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Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the At ...
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mi ...

philosopher
, whose work is among the cornerstones of the study of
media theory Media studies is a discipline (academia), discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media (communication), media; in particular, the mass media. Media Studies may draw on traditions from both the s ...
. . . Retrieved 24 June 2020. . . Retrieved 24 June 2020. Born in
Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Central Albert ...

Edmonton
,
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital ...

Alberta
, and raised in
Winnipeg Winnipeg () is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a at the of the country. It is Canada's , with a population of 1,278,365 as of 2016. The easternmost of the three , Manitoba covers of widely varied ...

Winnipeg
,
Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada at the Centre of Canada, longitudinal centre of the country. It is Canada's Population of Canada by province and territory, fifth-most populous province, with a population o ...

Manitoba
, McLuhan studied at the
University of Manitoba The University of Manitoba (U of M, UManitoba, or UM) is a non-denominational, Public Research University, public research university in the province of Manitoba, Canada.
University of Manitoba
and the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
. He began his teaching career as a professor of English at several universities in the United States and Canada before moving to the
University of Toronto The University of Toronto (U of T or UToronto) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...

University of Toronto
in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life. McLuhan coined the expression "
the medium is the message "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan and the name of the first chapter in his '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'', published in 1964.Originally published in 1964 by Ment ...
" and the term ''
global villageGlobal village describes the phenomenon of the entire world becoming more interconnected as the result of the propagation of media technologies throughout the world. The term was coined by Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan Herbert Marshal ...
'', and predicted the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system An information system (IS) is a formal, sociotechnical Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational ...
almost 30 years before it was invented. He was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, though his influence began to wane in the early 1970s. In the years following his death, he continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles. However, with the arrival of the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
and the World Wide Web, interest was renewed in his work and perspective.


Life and career

McLuhan was born on 21 July 1911 in
Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Central Albert ...

Edmonton
,
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital ...

Alberta
, and was named "Marshall" after his maternal grandmother's surname. His brother, Maurice, was born two years later. His parents were both also born in
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
: his mother, Elsie Naomi (
née __NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300px, First/given, middle and l ...
Hall), was a
Baptist Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism, Protestant Christianity distinguished by baptizing professing Christianity, Christian believers only (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and doing so by complete Immersion baptism, ...

Baptist
school teacher who later became an actress; and his father, Herbert Ernest McLuhan, was a
Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu d ...
with a real-estate business in Edmonton. When the business failed at the break out of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, McLuhan's father enlisted in the
Canadian Army The Canadian Army (french: Armée canadienne) is the command (military formation), command responsible for the operational readiness of the conventional ground forces of the Canadian Armed Forces. , the Canadian Army has 23,000 regular soldiers, 1 ...
. After a year of service, he contracted
influenza Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), ...

influenza
and remained in Canada, away from the front lines. After Herbert's discharge from the army in 1915, the McLuhan family moved to
Winnipeg Winnipeg () is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a at the of the country. It is Canada's , with a population of 1,278,365 as of 2016. The easternmost of the three , Manitoba covers of widely varied ...

Winnipeg
,
Manitoba Manitoba ( ) is a Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada at the Centre of Canada, longitudinal centre of the country. It is Canada's Population of Canada by province and territory, fifth-most populous province, with a population o ...

Manitoba
, where Marshall grew up and went to school, attending before enrolling in the
University of Manitoba The University of Manitoba (U of M, UManitoba, or UM) is a non-denominational, Public Research University, public research university in the province of Manitoba, Canada.
University of Manitoba
in 1928.


Undergraduate education

After studying for one year as an engineering student, he changed majors and earned a
Bachelor of Arts Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to ...
degree (1933), winning a University Gold Medal in Arts and Sciences. He went on to receive a
Master of Arts A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA or AM) is the holder of a master's degree A master's degree (from Latin ) is an academic degree awarded by University, universities or colleges upon completion of a ...
degree (1934) in English from the university as well. He had long desired to pursue graduate studies in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and was accepted to the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
, having failed to secure a
Rhodes scholarship 250px, Rhodes House in Oxford, designed by Sir Herbert Baker">Oxford.html" ;"title="Rhodes House in Oxford">Rhodes House in Oxford, designed by Sir Herbert Baker The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate Postgraduate educatio ...
to
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' u ...

Oxford
. Though having already earned his B.A. and M.A. in Manitoba, Cambridge required him to enrol as an undergraduate "affiliated" student, with one year's credit towards a three-year
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
, before entering any
doctoral studies A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin or ''doctor philosophiae'') is the most common Academic degree, degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole bre ...
. He entered
Trinity Hall, Cambridge Trinity Hall (formally The College or Hall of the Holy Trinity in the University of Cambridge) is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is the fifth-oldest surviving college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by ...
, in the autumn of 1934, where he studied under I. A. Richards and
F. R. Leavis Frank Raymond "F.R." Leavis (14 July 1895 – 14 April 1978) was an English literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influence ...

F. R. Leavis
, and was influenced by
New CriticismNew Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collectio ...
. Years afterward, upon reflection, he credited the faculty there with influencing the direction of his later work because of their emphasis on the "training of perception", as well as such concepts as Richards' notion of "
feedforward Feedforward is the provision of context of what one wants to communicate prior to that communication. In purposeful activity, feedforward creates an expectation which the actor anticipates. When expected experience occurs, this provides confirmator ...
". These studies formed an important precursor to his later ideas on technological forms.Old Messengers, New Media: The Legacy of Innis and McLuhan
" '' Collections Canada''.
Government of Canada The government of Canada (french: Gouvernement du Canada) is the body responsible for the federation, federal administration of Canada. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown is the Corporation sole#The Crown, corporation sole, assuming distinct r ...
. 9982008. Archived from th
original
on 1 December 2019.
He received the required bachelor's degree from Cambridge in 1936 and entered their graduate program.


Conversion to Catholicism

At the
University of Manitoba The University of Manitoba (U of M, UManitoba, or UM) is a non-denominational, Public Research University, public research university in the province of Manitoba, Canada.
University of Manitoba
, McLuhan explored his conflicted relationship with religion and turned to literature to "gratify his soul's hunger for truth and beauty," later referring to this stage as
agnosticism Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By de ...

agnosticism
. While studying the
trivium The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts Liberal arts education (from Latin "free" and "art or principled practice") is the traditional academic program in Western higher education. ''Liberal arts'' takes the term ''Art ( ...

trivium
at
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
, he took the first steps toward his eventual conversion to
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Catholicism
in 1937, founded on his reading of . In 1935, he wrote to his mother:
Had I not encountered Chesterton I would have remained agnostic for many years at least. Chesterton did not convince me of religious faith, but he prevented my despair from becoming a habit or hardening into misanthropy. He opened my eyes to European culture and encouraged me to know it more closely. He taught me the reasons for all that in me was simply blind anger and misery.
At the end of March 1937, McLuhan completed what was a slow but total conversion process, when he was formally received into the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
. After consulting a minister, his father accepted the decision to convert. His mother, however, felt that his conversion would hurt his career and was inconsolable. McLuhan was devout throughout his life, but his religion remained a private matter. He had a lifelong interest in the number three (e.g., the trivium, the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
) and sometimes said that the
Virgin Mary According to the gospels Gospel originally meant the Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out; in this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrat ...

Virgin Mary
provided intellectual guidance for him. For the rest of his career, he taught in Catholic institutions of higher education.


Early career, marriage, and doctorate

Unable to find a suitable job in Canada, he returned from England to take a job as a teaching assistant at the
University of Wisconsin–Madison The University of Wisconsin–Madison (University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin, UW, UW–Madison, or simply Madison) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of i ...
for the 1936–37 academic year. From 1937 to 1944, he taught English at
Saint Louis University Saint Louis University (SLU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ...
(with an interruption from 1939 to 1940 when he returned to Cambridge). There he taught courses on
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
, eventually tutoring and befriending Walter J. Ong, who would write his doctoral dissertation on a topic that McLuhan had called to his attention, as well as become a well-known authority on communication and technology. McLuhan met Corinne Lewis in St. Louis, a teacher and aspiring actress from
Fort Worth Fort Worth is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares it ...
,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
, whom he married on 4 August 1939. They spent 1939–40 in Cambridge, where he completed his master's degree (awarded in January 1940) and began to work on his doctoral dissertation on
Thomas Nashe Thomas Nashe (baptised November 1567 – c. 1601; also Nash) was an Elizabethan playwright, poet, Satire, satirist and a significant pamphleteer. He is known for his novel ''The Unfortunate Traveller'', his pamphlets including ''Pierce Pennile ...
and the verbal arts. While the McLuhans were in England,
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
had broken out in Europe. For this reason, he obtained permission to complete and submit his dissertation from the United States, without having to return to Cambridge for an oral defence. In 1940, the McLuhans returned to Saint Louis University, where they started a family as he continued teaching. He was awarded a
Doctor of Philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
degree in December 1943. He next taught at Assumption College in
Windsor Windsor may refer to: Places Australia *Windsor, New South Wales ** Municipality of Windsor, a former local government area *Windsor, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland **Shire of Windsor, a former local government authority around Winds ...
,
Ontario ("Loyal she began, loyal she remains") , Label_map = yes , image_map = Ontario in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Ontario's location east/central of Canada. , coordinates = , cap ...

Ontario
, from 1944 to 1946, then moved to
Toronto Toronto (, ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. With a recorded population of 2,731,571 in 2016 in 2016, it is the List of the largest municipalities in Canada by population, most p ...

Toronto
in 1946 where he joined the faculty of St. Michael's College, a Catholic college of the
University of Toronto The University of Toronto (U of T or UToronto) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...

