Thursday, November 19, 2015

McLuhan and Holeopathic Quadrophrenia | The Mouse-That-Roared Syndrome

Bob Dobbs at “Legacy of McLuhan Symposium,” Lincoln Center, Manhattan, sponsored by Fordham University, 28 March 1998

by Bob Dobbs
(published in The Legacy of McLuhan)

Phase 1

"…much of III.3 (Book Three, Chapter Three-ed.) is telephone conversation… As III.3 opens with a person named Yawn and III.4 displays the ingress of daylight upon the night of Finnegans Wake, the note on VI.B.5.29 is interesting:
'Yawn telegraph telephone Dawn wireless thought transference.' "
Roland McHugh,
The Sigla of Finnegans Wake, p.19, 1976

"…Orion of the Orgiasts, Meereschal MacMuhun, the Ipse dadden, product of the extremes giving quotidients to our means, as might occur to anyone, your brutest layaman with the princest champion in our archdeaconry, or so yclept from Clio's clippings, which the chroncher of chivalries is sulpicious save he scan, for ancients link with presents as the human chain extends,…"
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p.254, 1939
(In McLuhan's private library in one of his copies of Finnegans Wake he has pencilled in the words "me" and "moon child" next to Joyce's "Meereschal MacMuhun".)

"The ordinary desire of everybody to have everybody else think alike with himself has some explosive implications today."
(the first sentence in the first article McLuhan wrote for Explorations-ed.)
H. M. McLuhan, Culture without Literacy,
Explorations Magazine, Volume1, p.117, December, 1953

"Entertainment in the future may have quite different patterns and functions. You'll become a yogi, you'll do your self-entertainment in yoga style."
Marshall McLuhan,
Like Yoga, Not Like the Movies,
Forbes Magazine, p.40, March 15, 1967

"T. S. Eliot's famous account of 'the auditory imagination' has become an ordinary form of awareness; but Finnegans Wake, as a comprehensive study of the psychic and social dynamics of all media, remains to be brought into the waking life of our world."
Marshall McLuhan,
Letter to Playboy Magazine, p.18, March, 1970

"At electric speeds the hieroglyphs of the page of Nature become readily intelligible and the Book of the World becomes a kind of Orphic hymn of revelation."
Marshall McLuhan, Libraries: Past, Present, Future
(address at Geneseo, New York-ed.), p.1, July 3, 1970

"The future of government lies in the area of psychic ecology and can no longer be considered on a merely national or international basis."
Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt,
Take Today: The Executive as Dropout, p.227, 1972

"And do you know," he (Eric McLuhan-ed.) enthuses, "there are actually (four-ed.) laws governing media communications? At last we can prove to people that we aren't just theorists. This is a real science.... We know there is one more law," says Eric. "And we'll find it. Sooner or later."
Olivia Ward,
Now! Son of Guru!,
Toronto Star, p.D1, March 30, 1980

Marshall McLuhan made two decisions in 1937: one was the spiritual strategy of becoming a Roman Catholic, and the other was the secular strategy, after intensive study at Cambridge, of translating James Joyce's Work-in-Progress (later given the title of Finnegans Wake in 1939) into an aesthetic anti-environment useful for countering and probing the cultural assumptions of a practicing Catholic.

For the next twenty years he refined his understanding of, first, the Thomist concept of analogical proportionality as the expression of the tactile interval, and second, its usefulness in perceiving the cultural effects of the new electric technologies, through an ongoing dialogue, analysis, and sensory meditation on the nature of metaphor and consciousness (including extrasensory perception) as an artifact. Since McLuhan defined "metaphor"(1) as the act of looking at one situation through another, each situation constitutive of figure-ground interplay (a concept borrowed from Gestalt psychology), then a metaphor was an instance of mixed media, or two figure-grounds. And so was consciousness - because of its essential subjective experience as doubleness, which is doubled again as the objective effect of its autonomous interplay with other consciousnesses. Metaphor, for McLuhan, was hylomorphic(2). In retrospect, the equation McLuhan was playing with could be flattened out as:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Memo to Prince Charles | 4 June 1990

Payday, 3 January 2015

Five Bodied
by Bob Dobbs

As I sit here dictating this memo to you and watching Connie dancing with herself hugging the letter in her arms, you might hear the tears running down my face (that's You're Still the One in the background).

Pardon me, but I can't believe how we got here, 22,000 miles above the earth, and I'm drifting back- they just mentioned Zareski again on the radio- back to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in the summer of 1966 when we watched little Bobby Dean and tiny Carolyn Wheeler go on their separate little adventures never to be seen again. Oh, they would be "seen" again but everyone knew they weren't the same. That fall, their last year in high school, Bobby was famous for having hitchhiked to California and back again with only five dollars given to him by some kind of Taco Bell franchiser who had driven him for about 1000 miles. Carolyn had spent the summer in Sherbrooke, Quebec where she checked out the transformative powers of French kissing. It worked. She was very popular that first Darteen dance in September. That hadn't happened before. She was different. And indeed they both were! These facts served just perfectly as "covers" for what had really happened. The truth of the matter was that they were victims of Walk-ins - namely, me and Connie!

