from McLuhan’s writings and lectures, but from all-important conversations, the top of the line in the acoustic realm. This special savvy shows throughout the volume, and makes it required reading for all who seek to better understand the media of the 21st century.” —Paul Levinson, author of Digital McLuhan and New New Media, USARobert K. Logan, PhD is professor emeritus of physics at the University of Toronto, fellow of St. Michael’s College, and chief scientist at the sLab, OCAD University. He collaborated and published with Marshall McLuhan between 1974 to 1980. He is the author of a dozen books including one coauthored with McLuhan, The Future of the Library: An Old Figure in a New Ground as well as The Alphabet Effect (1984, 2004), The Sixth Language (2000, 2004), Understanding New Media (2011), and What Is Information? (2013).
Lives Lived: Richard Jan Osicki, 66
PATSY PEHLEMAN, The Globe and Mail, Published Wednesday, Apr. 10 2013
Philosopher, journalist, teacher, original thinker. Born Sept. 4, 1946, in Nottingham, England, died Oct. 29, 2012, in Winnipeg of cancer, aged 66.
Richard’s parents, Jan and Maria, were veterans of the Polish Army. During the Second World War, Maria was interned, and for both of them life was insufferable.
For Richard, this heritage would infuse his life. He felt that ethnicity influenced everything and everyone.
When peace came, the Osickis settled in England. They would eventually move to Montreal, where Richard graduated in philosophy and political science from the University of Montreal. Years later, when he had embraced Catholicism, the religion of his childhood, he added a masters of theology from Dayton University in Ohio.
Richard had three passions: communications, religion and teaching. He started his career as a radio documentary maker in Montreal and became, at 28, executive producer of the CBC program Identities. It was the early 1970s, the heyday of “multiculturalism.” The show was about the struggles, triumphs and politics of being a Canadian from somewhere else.
No Easter eggs or folk dancing for Richard. Stories were diverse: a Hungarian woman’s Montreal hair salon, an exploration of Swedish sexuality as it translated to Canadian life, an international accordion festival, and conversations with Josef Skvorecky and Henry Morgentaler.
Richard challenged everybody and everything. He loved to argue. He would encourage this quality in his journalism and religion students, suggesting they “try very hard to break through what is considered by those around you to be true or valuable.”
One uncompleted project was a TV documentary about residential schools from the perspective of those whose lives were enriched by them and the teaching nuns who were broken-hearted by the vilification of their life’s work.
Richard loved beautiful women, and married three. During the Identitiesera he wed Bernadette, an elegant and artistic Montrealer. Later he married Basia, the daughter of Polish friends of his parents. With Basia he adopted Tobi (Tobiasz) and they moved to Winnipeg in the mid-1990s. There, his spirituality turned to religion and he became spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg and taught at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba, as well as universities and colleges across North America.
The earlier marriages ended. But just four years before he died, he fell in love and married Dionisia, an ex-nun from the Philippines. They planned a future filled with ideas and projects based on Catholic faith.
Richard’s faith was hard-won. He was filled with questions until the moment of his death. He had become obsessed with the communication of faith and didn’t think churches and media did it well. He was inspired by Marshall McLuhan, who grew up in Winnipeg and was a devout Catholic, and felt there were lessons to be learned from McLuhan about how intellect and faith nurture each other.
He started the Marshall McLuhan Initiative five years ago. Working with St. Paul’s College, he hoped to establish a formal process for the study of how and why people communicate faith. The Marshall McLuhan Initiative lives on. http://tinyurl.com/blm4dsc
Patsy Pehleman was Richard’s friend and colleague.
In the 1960’s, long before anybody ever updated their Facebook page, posted their whereabouts on Twitter, uploaded images on Youtube, or exposed government secrets on WikiLeaks, one man made a series of pronouncements about the changing media landscape that resonate with the internet world we live in today.
You may have never heard of Marshall McLuhan, but you have probably heard his most widely quoted dictum: “The medium is the message.”
McLuhan was writing about the effects of the mass media on contemporary life and he was talking mostly about television. But his ideas had something of the prophetic – because in the tumult of today’s digital revolution, a lot of what McLuhan said has even more relevance now than it did then.