University of Toronto
, where
Hugh Kenner William Hugh Kenner (January 7, 1923 – November 24, 2003) was a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor. He published widely on Modernist literature Literary modernism, or modernist literature, originated in the late 19th and earl ...
would be one of his students. Canadian
economist An economist is a professional and practitioner in the social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , pl ...

economist
and communications scholar
Harold Innis Harold Adams Innis (1894 – 1952) was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory, and Canadian economic history. He helped develop the staples thesis ...
was a university colleague who had a strong influence on his work. McLuhan wrote in 1964: "I am pleased to think of my own book ''
The Gutenberg Galaxy ''The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man'' is a 1962 book by Marshall McLuhan, in which the author analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure ...
'' as a footnote to the observations of Innis on the subject of the psychic and social consequences, first of writing then of printing."


Later career and reputation

In the early 1950s, McLuhan began the Communication and Culture seminars at the University of Toronto, funded by the
Ford Foundation The Ford Foundation is an American private foundation with the stated goal of advancing human welfare. Created in 1936 by Edsel Ford and his father Henry Ford, it was originally funded by a US$25,000 gift from Edsel Ford. By 1947, after the death ...
. As his reputation grew, he received a growing number of offers from other universities. During this period, he published his first major work, '' The Mechanical Bride'' (1951), in which he examines the effect of advertising on society and culture. Throughout the 1950s, he and Edmund Carpenter also produced an important academic journal called '' Explorations''. McLuhan and Carpenter have been characterized as the Toronto School of communication theory, together with
Harold Innis Harold Adams Innis (1894 – 1952) was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory, and Canadian economic history. He helped develop the staples thesis ...
, Eric A. Havelock, and
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation Evaluation is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or inter ...

Northrop Frye
. During this time, McLuhan supervised the doctoral thesis of modernist writer Sheila Watson on the subject of
Wyndham Lewis Percy Wyndham Lewis (18 November 1882 – 7 March 1957) was an English writer, painter, and critic. He was a co-founder of the Vorticist movement in art and edited '' BLAST,'' the literary magazine of the Vorticists. His novels include ''Tarr' ...
. Hoping to keep him from moving to another institute, the University of Toronto created the Centre for Culture and Technology (CCT) in 1963. From 1967 to 1968, McLuhan was named the
Albert Schweitzer Ludwig Philipp Albert Schweitzer (; 14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was an Alsace, Alsatian polymath. He was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. A Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular ...

Albert Schweitzer
Chair in Humanities at
Fordham University Fordham University () is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly ...
in the Bronx. While at Fordham, he was diagnosed with a
benign {{Unreferenced, date=June 2019, bot=noref (GreenC bot) Benignity (from Latin ''benignus'' "kind, good", itself deriving from ''bonus'' "good" and ''genus'' "origin") is any condition that is harmless in the long run. The opposite of benignity is ...
brain tumor A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form within the brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on ...
, which was treated successfully. He returned to Toronto where he taught at the University of Toronto for the rest of his life and lived in
Wychwood Park Wychwood Park is a neighbourhood enclave and private community A private community is a residential community that can be an Voluntary association, association or a Proprietary community, proprietary organization. Associations can include condominiu ...
, a bucolic enclave on a hill overlooking the
downtown ''Downtown'' is a term primarily used in North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up t ...

downtown
where
Anatol Rapoport Anatol Rapoport ( uk, Анатолій Борисович Рапопо́рт; russian: Анато́лий Бори́сович Рапопо́рт; May 22, 1911January 20, 2007) was an American mathematical psychologist. He contributed to general ...
was his neighbour. In 1970, he was made a Companion of the
Order of Canada The Order of Canada (french: Ordre du Canada) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or ...

Order of Canada
. In 1975, the
University of Dallas The University of Dallas is a private Catholic university in Irving, Texas. Established in 1956, it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools The name Southern may refer to: * South, a point in direction. * Southern (s ...
hosted him from April to May, appointing him to the McDermott Chair. Marshall and Corinne McLuhan had six children:
Eric The given name Image:FML names-2.png, Diagram of naming conventions, using John F. Kennedy as an example. "First names" can also be called given names; "last names" can also be called surnames or family names. This shows a structure typical f ...

Eric
, twins Mary and Teresa, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Michael. The associated costs of a large family eventually drove him to advertising work and accepting frequent consulting and speaking engagements for large corporations, including
IBM International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the C ...

IBM
and
AT&T AT&T Inc. is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a s ...

AT&T
.
Woody Allen Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; November 30, 1935) is an American film director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades and multiple Academy Award-winning films. He began his career writing material f ...

Woody Allen
's Oscar-winning ''
Annie Hall ''Annie Hall'' is a 1977 American romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how tru ...
'' (1977) featured McLuhan in a
cameo Cameo or CAMEO may refer to: * Cameo appearance, a brief appearance of a known figure in a film or television show * Cameo (carving), a method of carving, making use of layers of different colours, or an item made with such a method Music * Ca ...
as himself. In the film, a pompous academic is arguing with Allen in a cinema queue when McLuhan suddenly appears and silences him, saying, "You know nothing of my work." This was one of McLuhan's most frequent statements to and about those who disagreed with him.


Death

In September 1979, McLuhan suffered a
stroke A stroke is a medical condition A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Di ...

stroke
which affected his ability to speak. The University of Toronto's School of Graduate Studies tried to close his research centre shortly thereafter, but was deterred by substantial protests, most notably by
Woody Allen Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; November 30, 1935) is an American film director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades and multiple Academy Award-winning films. He began his career writing material f ...

Woody Allen
. McLuhan never fully recovered from the stroke and died in his sleep on 31 December 1980. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada.


Major works

During his years at
Saint Louis University Saint Louis University (SLU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ...
(1937–1944), McLuhan worked concurrently on two projects: his doctoral dissertation and the
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriter A typewriter is a or machine for characters. Typically, a typewriter has an array ...

manuscript
that was eventually published in 1951 as a book, titled '' The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man'', which included only a representative selection of the materials that McLuhan had prepared for it. McLuhan's 1942 Cambridge University doctoral dissertation surveys the history of the verbal arts (
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
,
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
, and
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
—collectively known as the
trivium The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts Liberal arts education (from Latin "free" and "art or principled practice") is the traditional academic program in Western higher education. ''Liberal arts'' takes the term ''Art ( ...

trivium
) from the time of
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
down to the time of
Thomas Nashe Thomas Nashe (baptised November 1567 – c. 1601; also Nash) was an Elizabethan playwright, poet, Satire, satirist and a significant pamphleteer. He is known for his novel ''The Unfortunate Traveller'', his pamphlets including ''Pierce Pennile ...
. In his later publications, McLuhan at times uses the Latin concept of the ''trivium'' to outline an orderly and systematic picture of certain periods in the history of
Western culture Western culture, also known as Western civilization, Occidental culture, or Western society, is the heritage Heritage may refer to: History and society * In history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired ...
. McLuhan suggests that the
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical com ...
, for instance, were characterized by the heavy emphasis on the formal study of
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
. The key development that led to the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
was not the rediscovery of ancient texts, but a shift in emphasis from the formal study of logic to
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
and
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
. is characterized by the re-emergence of grammar as its most salient feature—a trend McLuhan felt was exemplified by the
New CriticismNew Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature Literature broadly is any collectio ...
of Richards and Leavis. McLuhan also began the
academic journal An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of w ...
''Explorations'' with
anthropologist An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including ...

anthropologist
Edmund "Ted" Carpenter. In a letter to
Walter Ong Walter Jackson Ong (November 30, 1912 – August 12, 2003) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...

Walter Ong
, dated 31 May 1953, McLuhan reports that he had received a two-year
grant Grant or Grants may refer to: Places *Grant County (disambiguation)Grant County may refer to: Places ;Australia * County of Grant, Victoria ;United States *Grant County, Arkansas *Grant County, Indiana *Grant County, Kansas *Grant County, K ...
of $43,000 from the
Ford Foundation The Ford Foundation is an American private foundation with the stated goal of advancing human welfare. Created in 1936 by Edsel Ford and his father Henry Ford, it was originally funded by a US$25,000 gift from Edsel Ford. By 1947, after the death ...
to carry out a communication project at the University of Toronto involving faculty from different disciplines, which led to the creation of the journal. At a Fordham lecture in 1999,
Tom Wolfe Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (March 2, 1930 – May 14, 2018)Some sources say 1931; ''The New York Times'' and Reuters both initially reported 1931 in their obituaries before changing to 1930. See and was an American author and journalist widely ...
suggested that a major under-acknowledged influence on McLuhan's work is the
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbolism ...
philosopher
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ( (); 1 May 1881 – 10 April 1955) was a French Jesuit Catholic Priest, priest, scientist, paleontology, paleontologist, Theology, theologian, philosopher and teacher. He was Charles Darwin, Darwinian in outlook and t ...

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
, whose ideas anticipated those of McLuhan, especially the evolution of the human mind into the "
noosphere The noosphere (alternate spelling noösphere) is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or u ...
." In fact, McLuhan warns against outright dismissing or whole-heartedly accepting de Chardin's observations early on in his second published book ''
The Gutenberg Galaxy ''The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man'' is a 1962 book by Marshall McLuhan, in which the author analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure ...
'': In his private life, McLuhan wrote to friends saying: "I am not a fan of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The idea that anything is better because it comes later is surely borrowed from pre-electronic technologies." Further, McLuhan noted to a Catholic collaborator: "The idea of a Cosmic thrust in one direction ... is surely one of the lamest semantic fallacies ever bred by the word 'evolution'.… That development should have any direction at all is inconceivable except to the highly literate community." Some of McLuhan's main ideas were influenced or prefigured by anthropologist like
Edward Sapir Edward Sapir (; January 26, 1884 – February 4, 1939) was an American Jewish anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, soc ...