Marshall McLuhan | The Future of Man in the Electric Age

Marshall McLuhan interviewed by British literary critic Frank Kermode. 1965

Download transcript (PDF)

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Zappa Hour PLUS w/Roxana Flores Larrainzar, Bert Hill & Bob Dobbs


Bob Dobbs & Derrick de Kerckhove Discuss the Schools of Media Ecology

Derrick de Kerckhove


Literary/Aesthetic Cliché-Probes in the American Classroom-Without-Walls by Bob Dobbs
Lecture with Derrick de Kerckhove

Bob Dobbs | Eric Fischl & April Gornik


Alissa and Bob Dobbs discuss Bob’s interaction with Eric Fischl and April Gornik at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the 1970s and again in New York days before 9/11.

“During this period in Halifax, when I could spare the time, I also studied Dennis Young, Vickie Cameron and Eric Fischl (his favorite film at that time was Greaser's Palace) at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.”
Bob Dobbs, from Memo to Prince Charles, 4 June 1990

The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978

Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas by Eric Fischl

Video: Eric Fischl and Steve Martin at the Broad Museum

Sunday, November 15, 2015



ReWrite 1
20 October 2010
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

ReWrite 6
1 December 2010

ReWrite 20
9 March 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Forex Formula

ReWrite 22
23 March 2011
Forex Formula

ReWrite 24
6 April 2011

Rewrite 37
28 September 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

ReWrite 38
12 October 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

ReWrite 39
26 October 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

ReWrite 40
9 November 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

ReWrite 41
23 November 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Friday, November 13, 2015

Exploring Clichés & Archetypes

Bob Dobbs on clichés, archetypes & probes
What ‘Youth’?, 10 November 2015

Bob Dobbs & Scott Woods on critic Richard Meltzer on cliché & McLuhan’s From Cliché to Archetype
25 April 2010
13 parts here

McLuhan Galaxy

The key terms “cliché” and “archetype” are two of McLuhan’s most difficult ideas, but the main theme of the discussion is our formulaic, habitual ways of engaging with the world, and how these have changed, particularly in the modern period.

The term “cliché” is a French word which derived originally from printing, and refers to the blocks that are used to make prints. Similarly, the word “archetype”, which comes from Greek, first referred to an original pattern or model from which copies are made. A cliché has come to mean an overused expression which, though it was once fresh and conveyed something novel, has been repeated so many times that it is now a trite stereotype, such as “you are what you eat” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. An archetype, in psychology and literary criticism, has come to mean a mythical, universal figure or idea that repeats itself throughout history and across cultures, such as the questing hero or the ill-fated lovers.

In From Cliché to Archetype, McLuhan extends these two terms beyond their usual verbal or literary meanings. For instance, he argues that our very perceptions are clichés, since they are patterned by the many hidden, surrounding structures of culture. We tend to see or hear what we expect to see or hear. So, at its simplest level, a cliché is a perceptual probe, which promises new information but merely reiterates old, stereotyped ways of understanding. Continue reading at McLuhan Galaxy

Journal of Visual Culture

By a Commodius Vicus: From Cliché to Archetype to Cliché
by W Terrence Gordon
Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University, Nova Scotia

Midway among Marshall McLuhan’s book publications stands From Cliché to Archetype. It owes its origins to McLuhan’s notice that the word archetype had degenerated into a cliché. When he set about regenerating it, he showed that archetype and cliché are inseparable. This discovery is illustrated fully in From Cliché to Archetype in relation to language, literature, and beyond, thus simultaneously underscoring the unity and coherence of Understanding Media and adding a new dimension of insight to it.

An archetype is an expandable category; a cliché is neither a category nor expandable. But it can be modified, and McLuhan has much to say about how this is done in the hands of artists. Just as McLuhan stretched the sense of ‘medium’, he stretches the sense of ‘cliché’, defining it at different times as an extension, a probe, and a means of retrieving the past. The resonance among these notions demonstrates how fundamental the study of cliché is for McLuhan.

He calls perceptions clichés, since the physical senses form a closed system. In this sense, all communications media are clichés, insofar as they extend our physical senses. And even art is cliché, because it retrieves older clichés.

The simplest definition of cliché for McLuhan is that of a probe. Here is an apparent paradox, as the authors freely acknowledge. But art is the sharpening of clichés into probes, into new forms that stimulate new awareness. What is familiar, even worn out, becomes new. McLuhan’s favorite example to illustrate this process comes from James Joyce, whose writing wakes up language (creates new clichés) by putting it to sleep (destroying old clichés). Or, as McLuhan (1974) put it in commenting on the treatment of this theme: ‘All cliché is always being put back on the compost heap, as it were, whence it emerges as a shining new form.’ Continue reading at Journal of Visual Culture