In this edition of the Listening Post, we look at how to read today’s media landscape, with the help of McLuhan, speaking to us 50 years ago.
McLuhan started out his professional career as a Canadian professor of literature but is referred to today as one of the greatest media theorists of all time.
After the release of his best-selling book Understanding Media in the ’60s, he became a regular speaker on media discourse, credited for coining terms including the ‘Global Village’.
His central argument – that the technologies we use to take in information, i.e., the media, become extensions of who we are and exert a powerful influence over us - make his work just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, and with the growth of social networking sites, McLuhan’s predictions on the changing media landscape have proved accurate.
To discuss the cultural icon and his legacy, we talk with Charles Miller of the BBC College of Journalism; Adel Iskander, a media scholar at Georgetown University; Jaeno Kang, a media sociologist from SOAS, and Toby Miller, a media scholar at London’s City University.
Thanks to the advent of the internet and other new technologies, the 21st century has been heralded as a bright and promising digital era, but that notion has attracted a number of critics, most notably, writer and researcher, http://tinyurl.com/cwgxpu4.
Morozov has warned not to buy into the popular theory that the internet is helping to democratise authoritarian regimes. He argues, instead, that it is being used as a tool to control, supress and spy on citizens.
As the author of two books on the subject, The Net Delusion and To Save Everything, Click Here, Morozov’s work is seen as a powerful alternative to the mainstream discourse on the digital age.
In the second half of the show, Evgeny Morozov sits down with Listening Post host, Richard Gizbert to discuss the work of Marshall McLuhan and the digital era in which we live. http://tinyurl.com/cwgxpu4 Evgeny MorozovContributing Editor, Foreign Policy; Syndicated Columnist; Author, The Net Delusion
There is no question that Marshall McLuhan’s ideas are misused and abused, often by those who have never read him closely or even at all. Blameworthy are business executives, advertisers, politicians and tech types who utter banalities about “the medium is the message”, the “global village”, hot versus cool mediums and other ill-understood ideas.
This is just an abstract of this article, which faculty and university students will need to source at their university libraries. The only alternative for those without access to an academic library is to purchase it at a rediculous price – one article for the cost of a book. No open source scholarship here, just for-profit publishing……….AlexKNew Political Science
- DOI: 10.1080/07393148.2012.754666 - Edward Comora, pages 1-18
April 1st, 2013 – The new online journal Second Nature officially launches today and plans to be the definitive place for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition, with written articles, images, videos, poetry, and links.
The journal’s co-founders are Benjamin Robertson, Brantly Millegan, and Read Mercer Schuchardt. Robertson and Millegan both studied under Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College (IL). Robertson and Millegan serve as the journal’s Editors, and Schuchardt is the Chairman of the Editorial Board. The other members of the Editorial Board are: Juliette Aristides, Eric Brende, Peter K. Fallon, Geraldine Forsberg, T. David Gordon, Shane Hipps, Arthur W. Hunt III, Eric McLuhan, and Brett T. Robinson. The board members represent a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, denominational affiliations, and interests in the subject. For bios and pictures, see the journal’s About page.
The idea of the journal came about after Millegan wrote the article ‘Of Mics and Men‘, and couldn’t find a proper publication in which to publish it. In talking to Robertson and Schuchardt, they decided to form Second Nature. “Everybody knows new technologies like the Internet and smartphones are radically transforming our world, ” Millegan said. “So what does the Christian tradition have to offer to help us to think critically about these powerful tools, their meaning and their proper use? That’s one of the driving questions of the journal.”
The journal is now accepting submissions, which may come in the form of written pieces, images, or videos. While submissions should adhere to the general boundaries set by the journal’s description, there is no religious affiliation required for those submitting pieces. See the journal’s Contact page for full submission guidelines.
For launch, the journal has six published pieces: one painting and five written articles, on topics ranging from the eight characteristics of mass audiences created by electronic media, to how the Internet is reuniting families previously kept apart as a result of other technological innovations. The journal plans to publish a new piece every few weeks, bridging the publication schedule between a quarterly journal and a weekly website.