Edward Sapir
and
Claude Lévi-Strauss Claude Lévi-Strauss (; ; 28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009) was a French anthropologist and Ethnology, ethnologist whose work was key in the development of the theory of structuralism and structural anthropology. He held the chair of Social ...
, arguably with a more complex historical and psychological analysis. The idea of the retribalization of Western society by the far-reaching techniques of communication, the view on the function of the artist in society, and the characterization of means of transportation, like the railroad and the airplane, as means of communication, are prefigured in Sapir's 1933 article on ''Communication'' in the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, while the distinction between "hot" and "cool" media draws from Lévi-Strauss' distinction between hot and cold societies.Claude Lévi-Strauss (1962) '' The Savage Mind'', ch.8Taunton, Matthew (2019)
Red Britain: The Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture
', p.223


''The Mechanical Bride'' (1951)

McLuhan's first book, '' The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man'' (1951), is a pioneering study in the field now known as
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
. In the book, McLuhan turns his attention to analysing and commenting on numerous examples of persuasion in contemporary
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
. This followed naturally from his earlier work as both
dialectic Dialectic or dialectics ( grc-gre, διαλεκτική, ''dialektikḗ''; related to dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States Engli ...
and rhetoric in the classical
trivium The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts Liberal arts education (from Latin "free" and "art or principled practice") is the traditional academic program in Western higher education. ''Liberal arts'' takes the term ''Art ( ...

trivium
aimed at
persuasion Persuasion or persuasion arts is an umbrella term of Social influence, influence. Persuasion can attempt to influence a person's beliefs, Attitude (psychology), attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors. Persuasion is studied in many di ...

persuasion
. At this point, his focus shifted dramatically, turning inward to study the influence of communication media independent of their content. His famous
aphorism An aphorism (from Ancient Greek, Greek ἀφορισμός: ''aphorismos'', denoting 'delimitation', 'distinction', and 'definition') is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. They are often handed do ...
"
the medium is the message "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan and the name of the first chapter in his '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'', published in 1964.Originally published in 1964 by Ment ...
" (elaborated in his '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'', 1964) calls attention to this intrinsic effect of communications media. His interest in the critical study of popular culture was influenced by the 1933 book ''Culture and Environment'' by
F. R. Leavis Frank Raymond "F.R." Leavis (14 July 1895 – 14 April 1978) was an English literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influence ...

F. R. Leavis
and Denys Thompson, and the title ''The Mechanical Bride'' is derived from a piece by the
Dada Dada () or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centres in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich), Cabaret Voltaire (c. 1916). New York Dada began c. 1915, and after 1920 ...

Dada
ist artist
Marcel Duchamp Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp (; ; 28 July 1887 – 2 October 1968) was a French Americans, French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. Duchamp is commonly regarded, a ...

Marcel Duchamp
. Like his later ''
The Gutenberg Galaxy ''The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man'' is a 1962 book by Marshall McLuhan, in which the author analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure ...
'' (1962), ''The Mechanical Bride'' is composed of a number of short
essay An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying l ...

essay
s that may be read in any order—what he styled the "
mosaic A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...

mosaic
approach" to writing a book. Each essay begins with a newspaper or magazine article, or an advertisement, followed by McLuhan's analysis thereof. The analyses bear on
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aesthetics). It examines subjective and ...

aesthetic
considerations as well as on the implications behind the
imagery Imagery is visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ (the eye) and parts of the central nervous system (the retina containing photoreceptor cells, the optic nerve The optic nerve, also known as cranial nerve II, or simply as C ...

imagery
and
text Text may refer to: Written word * Text (literary theory) In literary theory, a text is any object that can be "read", whether this object is a work of literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or styles of clothin ...
. McLuhan chose these ads and articles not only to draw attention to their
symbolism Symbolism or symbolist may refer to: Arts * Symbolism (arts), a 19th-century movement rejecting Realism ** Symbolist movement in Romania, symbolist literature and visual arts in Romania during the late 19th and early 20th centuries ** Russian symb ...
, as well as their implications for the who created and disseminated them, but also to mull over what such advertising implies about the wider
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
at which it is aimed. Roland Barthes's essays 1957 ''
Mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...
'', echoes McLuhan's ''Mechanical Bride'', as a series of exhibits of popular mass culture (like advertisements, newspaper articles and photographs) that are analyzed in a semiological way.


''The Gutenberg Galaxy'' (1962)

Written in 1961 and first published by
University of Toronto Press The University of Toronto Press is a Canadian university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or fo ...
, '' The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man'' (1962) is a pioneering study in the fields of
oral culture Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as w ...
,
print culture Print culture embodies all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. One prominent scholar in the field is Elizabeth Eisenstein, who contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent ...
,
cultural studies #REDIRECT Cultural studies #REDIRECT Cultural studies#REDIRECT Cultural studies Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary cul ...
, and
media ecologyMedia ecology theory is the study of media, technology, and communication and how they affect human environments. The theoretical concepts were proposed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964, while the term ''media ecology'' was first formally introduced by M ...
. Throughout the book, McLuhan efforts to reveal how
communication technology Telecommunication is the transmission of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. T ...
(i.e.,
alphabetic writing An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic ...
, the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in wate ...
, and the
electronic media Electronic media are media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Br ...
) affects
cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general men ...

cognitive
organization, which in turn has profound ramifications for social organization:
a new technology extends one or more of our
sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering information about the world and responding to Stimulus (physiology), stimuli. (For example, in the human body, the brain receives signals from the senses ...

sense
s outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new
note Note, notes, or NOTE may refer to: Music and entertainment * Musical note In music, a note is a symbol denoting a musical sound. In English usage a note is also the sound itself. Notes can represent the Pitch (music), pitch and Duration (music), ...
is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent.


Movable type

McLuhan's episodic history takes the reader from pre-alphabetic,
tribal The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribal
humankind to the
electronic age The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a historical periodHuman history is commonly divided into three main Era, eras — Ancient history, Ancient, Post-classical history, Post-classical, and Mode ...
. According to McLuhan, the invention of
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of a ...
greatly accelerated, intensified, and ultimately enabled
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling diff ...

cultural
and
cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general men ...
changes that had already been taking place since the invention and implementation of the alphabet, by which McLuhan means
phonemic orthography A phonemic orthography is an orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselve ...
. (McLuhan is careful to distinguish the phonetic
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...

alphabet
from
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
or logogramic writing systems, such as
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent ...
or
ideograms upright=1, Ideograms in the Church of the Visitation, Jerusalem. Five of the symbols are pictograms augmented with red bars representing the idea of "no" or "not allowed". The symbol at bottom left is a pictogram conveying the meaning of "silenc ...

ideograms
.)
Print culture Print culture embodies all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. One prominent scholar in the field is Elizabeth Eisenstein, who contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent ...
, ushered in by the advance in
printing Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and images An Synthetic aperture radar, SAR radar imaging, radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cru ...

printing
during the middle of the 15th century when the
Gutenberg press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, Sol (colloid), sol, or Solution (chemistry), solution that contains at least one colourant, such as a dye or pigment, and is used to color a surface to ...
was invented, brought about the cultural predominance of the visual over the aural/oral. Quoting (with approval) an observation on the nature of the printed word from William Ivins' ''Prints and Visual Communication'', McLuhan remarks:
In this passage vinsnot only notes the ingraining of lineal, sequential habits, but, even more important, points out the visual homogenizing of experience of print culture, and the relegation of auditory and other sensuous complexity to the background.…

The technology and social effects of typography incline us to abstain from noting interplay and, as it were, "formal" causality, both in our inner and external lives. Print exists by virtue of the static separation of functions and fosters a mentality that gradually resists any but a separative and compartmentalizing or specialist outlook.

The main concept of McLuhan's argument (later elaborated upon in '' The Medium Is the Massage'') is that new
technologies Technology ("science of craft", from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. I ...

technologies
(such as
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semanti ...

alphabet
s,
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in wate ...
es, and even
speech Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''c ...

speech
) exert a
gravitational Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an ...

gravitational
effect on
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general men ...
, which in turn, affects
social organization In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The te ...
: print technology changes our
perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

perceptual
habits—"visual homogenizing of experience"—which in turn affects
social interactions In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from agency (sociology), individual agency form the basis of social structure and the basic object for analy ...
—"fosters a mentality that gradually resists all but a…specialist outlook". According to McLuhan, this advance of print technology contributed to and made possible most of the salient trends in the
modern period Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, advent of writing, from primary source, primary an ...
in the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
:
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self ...
,
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
,
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
,
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
, and
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
. For McLuhan, these trends all reverberate with print technology's principle of "segmentation of actions and functions and principle of visual quantification."


Global village

In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic
print culture Print culture embodies all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. One prominent scholar in the field is Elizabeth Eisenstein, who contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent ...
would soon be brought to an end by what he called "electronic
interdependence Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems, i.e. cohesive groups of interrelated, interdependent parts that can be natural or man-made, human-made. Every system is bounded by space and time, influenced by its environment, defined by i ...
:" when
electronic media Electronic media are media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Br ...
replaces
visual culture Visual culture is the aspect of culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capab ...
with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a
collective identity Collective identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2 ...
, with a "tribal base." McLuhan's coinage for this new social organization is the ''
global villageGlobal village describes the phenomenon of the entire world becoming more interconnected as the result of the propagation of media technologies throughout the world. The term was coined by Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan Herbert Marshal ...
''. The term is sometimes described as having negative
connotation A connotation is a commonly understood cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which o ...
s in ''The Gutenberg Galaxy'', but McLuhan was interested in exploring effects, not making
value judgment A value judgment (or value judgement) is a judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides ov ...

value judgment
s:
Instead of tending towards a vast
Alexandrian library The Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt ) , name = Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the ...
the world has become a
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Parall ...

science fiction
. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence.… Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.…

In our long striving to recover for the

Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture.

Key to McLuhan's argument is the idea that technology has no ''per se'' moral bent—it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual's and, by extension, a society's
self-concept One's self-concept (also called self-construction, self-identity, self-perspective or self-structure) is a collection of beliefs about oneself. Generally, self-concept embodies the answer to the question ''"Who am I?"'' Self-concept is disting ...

self-concept
ion and realization:
Is it not obvious that there are always enough moral problems without also taking a moral stand on technological grounds?…

Print is the extreme phase of alphabet culture that detribalizes or decollectivizes man in the first instance. Print raises the visual features of alphabet to highest intensity of definition. Thus print carries the individuating power of the phonetic alphabet much further than

manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriter A typewriter is a or machine for characters. Typically, a typewriter has an array ...

manuscript
culture could ever do. Print is the technology of
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self ...
. If men decided to modify this
visual technology Visual technology is the engineering discipline dealing with visual representation. Types Visual technology includes photography, printing, augmented reality, virtual reality and video. See also *Audiovisual *Audiovisual education *Information ...
by an electric technology,
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self ...
would also be modified. To raise a moral complaint about this is like cussing a buzz-saw for lopping off fingers. "But", someone says, "we didn't know it would happen." Yet even witlessness is not a moral issue. It is a problem, but not a moral problem; and it would be nice to clear away some of the moral fogs that surround our technologies. It would be good for
morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intention Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action. Having the plan to visit the zoo tomorrow is an example of an intention. The action plan is the '' ...

morality
.

The moral valence of technology's effects on cognition is, for McLuhan, a matter of perspective. For instance, McLuhan contrasts the considerable alarm and revulsion that the growing quantity of books aroused in the latter 17th century with the modern concern for the "end of the book." If there can be no universal moral sentence passed on technology, McLuhan believes that "there can only be disaster arising from unawareness of the causalities and effects inherent in our technologies". Though the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system An information system (IS) is a formal, sociotechnical Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational ...
was invented almost 30 years after ''The Gutenberg Galaxy'', and 10 years after his death, McLuhan prophesied the web technology seen today as early as 1962:
The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.
Furthermore, McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the term ''
surfing Surfing is a surface water sport The following is a list of surface water sports. These are sports which are performed atop a body of water. Towed water sports Environmental impact includes noise, pollutants, shoreline degradation, and dist ...

surfing
'' to refer to rapid, irregular, and multidirectional movement through a heterogeneous body of documents or knowledge, e.g., statements such as "
Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...

Heidegger
surf-boards along on the electronic wave as triumphantly as rode the mechanical wave."
Paul Levinson Paul Levinson (born March 25, 1947) is an American author, singer-songwriter, and professor of communications and media studies Media studies is a discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media; ...

Paul Levinson
's 1999 book ''Digital McLuhan'' explores the ways that McLuhan's work may be understood better through using the lens of the digital revolution. McLuhan frequently quoted
Walter Ong Walter Jackson Ong (November 30, 1912 – August 12, 2003) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...

Walter Ong
's ''Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue'' (1958), which evidently had prompted McLuhan to write ''The Gutenberg Galaxy''. Ong wrote a highly favorable review of this new book in ''America''. However, Ong later tempered his praise, by describing McLuhan's ''The Gutenberg Galaxy'' as "a racy survey, indifferent to some scholarly detail, but uniquely valuable in suggesting the sweep and depth of the cultural and psychological changes entailed in the passage from illiteracy to print and beyond." McLuhan himself said of the book, "I'm not concerned to get any kudos out of 'The Gutenberg Galaxy'' It seems to me a book that somebody should have written a century ago. I wish somebody else had written it. It will be a useful prelude to the rewrite of ''Understanding Media'' he 1960 NAEB reportthat I'm doing now." McLuhan's ''The Gutenberg Galaxy'' won Canada's highest literary award, the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction, in 1962. The chairman of the selection committee was McLuhan's colleague at the University of Toronto and oftentime intellectual sparring partner,
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation Evaluation is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or inter ...

Northrop Frye
.


''Understanding Media'' (1964)

McLuhan's most widely-known work, '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'' (1964), is a seminal study in
media theory Media studies is a discipline (academia), discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media (communication), media; in particular, the mass media. Media Studies may draw on traditions from both the s ...
. Dismayed by the way in which people approach and use
new media New media are forms of media that are computational and rely on computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can p ...
such as television, McLuhan famously argues that in the
modern world Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, advent of writing, from primary source, primary and ...
"we live mythically and integrally…but continue to think in the old, fragmented space and time patterns of the pre-electric age." McLuhan proposed that
media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications deliv ...
themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study—popularly quoted as "
the medium is the message "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan and the name of the first chapter in his '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'', published in 1964.Originally published in 1964 by Ment ...
." McLuhan's insight was that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. McLuhan pointed to the
light bulb An electric light is a device that produces visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies (the spectrum ...

light bulb
as a clear demonstration of this concept. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence." More controversially, he postulated that content had little effect on society—in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children's shows or violent programming, to illustrate one example—the effect of television on society would be identical. He noted that all media have characteristics that engage the viewer in different ways; for instance, a passage in a book could be reread at will, but a movie had to be screened again in its entirety to study any individual part of it.


"Hot" and "cool" media

In the first part of ''Understanding Media'', McLuhan states that different media invite different degrees of participation on the part of a person who chooses to consume a medium. Using a terminology derived from French anthropologist Lévi-Strauss' distinction between hot and cold societies, McLuhan argues that a cool medium requires increased involvement due to decreased description, while a hot medium is the opposite, decreasing involvement and increasing description. In other words, a society that appears to be actively participating in the
streaming Streaming media is multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that combines different content forms such as text, audio, images, animations, or video into a single presentation, in contrast to traditional mass media, such as printed ...
of content but not considering the effects of the tool is not allowing an "extension of ourselves." A movie is thus said to be "high definition," demanding a viewer's attention, while a comic book to be "low definition," requiring much more conscious participation by the reader to extract value: "Any hot medium allows of less participation than a cool one, as a lecture makes for less participation than a seminar, and a book for less than a dialogue." Some media, such as movies, are ''hot''—that is, they enhance one single
sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering information about the world and responding to Stimulus (physiology), stimuli. (For example, in the human body, the brain receives signals from the senses ...

sense
, in this case
vision Vision or The Vision may refer to: Perception Optical perception * Visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color visio ...
, in such a manner that a person does not need to exert much effort to perceive a detailed moving image. Hot media usually, but not always, provide complete involvement with considerable
stimulus A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or the cause of activity generally. For example, "The press provides stimulation of political discourse." ...
. In contrast, "cool" print may also occupy
visual space Visual space is the experience of space by an aware observation, observer. It is the subjective counterpart of the space of physical objects. There is a long history in philosophy, and later psychology of writings describing visual space, and its ...
, using visual senses, but requires focus and comprehension to immerse its reader. Hot media creation favour analytical precision, and sequential ordering, as they are usually sequential,
linear Linearity is the property of a mathematical relationship (''function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out se ...

linear
, and
logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize Validity (logic), valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and ar ...

logic
al. They emphasize one sense (for example, of sight or sound) over the others. For this reason hot media also include film (especially
silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or oth ...

silent film
s), radio, the lecture, and photography. McLuhan contrasts ''hot'' media with ''cool''—specifically, television f the 1960s i.e. small black-and-white screens which he claims requires more effort on the part of the viewer to determine meaning; and comics, which, due to their minimal presentation of visual detail, require a high degree of effort to fill in details that the cartoonist may have intended to portray. Cool media are usually, but not always, those that provide little involvement with substantial stimulus. They require more active participation on the part of the user, including the perception of patterning and simultaneous comprehension of all parts. Therefore, in addition to television, cool media include the
seminar A seminar is a form of academic instruction, either at an academic institution Academic institution is an educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childc ...

seminar
and cartoons. McLuhan describes the term ''cool media'' as emerging from jazz and popular music used, in this context, to mean "detached." This concept appears to force media into binary categories. However, McLuhan's hot and cool exist on a continuum: they are more correctly measured on a scale than as
dichotomous 200px, In this image, the universal set U (the entire rectangle) is dichotomized into the two sets A (in pink) and its complement Ac (in grey). A dichotomy is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets). In other words, this coup ...

dichotomous
terms.


Critiques of ''Understanding Media''

Some theorists have attacked McLuhan's definition and treatment of the word "
medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or data * Medium of i ...
" for being too simplistic.
Umberto Eco Umberto Eco (5 January 1932 – 19 February 2016) was an Italian medievalistMedieval studies is the academic interdisciplinary study of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th t ...
, for instance, contends that McLuhan's medium conflates channels,
code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...

code
s, and
message A message is a discrete unit of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (fr ...

message
s under the overarching term of the medium, confusing the vehicle, internal code, and content of a given message in his framework. In ''Media Manifestos'',
Régis Debray Jules Régis Debray (; born 2 September 1940) is a France, French philosopher, journalist, former government official and academic. He is known for his theorization of mediology, a critical theory of the long-term transmission of cultural meaning ...
also takes issue with McLuhan's envisioning of the medium. Like Eco, he is ill at ease with this
reductionist Reductionism is any of several related philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding ...
approach, summarizing its ramifications as follows:
The list of objections could be and has been lengthened indefinitely: confusing technology itself with its use of the media makes of the media an abstract, undifferentiated force and produces its image in an imaginary "public" for
mass consumption Consumerism is a and economic order that encourages the acquisition of in ever-increasing amounts. With the , but particularly in the 20th century, led to —the of goods would grow beyond consumer , and so manufacturers turned to and to ...
; the magical naivete of supposed causalities turns the media into a catch-all and contagious "
mana In Melanesian Melanesians are the predominant and indigenous inhabitants of Melanesia, in a wide area from Maluku Islands and New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by ...

mana
"; apocalyptic
millenarianism Millenarianism (also millenarism), from Latin ''mīllēnārius'' "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interactio ...
invents the figure of a ''homo mass-mediaticus'' without ties to
historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems ar ...
and
social context The social environment, social context, sociocultural context or milieu refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture Culture () is an umbrella term ...
, and so on.
Furthermore, when ''
Wired ''Wired'' (stylized as ''WIRED'') is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online magazine, online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquar ...
'' magazine interviewed him in 1995, Debray stated that he views McLuhan "more as a poet than a
historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the stu ...
, a master of intellectual collage rather than a systematic analyst.… McLuhan overemphasizes the technology behind cultural change at the expense of the usage that the messages and codes make of that technology."
Dwight Macdonald Dwight Macdonald (March 24, 1906 – December 19, 1982) was an American writer, editor, film critic, social critic, philosopher, and activist. Macdonald was a member of the New York Intellectuals and editor of their leftist magazine '' Partisan R ...
, in turn, reproached McLuhan for his focus on television and for his " aphoristic" style of
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions ...