The journal also has a blog, which will be updated weekly with relevant news or other items of interest related to the journal’s topic. Examples of recent blog posts include: an article about an Italian priest who recently smashed a TV on the altar of his church during Mass to remind his parishioners to not become enslaved to technology; pictures from a new tumblr that gives life advice from machines; and a set of videos in which a person tests to see why people are comfortable with security cameras recording them but get very nervous when a person holding a camera does the same thing.
The journal hopes to eventually offer an annual print edition, conferences, and seminars.
All questions, comments, media inquiries, and submissions should be directed to email@example.com.
The quote “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us” is often mistakenly attributed to Marshall McLuhan. It does NOT appear in “Understanding Media”, as Wilson Miner confidently asserts in the presentation below, indeed it does not appear in any published work by McLuhan at all. The quote was actually written by Father John Culkin, SJ, a Professor of Communication at Fordham University in New York and friend of McLuhan. But though the quote is Culkin’s, I would argue that the idea is McLuhan’s, as it comes up in an article by Culkin about McLuhan: Culkin, J.M. (1967, March 18). A schoolman’s guide to Marshall McLuhan. Saturday Review, pp. 51-53, 71-72. The idea presented in the quote is entirely consistent with McLuhan’s thinking on technology in general.Photos of Father John Culkin and Marshall McLuhan
This excellent 38 minute presentation by digital product designer Wilson Miner is titled “When We Build” and weaves together a discussion about Marshall McLuhan, Steve Jobs, the things we design and build, cars, computers, art and design. It is well worth watching and listening to.
About Wilson Miner http://wilsonminer.com/
The Tetrad: a dialectical model of media ecology theory Author: Gerrit Verstraete - 3/28/2013 McLuhan designed the tetrad to provide a scientific basis for media observations. The tetrad applies to all media and human artifacts, a phenomenon that is universal and simultaneous. Into the complex of this paper is introduced the proposition that scientific research as applied to media can also be applied to art, design and new media (ADN), with research that goes beyond the science of investigating “reciprocal interplay of observable and generalized data” (Dict.1975) to include the intuitive and methodological processes of the creation of art. Media ecology theories support the idea that the tetrad can be a dialectical model for examining art, design and new media to determine the validity of such theoretical support.
This paper explores media ecology theories to demonstrate that critical thought remains subject to the biases of the artist and the viewer. Many expressions of art, design and new media are created as an explicit or implicit voice of the artist’s reflection of the biases of his or her work. Media ecology studies examine these biases with an aim to understand how communications media, including the forms of art, design and new media, help create the environment in which people and society interact and how the arts in general play a major role is such interaction.
In this paper I will focus primarily on the making of art as the principal subject for applying McLuhan’s Laws of Media to art’s relationship to technology and new media. Original source: http://tinyurl.com/cy7jrnu .
Download paper from here http://tinyurl.com/cy7jrnuRead about him here: http://hastac.org/users/gerritverstraete
Theatre Junction GRAND is proud to present the world première of Sometime between now and when the sun goes Supernova, the latest creation from Artistic Director and founder, Mark Lawes. This inspired and original multidisciplinary performance explores the subject of hybrid identities resulting from new modes of communication in an accelerated world. Inspired by Marshall McLuhan’s theories on media, the scientific writings on the origin of consciousness by Julian Jaynes, and Douglas Coupland’s tales for an accelerated culture, springs a work where fragments of living memories, bodies and hard drives collide in brilliant orange and purple. An artificial light illuminates a BBQ and a neon green lawn in the backyard of a suburban home. We are sometime “after” or sometime “before” in a time-space capsule – a movie set that recalls a hangover from last night’s party: tin foil, beer bottles, an old TV, a mattress, a Marilyn Monroe figurine, fried chicken bones, a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. There are flashes in the night – eyes, animal’s eyes, shining like knives. http://tinyurl.com/bvofoeg*** By Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald March 5, 2013 How do you stage life in an accelerated cultute?
That’s one of the questions Theatre Junction artistic director Mark Lawes grappled with when he settled in for a three-month residency in Paris in the summer of 2012. It was there where Lawes launched the company’s newest performance creation, Sometime between now and when the sun goes supernova, which has its world premiere Wednesday night at Theatre Junction Grand.