prose
, which he believes leaves ''Understanding Media'' filled with "contradictions, non-sequiturs, facts that are distorted and facts that are not facts,
exaggeration Exaggeration is the representation of something as more extreme or dramatic than it really is. Exaggeration may occur intentionally or unintentionally. Exaggeration can be a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke stron ...
s, and chronic
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
al
vagueness In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, lang ...
." Additionally,
Brian Winston Dr Brian Winston is the first holder of the Lincoln Professorship at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom. He was a Pro Vice Chancellor for 2005-2006 and the former dean of Media and Humanities.technologically deterministic stances.
Raymond Williams Raymond Henry Williams (31 August 1921 – 26 January 1988), born in Wales, was a socialist writer, academic, novelist and critic influential within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the media and literature c ...
furthers this point of contention, claiming:
The work of McLuhan was a particular culmination of an aesthetic theory which became, negatively, a social theory ... It is an apparently sophisticated technological determinism which has the significant effect of indicating a
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...
and cultural determinism.… For if the medium – whether print or television – is the cause, all other causes, all that men ordinarily see as history, are at once reduced to effects.
David Carr states that there has been a long line of "academics who have made a career out of deconstructing McLuhan’s effort to define the modern media ecosystem", whether it be due to what they see as McLuhan's ignorance toward sociohistorical context or the style of his argument. While some critics have taken issue with McLuhan's writing style and mode of argument, McLuhan himself urged readers to think of his work as "probes" or "mosaics" offering a toolkit approach to thinking about the media. His
eclectic Eclectic may refer to: Music * Eclectic (Eric Johnson and Mike Stern album), ''Eclectic'' (Eric Johnson and Mike Stern album), 2014 * Eclectic (Big Country album), ''Eclectic'' (Big Country album), 1996 * Eclectic Method, name of an audio-visual ...
writing style has also been praised for its postmodern sensibilities and suitability for virtual space.


''The Medium Is the Massage'' (1967)

'' The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects'', published in 1967, was McLuhan's best seller, Wolf, Gary. 1 January 1996.
The Wisdom of Saint Marshall, the Holy Fool
" ''Wired'' 4(1). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
"eventually selling nearly a million copies worldwide." Initiated by
Quentin Fiore Quentin Fiore (February 12, 1920 – April 13, 2019) was a graphic designer, who worked mostly in books. Early life and education Quentin Fiore was born on February 12, 1920 in the The Bronx, Bronx, New York City, New York to Antonino, a tailor, ...
, McLuhan adopted the term "massage" to denote the effect each medium has on the human
sensorium A sensorium (/sɛnˈsɔːrɪəm/) (plural: sensoria) is the apparatus of an organism's perception considered as a whole, the "seat of sensation" where it experiences and interprets the environments within which it lives. The term originally ente ...

sensorium
, taking inventory of the "effects" of numerous media in terms of how they "massage" the
sensorium A sensorium (/sɛnˈsɔːrɪəm/) (plural: sensoria) is the apparatus of an organism's perception considered as a whole, the "seat of sensation" where it experiences and interprets the environments within which it lives. The term originally ente ...

sensorium
. Fiore, at the time a prominent
graphic designer A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published me ...

graphic designer
and communications consultant, set about composing the visual illustration of these effects which were compiled by Jerome Agel. Near the beginning of the book, Fiore adopted a pattern in which an image demonstrating a media effect was presented with a textual synopsis on the facing page. The reader experiences a repeated shifting of analytic registers—from "reading" to "scanning" photographic
facsimile '', a famous illuminated manuscript An illuminated manuscript is a formally prepared document A document is a written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the a ...
s—reinforcing McLuhan's overarching argument in this book: namely, that each medium produces a different "massage" or "effect" on the human sensorium. In ''The Medium Is the Massage'', McLuhan also rehashed the argument—which first appeared in the Prologue to 1962's ''
The Gutenberg Galaxy ''The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man'' is a 1962 book by Marshall McLuhan, in which the author analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure ...
''—that all media are "extensions" of our human senses, bodies and minds. Finally, McLuhan described key points of change in how man has viewed the world and how these views were changed by the adoption of new media. "The technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth entury, brought on by the adoption of fixed points of view and perspective by typography, while " e technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century," brought on by the
bard In Celtic cultures, a bard was a professional story teller, verse-maker, music composer, oral historian Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using a ...

bard
abilities of radio, movies and television.
The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a
rear-view mirror A rear-view mirror (or rearview mirror) is a flat mirror in automobiles and other vehicles, designed to allow the driver to see rearward through the vehicle's rear window (rear windshield). In cars, the rear-view mirror is usually affixed to t ...

rear-view mirror
. We march backward into the future.
Suburb A suburb (or suburban area or suburbia) is a commercial Commercial may refer to: * a dose of advertising conveyed through media (such as - for example - radio or television) ** Radio advertisement ** Television advertisement * (adjective ...
ia lives imaginatively in
Bonanza ''Bonanza'' is an American Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Austr ...
-land.
An audio recording version of McLuhan's famous work was made by
Columbia Records Columbia Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...

Columbia Records
. The recording consists of a pastiche of statements made by McLuhan ''interrupted'' by other speakers, including people speaking in various
phonation The term phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—lingu ...
s and
falsetto ''Falsetto'' (, ; Italian language, Italian diminutive of , "false") is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of t ...

falsetto
s, discordant sounds and 1960s incidental music in what could be considered a deliberate attempt to translate the disconnected images seen on TV into an audio format, resulting in the prevention of a connected stream of conscious thought. Various audio recording techniques and statements are used to illustrate the relationship between spoken, literary speech and the characteristics of electronic audio media. McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand called the recording "the 1967 equivalent of a McLuhan video."
"I wouldn't be seen dead with a living work of art."—'Old man' speaking "Drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey."—'Middle aged man' speaking


''War and Peace in the Global Village'' (1968)

In '' War and Peace in the Global Village'', McLuhan used
James Joyce James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist , Solomon Guggenheim Museum 1946–1959 Modernism is both a philosoph ...
's ''
Finnegans Wake ''Finnegans Wake'' is a book by Irish literature, Irish writer James Joyce. It has been called "a work of fiction which combines a body of fables ... with the work of analysis and deconstruction". It is significant for its experimental style and ...
'', an inspiration for this study of war throughout history, as an indicator as to how war may be conducted in the future. Joyce's ''Wake'' is claimed to be a gigantic
cryptogram A cryptogram is a type of puzzle that consists of a short piece of encrypted In cryptography, encryption is the process of Code, encoding information. This process converts the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, i ...

cryptogram
which reveals a cyclic pattern for the whole history of man through its Ten Thunders. Each "thunder" below is a 100-character
portmanteau A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (from "portmanteau (luggage) A portmanteau is a piece of luggage Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a travel Travel is the movement of people between distant ...

portmanteau
of other words to create a statement he likens to an effect that each technology has on the society into which it is introduced. In order to glean the most understanding out of each, the reader must break the portmanteau into separate words (and many of these are themselves portmanteaus of words taken from multiple languages other than English) and speak them aloud for the spoken effect of each word. There is much dispute over what each portmanteau truly denotes. McLuhan claims that the ten thunders in ''Wake'' represent different stages in the history of man: *''Thunder 1: Paleolithic to Neolithic.'' Speech. Split of East/West. From
herding Herding is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group (herd), maintaining the group, and moving the group from place to place—or any combination of those. Herding can refer either to the process of animals forming herds in ...

herding
to harnessing animals. *''Thunder 2: Clothing as weaponry.'' Enclosure of private parts. First social
aggression Aggression is overt or covert, often harmful, social interaction with the intention of inflicting damage or other harm upon another individual. It may occur either reactively or without provocation. In humans, aggression can be caused by various ...
. *''Thunder 3: Specialism.''
Centralism Centralisation or centralization (see American and British English spelling differences#iseize, spelling differences) is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, framing ...
via wheel, transport, cities: civil life. *''Thunder 4: Markets and truck gardens.'' Patterns of nature submitted to greed and power. *''Thunder 5: Printing.'' Distortion and translation of human patterns and postures and pastors. *''Thunder 6: Industrial Revolution.'' Extreme development of print process and
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self ...
. *''Thunder 7: Tribal man again.'' All characters end up separate, private man. Return of choric. *''Thunder 8: Movies.'' , pop Kulch via tribal radio. Wedding of sight and sound. *''Thunder 9: Car and Plane.'' Both centralizing and at once create cities in crisis. Speed and death. *''Thunder 10: Television.'' Back to tribal involvement in tribal mood-mud. The last thunder is a turbulent, muddy wake, and murk of non-visual, tactile man.


''From Cliché to Archetype'' (1970)

Collaborating with Canadian poet
Wilfred Watson Wilfred Watson (May 1, 1911 – March 25, 1998) was professor emeritus of English at Canada's University of Alberta for many years. He was also an experimental Canadian poetry, Canadian poet and dramatist, whose innovative plays had a considera ...
in '' From Cliché to Archetype'' (1970), McLuhan approaches the various implications of the verbal
cliché A cliché ( or ) is an element of an artistic work, saying, or idea that has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was consid ...
and of the
archetype The concept of an archetype (; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popu ...
. One major facet in McLuhan's overall framework introduced in this book that is seldom noticed is the provision of a new term that actually succeeds the global village: the ''global theater''. In McLuhan's terms, a ''cliché'' is a "normal" action, phrase, etc. which becomes so often used that we are " anesthetized" to its effects. McLuhan provides the example of
Eugène Ionesco Eugène Ionesco (; born Eugen Ionescu, ; 26 November 1909 – 28 March 1994) was a Romanians in France, Romanian-French playwright who wrote mostly in French, and one of the foremost figures of the French avant-garde theatre#Avant-garde, French ...
's play ''
The Bald Soprano ''La Cantatrice chauve '' – translated from French as ''The Bald Soprano'' or ''The Bald Prima Donna'' – is the first play written by Romanian-French playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays. Etymology The wor ...
'', whose dialogue consists entirely of phrases Ionesco pulled from an
Assimil Assimil (often stylised as ASSiMiL) is a France, French company, founded by Alphonse Chérel in 1929. It creates and publishes foreign language courses, which began with their first book ''Anglais Sans Peine'' ("English Without Toil"). Since then, ...
language book: "Ionesco originally put all these idiomatic English clichés into literary French which presented the English in the most absurd aspect possible." McLuhan's ''archetype'' "is a quoted extension, medium, technology, or environment." ''Environment'' would also include the kinds of "
awareness Awareness is the state of being conscious of something. More specifically, it is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be cognizant of events. Another definition describes it as a state wherein a subject is aware of some infor ...

awareness
" and
cognitive shift A cognitive shift or shift in cognitive focus is triggered by the brain's response and change due to some external force. General cause A cognitive shift can occur when a person undergoes a new experience, such as astronauts experiencing the over ...
s brought upon people by it, not totally unlike the psychological context
Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung ( ; born Karl Gustav Jung, ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations ...

Carl Jung
described. McLuhan also posits that there is a factor of interplay between the ''cliché'' and the ''archetype'', or a "doubleness:"
Another theme of the Wake [''
Finnegans Wake ''Finnegans Wake'' is a book by Irish literature, Irish writer James Joyce. It has been called "a work of fiction which combines a body of fables ... with the work of analysis and deconstruction". It is significant for its experimental style and ...
''] that helps in the understanding of the paradoxical shift from cliché to archetype is 'past time are pastimes.' The dominant technologies of one age become the games and pastimes of a later age. In the 20th century, the number of 'past times' that are simultaneously available is so vast as to create cultural anarchy. When all the cultures of the world are simultaneously present, the work of the artist in the elucidation of form takes on new scope and new urgency. Most men are pushed into the artist's role. The artist cannot dispense with the principle of 'doubleness' or 'interplay' because this type of
hendiadys Hendiadys (; a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
dialogue is essential to the very structure of consciousness, awareness, and autonomy.
McLuhan relates the cliché-to-archetype process to the
Theater of the Absurd The Theatre of the Absurd (french: théâtre de l'absurde ) is a post–World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World W ...
:
Pascal, in the seventeenth century, tells us that the heart has many reasons of which the head knows nothing. The Theater of the Absurd is essentially a communicating to the head of some of the silent languages of the heart which in two or three hundred years it has tried to forget all about. In the seventeenth century world the languages of the heart were pushed down into the unconscious by the dominant print cliché.
The "languages of the heart," or what McLuhan would otherwise define as
oral culture Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as w ...
, were thus made archetype by means of the printing press, and turned into cliché. The
satellite In the context of spaceflight Spaceflight (or space flight) is an application of astronautics to fly spacecraft into or through outer space, either human spaceflight, with or uncrewed spaceflight, without humans on board. Most spaceflight ...

satellite
medium, McLuhan states, encloses the Earth in a man-made environment, which "ends 'Nature' and turns the globe into a repertory theater to be programmed." All previous environments (book, newspaper, radio, etc.) and their artifacts are retrieved under these conditions ("past times are pastimes"). McLuhan thereby meshes this into the term ''global theater''. It serves as an update to his older concept of the global village, which, in its own definitions, can be said to be subsumed into the overall condition described by that of the global theater.


''The Global Village'' (1989)

In his posthumous book, '' The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century'' (1989), McLuhan, collaborating with Bruce R. Powers, provides a strong
conceptual framework A conceptual framework is an analytical tool Analytical chemistry studies and uses instruments and methods used to separate, identify, and quantify matter. In practice, separation, identification or quantification may constitute the entire anal ...
for understanding the cultural implications of the technological advances associated with the rise of a worldwide electronic network. This is a major work of McLuhan's as it contains the most extensive elaboration of his concept of '' acoustic space'', and provides a critique of standard 20th-century communication models such as the
Shannon–Weaver model The Shannon–Weaver model of communication has been called the "mother of all models." Social Scientists use the term to refer to an integrated model of the concepts of Information theory#Source theory, information source, message, transmission ( ...
. McLuhan distinguishes between the existing worldview of ''
visual space Visual space is the experience of space by an aware observation, observer. It is the subjective counterpart of the space of physical objects. There is a long history in philosophy, and later psychology of writings describing visual space, and its ...
''—a linear, quantitative, classically geometric model—and that of ''acoustic space''—a
holistic Holism (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately ...
, qualitative order with an intricate,
paradox A paradox is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one's expectation. It is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to a seemingly self-contradictory or a logically un ...

paradox
ical
topology In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities ...

topology
: "Acoustic Space has the basic character of a
sphere A sphere (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...

sphere
whose focus or center is simultaneously everywhere and whose margin is nowhere." The transition from ''visual'' to ''acoustic'' ''space'' was not automatic with the advent of the
global network The Global Television Network (more commonly called Global, or occasionally Global TV) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or c ...
, but would have to be a conscious project. The "universal environment of simultaneous electronic flow" inherently favors right-brain Acoustic Space, yet we are held back by habits of adhering to a fixed point of view. There are no boundaries to sound. We hear from all directions at once. Yet Acoustic and Visual Space are, in fact, inseparable. The resonant interval is the invisible borderline between Visual and Acoustic Space. This is like the television camera that the
Apollo 8 Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft File:Space Shuttle Columbia launching.jpg, 275px, The US Space Shuttle flew 135 times from 1981 to 2011, supporting Spacelab, ''Mir'', the Hubble Space Telescope, and the ISS. (''Columbia'' STS-1, mai ...
astronauts focused on the Earth after they had orbited the moon. McLuhan illustrates how it feels to exist within acoustic space by quoting from the
autobiography An autobiography (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populati ...
of Jacques Lusseyran, ''And There Was Light.'' Lusseyran lost his eyesight in a violent accident as a child, and the autobiography describes how a reordering of his sensory life and perception followed:
When I came upon the myth of objectivity in certain modern thinkers, it made me angry. So there was only one world for these people, the same for everyone. And all the other worlds were to be counted as illusions left over from the past. Or why not call them by their name - hallucinations? I had learned to my cost how wrong they were. From my own experience I knew very well that it was enough to take from a man a memory here, an association there, to deprive him of hearing or sight, for the world to undergo immediate transformation, and for another world, entirely different, but entirely coherent, to be born. Another world? Not really. The same world, rather, but seen from a different angle, and counted in entirely new measures. When this happened all the hierarchies they called objective were turned upside down, scattered to the four winds, not even theories but like whims.
Reading, writing, and
hierarchical A hierarchy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) that are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy i ...

hierarchical
ordering are associated with the
left brain Odd Future, also known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, OF or OFWGKTA, is an American music collective formed in Los Angeles in 2007. The original members are Tyler, the Creator Tyler Gregory Okonma (born March 6, 1991), better known as T ...
and visual space, as are the linear concept of time and phonetic literacy. The left brain is the locus of
analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composit ...

analysis
,
classification Classification is a process related to categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience Experience refers to conscious , an English Paracels ...
, and
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reaso ...

rationality
. The right brain and acoustic space are the locus of the spatial, tactile, and musical. ''"Comprehensive awareness"'' results when the two sides of the brain are in true balance. Visual Space is associated with the simplified worldview of
Euclidean geometry Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern ...
, the intuitive three dimensions useful for the architecture of buildings and the surveying of land. It is linearly rational and has no grasp of the acoustic. Acoustic Space is multisensory. McLuhan writes about robotism in the context of Japanese Zen Buddhism and how it can offer us new ways of thinking about technology. The
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
way of thinking about technology is too much related to the left hemisphere of our brain, which has a rational and linear focus. What he called robotism might better be called androidism in the wake of ''
Blade Runner ''Blade Runner'' is a 1982 science fiction film Science fiction (or sci-fi) is a film genre A film genre is a Genre, stylistic or thematic category for Film, motion pictures based on similarities either in the narrative , narrative elem ...

Blade Runner
'' and the novels of
Philip K. Dick Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (magaz ...
. Robotism-androidism emerges from the further development of the right hemisphere of the brain, creativity and a new relationship to spacetime (most humans are still living in 17th-century classical Newtonian physics spacetime). Robots-androids will have much greater flexibility than humans have had until now, in both mind and body. Robots-androids will teach humanity this new flexibility. And this flexibility of androids (what McLuhan calls robotism) has a strong affinity with Japanese culture and life. McLuhan quotes from
Ruth Benedict Ruth Fulton Benedict (June 5, 1887 – September 17, 1948) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societi ...

Ruth Benedict
, '' The Chrysanthemum and the Sword'', an anthropological study of
Japanese culture The culture of Japan has changed greatly over the millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon period The is the time in Japanese prehistory Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag ...
published in 1946:
Occidentals cannot easily credit the ability of the Japanese to swing from one behavior to another without psychic cost. Such extreme possibilities are not included in our experience. Yet in Japanese life the contradictions, as they seem to us, are as deeply based in their view of life as our uniformities are in ours.
The ability to live in the present and instantly readjust.