And while he found himself looking out at the City of Lights for inspiration, Lawes also turned to two of the savviest contemporary media critics of the past five decades for inspiration, who — perhaps not by accident — are Canadian: Douglas Coupland and the late Marshall McLuhan, the author of Understanding Media.
What’s remarkable is that Lawes reports that, reading it almost 50 years after its 1964 publication, McLuhan still seems relevant.
“You read Understanding Media and it’s like, wow,” Lawes says. “You wrote that 50 years ago? It’s right there today. It still reads really well — it’s a great, great book.”
When Understanding Media was published in 1964, media was two channels, a pair of rabbit ears and CBC Radio.
In 2013, we have plowed so far past 500 channels that the term channels almost seems like a slice of quaint nostalgia. We’re living in a world so wired that the conversation is underway about how, exactly, our media-saturated world is changing the ways in which our brains work.
Or, as Company of Resident Artist Raphaele Thiriet says, (referencing Coupland), “The concept that new medias are modifying our psychology and how we are interacting with each other in society.”
What Lawes — and the rest of the Company of Resident Artists, who joined him in Paris for several weeks — discovered was that a wired world is not a warmer world.
“There is one study that we read,” he says, “that the kind of multi-tasking society that we live in now is diminishing the part of our brain that can have empathy.
In other words, while we may be more connected than ever by our technological devices, we’re also more emotionally disconnected from each other than ever.
“Our empathy (for each other) is diminishing,” Lawes says. “Because our brain is needing to be used in so many different kinds of ways, it’s not only affecting maybe our physiological selves, but our cultural selves, as well … how we tell stories, (and) how we interact with each other.”
However, the next order of business was a challenge: namely, how does one theatricalize that idea?
There were other writings, too, by Julian Jaynes, who writes about the nature of consciousness, and a photographer named Larry Sultan, who photographed the scenes at a series of houses in the San Fernando Valley in the early 2000s, where cash-strapped homeowners rented out their homes as sets for porn shoots.
There were scientists, too — a Quebec neurologist in particular — doing residencies of their own, who would share potluck dinners with the artists and (literally) brainstorm with them about their project.
Lawes enlisted longtime collaborators Thiriet and musician Chris Dadge, and brought in some new voices, namely dancers Luc Bouchard-Boissonneault and Melina Stinson, as well as French filmmaker Alexander Mehring, to create an interdisciplinary piece exploring the idea.
“We’re using a lot of different mediums, as we have (in the past),” Lawes says. “A lot more video than we have before,,,(and, additionally,) we’re trying to put the body in kind of a contrast to the screen,” he adds, physicalizing it through dance.
All of which raises a question: is it possible to dance an idea?
“Yes,” says Stinson. “If you can feel something, then you can dance it just like you can project an emotion or thought or intention.”
Not so fast, says Quebec native Bouchard-Boissonneault.
“For me, dancing an idea is probably first an idea (that) brings some emotion or sentiment (feeling),” he says. “And this sentiment is so a dancer is empathetic about this emotion.
“That is the body thing about dancing,” he adds. “You embody this emotion, so you can show it, but just (an) abstract idea? I don’t think I could dance (that) — but a result of an idea that brings empathy? That, I can dance.”
Set in a kind of suburban dreamscape, replete with a lush fake lawn of a set, the question remains whether audiences will have any empathy for the lives unfolding in Sometime between now and when the sun goes supernova.
After all, while Theatre Junction shows are smart, they aren’t very narratively-driven. They’re more like wandering into someone else’s dream and having a visit for a couple hours.
Not that that deters Lawes.
“You can try to express that unnameable part of an idea through dance,” he says, “or, I don’t know — a mood, light, sound, video — music works that way, too.”
Might seem odd to some, but think how Marshall McLuhan sounded back in 1964, publishing a book pondering about the overwhelming impact experiencing pop culture through a screen figured to have on everyone.
“At the time (he published Understanding Media), he wasn’t even considered an intellectual,” Lawes says. “They thought he was a quack! (Some of the critics wrote things like), this guy’s teaching at university? Media studies? At university? This guy is not serious!”
PREVIEW: Theatre Junction Grand presents Sometime between now and when the sun goes supernova at Theatre Junction Grand through March 16, 608 1st S.W. - theatrejunction.com - http://tinyurl.com/asboaos