Beyond existing communication models

"All Western scientific models of communication are—like the
Shannon–Weaver model The Shannon–Weaver model of communication has been called the "mother of all models." Social Scientists use the term to refer to an integrated model of the concepts of Information theory#Source theory, information source, message, transmission ( ...
—linear, sequential, and logical as a reflection of the late medieval emphasis on the Greek notion of efficient causality." McLuhan and Powers criticize the Shannon-Weaver model of communication as emblematic of left-hemisphere bias and linearity, descended from a print-era perversion of Aristotle's notion of efficient causality. A third term of ''The Global Village'' that McLuhan and Powers develop at length is The Tetrad. McLuhan had begun development on the Tetrad as early as 1974. The tetrad an analogical, simultaneous, four-fold pattern of transformation. "At full maturity the tetrad reveals the metaphoric structure of the artifact as having two figures and two grounds in dynamic and analogical relationship to each other." Like the camera focused on the Earth by the Apollo 8 astronauts, the tetrad reveals figure (Moon) and ground (Earth) simultaneously. The right-brain hemisphere thinking is the capability of being in many places at the same time. Electricity is acoustic. It is simultaneously everywhere. The Tetrad, with its fourfold Möbius
topological structure In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
of enhancement, reversal, retrieval and obsolescence, is mobilized by McLuhan and Powers to illuminate the media or technological inventions of cash money, the compass, the computer, the database, the satellite, and the global media network.


Key concepts


Tetrad of media effects

In ''Laws of Media'' (1988), published posthumously by his son
Eric The given name Image:FML names-2.png, Diagram of naming conventions, using John F. Kennedy as an example. "First names" can also be called given names; "last names" can also be called surnames or family names. This shows a structure typical f ...

Eric
, McLuhan summarized his ideas about
media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications deliv ...
in a concise tetrad of media effects. The tetrad is a means of examining the effects on society of any technology (i.e., any medium) by dividing its effects into four categories and displaying them simultaneously. McLuhan designed the tetrad as a pedagogical tool, phrasing his laws as questions with which to consider any medium: *What does the medium enhance? *What does the medium make obsolete? *What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier? *What does the medium flip into when pushed to extremes? The laws of the tetrad exist simultaneously, not successively or chronologically, and allow the questioner to explore the "grammar and syntax" of the "language" of media. McLuhan departs from his mentor
Harold Innis Harold Adams Innis (1894 – 1952) was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory, and Canadian economic history. He helped develop the staples thesis ...
in suggesting that a medium "overheats," or reverses into an opposing form, when taken to its extreme. Visually, a tetrad can be depicted as four diamonds forming an X, with the name of a medium in the centre. The two diamonds on the left of a tetrad are the ''Enhancement'' and ''Retrieval'' qualities of the medium, both ''Figure'' qualities. The two diamonds on the right of a tetrad are the ''Obsolescence'' and ''Reversal'' qualities, both ''Ground'' qualities. Using the example of radio: * Enhancement (figure): What the medium amplifies or intensifies. ''Radio amplifies news and music via sound.'' * Obsolescence (ground): What the medium drives out of prominence. ''Radio reduces the importance of print and the visual.'' * Retrieval (figure): What the medium recovers which was previously lost. ''Radio returns the spoken word to the forefront.'' * Reversal (ground): What the medium does when pushed to its limits. ''Acoustic radio flips into audio-visual TV.''


Figure and ground

McLuhan adapted the
Gestalt psychology Gestalt psychology, gestaltism or configurationism is a school of psychology that emerged in the early twentieth century in Austria and Germany as a theory of perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical ...
idea of a ''figure and a ground'', which underpins the meaning of "
the medium is the message "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan and the name of the first chapter in his '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'', published in 1964.Originally published in 1964 by Ment ...
." He used this concept to explain how a form of
communications technology Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of informa ...
, the medium, or ''figure'', necessarily operates through its context, or ''ground''. McLuhan believed that in order to grasp fully the effect of a new technology, one must examine figure (medium) and ground (context) together, since neither is completely intelligible without the other. McLuhan argued that we must study media in their historical context, particularly in relation to the technologies that preceded them. The present environment, itself made up of the effects of previous technologies, gives rise to new technologies, which, in their turn, further affect society and individuals. All technologies have embedded within them their own assumptions about
time and space In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model which fuses the three-dimensional space, three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. The fabric of space-time is a conceptual model combining the ...
. The message which the medium conveys can only be understood if the medium and the environment in which the medium is used—and which, simultaneously, it effectively creates—are analysed together. He believed that an examination of the figure-ground relationship can offer a critical commentary on culture and society.


Opposition between optic and haptic perception

In McLuhan's (and Harley Parker's) work, electric media has an affinity with haptic and
hearing Schematic diagram of the human ear Hearing, or auditory perception, is the ability to perceive Sound, sounds through an organ, such as an ear, by detecting Vibration, vibrations as periodic changes in the pressure of a surrounding medium. Th ...

hearing
perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" o ...

perception
, while mechanical media have an affinity with
visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vision, scotopic vision (night vision), and mesopic vision (twilight vision), using light in ...
. This opposition between optic and haptic, had been previously formulated by art historians
Alois Riegl Alois Riegl, ca. 1890 Alois Riegl (14 January 1858, Linz Linz (; ; cs, Linec) is the capital of Upper Austria and List of cities and towns in Austria, third-largest city in Austria. In the north of the country, it is on the Danube south of the ...

Alois Riegl
, in his 1901 ''Late Roman art industry'', and then
Erwin Panofsky Erwin Panofsky (March 30, 1892 in Hannover – March 14, 1968 in Princeton, New Jersey Princeton is a municipality with a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In princip ...

Erwin Panofsky
(in his ''Perspective as Symbolic Form''). However, McLuhan's comments are more aware of the contingent cultural context in which for instance
linear perspective Linear or point-projection perspective (from la, perspicere 'to see through') is one of two types of graphical projection perspective in the graphic arts; the other is parallel projection. Linear perspective is an approximate representation, ...
arose, while Panofsky's ones are more teleological. Also Walter Benjamin, in his ''
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935), by Walter Benjamin, is an essay of cultural criticism which proposes and explains that mechanical reproduction devalues the ''aura'' (uniqueness) of an '' objet d’art''. That in t ...
'' (1935), observed how in the scenario of perceptions of modern Western culture, from about the 19th century, has begun a shift from the
optic Optics is the branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entitie ...
towards the haptic. This shift is one of the main recurring topics in McLuhan work, which McLuhan attributes to the advent of the electronic era.


Legacy

After the publication of ''
Understanding Media ''Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'' is a 1964 book by Marshall McLuhan Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canad ...
'', McLuhan received an astonishing amount of publicity, making him perhaps the most publicized English teacher in the twentieth century and arguably the most controversial. This publicity began with the work of two California advertising executives, Howard Gossage and Gerald Feigen who used personal funds to fund their practice of "genius scouting".Marchand, pp. 183. Much enamoured with McLuhan's work, Feigen and Gossage arranged for McLuhan to meet with editors of several major New York magazines in May 1965 at the
Lombardy Hotel The Lombardy Hotel is located at 111 East 56th Street (Manhattan), 56th Street (between Park Avenue (Manhattan), Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue) in the Midtown Manhattan, Midtown East neighborhood of New York City. The building was turned into a ...
in New York. Philip Marchand reports that, as a direct consequence of these meetings, McLuhan was offered the use of an office in the headquarters of both ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' and ''
Newsweek ''Newsweek'' is an American weekly news magazine A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published , radio or , usually published weekly, consisting of articles about current events. News magazines generally discuss stories, in greater de ...
'', any time he needed it. In August 1965, Feigen and Gossage held what they called a "McLuhan festival" in the offices of Gossage's advertising agency in San Francisco. During this "festival", McLuhan met with advertising executives, members of the mayor's office, and editors from the ''
San Francisco Chronicle The ''San Francisco Chronicle'' is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area The San Francisco Bay Area, popularly referred to as the Bay Area, is a populous region surrounding the , , and in . Although the exact boundaries ...
'' and '' Ramparts'' magazine. More significant was the presence at the festival of
Tom Wolfe Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (March 2, 1930 – May 14, 2018)Some sources say 1931; ''The New York Times'' and Reuters both initially reported 1931 in their obituaries before changing to 1930. See and was an American author and journalist widely ...
, who wrote about McLuhan in a subsequent article, "What If He Is Right?", published in ''New York'' magazine and Wolfe's own '' The Pump House Gang''. According to Feigen and Gossage, their work had only a moderate effect on McLuhan's eventual celebrity: they claimed that their work only "probably speeded up the recognition of cLuhan'sgenius by about six months." In any case, McLuhan soon became a fixture of media discourse. ''Newsweek'' magazine did a cover story on him; articles appeared in ''Life'', ''Harper's'', ''Fortune'', ''Esquire'', and others. Cartoons about him appeared in ''The New Yorker''. In 1969, ''
Playboy ''Playboy'' is an American men's lifestyle Lifestyle often refers to: * Lifestyle (sociology), the way a person lives * ''Otium'', ancient Roman concept of a lifestyle * Style of life (german: Lebensstil), dealing with the dynamics of personal ...

Playboy
'' magazine published a lengthy interview with him. In a running gag on the popular sketch comedy ''
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In ''Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In'' (often simply referred to as ''Laugh-In'') is an American sketch comedy television program that ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to March 12, 1973, on the NBC television network, hosted by comedians Dan R ...
'', the "poet"
Henry Gibson Henry Gibson (born James Bateman; September 21, 1935 – September 14, 2009) was an American actor, singer, and songwriter. His best-known roles include his time as a cast member of the TV sketch-comedy series ''Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In'' ...
would randomly say, "Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin'?" McLuhan was credited with coining the phrase ''
Turn on, tune in, drop out "Turn on, tune in, drop out" is a counterculture-era phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966. In 1967, Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and phrased the famous words, "Turn on, ...
'' by its popularizer,
Timothy Leary Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs. Evaluations of Leary are polarized, ranging from bold oracle to publicity hound. He was "a hero ...
, in the 1960s. In a 1988 interview with
Neil Strauss Neil Darrow Strauss, also known by the pen names Style and Chris Powles, (born October 13, 1973) is an American author, journalist and ghostwriter A ghostwriter is hired to write literary Literature broadly is any collection of written w ...
, Leary stated that the slogan was "given to him" by McLuhan during a lunch in New York City. Leary said McLuhan "was very much interested in ideas and marketing, and he started singing something like, 'Psychedelics hit the spot / Five hundred micrograms, that’s a lot,' to the tune of a Pepsi commercial. Then he started going, 'Tune in, turn on, and drop out. During his lifetime and afterward, McLuhan heavily influenced cultural critics, thinkers, and media theorists such as
Neil Postman Neil Postman (March 8, 1931 – October 5, 2003) was an American author, educator, media theorist and cultural critic, who eschewed technology, including personal computers in school and cruise control in cars, and is best known for twenty boo ...
,
Jean Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard ( , , ; 27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociology, sociologist, philosopher and sociology of culture, cultural theorist. He is best known for his analyses of Media (communication), media, contemporary culture, and tec ...

Jean Baudrillard
,
Timothy Leary Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs. Evaluations of Leary are polarized, ranging from bold oracle to publicity hound. He was "a hero ...
,
Terence McKenna Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, includin ...

Terence McKenna
,
William Irwin Thompson William Irwin Thompson (born 16 July 1938—8 November 2020) was an American social philosopher, cultural critic, and poet. He received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He described his writing and speaking style as "mind-j ...
,
Paul Levinson Paul Levinson (born March 25, 1947) is an American author, singer-songwriter, and professor of communications and media studies Media studies is a discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media; ...

Paul Levinson
,
Douglas Rushkoff Douglas Mark Rushkoff (born February 18, 1961) is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist, and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fict ...

Douglas Rushkoff
,
Jaron Lanier Jaron Zepel Lanier (, born May 3, 1960) is an American computer scientist A computer scientist is a person who has acquired the knowledge of computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algori ...
,
Hugh Kenner William Hugh Kenner (January 7, 1923 – November 24, 2003) was a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor. He published widely on Modernist literature Literary modernism, or modernist literature, originated in the late 19th and earl ...
, and John David Ebert, as well as political leaders such as
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau ( , ; October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000), also referred to by his initials PET, was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th prime minister of Canada (1968–1979, 1980–1984) and lea ...
and
Jerry Brown Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. (born April 7, 1938) is an American lawyer, author, and politician who served as the 34th and 39th governor of California The governor of California is the head of government The head of government is either the h ...

Jerry Brown
.
Andy Warhol Andy Warhol (; born Andrew Warhola; August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) was an American artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship betwe ...

Andy Warhol
was paraphrasing McLuhan with his now famous " 15 minutes of fame" quote. When asked in the 1970s for a way to sedate violences in
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante "Angola Avante" (, ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Angola
, he suggested a massive spread of TV devices.
Douglas Coupland Douglas Coupland (born 1961) is a Canadian novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living wage, ...
, argued that McLuhan "was conservative, socially, but he never let politics enter his writing or his teaching". The character "Brian O'Blivion" in
David Cronenberg David Paul Cronenberg (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian film director, screenwriter, and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror genre, with his films exploring visceral bodily transformation ...
's 1983 film ''
Videodrome ''Videodrome'' is a 1983 Canadian science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (magazine), Imagination.'' Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci- ...
'' is a "media oracle" based on McLuhan. In 1991, McLuhan was named as the "patron saint" of ''
Wired ''Wired'' (stylized as ''WIRED'') is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online magazine, online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquar ...
'' magazine and a quote of his appeared on the masthead for the first ten years of its publication. He is mentioned by name in a
Peter Gabriel Peter Brian Gabriel (born 13 February 1950) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and activist. He rose to fame as the original lead singer of the progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as cla ...

Peter Gabriel
–penned lyric in the song "Broadway Melody of 1974". This song appears on the
concept album A concept album is an album packaged in book form, like a photograph album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph record, vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recor ...
''
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway ''The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'' is the sixth studio album by the English progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock mus ...
'', from
progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid-to late 1960s, peak ...
band
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...
. The lyric is: "Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin' head buried in the sand." McLuhan is also jokingly referred to during an episode of ''
The Sopranos ''The Sopranos'' is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. The story revolves around Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a New Jersey-based American Mafia, Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he f ...
'' entitled "
House Arrest In justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, Palazzo Altemps, Rome Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle t ...
". Despite his death in 1980, someone claiming to be McLuhan was posting on a ''Wired'' mailing list in 1996. The information this individual provided convinced one writer for ''Wired'' that "if the poster was not McLuhan himself, it was a bot programmed with an eerie command of McLuhan's life and inimitable perspective." A new centre known as the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, formed soon after his death in 1980, was the successor to McLuhan's Centre for Culture and Technology at the
University of Toronto The University of Toronto (U of T or UToronto) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...

University of Toronto
. Since 1994, it has been part of the
University of Toronto Faculty of Information The Faculty of Information (or the iSchool at the University of Toronto) is an undergraduate and graduate school that offers the following programs: a Bachelor of Information, a Master of Information (MI), a Master of Museum Studies (MMSt), and a Ph ...

University of Toronto Faculty of Information
and in 2008 the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology incorporated in the Coach House Institute. The first director was literacy scholar and
OISE Oise ( ; ; pcd, Oése) is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and adm ...
Professor David R. Olsen. From 1983 until 2008, the McLuhan Program was under the direction of
Derrick de Kerckhove Derrick de Kerckhove (born 1944) is the author of ''The Skin of Culture'' and ''Connected Intelligence'' and Professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an Academy, academic rank at university, universities and other post-secondary ...

Derrick de Kerckhove
who was McLuhan's student and translator. From 2008 through 2015 Professor Dominique Scheffel-Dunand of
York University York University (french: Université York), also known as YorkU or simply YU, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...
served Director of the Program. In 2011 at the time of his centenary the Coach House Institute established a Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellowship program in his honor, and each year appoints up to four fellows for a maximum of two years. In May 2016 the Coach House Institute was renamed the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology; its Interim Director was
Seamus RossSeamus Ross (born November 12, 1957) is a digital humanities and digital curation academic and researcher based in Canada. He is the son of James Francis Ross, a philosopher, and Kathleen Fallon Ross, a nurse. After graduating from the William Penn ...
(2015–16). Sarah Sharma, an Associate Professor of Media Theory from the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) and the Faculty of Information (St. George), began a five-year term as director of the Coach House (2017- ). Professor Sharma's research and teaching focuses on feminist approaches to technology, including issues related to temporality and media. Professor Sharma's thematic for the 2017-2018 Monday Night Seminars at the McLuhan Centre is MsUnderstanding Media which extends and introduces feminist approaches to technology to McLuhan's formulations of technology and culture. In Toronto,
Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School (Marshall McLuhan, MMCSS, Marshall McLuhan CSS, or McLuhan) is a coeducational, non-semestered, Catholic high school in midtown Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada managed by the Toronto Catholic District Sc ...

Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School
is named after him.


Bibliography of major works

This is a partial list of works cited in this article. * 1951. '' The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man'' (1st ed.). New York:
Vanguard Press The Vanguard Press (1926–1988) was a United States publishing house established with a $100,000 grant from the left wing American Fund for Public Service, better known as the Garland Fund. Throughout the 1920s, Vanguard Press issued an array of ...
. ** reissued by Gingko Press, 2002. . * 1962. '' The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man''. (1st ed.). Toronto:
University of Toronto Press The University of Toronto Press is a Canadian university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or fo ...
. ** reissued by
Routledge & Kegan Paul Routledge () is a British multinational corporation, multinational publisher. It was founded in 1836 by George Routledge, and specialises in providing academic books, academic journals, journals and online resources in the fields of humanities, b ...
. . * 1964. '' Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man'' (1st ed.). New York:
McGraw Hill McGraw Hill is an American learning company and one of the "big three" educational publishers that provides customized educational content, software, and services for pre-K through postgraduate education Postgraduate education (graduate ed ...
. ** reissued by
MIT Press The MIT Press is a university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the ...
, 1994, with introduction by Lewis H. Lapham; reissued by Gingko Press, 2003. . * 1967. '' The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects'' (1st ed.), with
Quentin Fiore Quentin Fiore (February 12, 1920 – April 13, 2019) was a graphic designer, who worked mostly in books. Early life and education Quentin Fiore was born on February 12, 1920 in the The Bronx, Bronx, New York City, New York to Antonino, a tailor, ...
, produced by Jerome Agel.
Random House Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. The company has several independently managed subsidiaries around the world. It is part of Penguin Random House Penguin Random Hous ...

Random House
. ** reissued by Gingko Press, 2001. . * 1968. '' War and Peace in the Global Village'' (1st ed.), with design/layout by Quentin Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel. New York:
Bantam Bantam or Bantams may refer to: * Bantam (poultry), any small variety of fowl, usually of chicken or duck Businesses * Bantam Books, an American publishing house * Bantam Cider, an American cider company * Bantam Press, a British publishing impri ...
. ** reissued by Gingko Press, 2001. . * 1970. '' From Cliché to Archetype'', with
Wilfred Watson Wilfred Watson (May 1, 1911 – March 25, 1998) was professor emeritus of English at Canada's University of Alberta for many years. He was also an experimental Canadian poetry, Canadian poet and dramatist, whose innovative plays had a considera ...
. New York:
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Viking
. . * 1988. ''Laws of Media'', edited by . Toronto: University of Toronto Press. . * 2016 ''The Future of the Library: From Electronic Media to Digital Media'', edited by Robert K. Logan. Peter Lang. .


See also

*
Neuroplasticity Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity, or brain plasticity, is the ability of neural networks#REDIRECT Artificial neural network Artificial neural networks (ANNs), usually simply called neural networks (NNs), are computing syst ...

Neuroplasticity
*
Cortical remapping Cortical remapping, also referred to as cortical reorganization, is the process by which an existing cortical map is affected by a stimulus resulting in the creating of a 'new' cortical map. Every part of the body is connected to a corresponding ...
*
Social interfaceSocial interface is a concept from social science (particularly, media ecology (Marshall McLuhan) and sociology of technology). It can be approached from a theoretical or a practical perspective. As a concept of social interface theory, social inte ...


Notes


References


Footnotes


Works cited

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Further reading

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External links

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